Bags of Money

I wish I was posting to tell you I won the lottery and would from this point forward be wiping my ass with hundred dollar bills, but I didn’t and I’m not.  Besides, I’d pay someone else to wipe my ass with hundred dollar bills.  Duh!

Anyway… One thing people often complain about in the design of games is the over emphasis on the monsters you fight in an MMO of being “floating bags of experience and loot”.  Seriously.  Think about it.  In a game that is a grinding exp-fest, you track down monsters and then beat them until they break and gift you with progress.  In some games, like WoW, they try to wave a hand over to the side to get you to forget about the bags of exp by hiding them behind quests.  It’s still the same thing though, to the point that when a player enters town and sees a sea of quest icons floating over the heads of NPC, there is often a rush of excitement at all the exp and loot you’ll be earning.  Any time a player focuses too much on the bags, they usually experience a decrease in “fun” while “progress” speeds up.  This leads to many players grinding the bags until they reach the “end” where, I’ve been told, the game really begins.

So, Darren, who has been outspoken in his opinion on $10 and $25 horses has written a little diatribe about how companies view players.  To be honest, for a “for profit” business, players are bags of money, just like the monsters in games are bags of experience.  The trick is for companies to get money out of the bags without the bags ever realizing that they are, in fact, bags of money.  So different companies toe different lines.  In the case of WoW, they’ve made their game “fun” enough that a whole bunch of bags people don’t mind $15 a month being taken from their wallet, and the recent foray into vanity pets and the sparkle pony is them sketching out another line in the sand, see if they can get a little more money from some bags people without losing too many of the bags people that are at their limit with $15 a month.

Obviously, there are many examples of games that have crossed lines and caused players to notice their bag-ness and they leave, and there are many examples of games where despite practically labeling their players as bags of money a segment of their players don’t mind at all (see: Zynga) to great profit.

I don’t really have anything to add to this, I just thought it was an interesting thing to notice.

2 comments

  1. Tesh says:

    Aye, that’s an interesting metagame spin on the industry. It does presuppose a competition between devs and players, as opposed to cooperation, but perhaps that’s the nature of a market at play.

    • Jason says:

      For a normal game, I think the devs and players are more cooperative, because the devs are only concerned, money-wise, about that initial purchase. For an MMO, however, I do feel there is a certain level of competition between the devs and players because the goal shifts and you want to keep as many people paying the fees (be they a subscription or cash shop) for as long as possible.

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