LoTRO: Tarot and Reactions To Overpriced Horses

A virtual hobby-horse for fifty REAL dollars? That’s the big news in LoTRO right now – but not the only news…

  • Cosmetic LoTRO has started a very cool new project in LoTRO costuming – she’s creating every card of the Tarot as a LoTRO outfit“The Fool is the very first card of the Tarot. It is numbered 0. The Fool, and the number 0, represent the unwritten page, the step into the unknown, innocence and youthful excitement. “
  • Bernard Parsnip breaks down the Expense-O-Horse offering from the LoTRO store and believes it’s going to be less of a problem than players expect“The net result is that you are very, very rarely going to see the hobby horse. There are a million other immersion-ruining aspects (#1 – other players’ behavior) that will impact your enjoyment of LOTRO more than the horse.”
  • And Syp looks at the developer post that started the whole row, arguing that it was a terrible example of requesting feedback” I mean, okay, I get that the developers don’t just want to hear nerdrage that’s completely unproductive and just vile, but the whole post starts from the assumption that that is coming and conducts some sort of pre-emptive strike that hits everyone:”

So, $50 hobby-horse – mad, bad, sad or actually perfectly OK?

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Darkfall And EverQuest 2 Roundup

In amidst the furore of all the huge new games launching, getting expansions, or generally making noise, it’s easy to forget the smaller guys. But Everquest 2’s had an expansion recently, and Darkfall, the tiny niche PvP fantasy MMO, is about to. And it’s about time we saw how they were doing.

ON which note – let’s go!

  • Chris at Game By Night has an intriguing essay up on why you should try Darkfall“If someone has told you that losing your gear when you die is a big deal, let me be clear, they weren’t actually playing the game.”
  • The Ancient Gaming Noob considers how Everquest’s new tradeable game time will work out in the long run“Let’s say you buy a Krono and put it on the market for 700 plat and it sells. Is 700 plat the real market price? Did you simply price the Krono too low? Did you just find a fat cat in a hurry? Were you simply the lowest price at that moment on the broker?”
  • And Flosch returns to the game and gives his impressions after a long absence“I wasn’t 100% sure what the story was. I mean, I got part of it, but there were a lot of Erudites running around, but the city wasn’t called Erudin, but Paineel? And everything was kinda of floating in the air?”

I must admit, Chris does make Darkfall sound tempting…

Are you playing EQ, Darkfall, or another indie MMO right now?

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Initial Reactions to the Diablo 3 Real Money Auction House

It’s here! Rather later than expected, but the potentially game-changing Real Money-based Auction House in Diablo 3 has gone live.

So, what have everyone’s initial reactions been? Are they rich? Are they planning on buying all their weapons from now on with dollars rather than gold?

  • Azuriel at In An Age describes his briefly renewed interest in Diablo 3 when he sold an item for real money, interest which diminished when he realised he’d have to play D3 to make more“Could I have augmented my talent loadout to better combat their abilities? Yes. Could I have simply avoided them? Sure. Could I be bothered to do any of that when I have a perfectly fun Battlefield 3 as an alternative? Hell-to-the-no.”
  • Marcko at Diablo 3 Gold Guide provides a rundown of the first couple of days of Diablo 3 RMAH from his (financially interested) position“As of right now, you need to assign a dollar value to one hundred thousand gold. You will compare all other strategies to this dollar value. If they can’t compete then you shouldn’t be wasting your time on them.”
  • Bolbor at Reddit recounts his experience buying items on the RMAH, and the subsequent buyer’s remorse“$50 had bought me nothing. The pixels were there, but gone was the pixelated high I used to get seeing items drop on the floor. The yellow items remained slot-machines of disappointment. I could kill the Butcher now, but I still wasn’t getting that high I so longed for from rares.”
  • And Edward at Terra Nova discusses the experience of outfitting his Diablo 3 character from the RMAH, and his concerns about erasing the line between gold and dollars“The RMAH wipes these differences away. If the state were to extend its regulatory scheme from dollars to gold pieces, what could Blizzard say in opposition?”

So, sold any Diablo items for real money yet?

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Where IS the Diablo AH headed?

We all boggled when the Diablo 3 AH was announced last year. We all went into a frenzy of predicting what would happen.

And frankly, we all got it completely wrong.

Today, the hot news in the blogosphere is the Diablo AH, once again, as we look at where it’s going, what it’s doing, whether it’ll destroy your game experience, and just what to expect when the real-money side of it finally arrives:

  • Heartbourne at Lorehound writes a super-in-depth article looking at the theory of supply and demand – more complicated than you might think – and how it is applying and will apply to the D3 AH“One of the basic ideas of economics that gets thrown around a lot by laymen is “supply and demand“. They are really two separate ideas that can be used in conjunction with each other to predict market behavior.”
  • Tobold is left wondering just where the AH is supposed to fit in to the overall balance of Diablo 3“I will be left wondering “Will later difficulty modes be balanced around people purchasing AH gear?”. I mean, I could probably play the game perfectly well without using my healing spell, or without using potions, or without using the right mouse button. But there is something inherently stupid about having to make up your own rules for handicapping yourself so as to balance the game.”
  • Jim at Power Word Gold looks at the effect that Diablo 3 is having on the WoW Auction House – complete with graphs!“The US Alliance auction house average market value was 4.03M gold on May 14 and is now down to 2.97M gold a drop of just over 25%. The global US auction house market value was 1.85B gold on May 14, 2012 and is now down to 1.34B gold on May 22, 2012, a reduction of over 27%.”
  • And I Sheep Things looks at the pretty colossal bugs in the current D3 AH and asks if it’s anywhere near ready for the real-money addon“If we can’t even track digital gold how on earth does Blizzard expect me to pay 5 bucks for something I may or may not get. There is no way I’m getting involved with that until this is long sorted out and servers are stable.”

As an AH junkie and IRL entrepreneur, I’m finding all this fascinating.

What are your AH predictions? And are you buying gear on the Diablo AH yet?

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But seriously – is EVE’s PLEX cheating?

EVE Online is one of the few games to have built currency-buying right into its system – but is it still cheating?

With the flood of new players into EVE as WoW hits its pre-expansion doldrums come new ideas and new debates in the blogosphere. This week, EVE veterans and newbies alike have been looking once again at PLEX, the real money for EVE credits exchange system, and asking one question – “is this cheating?”.

It might seem that this particular debate would have been settled a long time ago, but in actual fact, there are a lot of interesting arguments coming out on both sides – with ramifications for more than EVE alone…

Rohan of Blessing of Kings is really driving this discussion at the moment, as a new player getting to grips with the EVE economy. Today, his post divides the EVE world and looks at the ramifications of PLEX on both halves of the equation – consumers and producers

“Some people are producers. They enjoys earning ISK, either by harvesting resources or trading or producing goods. They dot not enjoy being attacked by other players. But they deal with that inconvenience, and adjust their gameplay to defend or mitigate against that possibility.

PLEX buyers are consumers. They enjoy expending ISK, often on attacking other players. They do not enjoy earning ISK.

However, unlike the producers, the consumers don’t have to deal with their inconveniences. They don’t have to adjust their gameplay to compensate. They can spend real money to skip the part of the game they don’t enjoy.”

This is a really interesting point, and one that any game with PvP and RMT will have to consider very carefully. Whilst people spending $100s in EVE – which many people can easily afford to do – may be good for CCP, are they good for the game?

On the “Old Veteran” side, The Ancient Gaming Noob argues that in actual fact, the EVE universe is both more complex and more interconnected than that

“There are lost of people who just like the industry side of the game. And there are, I am sure, people who just buy PLEX to turn pirate and hunt other players. But in between?

What of the mission runner who focuses only on the mission reward and thus optimizes his efforts to completing them as fast as possible? He never loots, he never salvages, and he certainly never stops to mine any tasty ore that might show up in a mission. He merely consumes the mission content, adding to the market place approximately the same as the person who buys PLEX.

And what about me? For the last four months I have been in null sec, I have ratted a little bit for bounties, but have pretty much steered clear of the economic sphere. I have been in coalition fleets for battles, and when I lose a ship my alliance reimburses me the cost of my ship and sells me a replacement at a very good price, thus subsidizing my play. How does that differ, in terms of economic impact, from the buyer of PLEX? My choice has essentially opted me out of the production aspect of the game as well.

Second, the consumption side of the does, in fact, add to the economic sphere of the game. Nothing keeps the production people going like some pirates out there blowing up ships. The so-called consumer is in fact a very important aspect of the producer’s life. Without him, the producer is done.”

TAGN also offers an interesting counter-argument to Rohan’s “immortality pod” analogy, although I’m not 100% certain it’s as much of a slam-dunk as he says.

I’m sure this debate will rage on for a good while – and I’ll be interested to see what points come out of it in future!

Don’t miss the latest hot debate – get the Melting Pot’s new MMO Melting Pot Weekly Digest

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Controversy Monday – Raid Nerfs, LoTRO for-pay items and more

The MMO blogosphere isn’t short of controversy at the moment, it must be said. For me, that’s making it a really interesting time – there’s a lot of serious thinking going on, a lot of really interesting debate and discussion, and I’m starting to get the feeling that this is one of those times when everything’s genuinely changing and progressing.

Specifically, over this weekend there have been some great posts on a variety of the top controversies right now:

  • Holy Word Delicious argues that any WoW raid, by definition, has to be at the right difficulty level“By choosing to play World of Warcraft, by choosing to raid in World of Warcraft, by choosing to play any game, you are entering into an implicit agreement that the correct difficulty level is chosen by the game company producing it.”
  • Tobold is concerned that the Diablo III community is going to be more hostile and unpleasant than any other games community before it“Diablo 3 is a negative sum game. No real value is ever created in that game. The only thing that is happening is a transfer of real money from some players to others, with Blizzard taking their cut.”
  • Justin Olivetti at Massively calls Turbine out in a powerfully-written editorial about their real-money item sales“If this doesn’t give Turbine pause to reconsider, then not only will the gear remain indefinitely, but the door is cracked even wider for future travesties.”
  • And Tusks and All believes that it’s impossible for Blizzard to ever recapture the classic WoW feeling“Blizzard needs to understand that nothing they did made Vanilla “great”. Systematically it was a terrible game: you had to grind for days to get specific resist gear, had to grind days and days to get good PVP gear, had to grind for hours to get mats for raid buffs/potions, had to grind days and day to get a single level.”

What do you think?

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Many, Many Weekend Links

It’s typical – on the day that I have one less link slot than usual (because of awards), the blogosphere explodes with awesome writing!

  • Doctors of Philosophy have concocted a supremely useful glossary of MMO terms, for new players – _“Aggro

    As a verb, it refers to a hostile mob that has noticed a player and is actively trying to attack that player. As a noun, it refers to the amount of “hostility” the player has generated on the mob”_

  • Gazimoff explains why he’s quietly optimistic about Mists of Pandaria’s break from tradition“It almost doesn’t matter if a new raid dungeon was released tomorrow that was technically, conceptually and artistically better than anything that had gone before, as I doubt if our hearts would really let us move on from the heady days of The Burning Crusade and Wrath. Nostalgia is like that.”

  • Matticus parodies elitist raiding articles – with an elite coffee guide (look out for some elitist troll called Hugh in the comments, too) – “He also has to use exactly 2 cream and 2 sugar. I mean what a total scrub, right? He should just quit coffee entirely. What a casual. That’s not real coffee. “

  • Syp at Bio Break is getting extremely tired of SWTOR’s minigame – jumping for datacrons“Platforming in 3D feels so weird to me — and I mean “feel” literally. I can’t get a good feel for where my character is in relation to all these precise jumps and ledges, so most of the time it’s flinging myself forward, praying to all sorts of in-game deities that I won’t over- or undershoot my target.”

  • Turbine have crossed the forbidden line – they’re now selling actual in-game gear, albeit at low levels – and Kill Ten Rats comments, whilst A Casual Stroll To Mordor shows that the player base is very unenthusiastic.

  • And T.R. Redskies is somewhat perturbed by a SWTOR designer’s explanation that the game’s 610 rating on metacritic is entirely the result of sabotage“Look, I didn’t find SWTOR all that fun to play, but I’d be lying and accused of concocting baseless conspiracies if I made statements like “players are only claiming to like it because there’s a group of them out there intentionally inflating the ratings.” “

If you enjoyed this bevy of posts, please consider sharing this one!

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Of Things That Have Passed – RMT reluctance and forced socialising

MMOs have a history now, long enough that many things have genuinely passed into memory and lore.

And today, we’re looking at the plus ca change side of MMOs, rather than the plus la meme chose side.

  • The Grumpy Elf has an excellent piece about how he – a self-confessed non-social person – misses the forced social interaction of earlier WoW“While I was never a social type of player to begin with I got used to the fact that sometimes I needed to talk to others to complete a task. Other players would feel like real people because I needed to talk to them and not just like NPCs that are helping me with my task.”
  • Troll Racials are Overpowered looks back to the days when we left an expansion with many raids still incomplete“When the loot becomes a toy rather than a deserved, demanded reward, people are nicer about it. It’s simply a different experience, raiding old raids, than anything else in the game. Raid old raids is a form of content, accidentally created with the Burning Crusade expansion.”
  • And Tobold is looking at the way Diablo III is – quietly, understatedly – dismantling historial objections to RMT trading in-game“It is very hard to condemn some Free2Play game for selling the Sword of Uberness for $10 if at the same time you are selling your Sword of Uberness on the Diablo 3 auction house for $10. From the buyer’s point of view, there is no difference from where the Sword of Uberness comes, and who pockets the money.”
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The Guardian Cub / Kitten Standard Economy Roundup, Day 2

Yep, it’s Day 2 of Kittengate – or actually, Kitten-most-people-aren’t-all-that-bothered-or-are-actually-in-favour.

Today we’ve got another ream of discussion and opinion about the BoE kittens that will soon be selling for gold at an AH near you, having been purchased from the Blizz Store for real money previously.

Unlike yesterday, today we do have a few people who are annoyed – but they’re mostly not annoyed at the RMT aspects:

  • Apple Cider Mage writes a lengthy post going through the Kitten Standard from a number of angles, from the “this is just gold selling” angle to to Blizz’s original intentions“Buying your way into power has long been a prickly point of mine in the real world, but I feel it falls flat in World of Warcraft, where someone else’s game progression with gear largely does not affect my own enjoyment in-game. “
  • Morynne at Marks 365 is annoyed – at the fact the pet only binds to one character“In an economy where people are having a difficult time finding a job in some areas, Blizzard is asking for another $10. Is it critical to gameplay? No. Do you have to have it? No. Is it so cute I can’t stand it? Yes. Shut up.”
  • Keen and Graev are annoyed too – at people calling the Kitten RMT“Trading a Guardian Cub in-game for in-game gold or an item is no different than buying a Krol Blade with gold back in 2004 .”
  • And Basil Bernsten at WoW Insider is evaluating the impact of the Cub from an AH player’s perspective“So how much will these pets cost, anyway? The answer will vary from realm to realm, but one thing is certain: The demand for the pets will spike out of the door, then fall off a cliff as soon as enough people have one.”

All very interesting stuff! I have one minor addition to make – if you’re writing about gold selling, please don’t get too hyperbole-happy about their activities.

There are plenty of real problems with gold selling and buying – it’s often from hacked accounts or botted accounts, it’s inflationary, and it’s high-risk. However, gold selling is not “illegal* (“against the Terms of Service” does not equate with “against the law”), and whilst there has been one report of prison labour used to farm gold, there’s no evidence I’m aware of that most traded gold is produced through slavery.

Any more thoughts on the Cub? Are you annoyed it’s $10 per character for this pet?

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WoW gold for Dollars? The Kitten Standard edition

And to the surprise of absolutely no-one, I’m going to be rounding up the blogosphere’s reaction to the new BoE pet from Blizzard today.

A bit of background: if you weren’t on Twitter yesterday, you may not have heard that Blizzard have made a pretty startling announcement: the next real-money purchasable pet on the Blizzard Store will be Bind On Equip, and will be sellable on the Auction House. The practical upshot of this is that you can now buy (probably rather expensive) WoW gold with real-world money.

Needless to say, a lot of people have a lot of varying opinions on this one. Somewhat more surprisingly, though, very few of them are particularly negative.

First up, several blogs are arguing that this represents the start of a fundemental shift – toward WoW as a testing ground for Blizzard’s ideas:

  • Kill Ten Rats believes that Blizzard should use WoW as a “lab”, just as Valve have done with Team Fortress 2“They have this sinking ship. It’s sinking slowly and still dredging up tons of gold and oil, yet I have a feeling the captain already sees the end coming. Except, it’s not going to be the end in a sense.”
  • Gazimoff believes Blizzard already are using WoW as a testing ground. Also, he coins the term we’ll be using a lot, the Kitten Standard“Can a Firelands raid BoE be bought for five kittens? Would a rare tailoring recipe be worth twenty? Can you sell spots in your Firelands 25-man for three kittens a person?”

Second, several people quite frankly don’t give a damn if Blizzard is starting to sell gold:

  • Oestrus from Stories of O has never had much in-game gold, and doesn’t see purchasable gold changing the game much for her“There’s a reason you don’t see “How much gold do you currently have?” on a guild application (or at least no guilds that I’ve applied to). Because it ultimately doesn’t matter.”
  • The Ancient Gaming Noob thinks the kitten story is a complete non-event“The in-game economy is too small on most servers to absorb many guardian cubs, especially on the downtrodden half of some servers, like the Horde side of Eldre’Thalas.”

And finally, the only person sounding a note of warning is the gold-making blog Power Word Gold, which believes that the kitten and other RMT trades are Blizzard slowly turning the heat up under the frog“Blizzard is hoping that by introducing these services and items ever so slowly they will be able to get the players to the point that they will accept more and more paid services and items. Where this will eventually end is something I do now know.”

It’s an interesting time. As a businessman, as an AH player and as a WoW player, I’ll be very curious to see what happens next, when the Kitten Standard finally goes live.

Want more Kitten Standard posts? Here’s part 2 of our Guardian Cub roundup .

What’s your opinion? Is this Very Bad? Or Very Irrelevant?

All quotes taken directly from their respective sources.

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