Black Desert Online #3: But Wait, It’s Worse!

By Shamus Posted Thursday May 3, 2018

Filed under: Retrospectives 169 comments

In terms of combat, this was the most fun I’ve ever had in an MMO. And it’s really pretty. And the loot system is kinda interesting. And I like the Black Spirit character, his stilted translated dialog notwithstanding. And yet the developer drove me away from the game. So what did they do wrong?

The Business Model is Awful

Thanks for purchasing the game. Now buy the rest of it, one tiny piece of content at a time.
Thanks for purchasing the game. Now buy the rest of it, one tiny piece of content at a time.

I got this game back in 2016 during the North America launch, and I paid $60 for it. That’s a lot to ask for in this world where MMOs are all offering you free access, but I had a good time with Guild Wars 2 and that game ran on a pay-up-front model, so I was willing to give Black Desert the same chance.

The problem is that once you pay your $60The game is down to $10 on Steam these days. Still too much, since it should probably be free on account of all the microtransaction crap. you’ll find it operates more or less like a free-to-play game. The game throws annoyances at you and then asks you for money to make them go away. Or the game tantalizes you with customization options that must be paid for.

In the old days, you paid $60 up front and $15 a month. I liked that model since it kept my costs fixed and I didn’t have to make real-world economic decisions while I was immersed in my videogame. But fine. I guess it’s all microtransactions now. If I had known up front how hard the game was going to push microtransactions then I wouldn’t have spent $60 on it. I don’t like constantly running into hurdles asking me to pay for this or that, but in theory I’d be okay with it if it was possible to just play the game normally for $15 a month.

The problem is that…

The Cash Shop Prices Are Appalling

We're in luck! This outfit has been discounted from $46 to $34. What a deal!
We're in luck! This outfit has been discounted from $46 to $34. What a deal!

I see all the default clothes are bland and I need to pay real money for a cool outfit. Aesthetics are important to me. (Which is why I spend so much time on sculpting my character.) So I really don’t want to spend the rest of my time looking at these blando outfits. Sigh. Fine. What’s a pretend suit of armor cost these days? Three bucks? Five bucks?

FORTY SIX AMERICAN DOLLARS? ARE YOU TRYING TO START A FIGHT?

That’s more than the cost of three entire months in an old-school MMO model. In fact, for the price of Black Desert’s ridiculous doll clothes, you could buy the award-winning Witcher 3 and still have enough left over to buy ten outfits for a real Barbie doll.

And that just gets you ONE outfit.

For ONE character!

The cheap outfits can be had for $22. They also offer ladies underwear sets for just $7, if you want to run around in your underpants. (I don’t, thanks.)

(They also offer similar options for male characters. I was tempted to get the outfit that would let my kung-fu guy go shirtless, because he’s a kung-fu dude. But all of the choices looked like modern-day boxers. You can’t just wear baggy pants with no shirt.)

Would you like to dye that super-expensive outfit you just bought? Or any other outfit? That will set you back another $10. And that’s somehow a rental. Your ten bucks gets you a month of being allowed to have dyed clothes. After the month is up, your clothes revert to their original colors and you gotta fork over another $10.

Do you want to wear armor set A for the stat bonuses but you prefer the looks of armor set B? Well, in LOTRO you could just do that for free at any time with any clothing. You could have one set of clothing for visuals, and another for stats. But here in Black Desert that will set you back $15. Per item of clothing.

Black Desert Online has decided to sell you fake money for real money. But only in a really inconvenient way. You can pay $15 a month and the auction house WON'T confiscate 30% of your profits.
Black Desert Online has decided to sell you fake money for real money. But only in a really inconvenient way. You can pay $15 a month and the auction house WON'T confiscate 30% of your profits.

Do you enjoy wheeling and dealing at the auction house in other games, but the egregious 35% tax on all your sales is making it impossible for you to have fun or turn a profit? Pay fifteen real-world dollars and the tax will go down to the normal 5%. (For one month.)

Everything is exorbitantly priced like this. It’s so outrageously expensive that I get immediately pissed off. It’s not even about the money, it’s about the sheer audacity of the seller to ask this muchOr anything at all, in some cases. for what should be trivial virtual goods. Even if you’re a millionaire, you’re still likely to get offended if someone tries to sell you a stick of ordinary gum for five bucks. Even if you don’t want the chewing gum. Sure, the cost is nothing to you, but it’s the principle of the thing. You know full well how much gum should cost and you can tell this person is trying to take advantage of you. Or they think you’re an idiot. Either way, it doesn’t feel good.

But Shamus, it’s a free-to-play game! This is how they make their money. This is a totally normal business practice and you’re being unreasonable to think that everything should be free.

First off, it’s not free-to-play, because it has an up-front cost. More importantly, I’m not against the idea of there being premium armor sets that can only be obtained for money. The first problem is that the prices are outrageous and the second problem is…

There’s Nothing to Strive For

In game I'm worth almost half a billion in silver, and yet I can't use it to buy anything I want or need.
In game I'm worth almost half a billion in silver, and yet I can't use it to buy anything I want or need.

Sure, offer a premium set of armor for $LOL dollars. Go nuts. But you should still offer moderately cool / rare armor that can be acquired through normal gameplay. Black Desert Online doesn’t do this. The armor sets available to you at level 50 use the same basic designs as the armor sets you find at level 1.

This really does lower the quality of the game in tangible ways. I remember playing World of Warcraft and seeing high-level characters marching around the major cities in their glorious high-level armor and riding around on their exotic mounts. I could look at those guys and say, “Someday, I’m going to have cool stuff like that.”

And then I did! I leveled up and earned it! But you can’t do that in Black Desert. No matter how high you level or how much you make, your clothes won’t change much. I have literally hundreds of millions of silver in the bank account, and there’s absolutely nothing for me to buy. I’m overleveled so I don’t need better gear, and you can’t buy cosmetic stuff for in-game money. There’s nothing to strive for and no prize to earn, because you have to buy it. But if I buy all the things I want then the game is effectively over so what’s the point?

This is the same way that the Real Money Auction House harmed Diablo 3. The point of the game is to find loot. Or to earn loot. If you just buy it outright, then there’s no longer any reason to play the game.

Diablo III was better off because it was at least possible to work for things in Diablo III. Here in BDO, you don’t have that option. You can pay for it or you can go without, but you can’t make something a long-term goal and work towards it. I’m not upset I can’t have all the goodies for free, but I am upset at the lack of of in-game progression.

Imposition Disguised as Simulation

Every once in a while you'll try to turn in a quest and find the NPC has gone to bed and you need to wait around for a real-world hour. Why? Nearly all the NPCs just stand there 24/7, except for these few dozen people who inconveniently vanish. The sleeping NPCs add nothing to the world except to inconvenience you and make you wonder why nobody else needs sleep. What is this supposed to be simulating?
Every once in a while you'll try to turn in a quest and find the NPC has gone to bed and you need to wait around for a real-world hour. Why? Nearly all the NPCs just stand there 24/7, except for these few dozen people who inconveniently vanish. The sleeping NPCs add nothing to the world except to inconvenience you and make you wonder why nobody else needs sleep. What is this supposed to be simulating?

The game is ruthlessly simulationist when it comes to putting burdens on the player. Like, you don’t have a single universal vault that gives you access to your cash in every major city. Instead, each city has its own vault and if you want to make a purchase in A while your money is in B, then you need to physically travel to B, have your money converted into gold barsIf it’s a small amount of money you can just carry it yourself, but money in this game has weight and so you can’t hope to carry more than a million or so in cash. and pay the exchange rate and shipping fee, then ship the bars to city A, then wait an hour or so of real-world time for it to arrive, then convert the gold back into coins so you can spend it.

That’s an obnoxious burden to be sure, but I could respect it if this was some kind of ambitious simulation along the lines of EVE Online. And I’m sure if you asked why everything needs to be such a pain in the ass, the devs would probably mumble something about “authenticity”, “simulation” or “immersion”.

Except, they’re more than happy to throw the rules out the window if you pay them money.

Are you at the level cap but you want more skill points so you can overpower people in PvP? We’ll rent you skill points for a month. Are you tired of the long ride back to town to sell off stuff because your pockets are always full? We’ll rent you the ability to magically summon a hot girl in a maid costume who will appear in this dungeon with you and put all your goods on the auction house. Would you like to be able to magically summon your mount (like all other MMOs let you do for free) in the field? Give us seven bucks and you can do it with one character for one month. Sure, this world looks like your basic medieval fantasy setting, but give us money and we’ll let you run around dressed like Lady GaGa, art style be damned.

YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. ALL THESE HASSLES ARE REQUIRED FOR PROPER IMMERSION IN THIS SUPER-SERIOUS SIMULATED WORLD.
YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. ALL THESE HASSLES ARE REQUIRED FOR PROPER IMMERSION IN THIS SUPER-SERIOUS SIMULATED WORLD.

The “simulation” angle just is a fig-leaf justification for hassling you. This game isn’t really interested in simulating anything.

The entire game is an endless chain of carefully-engineered hassles, delays, inconveniences, and interruptions, and the only way to make it stop is to pay money. If I wanted to play Black Desert Online with access to all the features I took for granted in Lord of the Rings Online, it would probably cost me in the neighborhood of $40 a month.

This stuff is flat-out too expensive, and not by a little. The game gave me a 10% off costume coupon, and it actually pissed me off. 10% off? Your prices are about 5X what they should be, and you think this piddly discount will motivate me?

But wait! There’s more!

The Cash Shop is an Obtuse Bureaucratic Hassle

If I spend $20, I get SIXTY CENTS of bonus pearls.  If I spend ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS I get an extra 15%. Those aren't even enticing deals, given the scale of this spending.
If I spend $20, I get SIXTY CENTS of bonus pearls. If I spend ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS I get an extra 15%. Those aren't even enticing deals, given the scale of this spending.

The punchline to all of this is just how painful it is to use their damn cash shop. I couldn’t bring myself to pay FORTY-SIX AMERICAN DOLLARS for VIRTUAL DOLL CLOTHES, but I did purchase an extra character slot. The entire transaction was a chore. BDO uses two layers of meta-currency. You have to use your real-world cash to buy Kakao Cash at the website, then use the Kakao Cash to buy a box of pearls in-game. Then use the box of pearls to buy the goods you want. And then you realize you’ve still got pearls left over because of course they do the thing where the currency bundles and the item prices are relative primes. (The game is obnoxious about this. I’ve got 400 pearls ($4) left in my account, and everything worth having starts at 500 pearls. And they’re only sold in $10 lots. Assholes.)

And I’d be fine with all of that if I could just pay $15 a month and play the non-annoying, non-hassle version of this game. In fact, that’s exactly what I want to do. But to really get rid of the headaches it’s going to cost you a lot more than that. And some problems – like the warped economy and the lack of long-term prizes to strive for – are an emergent result of all the high-pressure pushing of the cash shop. I’d be willing to pay $15 a month to play a properly-balanced version of Black Desert Online, but they don’t want my $15 a month because they’ve twisted the entire design to squeeze $200 out of some poor whale, and then they made their shop interface a chore for no reason.

But as bad as all of this is, I was still gritting my teeth and playing the game. I was frustrated that I couldn’t really customize my character by earning better outfits and the faux-simulationist hassles were really an unwelcome drain on my time, but I was still having a good time with the combat so I was doing my best to ignore that stuff.

Or I was, until I reached level 50.

We’ll put the final nail in this coffin next week.

 

Footnotes:

[1] The game is down to $10 on Steam these days. Still too much, since it should probably be free on account of all the microtransaction crap.

[2] Or anything at all, in some cases.

[3] If it’s a small amount of money you can just carry it yourself, but money in this game has weight and so you can’t hope to carry more than a million or so in cash.



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169 thoughts on “Black Desert Online #3: But Wait, It’s Worse!

  1. Grimwear says:

    You said that it would cost 40 bucks a month to have everything you took for granted in Lord of the Rings Online. What I’m curious about is how much would you be paying a month if you could have everything you wanted that they offered? Just the monthly stuff not including the 1 time purchases such as outfits.

    1. Noah says:

      As he said, if you got *everything* they offered there would be no further progression and the game would be over. So the answer may well be “zero”.

      1. Grimwear says:

        Well I mean even if he doesn’t buy what he wants the game is still over with no progression since the only way to get the stuff he wants is to spend real world money.

        I was genuinely curious as to how much he would want to spend for his ideal experience if he had all the money. For example the 10 dollar a month dye, 7 dollar mount, 15 dollar auction house fee, and who knows what else is desired. I mean right there you’d already be spending 32 dollars a month and if I heard correctly that’s per character so let’s say you have a rotating team of 3 you’re already at 96 dollars a month.

        I’ve never played the game so I don’t know what all they offer so I wanted to know from someone who does how much one would need to spend to get their optimal experience.

  2. DanMan says:

    It almost sounds like management hired the Guild Wars studio to build a game, then handed it to some mobile game hack-a-shop before releasing it. This sounds like all the mobile game hassles on steroids

    1. etheric42 says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the developers made the game but the publishers or localizers for each region determined how the cash shop would be used.

    2. Guile says:

      That seems to be how the Asian business model runs, it’s weird.

    3. Michael says:

      I could be mistaken, but I thought BDO was a free to play game in Korea.

  3. Ilseroth says:

    It’s funny you talked about seeing the high level players in WoW and going “Oh yeeeah, I want some of that!”

    I had the exact opposite thing happen. I saw the over the top armor designs and pauldrons the size of houses and said “Is there any way I can *not* wear that armor at high levels?” The answer is no, hell even the mid level gear makes you look like a football player. That said now they do have the ability to make gear look like other gear.

    1. Jennifer Snow says:

      The cosmetics system in DDO is a bit clunky–you can’t dye armor, you can only either buy a cosmetic suit that overlays your armor or use a Mirror of Glamering to make a copy of any in-game armor. I’d rate it as okay. The cosmetics are all store items, HOWEVER you can earn store currency just from doing quests, so if you’re patient you can build up quite a stock of cosmetic gear 100% for free, and it can be swapped between characters on the same server. And it’s not expensive–even the most costly outfits will run you well under $5 if you’re smart and you buy your points in larger packs when they’re on sale. The Mirrors are like $2 if you’re lazy and pay cash. You can also do cosmetic helms, weapons, and shields/orbs. However, if you want a cosmetic version of a rare named item, you have to actually get the item first. But, the cosmetic version is level-independent once you actually get it and make it.

      I have more cosmetic outfits in DDO than I have REAL CLOTHES.

      1. Guile says:

        FF14 cosmetic items (‘glamours’) are also shit, or they were when I played. Endgame crafting stuff, usable for one item.

        At least all the FF14 armor sets are pretty cool, even the white vendor trash.
        Do I want to roll as a zatoichi blind monk? Doable.
        Leather eyepatch? From level 5.
        Bandana with gold dangly bits and attached Zorro mask? From the first dungeon in the game.
        Yellow as a chocobo with a dope-ass giant Lu Bu feather in your headband? Your first endgame armor set that you get from guild quests.
        Ninja footie pajamas in black and red? Yep.
        Coat that looks like someone went nuts with a stud setter kit from Etsy? You betcha.
        An unnecessary number of belts everywhere? It’s a Final Fantasy game, of course they have that.

        1. Scerro says:

          FF 14 has come a long way in Glamour. They’re available at level 15 now and don’t cost much for a prism, and they’re universal across armor types (No more leather prisms/goldsmith prisms).

          Items aren’t consumed, and as long as it’s lower level or same level and within the same class restrictions things can be Glamoured. There is also the Glamour dresser which you can put things into and then make gear sets that can be applied at will in cities.

          There are still clunky things about the Glamour dresser, but it’s mostly pretty good now. The worst part is the dyes not having channels on the armor and overall the weirdness with how dyes interact with armor pieces.

          1. Tapkoh says:

            The sad thing is that they have an example of a better system in a game they not only have direct access to but also recently tried to pay homage to: FF11. Yet, they continue with this glamour nonsense.

            In FF11, you can save gear sets and then use them to “style lock” your character at any time. The only requirement is that when you made the set, the job you were on at the time had to be able to equip the stuff. If you wanted, you could run around as a level 1 white mage while “wearing” your dragoon artifact armor, for example.

            It’s not perfect by any means. There are no dyes and it doesn’t work for weapons unless the weapon you have equipped matches the weapon type in the gearset (i.e. you can’t make a dagger look like a greatsword or a spear), but it removes one of the biggest complaints of the 14 system. Combine it with dyes and they’d be leagues ahead of whatever they’re trying to morph glamours into now.

            1. Scerro says:

              I mean, but you can use the Glamour dresser for exactly what you’re talking about. Put the items in the dresser, and then you can make sets (You get 10) and apply them whenever you’re in a city for no cost. Sure you gotta find the pieces and spend a glamour prism to put them in your dresser, and set up the page. But it’s pretty trivial to make a set. FF14 doesn’t let you glamour cross class, but there’s so much cross class gear that I don’t mind.

              They’re working to improve it still, where you’ll be able to take things out of the dresser too. It’s a work in progress, and as long as Yoshi-P is still in charge, I’m not terribly worried it’s going to super stagnate.

              I also get the feeling that you’re working off of knowledge from a few patches ago.

              1. Tapkoh says:

                Incorrect assumption. I know all about the glamour toilet. While I share your optimism about the glamour system getting better, the difference here is in how we view it currently. You find it adequate.

                I find it inferior to a system in a much older game that they have few to no legal hurdles to copying from. A system that has been in FF11 since before I started playing 14 over two years ago, during the 5-different-levels-of-each-prism era. It seems more and more that they will end up with a similar system, but it might be 5.0 or beyond before it gets there, when this idea has been in their house for years.

                It’s not the glamour system itself that offends me, it’s their meandering and inefficiency.

                1. Scerro says:

                  I’m also not sure whether your complaint is that you can’t cross-class gearsets (make your WHM look like a DRG), or that you have to place items into the glamour chest indefinitely to use them for glamour plates. I’m at a loss as to what your point is.

                  With how gear deprecates (mostly, however it is a slightly different story in FF14) and becomes only useful for visual effect, it makes sense to have all that gear stuck in different storage. The glamour chest is nice because it’s extra storage. Plus you don’t have to store all your sets in case you want to modify a single piece just to make a new “style lock”. Just go throw it in your glam chest, change the piece in the sheet, apply it. EZPZ. Get a new piece of armor? Re-apply the glam sheet.

                  I will give it to you that the meandering path it’s taken to get their sounds like it’s been painful.

      2. Sleeping Dragon says:

        What I don’t get is why does it take the devs all this time to relearn the same lessons. My MMO of choice is Neverwinter (Online) and we only got a separate inventory tab for fashion items earlier this year, which is like five or six years after launch. We’ve had a “collections” page for years but it seems like it never crossed the devs’ minds to use that as a reference for what visuals would be available to the player nor can we transform old and useless gear into fashion items*. And this isn’t some new dev, this is Cryptic, they have several games of experience under their belt.

        *We can use a non-fashion armour to transmute a piece of gear into that look, but we burn the piece in the process and a lot of them are no longer obtainable.

        1. Agammamon says:

          For new ones, I think its a matter of prioritization. Get out the MVP and then add in features as the cash rolls in. Which is why new MMO’s basically never start out with an auction house, decent chat, matchmaking, UI modding, etc and that stuff is added in later.

          NWO though, considering how long its been, I don’t know why its taken them this long to get around to adding it.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            That is my point, I understand we can’t have All Of The Features at launch, and some of them become more pressing with time (for example the “stable” tab is not that high of a priority if there is only a limited number of mounts). What I don’t get is why it took them so long to add this stuff and then, though that can probably be blamed on marketting/PR communication style, they act like having a separate inventory for fashion items is a revolutionary discovery when it honestly should have been on the roadmap from the beginning and implemented if the game stays afloat.

        2. Michael says:

          More baffling, when you remember that both Champions Online and Star Trek live on insanely stupid levels of character customization. Never realized none of that made it over to Neverwinter, though.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I don’t know about STO but NWO has literally nothing on the level of customization that you can see in Champions, even only trying out the items available for free years ago I had a lot of fun just creating characters to fit a theme or a backstory. Though I understand that being able to shape your toon in detail is much more important with this kind of superhero themed game.

    2. Jabberwok says:

      I was pretty happy when Diablo 3 added the ability to change the appearance of your items. I immediately replaced my armor’s look with some of the lowest level stuff in the game. Very few of these games don’t make you look ridiculous. At least Diablo and WOW are cartoony enough that it hardly matters. BDO’s graphics and world do not mix well with massive pauldrons and flaming helmets. And some of that horse armor hurts my eyes.

  4. Methermeneus says:

    DBO uses two layers of meta-currency.

    Desert Black Online?

    1. Abnaxis says:

      Desert Box Office, a premium cable channel associated with the game that you can subscribe to for $122 per month (just buy the $115 pearl package with the $10 pearl package every month and you too can subscribe!)

      You might think it’s expensive, but they have a version of Game of Thrones where every character is a super model and the plot after season 1 is actually BETTER than the original!

      1. Methermeneus says:

        You know, I came back here just to correct myself with “Desert Bus Online,” but yours is better.

      2. BlueHorus says:

        they have a version of Game of Thrones where every character is a super model and the plot after season 1 is actually BETTER than the original!

        Well, in Korean it is. Pity about the localisation, though…

        Karl Tanner is sat on a throne, drinking from a skull inside a darkened room
        Tanner: Kane tanner in the alley. Drinking wine from the skull of a cheerleader. All commands, normal?
        He puts skull to his ear
        What’s that? Fuck you until they die?
        He turns to the other men in the room Did you hear that, man? Fuck you until you die!

        He glares at a man in the corner Rast! Go outside and feed the animal.
        Rast: I have to kill it.
        Tanner: You have to block the damn hole. You look like a barrack. You look stupid. I could pee in a trough and absorb five!
        pause You know how much I paid to kill a man on the landing of the king? Seven silver coins. They told me the name of the person, and he never saw the sun again. I got far from me from a fucking guy, no one.
        Tanner gets up and approaches Rast I haven’t lost a fight since I was nine. Maybe it’s time. What do you think? Maybe you’re the man? What? Cunt?

        Rast: I will not miss the opportunity. None of us.
        Tanner: I was a god damn legend in Jin Alley. Fucking LEGEND!
        He turns to the rest of the room I will have any article – any article! – any time! You guys on the plate. Fucking cowards!

        1. Leipävelho says:

          Brilliant.

        2. Abnaxis says:

          I’ve read this at least five times now and it’s still so mesmerizing….

        3. Guest says:

          Better than the actual scene.

  5. Zaxares says:

    Woof. I’ve heard of some obnoxious paywalls in games before, but BDO seems particularly bad. I am certain that the entire economic design was to squeeze money out of whales. I remember this interview with Zynga who straight up admitted that about 95% of their Farmville player base never spent a single dollar on the game, but the 5% that spent money, made them MILLIONS. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point governments decided to crack down on this sort of predatory behaviour by games companies in the same way that they restrict gambling.

    1. The problem with whales is that if they move on or you loose them your company suddenly goes bankrupt.

      1. Chris says:

        I dont think a whale that sank in thousands of dollars would move on quickly. And if a lot of people move on then an MMO dies anyway. Relying on whales is a valid monetization system in the sense that it is profitable. Too bad for the non-whales they have to toil away and get be the whale’s plaything.

        1. Jennifer Snow says:

          Actually, *relying* on whales is a poor monetization strategy in literally every field–this is why Wal-Mart is vastly more successful than any high-end boutique department store that has ever existed. By far the most profitable models for monetization are to get lots and lots and lots of people to buy a LITTLE of whatever it is you have. Keep in mind there is a huge, huge difference between profit TOTAL and profit MARGIN. A lot of people, when they’re talking about how “profitable” something is, are saying “this has a big margin”. But that’s not the same thing as saying that the ending pool of money is large.

          The main function of whales is not their wallets but their GLAMOR–they basically PAY to ADVERTISE for you. Hence why casinos give all those silly perks to high rollers–the overall cost to the casino is negligible, but it’s extremely glamorous and makes the whole operation look luxurious and enjoyable, instead of what it actually is.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats a good point.Games are all still marketed the same,whether they are made for Joe Average or Big Bucks Mcgee.

          2. EmmEnnEff says:

            > Actually, *relying* on whales is a poor monetization strategy in literally every field–this is why Wal-Mart is vastly more successful than any high-end boutique department store that has ever existed.

            Yeah, but for the one Wal-Mart, there is a graveyard full of corpses of other failed low-margin, low-cost big-box retail stores. Many of them had the exact same business model as Wal-Mart, and were killed because they were just a tiny bit worse at executing it.

            That business niche naturally trends towards monopolies. Boutiques… Not so much.

            1. Bloodsquirrel says:

              Boutiques have plenty of graveyards of their own. Hell, big box stores often wipe them out because, while they may not be as good for the enthusiast who really needs the boutique, they’re better for most people, and so the boutique loses the lower end of its business. Comic book shops and gaming stores have this problem big time. Barnes & Noble was criticized for killing small book stores.

              Or, in direct gaming history, the problem with the “whale” business model is that while it’s highly profitable for a handful of games that become the next big thing, become that next big thing isn’t so easy. That’s why mobile gaming turned out not to be the bottomless goldmine that EA thought it would be when the spent so much money buying those companies, or why Zynga went through tough times when it couldn’t put out another Farmville.

      2. BlueHorus says:

        Apparently, whales can be really obnoxious to customer support, for this exact reason. They know that the company needs them, and so take advantage of it.

        (Well, apocryphally. This is something that I read in a old Cracked.com article before it got shit a while back. Still, it does make sense.)

      3. Felblood says:

        Eh, there is a business model for that. I think BDO is using it, even.

        Milk a given whale for all he’s worth, and once you’ve got his money, churn him out and get new whales.

        The content is front loaded with promise, but it doesn’t keep it’s promises, and the endgame is just PVP E-peen waving, or nothing.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      I keep oscillating between pity and anger at people who regularly fork up money for this kind of game.
      Because while they’re being exploited, sure, they are – actively, regularly – contributing to their own exploitation.
      And they’re also helping microtransactions appear in more and more places, ever more aggrivating, and just…lazy* ways.
      If it didn’t make money, it wouldn’t be happening.

      Imagine a restaurant (A) that makes good-quality [insert your favourite food here] at a decent price, with a nice atmosphere. And, they make a tidy profit. Great!
      Then another restaurant (B) opens up down the street. Their [food] isn’t as good, the staff are rude, and they charge extra for condiments. The cutlery is cheap plastic, and when it breaks customers have to buy more.
      And yet, against all logic, this restaurant makes a hell of a lot of money – and they’re paying less on ingerdients!

      How long until restaurant A starts to copy resteraunt B? And – crucially – how much of that is the fault of the customers who are willing to pay the same (or more!) money for the substandard restaurant B experience?

      *Renting a virtual item? Are you kidding me?!

      1. Olivier FAURE says:

        I’m pretty sure predatory free-to-plays aren’t a viable business long term; even if the whales never tire of spending immense amounts of money for the deluxe edition experience of lame-ass games, these games can only attract whales if they have a non-whale community of players to spread the word and make the whales look powerful by comparison.

        But casual players that are ready to play predatory free-to-plays are a limited, dwindling resource; sooner or later they get bitten one time too many, get disgusted with the monetization schemes, and learn to run away from games harassing you with their ingame shop.

        I think the free-to-play games that work best long term (as opposed to “make yet another MMO clone, use predatory practices and still barely break even”) are the ones that are attractive both to whales, and the community that supports them. Hence why most monetization schemes these days are focused on non-intrusive purchasable cosmetics and upgrades that you unlock by playing long enough.

        1. Jennifer Snow says:

          Dungeons and Dragons Online was literally THE FIRST MMO to go free-to-play and not only are they still in operation after thirteen years (which is, frankly, ancient in MMO terms), the devs recently split from their parent company and the ONLY THING their company does now is run Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online.

          They have a good model–the store is full of convenience items, but you can get EVERYTHING just by playing the game if you want to.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I’m pretty sure predatory free-to-plays aren’t a viable business long term

          Sadly,thats not the case.Some of the first ones to come up with the model still exist and still bring in lots of money even today.Oh,there are a bunch of them,and its only due to luck if one will rise into the successful millions earner,but the ones that do remain there for years.

        3. Philadelphus says:

          But casual players that are ready to play predatory free-to-plays are a limited, dwindling resource

          Are they though? New people start playing games every day. Every one of these games is SOMEONE’S first experience with such tactics. Even if they burn out after one game and go elsewhere, there might still be enough new players to these games afloat.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Why imagine such a thing when it does exist in the real world already.You have described fast food industry.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Fast food is – usually – both faster and cheaper than a restaurant, though.
          It’s not the same as a trip to [insert fancy restaurant here].

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            And paying real money to buy a fancy weapon is faster than grinding for it,and a micro transaction is less than paying for a full $60 game.So free to play games DO operate exactly like fast food restaurants.Fee to pay games,as Jim Stirling dubbed them,those things are shit all around.

            1. Scimitar says:

              BDO ironically isn’t actually that bad when you’ve learned more of the ins-and-outs of the game, but like the fast food micro transaction example Shamus posted awhile back the presentation is all awful. There’s only a handful of things you’d probably want to pay money for: cosmetics, inventory space, weight limit, pets, and character slots.

              In game you can actually buy the outfits for silver on the market place (placed up by other players on occasion), and they actually usually go for shockingly little silver (about 1 million silver per real $, in a game where you can often earn 1-2 million silver an hour if you cared to, I paid about 34 million for mine). Mechanically they offer pretty small bonuses (like, -10% durability loss for the relevant slot), there’s at least one early quest that gives you a permanent outfit to slot in, and at least for the last month they’ve been handing out several temporary 7 day outfits.

              Inventory expands with the black spirit quests, and you can use your mounts to carry items and offload weight. The game also hands you three mounts within the start of the game, you get some more for logging in a few days in a row, you can buy more from the stable or tame them, and all your mounts are shared account wide. You also get several pets from just logging in, I’ve gotten two this way.

              Character slots you have to buy unfortunately, but at least you can freely change up your appearance, so you mainly only need to get more slots if you happen to want to play a new class. There’s also no level cap from what I understand, so you can eventually grind out the skill points permanently, it’s just… really, really slow after 50.

              None of which is particularly good, but it’s definitely not mandatory to pay cash and you can reasonably grind out things. But by god the presentation is awful. The game hits you with all these limits and empty outfit slots, and constantly fills up your inventory with trash to put the pressure on. And then when you inevitably you h/it your inventory limit it’ll pop up saying “man, wouldn’t you like to pay $1 for salt with your fries.” This is especially prevalent in the game pre-50, where you’d naturally form your first impressions, followed by the game doing almost nothing to let you know you even have options to patiently grind out the majority of this stuff.

              tl;dr
              Presentation pushes their micro-transaction model from annoying to awful.

            2. Guest says:

              You completely missed their point and once again, said something mistaken which had been corrected.

              Fast food is cheap, these games are not. You know how shitty fast food places reach saturation in a market? Cutting costs so they can charge less for their product, and outcompete competition who can’t or won’t cut those costs. How did Dominos become so successful in Australia? They started selling pizzas for $5, shitty, terrible pizzas, but they only cost $5, and they undercut every single one of their competitors, driving numerous locations out of business. Fast food is fast and cheap, buying to get around grinding is fast, but it’s not cheap at all, and you just need to stop, jesus.

              It’s not a good comparison you’re making. And the way you argue is just straight up bad faith.

              1. EmmEnnEff says:

                I can’t speak for Dominos Australia, but Dominos (at least in the US) has re-invented itself. It’s no longer a cheap vendor of crap pizzas – its now a cheap vendor of… Perfectly serviceable pizzas.

                If you want *great* pizza, you could do better. If you want Thursday night pizza, you could also do a lot worse.

                1. Bloodsquirrel says:

                  Eh…

                  I find that the problem with Dominoes (And Pizza Hut… and a lot of fast food, actually) is quality control. If the food is made to spec, it’s pretty decent sometimes. I love a good Rally’s burger. But half or more of the time it’s awful. I’ve had Dominoes pizzas that were really good, and some where they couldn’t be bothered to cover half the pizza with the cheese.

                  The “upper scale” chains like Five Guys, by contrast, will reliably produce a good burger. Not the world’s best burger, maybe, but a good burger.

          2. Tom says:

            Emphasis on “usually!” Come and see how it’s done in Britain. As I believe Bill Bryson once observed, a uniquely amusing characteristic of most British attempts at cultural appropriation is that when we borrow a concept from another culture, we almost invariably forget to include the one facet that gave it its core value (and, in this case, *any* value).

            In other words, our fast food is slow.

  6. I experienced similar inexplicable time delay impositions 10 years ago in a Korean MMO called Last Chaos. (Which still exists!) I think the delays have more to do with encouraging frequent player logins than any kind of real-world “simulation”.

    A friend who had no prior experience with MMOs got hooked on Last Chaos and invited me to play with her. I thought it was absolutely terrible. She would spend $50/month on it!

    I think those of us who have been playing online games for decades have a set of expectations that newer players don’t have.

    I also think that Korean MMOs are often intentionally designed to appeal to players with gambling inclinations.

    1. Felblood says:

      Habituation is the term d’art.

      It’s exactly as skeezy as it sounds.

  7. Zekiel says:

    I genuinely don’t understand games these days.

    I’m currently playing an iOS game called DeathWatch, which is very fun. Naturally its has real money purchases available (because of course it does). The highest one is £14, which is peanuts compared to what you’re describing here, but even £14 seems pretty extravagant to me. If that unlocked the full game that’d be OK (though still pricey for a tablet game). But it doesn’t. It gives you a bunch of “card packs” containing random stuff.

    Who are the people who spend money on this crap?

    1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

      Who are the people who spend money on this crap?

      People with more income than they know what to do with, or people like me, who unfortunately don’t realise they’re spending a lot of real money (in a part of my mind I know how much I’m spending, but another part doesn’t recognise that as real money because it’s all in-game, so I don’t feel like I’m spending anything).

      I’ve only recently managed to get away from every game like that I was playing, and I hope I can stay away. It’s a real problem.

  8. Oliver says:

    I was amazed when you didn’t have to follow up the line “but I did purchase an extra character slot” with “for one month”. Going by the rest of the article it feels more accident than design that BDO lets you buy any kind of permanent account upgrade rather than renting it on a monthly basis.

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      If it makes you feel any better, the impression I got that it was an upgrade specific to that character and not to the account and that it does not carry over to other characters. Though I totally expected to read “for a month” there too.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        I’d like to think that Shamus just has too much common sense/self-respect to buy a virtual item that only lasted a month.

        The impression I got was that he shopped around for something to buy from the shop so that he could include a section in article about what it’s like buying something in BDO.

        1. Shamus says:

          This, and I really did want another character slot. Originally I was going to look at the different classes and talk about how they played, and I only had 6 character slots and there are 14 classes, so…

          But then the game annoyed me into leaving. Still, I’m glad I got something from the cash shop just so I had a sense of what it was like.

          1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

            This is where I’m incredibly naïve because I’ve never really played this sort of MMO, so I don’t even know how the most basic technical aspects of it work. The closest point of reference I have to “character slots” are the old school console games with a set number of save slots. But those were the result of technical limitations that don’t seem like they should be a very big deal at this point. I suppose there could still be server-based limitations on a game with millions of players, but that’s speculation on my part. However, the fact that any player can buy more character slots suggests to me that the number is trivial from a technological standpoint and is set to hassle people just enough to want to opt for more. But there’s a good chance that I’ve over-simplified things.

            But I’m glad you were able to take that lemon to make us some sweet lemonade. That game economy truly looks like a nightmare.

            1. Droid says:

              the old school console games with a set number of save slots. But those were the result of technical limitations that don’t seem like they should be a very big deal at this point.

              Which still exist in fairly-recent games (Batman Arkham games IIRC) even when playing on PC! *grumble, grumble*

              Terribly sorry, that’s still a sore spot from my childhood.

              That said, as someone in a similar situation as you, I’m kinda curious as well. The concept seems so alien on the one hand, and like just the kind of shenanigans one of these games would pull, so I guess it’s just limiting the number of characters per account to rake in even more money.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Which still exist in fairly-recent games (Batman Arkham games IIRC) even when playing on PC! *grumble, grumble*

                Good news then!Konami has cracked the “selling save slots for real world money” wall,and in a few years those will also spill into other games.Then,you will have the glorious option to buy more save slots for your single player game.

            2. Adeon says:

              The closest point of reference I have to “character slots” are the old school console games with a set number of save slots. But those were the result of technical limitations that don’t seem like they should be a very big deal at this point.

              You’re basically correct. For some early MMOs there were technical limitations that limited character slots, although it was mostly in the form of the developers not realizing people would want multiple characters and coding the database or interface in a way that made associating multiple characters with the same account incredibly difficult without a major rewrite.

              Nowadays limits on character slots and selling extras is purely a business model decision. That being said, it’s one that most people are relatively accepting of (so long as the price isn’t egregious), partly from habit and partly because it’s not really something that’s in your face, you only think about it when you want to make a new character so it doesn’t harass you like other forms of micro-transactions.

              1. Lars says:

                One problem I have with characters in Online games is to find a name that isn’t already occupied. BDO does that twice. Your account name (surname) has to be unique to every other player. And each character of that account has to have a name (forename) distinct to every other player character. (Numbers only allowed at the end of a name.) I tinkered for about 40 Minutes for just one character.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  You mean even suitcase12345 was taken?Devious!

                  What you mention is kind of baffling.Arent you registering with an email,like every other mmo?If not,why the hell not,seeing how it has a monetary component.If yes,then why the hell do you also need to give any name,let alone a unique one,to that account?

              2. Michael says:

                Limiting the number of slots isn’t, entirely, a business decision. Or at least, not an example of naked avarice.

                MMOs (at least any competently coded ones) store all the character information server side. There’s a number of reasons for this, the most obvious is to prevent you from cracking open a utility and editing your save data.

                This means that any character you create is chewing up a small piece of their server. Individually that’s not much of an issue, but when you’re talking about tens of thousands of accounts, up to millions in the case of successful MMOs, that can quickly turn into a lot of data.

                More than that, don’t underestimate how many characters some players can rack up.

                My big offender back in the day was Champions Online, which would give you character slot every time you hit level cap (if you were a subscriber). I had somewhere north of 40 characters in that game.

                So, yes, it is a business decision, but it’s not motivated primarily by greed.

            3. Bloodsquirrel says:

              Character slots, IMO, are a fair thing to charge for. If you’re playing the game enough to need more than six character slots, then you’re playing it enough to justify spending a few bucks on it.

              They’re also a game-model-friendly way of monetizing something. They don’t compromise the experience of playing the game for the rest of your characters. They don’t encourage pitting progress made by playing versus progress made by paying. They’ve got a clearly defined scope, and it’s a permanent upgrade.

              Yes, a character slot is basically just a trivial amount of hard drive space on the server, but that’s not what you’re paying for. You’re paying for the development and operation of the game that you’re otherwise getting for free (well, for most games that charge for character slots).

  9. Nick Powell says:

    If they’re already taking 35% tax, wouldn’t a 30% tax reduction mean a 46% bonus to what you were making before? I’m surprised they don’t market it that way.

    Unless I got that wrong and the percentages are different

    1. Chris says:

      If you sell something on the market you have a 5% fee. And a 30% “tax”. So the total cut is 35%. This 30% tax is removed if you are a premium member. So its 30% reduction in an additive sense, not multiplicative.

  10. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    This makes Bethesda’s horse armor seem downright reasonable. Reading these outrageous prices made me go back and look up Oblivion’s horse armor to reacquaint myself with what had us all in an uproar back in the day and the horse armor DLC cost a whopping $2.50. And the armor didn’t vanish at the end of the month. But it quickly became a meme. If we applied the same scale of outrage to the cosmetic costs of Black Desert Online, a statistically significant portion of the settled world would be on fire right now.

    1. Hal says:

      That was back in the day before microtransactions went from novelty to business model. Now, especially in the era of MMOs and mobile games, microtransactions aren’t just a way to supplement the revenue stream of a game, it IS the revenue stream of the game.

      Bethesda ran into the problem of being an early adopter.

      1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

        A fun added irony is that now Bethesda has positioned themselves as one of the last champions for single-player gaming. As the game-as-service tidal wave makes extra content more frequent and more costly, the horse armor DLC guys might be a beacon in the storm. Unless I give them too much credit, which is quite possible.

        1. KarmaTheAlligator says:

          Remember that they went ahead and monetised some of the mods for their games, so I wouldn’t exactly call them a beacon of hope.

          1. TheCheerfulPessimist says:

            A NEW HAND TOUCHES THE BEACON!!!

      2. Matt van Riel says:

        “Bethesda ran into the problem of being an early adopter.”

        They have a habit of doing this in all the wrong ways. Remember the paid mods fiasco? Yeah.

        1. Olivier FAURE says:

          I’m still pissed that people were pissed about that.

          Nobody was pointing a gun to anyone’s head and forcing them to buy mods; nobody was pointing a gun to modders’ heads and forcing them to make their free mods paid.

          I still don’t understand on a gut level how you can fail at economics so bad that you can think that a company offering a service that was previously unavailable available is somehow evil.

          Like, if you think mods are too expensive or something, boycott them, but why do you care that modders are allowed to sell their work where they previously couldn’t? Even if Valve and Bethesda were taking too big a cut (and I think that’s debatable), that’s the paid modders’ problem, not yours.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            To be fair,the way bethesda introduced them was pretty bad.Paid mods are a good idea,but not the way those guys tried it.

          2. Droid says:

            Making mods paid is gonna make people more protective of the content they created. I’m part of a modding scene that has “whatever you put into your mods can be used freely by the devs or other modders” (for the specific purpose of creating more in-game content) as a fundamental rule that comes with the mod license (which in turn comes with the dev tools). The modding scene has been thriving for about 15 years now, with complete overhauls, new assets of all kinds (textures, meshes, levels, music, animations, even professional voice acting!) being contributed still, a modder’s workshop with an extensive archive, etc., etc.

            None of that would exist if those modders had had the possibility and inclination to demand payment. (in fact, lots of people in that particular scene still insist that it is illegal under the license to even get donations for their mods, which is not true, but apparently easily believed). Maybe that goes too far into the topic of intellectual property and stuff, but I for one am very glad that the one guy who wrote the mod license terms (way back when) took this stance.

            And just to be clear here: The real problem with paid mods is not the people who are currently already developing mods (without payment), because they would do it no matter what, and do it for the joy of creating something new from scratch, or for whatever other non-financial reason.
            Adding the option of mandatory payment alone is going to attract low-quality mods from modders who make mods to turn a profit. There will still be the other modders as well, but their content will be drowned out in a sea of bad deals, texture swaps of existing mods, etc.
            Add to that the fact that you can already easily steal someone else’s work and, depending on what type of content it was, mask it just enough to make it a ROYAL pain for the original modder to prove that this is their intellectual property being stolen… Yeah, the money this would generate for modders would for the most part not go to the modders making high-quality content by investing much of their free time.

            And lastly: Even in the games industry, getting ripped off with a stupidly bad game (with a nice cover art and text) and having no way of returning it and getting your money back has already been a problem among professionals. I doubt either Valve or Bethesda would want to play judges for the bickering of players who feel ripped off, modders who feel under-rewarded, etc. Just imagine how much worse an environment for making informed purchases that amateur scene would be.

            Maybe compare the situation to YouTube (where content creators, with the advent of Adblockers and Patreon, similarly get paid through the goodwill of their audience) implementing a system to pay for every video, and blocking off your access to it if you don’t. There would be a massive spike in mistrust, people shouting that YouTube is ruining themselves, their great (okay, acceptable) platform, and a lot of people’s work, be it professional or amateur, would be ruined by it.
            It’s not EVIL or ILLEGAL, per se, but an enormously stupid move where no one at all would profit in the long term.

            1. Mephane says:

              Good points. One thing to add is that paid mods (with of course a part of the proceeds going to the publisher/developer) is that they further incentivise releasing games as bare-bones as possible, because modders can improve and fix it while simultaneously generating extra revenue without even being paid by the company.

              Hence I am only cautiously looking forward for Elder Scrolls VI. If it’s got paid mods, it’s probably a no-deal for me.

            2. Daemian Lucifer says:

              None of that would exist if those modders had had the possibility and inclination to demand payment.

              This is not true.Because there exists an industry that rakes in a lot of cash,yet is chock full of copying,stealing,and bootlegging,with almost none of it ever getting even near the court.Its the fashion industry.And that is an industry where people deal with real world tangible things.So if that can work,doing the same with intangible virtual goods would work even easier.

              Yet,for some reason,video games picked a different route to go on,where people squabble about intellectual property and trademarks that ruins creativity more often than it actually helps anyone.

              1. Droid says:

                Yes, but people NEED clothes, they’re practical as well as nice-looking, and your clothes are all too often also a class statement. Compare that to mods, where demanding payment would just make 90% of the people not play them anymore because (unless you’re a tester or something) playing a mod is pure recreation.
                That not only hurts the total playtime of the mod in question (if that were the case, whatever, their loss) but also makes other modders less likely to start new projects, get new ideas to improve existing systems that the mod touched, etc. It would be a big if indirect hit to the community if any single major mod that is now free for everyone to download and play would move behind a paywall. Not every one. Any.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Yes, but people NEED clothes

                  Clothes are not the same as fashion.This is fashion.No one needs THAT.And there is literally no incentive to buy dolce gabbana when right across the street you have the exact same doIce gabana,made in the same factory often,just without the brand name.Yet those things thrive.

                2. SKD says:

                  Yes, but if I recall correctly part of the terms for Bethesda’s modstore is that the mods have to be original property both in concept and publication. So a nexus modder can choose to create new mods to purchase and sell on the Bethesda modstore, but they can’t take their mod down from the nexus and republish it for pay.

                  1. Droid says:

                    That could mean anything, depending on how they’re gonna interpret it. It basically says nothing more than “we’re going to draw some line in the sand, anywhere between mere copy-paste mods and 100% original ones.”
                    I can’t blame them for not being more specific, as I wouldn’t want to be the arbiter of any disputes arising from this. It just seems like a pretty empty promise considering that they want to have as many mods as possible available to be sold, at a time where about 99% of possible (and realistically doable) mod concepts have to have already been thought of.

                    Speaking of “realistically doable”, the obvious next step is Steam Greenlight and Early Access for mods, right?

            3. Olivier FAURE says:

              These are all underwhelming arguments against paid mods. At best, they’re arguments against a badly organized paid mods economy, but the way to fix that is to replace it with a well organized paid mods economy, not forbid any monetary transaction.

              Steam already has a refund system in place that I’ve used; you don’t even need to prove it’s a scam, just to use it within a few days of buying the product and say “I feel the advertising was misleading, I didn’t really like it”, and bam, you get your money back.

              Bad quality mods can filtered out by good platform quality control (although Steam is kind of dropping that particular ball these days); blatant rip-offs can be countered by quality control, and having the modders stake money to submit a mod; etc.

              There would be problems, sure, but that’s not a valid argument for not trying at all; these same arguments could all be applied to argue that Steam Greenlight shouldn’t exist; and without Greenlight, we wouldn’t have such a deluge of shovelware on Steam; but we also might not have Good Robot and Pseudoku.

              Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for open source and sharing resources and assets with everyone; but I think it’s naive to think that not ever allowing creators to sell their work is somehow beneficial for them, or even the community.

              1. Droid says:

                Yes, and that is why I specifically am against VALVE and BETHESDA starting the first paid mods economy. That cannot possibly turn out well. Valve doesn’t care whether you’re content with your product, they only started taking return claims seriously once they had to (because of a court ruling). Now they grudgingly accept.

                And when was the last time any somewhat functional system was designed by Bethesda?

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Hmmm….They did have some inovations in dewm.That one was functional.

                  Joking aside,you are correct.Having those be in charge of paid mods is terrible.The sad thing is,I cant really think of a company that would manage mods in a tollerable way.Id say firaxis,but they are just the developer behind terrible,terrible 2k games,and their incredible independency would most likely not translate into such an endeavor.Maaaaaaaaaybbeeee gog could do it,but they arent interested in that.

            4. DavidJCobb says:

              I’m part of a modding scene that has “whatever you put into your mods can be used freely by the devs or other modders” (for the specific purpose of creating more in-game content) as a fundamental rule that comes with the mod license (which in turn comes with the dev tools). […] None of that would exist if those modders had had the possibility and inclination to demand payment.

              Those sorts of open asset permissions weren’t a standard thing in the Skyrim modding community even before paid mods. People can certainly choose to open source their work, but the default position is restricted permissions, and the staff at the Nexus and on /r/skyrimmods moderate accordingly.

              The logistical concerns about sales are fine, but the notion that this would “kill the community” was always hyperbolic. Arguably the uproar and harassment revealed that there was far less “community” than we believed.

              1. Droid says:

                I very much believe my community would not still be alive and healthy nearly 15 years after the release of the mod kit if the mod license had been any more restrictive.
                I am aware that Skyrim’s is, though, and if that community survives until 2026, it’s probably because of the one hundred times higher number of copies sold, and (assuming everyone has 5 copies of the game by now) an approx. 20 times higher number of total players. Oh, and the 30th re-release that is scheduled for that year.

                It is dystopian to believe that anything other than lots of time could wipe out a modding scene as big as Skyrim’s, yes, but if you look at game and modding communities in the past, I think you can see that if people lose trust, it’s often enough for the devs or community managers to make one particularly bad decision to turn the most engaged and motivated members of the community away. From there on out, usually, more and more members start to leave, and never come back.
                What I picture when people say “it’s gonna be the end of the Skyrim modding community”, is not “there will be zero engagement with Skyrim mods after this”, but “this decision will shorten the lifespan of this community, maybe by years”.

                And yes, maybe some people (myself included) are being hyperbolic. But for all its shortcomings, the Skyrim community is currently fine and a source of enjoyment and entertainment for many people. Of course, the idea that Bethesda would want to tamper with it in a way no one has pulled off before would make some of these people uneasy.

            5. Kestrellius says:

              What game has the modding community you were talking about?

                1. Kestrellius says:

                  Thanks.

          3. BlueHorus says:

            So this is more-or-less what Droid said above, but since he did it in more detail I can be a bit more succinct.

            While a Paid Mods system has good points, amongst the bad are:

            – Turning a community into competition.
            Lots of mods are collaborative and use each others code, or work – but now that the work put into mods is worth money, people may well share less/argue more/steal each other’s work.

            – Incentivising easy mods over good ones.
            That Complete Overhaul Mod will take ~100 hours or so and sell at $15-20…maybe. And there will always be bugs.
            Meanwhile, that set of armour for $1.99? The ‘money-out-for-effort-in’ ratio is in a different ballpark altogether, and little/no bugs.
            You know how Steam Greenlight is infamous for being full of half-arsed crap, shovelware and asset flips? It’d be like that.

            – My mod doesn’t work, who do I go to? I paid money for it, after all. In fact, is there any authority in place for a dispute of…any kind?
            Add this to the fact that the modder’s aren’t necessarily working together (see ‘competition’, above) and mods quite often conflict with each other at the best of times…

            …not that these arguments are decisive. There are good points to paid mods, as well.

            1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

              Yeah, if you make the “windows are better” mod, and then someone later uses that mod in their “Complete housing improvements” mod, do they owe you some of their profits? How much? Do you have to get lawyers and negotiate ahead of time? It’s a mess…

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Not if its the publisher who gets all the money,and then distributes it to the modders based on how much they were sold,with a certain threshold.If the publisher is good about this,they will make it mandatory for everyone to give a detailed list of which mods their mod depends on,not only in order to decide how to split the money,but also in order to prevent conflict issues to the players,especially after a patch.

                But,the publisher being good about this….that is one huge hurdle.

              2. Olivier FAURE says:

                I’m pretty sure it’s a solved problem, since “use other people’s assets in my product” is the model Unity is based on. I don’t know how they manage it legally, though.

          4. Armstrong says:

            For me it’s a bit of a childish moral thing: Game mods are one of the last places where creativity is driven by actual passion and not business interests. Why ruin it?

            Just like your gut tells you there isn’t anything wrong modders charging for their work, my gut tells me selling mods for money is making a mockery of the very concept of community mods. The total-conversion ones are one thing, but all the little”cool new armor” or “slight fix to the UI” ones? To me it’s like charging money to use a park bench.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Why not have both?Games are being sold for money,but that does not mean there arent a bunch of free games made simply because someone wanted to test their skill.Same goes for movies,songs,paintings,…

              1. Armstrong says:

                I’m gonna have to stretch the “paid park bench” analogy a bit further because it’s the only way I could think of to make people understand my base feelings on the matter: I don’t want ‘some’ parks to have paid benches and others not. I find the entire concept repulsive on a basic level.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Ok,if you want to talk in terms of park benches:The reason why park benches being paid for is silly is because park benches are already paid for.If the park is public,then those who made them and those who maintain them are paid from the taxes.If the park is private,then the owner pays people to make and maintain them from their own pocket.So park benches are not free,SOMEONE is paying for them SOMEHOW.But NO ONE is paying for the free modes.

                  And again,if an artist wants to distribute their art for free,they are free to do that.Many artists do,especially these days.But if an artist wants to be compensated for their art,why not allow them to ask for it?Why not make it easier for them to do so?

    2. Bloodsquirrel says:

      Keep in mind that you’re talking about Oblivion, which was a full-priced, single-player game. Yes, $2.50 for horse armor isn’t that much for a F2P game, but those sort of microtransactions in $60 games are still criticized.

      When you pay $10 for a cosmetics pack in an online game, you know that you’re not paying $10 for a handful of art assets. You’re paying for everything else that you’re getting for free otherwise. When Bethesda asked $2.50 for horse armor, you were paying $2.50 for horse armor.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        This one is not a free to play mmo.

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          …and it’s called out for being particularly bad.

  11. default_ex says:

    I remember a time when those of us that seen this kind of thing coming were called crazy whack jobs when playing EverQuest and seeing the early incarnations of their game store. It started slowly and escalated into damn near destroying that game before I got tired of it and quit. The way I see it if a game allows you to buy your way past learning how to actually play it, then chances are your not going to find enough experienced players to really enjoy an MMO experience. So that’s my litmus test, what does the store provide versus what players can do without it. An immediate red flag for me is something like being able to heal oneself when not playing a class that can normally do that, that has tremendous balancing impact.

    I would love to find an MMORPG where real money transactions aren’t implemented at all and enough care is given to balance to provide adequate challenge without playing a numbers game. Unfortunately it looks like those days are gone.

    1. BlueBlazeSpear says:

      I’m an old school, dyed in the wool single-player who gets nothing from MMORPGS. Back in the day, I had a roommate who had an Xbox 360 and I tried online play on his account for a bit. The entire experience for me was one of 12 year olds using colorful language to question my race, my sexuality and the quality and number of my mother’s sexual partners. I decided that wasn’t for me. But that was still long enough back that you could still play games with friends while sitting in the same room, so I didn’t feel like I was missing much.

      I’m reaching a point where I suspect that my feelings about MMORPGs need re-evaluated, but articles like this one don’t make me think that my re-evaluation would come out in favor of MMORPGs. Plus, I’m one of those holdouts who feels like diving into online gaming makes me a contributor to the death of good single-player gaming.

      Mouthy children are one thing, but a game that’s designed to frustrate me in attempts to bleed me dry by chipping away at my real world currency is unconscionable to me. Especially when the money exchange system seems designed to be intentionally opaque as to not to remind people how much they’re actually spending.

      Some tiny part of me hopes that Anthem will somehow “fix” online gaming, but the rest of me knows that the Bioware that I love is dead and that the game will just be more of the same, which doesn’t work in its favor.

      1. Matt van Riel says:

        “Especially when the money exchange system seems designed to be intentionally opaque as to not to remind people how much they’re actually spending.”

        It’s the exact same tactic casinos use. Have people purchase chips instead of using real money, because then it doesn’t feel like you’re spending real money and you’re more likely to spend more as a result.

        And there are still people who argue things like loot boxes aren’t gambling, heh.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Huh. How did I not see that? Of course that’s why it works that way.
          Just like the way the exchange rate is set up to leave you with almost enough pearls to buy something else.

          I guess I don’t have the right kind of devious mind to run a game like this.

          1. Mephane says:

            Well, it is that plus you can never buy the “chips” in the exact amount you want. Like Shamus’ article says – he inevitably ended up with some spare pearls but nothing useful to spend on without buying additional pearls which would in turn leave some spare on his account.

            Exceptions to this rather shady practice are so rare that I can only even name a single example, Elite Dangerous.

  12. tremor3258 says:

    That is almost ruthlessly priced – it actually makes an alternate gambling system attractive (SWTOR for instance often has direct sales, or cheap gambling boxes) – you can’t put the cosmetic stuff on the auction house in Black Desert? I thought that was key to free-to-play implementation (people spend money, others spend time) but maybe just good free-to-play implementations.

  13. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    Asian developed (being general, referring to Japanese and Korean and Chinese games here) MMOs are very upfront scams is what it comes down to. Not that Western developed games don’t have scam elements, that would definitely not be true. But the Western practice is generally “make something good enough in some ways to make buying into the scam enticing”. Whereas the Asian model seems to be “make something pretty and then attack the players more relentlessly than the mobs in the game for their money.” It seems pretty common in these MMO games to have microtransactions like “make a chest appear (which then STARTS the RNG chain for a good item)”, then “pay a fee to slot the item”, and then “pay a fee to make the item look different” and so on.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      But the Western practice is generally “make something good enough in some ways to make buying into the scam enticing”

      Hahahahahaha!!!Thats a good one.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        It’s a true one though. Look at the most popular microtransaction games in the Western space.
        -Overwatch: Every aspect of the game is fully considered and designed around what would make the best GAME not the most MONEY. The scam is based around getting your characters to look pretty. People who enjoy the game are the most likely to buy into the scam.
        -Star Wars BF2: Tried for more of the Black Desert model (on a limited scale) and was FURIOUSLY punished for it. Switched completely to an Overwatch style model while spending a good deal of resources undoing the systems purposely made bad for the purposes of scoring more cash.
        -Shadow of War: The gameplay is meant to be a well balanced action game, the scam is based entirely on numbers. At this number, your guys will lose the fight in a Castle Siege. If you buy into this scam, you’ll skip the work of making everyone’s number higher and then your guys will win the fight. They had a couple hours of grinding barrier in between the segments of good gameplay. They didn’t tank the gameplay and offer to un-ruin it for cash money.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Star wars did not go for the bdo model,it used the very successful ea sports model that has been going on for years now.And while sticking to ea,lets not forget all the ways they tried to cram in different types of microtransations into bioware games,some with more,some with less success.

          But leaving ea aside,there is heartstone and its various clones,that are basically just rng dressed pretty.Then there are the “mobile integration” crap ubisoft has infused into its games,which are basically just waiting games that give you loot for their generic open world tower climbatons.

          As for shadow of war:

          They didn’t tank the gameplay and offer to un-ruin it for cash money.

          Thats precisely what they did.They admitted it themselves now that they want to save face:

          In order to fully restore the core promise of the Nemesis System, we’ll be permanently removing Gold, War Chests and the Market from Shadow of War.

          And of course,lets not forget injecting microtransactions into a REMASTER of modern warfare.

          1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

            Hmm… I disagree that Battlefront 2 was running on the EA Sports model. The EA Sports model is one specific mode where you buy or earn currency to make your ideal “Ultimate” team, that you then pit against other people’s Ultimate teams. If you just want to play online scrimmages, you can do that, everyone gets fair stats for that. So there’s a fun game (for those who like that) with a nasty scam also packaged in there to soak up extra cash. BF2 was different, EVERY battle was subject to the idea of your character being more or less powered up based on how many microtransaction cards you had.

            Hearthstone is… tricky. Definitely collectible card games are a great way to make that dirty microtransaction money, but normally they’re a LOT more reasonable than your typical gacha game. Stuff like “everybody has to buy a random draft to get in” or the ability to just buy a competitive deck a lot of the time exists in this genre, which is a lot different than the arms race style development of a Puzzle & Dragons or Final Fantasy Record Keeper for example.

            Shadow of War is definitely debatable how much they ruined it. Certainly they made one of their key systems less special. My point was, they didn’t do something like “you have an energy meter, you can only recruit new orcs when it is full, you can pay to increase your energy back to full” or “you have a limited armory for the Orc captains, pay a fee to increase that space” or “limited Orcs only for December, buy a loot box for the chance at tier 9 orcs ONLY in the loot boxs and ONLY in December” or etc. They didn’t go full gacha, it’s a game with a nasty system plugged into it. Which is why they’re capable of pulling it out and are doing so…

            1. guy says:

              Shadow Of War definitely sabotaged gameplay to serve the microtransactions; they made it impossible to hard carry an Uruk to warchief status, thus making captain quality more important than in the original. Specifically, they disabled the bodyguard auto-promote and made both bodyguarding and promotion in a region you don’t control require a pitfight you can’t intervene in rather than a trial you can intervene in. Add in Iron Will, which I don’t mind in principle because branding everyone takes away some of the fun, but seems to be in the list of attributes gained on levels and becomes infuriatingly common* and it’s pretty annoying trying to infiltrate fortresses without loot boxes. I suspect it might also be why you can’t reanimate enemy captains once you unlock zombie captains.

              *They might’ve patched it; I played it some more around the Blade Of Galadriel release and didn’t see Iron Will very often on new captains.

    2. Doot doot says:

      It’s not really “Asian MMOs”, but rather Korean MMOs. Games like FFXI and FFXIV don’t rake you over the coals like this.

      1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

        I don’t think those two games are good examples. XI was before the era of the microtransaction, people hadn’t even really heard of such a thing at that time. XIV started out really poorly and then was revamped based mostly on the examination of Western MMOs.

  14. Joshua says:

    I’m just wondering when this is all going to turn into another Video Game Crash.

    My wife and I met each other online playing Neverwinter Nights back in 2004 (we’re currently playing the Enhanced Edition again right now), and then played Lord of the Rings Online for about ten years, with a little of Guild Wars 2 mixed in. It’s very hard to find a multi-player RPG game that we can play together these days that isn’t an MMO*. We have an X-Box One, but it seems like most multi-player games on it are online only. Heck, we’ve been playing a lot of Minecraft together on the X-Box One just because that was one of the few games that met our criteria.

    *Issue with MMOs isn’t the business model as much as the game model. We want something where grouping isn’t required but is encouraged enough where we enjoy going out adventuring together as a duo. Lord of the Rings Online used to be that way, but now it seems to be that landscape stuff is 95% faceroll easy and if you want a challenge you’ve got to group up with several others and go do repetitive instanced content. Gone are the days when we’d figure out what two classes would work together in complementary ways to go explore the world.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I’m just wondering when this is all going to turn into another Video Game Crash.

      Itll never happen the way it did back in the early days,which is the one everyone is expecting.BUT a video game crash IS happening already,only this time its in the form of politicians determining that loot boxes are gambling.

    2. John says:

      Have you tried the Divinity: Original Sin games? I’ve never played them, but they reviewed well and they support co-op.

      1. Joshua says:

        Yes. We bought Divinity OS2 for the computers. We initially played it together, but didn’t get the same sense of enjoyment as it is all turn-based. I went on to beat the game on a solo run whereas she got bored partway through the Second Act (which is very, very long). I think it’s also pretty limiting because it’s very hard to go off and do your own thing. The Classic Difficulty and up is set to be very challenging for most players with a full party, so going off anywhere alone is playing with fire. Even the Exploration difficulty would probably be fairly challenging with just a partial party in a lot of fights.

        We also bought OS1 for the X-Box One, but found the interface fairly clunky compared to playing OS2 with keyboards/mice.

    3. Daimbert says:

      SWTOR might work, since they now have difficulty levels that you can configure on your character and you can easily take two players and combine them with two companions to have things work. Although it still might be too easy at times.

  15. Paul Spooner says:

    Virtual item pricing is an odd thing. There’s no marginal costs, so they could probably sell cosmetic items for $1 and still turn a huge profit. On the other hand, the initial costs are at least $50 per item for modeling and texturing, and probably much more for whole armor sets. So, their price point is way more than they have to charge on volume, but way less than you’d have to pay to commission the 3d model yourself.

    1. Joshua says:

      I’ve wondered if a game would ever try to incorporate some sort of personalized art assets, and how much it would cost and/or whether they would provide a medium for players to design their own that’s compatible with the game engine. The #1 example I’m thinking of is for Guilds/Kinships/Clans/whatever to be able to design their own heraldic design.

      1. King Marth says:

        Warframe clan emblems do this, you submit an image with a processing fee (in premium currency) and on approval it is displayed in-game wherever you have clan-keyed accessories.

        More generally, Warframe does F2P right. Buy slots, buy cosmetics, then ignore the rest of the cash shop and directly trade premium currency with other players for their stuff, at whatever rate you negotiate. No way to generate that currency from nothing, but in practice you can convert rare items into premium currency by trading.
        No auction house, though. Have fun trawling trade chat.

        1. That’s my one complaint about Elder Scrolls Online, the lack of an AH (there are trading guilds with NPC merchants, but so not the same). On the plus side, I adore the subscription benefits. Unlimited bag for all the crafting mats, plus twice the bank space? OMG, YES! I can now GATHER ALL THE THINGS!
          I get some other stuff, but man, that bag, that bag alone’s worth the cost to me.

    2. Bloodsquirrel says:

      The initial costs for F2P virtual items are whatever it costs to make a game in which players can become invested in enough to want to buy cosmetics. The virtual items themselves cost almost nothing to make, but nobody would buy those items if they didn’t have a game for them to be attached to. They might be able to make a profit on a virtual item selling it at half a cent, but that’s not going to make the game itself profitable.

      It’s like buying a ticket at the movie theater. You’re not paying $10 for a < 1 cent piece of paper plus a portion of the fixed cost of the machine that printed it. You're paying $10 for all of the costs that go into running a theater and screening a movie. The ticket is just the mechanism for making you pay.

      For virtual items, it just happens that the payment mechanism comes after you've been allowed to use the product for free.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Hey,at least they are telling you precisely what you are going to get for your money,instead of offering you a chance to win those items you want.Which is understandable since this is an old game.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Except, as the previous article mentions, when the text in the shop is so poorly translated you don’t know what you’re getting.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      Champions Online is even older and they had no problem adding lootboxes. They didn’t retroactively change it so stuff that could be purchased directly can now only be obtained through them, but they made sure enticing new stuff is available exclusively this way.

      1. MelTorefas says:

        They didn’t retroactively change it so stuff that could be purchased directly can now only be obtained through them

        Mostly true, but there were actually a few items obtainable normally that became lootbox exclusive. I know because I missed getting one of them and then later decided I *really* wanted it for a certain costume, only to discover I would have to buy keys (CO gives you the boxes for free in huge quantities, but you have to buy the keys to open them).

        Only time I ever bought keys in that game (and thankfully I did get the thing I wanted; it was actually a ticket redeemable for one of several costume pieces, including the one I wanted, which is marginally less bad than looking for a drop of a specific item).

  17. etheric42 says:

    Not only that, but it sounds like you got scalped on the price of the game itself. I bought it around launch time and I don’t remember getting any discounts and it was still only $30.

  18. Dreadjaws says:

    Wow, this makes some of the bullshit freaking EA pulls look tame in comparison.

  19. Jabberwok says:

    Fortunately, a lot of the problems in this section of the article kind of don’t affect me. If I pay any money in a game with micro-transactions, I consider myself to have lost the game. Not only does it feel like a waste, it makes any game progression feel meaningless. I’ll just fight against the inconvenience for as long as I can take it, then stop playing.

    As far as outfits go, most of the higher tier ones look ridiculous and immersion-breaking, so I kind of don’t want them anyway. Though seeing other characters running around in clown costumes is weird, and now knowing that they must’ve paid money for it makes it more annoying somehow.

    Hopefully, I can just continue to take the simulationist bits at face value, since I refuse to acknowledge anything that lets you cheat your way out of it. I enjoy seeing people’s wagons rolling around, carrying gold, I assume, while I explore the landscape. I’ll probably never be engaging with that part of the game anyway. It would be nice if this were the fantasy equivalent of EVE, but I’ll just have to pretend.

    Beyond the personal level, the whole concept of renting virtual items for real money is an extra level of absurd. It would definitely infuriate me if I weren’t ignoring anything related to their store.

    And I don’t understand the Kakao cash thing. You would think it would be better for them to put as few clicks between you and their bank account as possible. The more steps a player has to go through to buy something, the more time they have to think about what they’re doing. Or even just succumb to laziness and give up, which is what I would do.

  20. MelTorefas says:

    Every now and then I burn out on World of Warcraft (WoW) and decide to play other MMOs. All of them I have tried (and that is many), without exception, use these “pay us to make this annoying limitation go away” BS schemes (though admittedly none of the ones I have played ever ask for such ridiculous amounts as BDO).

    Even FFXIV, the only other game than WoW that I know of to still charge a $15/month mandatory sub for playing, has this crap. It is way less than “free to play” or “buy to play” games, for sure, but there are still random annoying limitations that can only be removed by forking over more real world monies.

    The other thing I notice is that the interfaces in most MMOs are awful and the gameplay feels incredibly unpolished and janky. And again, this is even true of FFXIV, which has an interface that in some cases actually makes the game *harder* to play, plus a mandatory quest-based progression system that *actively* goes out of its way to waste the player’s time.

    True “f2p” games, especially Asian ones, often have even more atrocious interfaces, including features like premium real-money locked global chat channels that occupy their own separate chat window which cannot be muted, moved, or minimized (literally letting people pay to force you to read their crap). Also they love to do global announcements whenever a player gets something cool from a lootbox or other RNG mechanic (they actually added this to Champions Online too). Maybe it is just because I am autistic, but I literally cannot handle playing games like this.

    In the end I am super glad WoW has never gone F2P. I like just paying my monthly sub and not having to worry about crap being gated. I like that the only things in the cash shop are mounts (which you get plenty of in-game), pets (same), and a few random cosmetic items (very minimal, I think there are like 3 only); everything else comes from in-game progression. (Well, and character boosts, but again, leveling a character is actually quite easy so if folks want to pay to skip it, whatever.)

    1. Scerro says:

      I’ve found FF14 to be much more sane about all of this article’s complaints. Yes, there are Mounts/Armor sets on the shop. But they’re largely $10-25 a set, and much of the time they’re from previous seasonal in-game events and from their other franchises – such as Lightning’s outfit. WoW does mounts/pets too at about the same prices, just not gear.

      The thing FF14 does well comparatively to BDO, is that there’s plenty of great gear in game, and Glamour is being improved almost every patch with the Glamour dresser. New gear sets get released, and we’re supposed to get a new Deep Dungeon in 4.3 that will have glamour gear (level 1, any class can use).

      As for FF14’s UI, it’s decades ahead of WoW’s stock UI. But without modding you’re not going to get on par with WoW’s mods. So I’m chalking this one up to being spoiled. It’s perfectly serviceable, and once you get your bars in place and bound it’s fine.

      FF14 lets you pay for more retainers. But 2 is plenty unless you’re a crafting mogul. Other than that I can think of nothing that requires you to pay to remove inconveniences. Yes, there’s a level 60 skip potion, but WoW has been doing that for 5 years. Sure, they’re going to do the smartphone app, but blizzard literally did the same thing 8 years ago with the Armory app. And they charged a couple bucks a month too.

      I mean the things I like about FF14 that WoW directly violates:
      Relaxed gearing : Get tokens from raiding for ALL gear. I remember killing the 4th boss of dragon soul 16 times and never getting my mage staff. I’m all for removing RNG from the gearing process.
      Level Sync : I’ve heard and experienced WoW’s garbage level sync. DS leveling sucked because going up a level made it harder to kill mobs. As an 82 mage killing 83 mobs it GOT HARDER when I leveled up. Plus I’ve heard of the horror stories from this previous xpac.
      Character Investment : FFXIV lets you play all classes on a single character. WoW is alt hell, and you never get attached to yours because you’re too busy making another one. My neighbor talked about how he leveled a character to max and got it geared in a weekend.

      FF14 has a plenty of problems. But it’s not the run of the mill F2P MMO with garbage cash shop. In fact it’s WoW with console support, non-cartoony style, a storyline, no PvP, and all your normal Final Fantasy trappings (Cid, Ifrit, Shiva, Chocobos).

      I’ve learned over time that Blizzard’s design philosophy directly clashes with what I want for long term balance (They LOVE flavor-of-the-month, it’s like Meth to them).

    2. Sartharina says:

      At first I wondered what Guild Wars 2 had like your complaint, then remembered the Copper-fed Salvage tool, and unbreakable gathering tools.

    3. Doot doot says:

      I disagree with ltierally every one of your points in regards to XIV. There’s nothing in the game that is strictly meant to inconvenience you so that you’ll purchase a service.

      It’s a story-based MMO, so you should be expecting to do the story. ARR gets a bit long, but is generally worth it in my opinion. There’s no reason you should ever need more than two retainers, unless you’re a damn hoarder. I’m an Omnicrafter that regularly crafts and sells from each profession, which means a lot of extra materials kicking around in my inventory (and retainers, etc), and I still can’t fill up all the space I can use.

      So that really just leaves some cosmetic items and some mounts. I don’t really like seeing a cash shop at all in a sub-based MMO, but I’m willing to look past it in this case because the in-game gear is already so unique and varied, while being supported by a robust glamour system.

  21. RCN says:

    Remember kids: Games are now a service and publishers are EVER SO GRACIOUS and generous to ALLOW YOU the benefit of having an arbitrary access to them for a mere token and symbolic fee of fifty bucks every month. If you’re a loser. The cool kids are doing their part and forking over 2 grand a month because they like to win. DO YOU LIKE LOSING, YOU LOSER?

    And if you think this is wrong you’re a goddamn dirty communist who hates America!

    1. Mr. Wolf says:

      the way you said that actually reminded me of software licensing.

      “You didn’t buy the software, you bought permission to use the software.”

  22. Grampy_bone says:

    Yikes. I’m amazed games like this stay in business. Who pays these exorbitant sums?

    1. Matt Downie says:

      (1) People who have more money than they know what to do with.
      (2) People who are overly invested. “My real life is hopeless, but in this world I can live like a king for a couple of hundred dollars.”

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Also:
        (3) streamers who are given money specifically to spend on this shit to show it off in their streams.

  23. Christopher says:

    Oh, brother

  24. Sartharina says:

    You should come back to Guild Wars 2!

  25. Joshua Dolman says:

    Hey Shamus, just to let you know, I’m pretty sure it’s possible to purchase premium outfits from other players in the auction house for in game currency giving at least something to strive for, but that opens a whole other can of worms of P2W so I’m not sure if this is actually a good thing.

  26. Zanxthyll says:

    It’s not as bad as you make it out to be. At all. This is the second shitty review you have made about black desert online. Pointing this time mainly at spending “Optional” money choices. For one…costumes can be purchased using in game currency. And guess what…theyre pretty cheap given that they literally shower you with income through attendance rewards and events that never end.
    The only thing you can’t buy are lifeskills costumes. LT (weight cap increasers) and inventory slots. And they give out enough char slots per character if you aren’t lazy and do the inventory questline you can easily find by pressing O. You can manage items amongst alts. Multiple storages in each city that you can expand using contribution which is also earned in game if you aren’t lazy.
    All your negative reviews could simply be overcome by not being lazy. Having a bit of patience. Learning. I feel like you barely scratched the surface of the game and are now writing reviews about it. Maybe I should write a review given that I’ve put over 18000 hours of not being lazy into it.

    1. Hal says:

      I really hope you’re exaggerating on that number. That is literally more than 2 years of real time.

    2. Shamus says:

      You act like you’re arguing with me, but you’re actually agreeing with me. I claim this game is a pile of obnoxious hassles, and your counter-argument is that I’m “lazy” and just need to put THOUSANDS OF HOURS OF EFFORT into it.

      Yeah, just like I said. It’s filled with hassles. You’re absolutely right. I’m sure you can overcome the hassles of the game with “more patience”. Of course, this is true of all terrible games. You can always deal with shortcomings by putting up with them.

      On the other hand, you could also just go play a different, more fun game. That also works.

      Also, this is not the second “review”. If you check the title, you’ll see this is part 3. Spoiler: There’s one more coming next week, and it’s going to be even more negative. So yeah. You’ve got that to look forward to.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Could this be some clever spoof?

      1. Mephane says:

        Nah, fanboys like that exist for real. Can’t stand someone else not liking what they like.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I know they do.Ive seen them here before.Its just that this comment looks like its going slightly overboard,what with 18000 hours of play.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            …You mean it’s not you, using a proxy?

            Well damn, there goes my theory.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Yeah,it does look like a joke I would do.But I usually do something obvious,like make a name that shows its a joke.Something like “Totally not a BDO fanboy”,or something like that.

              1. BlueHorus says:

                You’d also be funnier, I think.

                Still, this is my new plan. Every time I see a post with a name I don’t recognise, I’ll accuse them of being you. Just, a foolproof idea.

    4. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Holy crap, 18,000 hours. I’m sure everyone has that much time to spare. You know there’s a theory out there that you can become an expert in a new skill in 10,000 hours. You could have learned a new language or an instrument or something in all of this “non-lazy” time you put into this game.

      Also, it’s a freaking GAME, why do you make it sound like a second job? Sounds pretty awful with that description.

    5. RCN says:

      This has got to be a troll.

      Arguing laziness because he didn’t put 750 days of effort into the game to have some basic functionality out of it?

      Yeah, man. Working “hard” and being “patient” can also get you anything out of a shovelware piece of crap mobile “game”. But at the very least these shovelware games have the decency of not charging to install themselves into your phone. And “being less mercenary” than freemium mobile games is absolutely the lowest bar there is for scumbaggery, and this game somehow failed miserably to clear it.

      1. PhoenixUltima says:

        I’m willing to bet they’re one of the whales that have put in 100s or even 1000s of dollars into the game. When you’ve spent a bunch of money on something you’re having fun with, it tends to make you over-defensive of that thing to the extreme. See also: the console wars.

        1. Syal says:

          Whereas I don’t think they’re old enough to have money. The crazy price gouging doesn’t bother them because any real money price is equally inaccessible.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            There have been situations where kids have spent thousands of dollars of their parents money on microtransactions.

            1. Syal says:

              That’s why you shouldn’t save your payment information on sites your kids have access to, and have a long talk with them about just how many times you’re going to punch them if they start spending money that isn’t theirs.

    6. Mr. Wolf says:

      Either somebody is being hyperbolic, or they spend 17.5 hours every day since the Korean release playing.

      Logic tells me it’s the former, but I want to believe the latter. Just for the hypocrisy of somebody who plays videogames in every waking hour (and then some) accusing somebody else of being “lazy”.

    7. BlueHorus says:

      I feel like you barely scratched the surface of the game and are now writing reviews about it. Maybe I should write a review given that I’ve put over 18000 hours of not being lazy into it.

      I’m personally hoping that it’s a typo; they just added too many zeros on the end because they were angry.

      But anyway: It is not your job to enjoy the game. It’s the game’s job to entertain you. I’m always a bit amazed/saddened that some people need that pointed out.
      Did it never occur at any point during those 18000(?! No, that’s wrong) hours that it didn’t have to be this way? That the devs put in the game’s flaws deliberately?
      They chose to make the inventory space limited. They chose to make people cart virtual money around their game before they could spend it.

      Just try – doesn’t have to be for long – something else. WoW, LOTRO, FFIX, SWTOR, something that’s not an MMO. None of them are perfect, but you get to see how things can be run differently.

    8. Cybron says:

      So I could play the game, if I never wanted to play another game ever again. Lovely.

    9. “It gets good after the first 18000 hours!”

      – Worst. Defence. EVER.

  27. djw says:

    Based on what you have written so far, I don’t think we need anymore nails.

  28. Cybron says:

    This is exactly what I was afraid of, Shamus. When people call Korean MMOs grindy, they don’t mean it’s hard to progress your level typically. They mean that game has an elaborate system of hassles and rewards that you can theoretically bypass or acquire through absurd amounts of grinding (or by giving in and paying real money). They’re usually not quite this stupidly priced, admittedly, but this is very common.

  29. Mako says:

    To be honest, I sort of skim-read the article. But that was enough to remind me how the idea of monthly payments for videogames seemed downright ridiculous to me all the way back in 2005 or so, when WOW first reared its head. And, to be honest, it still does.

    Are MMOs really so distinctly different to play (in a good way) from single player games to be worth it?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yes.Oh the playing of the game is the same,but the interactions with other people is not.People found friends in wow,had romances,weddings,funerals even.You cant really do that in other games.So you arent really paying subscription to play a game,you are paying for maintenance of the servers that allow you to play a game with other people.

  30. JudgeDeadd says:

    it’s about the sheer audacity of the seller to ask this much [Or anything at all, in same cases.]

    “same cases” is a typo for “some cases”?

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