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To MT or Not MT…

Published by under Editorial,Game Mechanics,speculation,Uncategorized on Jun. 27. 2011.

Oh sweet summer, how I missed thee.  And with the incessant humming of every AC unit in the neighborhood, I am reminded that we are one more season closer to a SWTOR launch.  Well that, and that I’ll be paying through the nose on my next electricity bill… But as always, I digress.

Our very own MrWarlock penned a delightful piece highlighting the 10 updates he anticipated the most, and one of these got me thinking, specifically his thoughts on micro-transactions – what sorts of plans do you imagine BioWare might have cooked up for SWTOR in the MT (micro-transaction) department? Well, let’s take a look at what else has been done.


A Given?  Mounts and Pets

I think this is probably one of the more common ideas floating around out there, given Blizzard’s track record on the matter.  At $25, the mounts were just a bit more expensive than I cared to spend, but it would take two full hands to count the number of folks I personally know who went in for one, or both, of these.  I admit, the Gryphon was pretty sweet.  I ended up buying the Pandaren and Moonkin when part of the proceeds went to a very worthy cause, a purchase which, even though my WoW account has long since lapsed, I do not regret in the least.

We’ve only just recently begun seeing new speeder concepts in SWTOR.  What sorts of designs would prompt you to part with your well-earned credits?  Would a unique-looking speeder do the trick?  Your very own dewback, perhaps?  I think I might be weak enough to buy a Tauntaun for myself.  That, or a baby Rancor monster…


Advanced Class Respecs?

Mum has been the word thus far regarding any sort of possibility for Advanced Class.  At one point, Georg Zoeller had stated that the developers hadn’t “made up [their] mind yet about the availability of an Advanced Class respec,” saying that they were “evaluating all options (no Advanced Class respec, fixed cost respec, respec cost increasing with level, etc.).”  While I personally do not envision a time when we might pay to switch our classes (even WoW hasn’t done that one yet), I do think that at some point after launch, we might see a paid Advanced Class respec service.  As much as they do say that each Advanced Class is really more like a separate class, part of me still wonders how much your actual Advanced Class choice influences the overall Class Quest storyline.  I’m guessing not very much, but we shall see.


Paid Species Changes?

Act out your Cthulhu fantasies with a Quarren! Only $19.95!

We actually still don’t know if what BioWare will offer for a species selection for each class.  We have a rough idea what to expect, but nothing has yet been set in stone.  If you grew tired of your Twi’lek for example, would you spend the credits to swap it over to something else?  What if each class had an additional playable species that were only playable via the micro-transaction route?  Star Trek Online for example, allows the player to purchase additional races from their online store.  Do you have a favorite Star Wars race that might convince you to do the same?  What if the Rodians were only available via an online BioWare store?  Would a Cathar change your mind?  What price would you even be willing to pay?


Personally, I’ll be very surprised if BioWare breaks with the $14.99 monthly model (with discounts for longer subscriptions to offer further incentives).  We’ve seen the (arguably) good and bad now of MMO cash shops, at least in terms of community reception.  Would you be willing to embrace such a concept in SWTOR?


Have you used micro-transactions before?  If so, where?  Is there a limit that you’d set as to how much you were willing to spend on these frills?




11 responses so far

11 Responses to “To MT or Not MT…”

  1. MrWarlockon 27 Jun 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Perfect World Online a F2P mmo I spent $300 on a tanking pet and another $150 of heal/mana pots mounts and cloths.
    in less than a year, and I’ve told myself I’ll not do it again, well not as bad as that 😛

  2. Dwismon 28 Jun 2011 at 7:32 am

    Maybe it’s just me, but MT stands for main-tank, where i’m from. So it took a while for this article to make any sense.

    Other than that.. Gimmie that baby Rancor, and I’ll be a happy.. ehm MT

  3. Dalqakon 28 Jun 2011 at 8:37 am

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    Good point, Dwism! I’ll try and clarify this in the future, lest any eventual tanking post make even less sense!

  4. VorAbaddonon 28 Jun 2011 at 9:19 am

    Two perspectives:

    From a pure business sense, I have nothing against cosmetic/non-advantageous transactions that have reasonable limits to them. If someone wants to support the Dev Team by buying a $5.00 damned hat, I don’t take any truck with it.

    The issue with this is: How do you keep it cosmetic/non-advantageous in the era of the publishing firm? The reality is, if people are absolutely flippin’ crazy enough to buy a shiny mount for $20, how long before more interesting things get sold for more? It’s hard to maintain a hard line with that much cash on hand, and MMO Devs, historically, have a hard time holding the line on ANYTHING.

    Where I believe this goes against long-term business success is that the people willing to drop that kind of money are one of 2 types, generally (exceptions, of course, exist).

    A) Gamer who loves to be 1337 – This type of MT buyer doesn’t like the concept of EVER being behind, and rather than work for the stuff, they just spend for it. They exist to dominate, and frankly they’ll eventually get bored and wander off.

    B) Overobsessed gamer who doesn’t have the time and can’t accept reasonable limits.

    Either way, these characters aren’t the most loyal, or are in such a way you have to tread lightly around what you do for fear of upsetting them. They aren’t good for long term game health.

    As such, keeping it sensible from a business aspect is a very delicate balance.

    From my personal perspective, I’m not a fan as it tends to lean toward the silly and soon careens into the ultra-ridiculous. One of the huge draws of MMO’s for me is immersion, curling up with my keyboard like a would a good book and getting into the story. This is not to say that it has to be 100% in depth RP 24/7, but there comes a time when it goes way too far. I think these types of items have a tendency to do so, because you release one thing, and some people buy it. Well, how do you get them to buy the next thing? It has to be significantly different and/or crazier than the first. This tends to lead to some really weird crap that doesn’t fit getting added into the game.

    This is fine when it’s here and there, but MMO Micro-transactions have a tendency to display the incredible aptitude for humanity to impulse buy based on “OMG, they have one?! I WANT ONE!” Next thing you know, they’re CRAWLING with the crap.

  5. Keondoon 28 Jun 2011 at 9:22 am

    Microtransactions don’t work. They would if they were very limited and restricted to “services” like server transfers, Character re-naming… then they slip in flair items as micro-transactions and it’s the beginning of the end.

    It’s like the first time they are “using” but not “socially”… the tipping point into a downwards spiral. A great initial experience with no visible downsides. It’s like a drug. When they start the instant revenue is it’s own argument to continue in that path.

    They learn they can be bringing massive amounts of cash by selling a trivial piece of eArt that took maybe 80 man hours at the most for $25 instead of selling expansions for $50-75 that take them what… 10,000 man hours? Guess which activity generates more money…

    Of course the long term picture is the people who see through it and don’t want to be out of pocket on flair items start to resent you. In the end no one is special with their $25 mount that ANYONE can get easilly, it defeats the appeal of flair items… Also the game stagnates as it starts to look like you’re not really dependent on content and therefor not dependent on keeping the game fresh… you become about cheap tricks rather than focussed on growing your gamespace… the loss in playerbase is not immediate but the game starts to stagnate and becomes stale. You are cannibalising your current players rather than making a game any objective gamer would be interested in. (The allure of the $25 sparkle pony does not make anyone think “Hey I gotta get that game”. It only work on a portion of current players).

    It is like a drug… it changes the reasons you do the things you do. Once the “suits” get a taste they just want more and more of it. And since they are the type of people that don’t even understand why anyone wants to play the game in the first place… you can’t possibly make em understand why it does nothing to keep people interested. It’d be like speaking a different language. In fact… it’s entirely possible that cheap content MT make more sense financially than sticking to collecting that regular $12-$15 a month (and paid expansions) when players potentially only play your game for 1.5 years… All the more reasons for us to fight microtransactions.

  6. Dukon 28 Jun 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Introduce term before abbreviating.

  7. Dalqakon 28 Jun 2011 at 7:38 pm

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    Will do, Duk! It was originally dealt with in MrWarlock’s piece, bit I will make sure make it clearer when I can tonight!

  8. golffuulon 28 Jun 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I do not want micro-transactions except for server transfers and maybe exceptional companion pets.

  9. Dalqakon 28 Jun 2011 at 9:37 pm

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    Tried to clean up the MTs a bit and make it clearer as to what I was referring to here. And most excellent comments so far. I’m hoping that the devs address such concerns as we progress closer to launch, because I think many of the issues brought up here are valid.

  10. Andrewon 15 Jul 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I really don’t like the idea of mixing the two money making models into a single mmo.
    If they want to make a online store to sell t-shirts, plush toys, baseball caps etc then that could be an acceptable way of making money.
    However at the start of any new mmo the main focus for players is the content and endgame content. How much of it is there and how challenging is it? Some players may run through content faster than others while some take there time so they will need to keep every player in mind. What happens when people hit the cap? what can they be occupied with at higher levels? (besides ganking lower level players :P)
    I would rather the dev’s focus the first 4 months on patches (there will be bugs & balancing issues as with any mmo) and delivering new content rather than jump into the “Money” mindset with virtual items they may want to sell.
    Regarding the example of the Celestial Steed in my opinion I think mounts like Mekgineer’s Chopper should be held in higher regard. Making a chopper involved grinding reputation with a faction, grinding materials and having enough gold to buy special parts. You could also sell the chopper afterwards therefore adding to the game’s economy.
    For example in SWTOR if a player could craft a faster landspeeder then there shouldn’t be any equivalent vehicle allowed for sale for actual money. The reason being is that it cuts down on the need for materials for the crafted item and the economy takes a hit as less people will want to buy materials via the galactic auction house instead just forking over 25 bucks.

  11. Dalqakon 16 Jul 2011 at 5:48 pm

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    That brings up a good point, that I hope at some point the devs look into. They haven’t said too much about player crafting for things outside of armor and weapons. Having player-crafted mounts would be anouther great way to get the crafters involved in the economy.