DLCs, Cash Shops, F2P and P2P

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DLCs, Cash Shops, F2P and P2P

Postby synthetic » Fri May 10, 13 8:06 am

All of those keywords or features should be familiar to the gamers here, and you've no doubt had plenty of opportunity to shape an opinion or preference regarding these things.

Game Developers and Publishers seem to take the gamer for a fool, and it seems that often they are not too far off the mark. Another matter is where will these trends take us, when large online games experiment with different subscription formulas and the community perceives something or other as obsolete or innovative and superior.

Most or all of it is scam. This is my rant. It is a scam and I see too many people with inconclusive opinions defending the impact of these elements.

It comes down to common sense: is any of them an ethical method of providing and receiving, leading to a satisfied customer and supplier? Oh, absolutely, there is nothing wrong with any of them in theory, much like there was little off about communism.

In practice, people are greedy and stupid. Smart humans scam dumb humans, and this is how or life seems to go through its circle. Our prime minister here even had the nerve to say that you are supposed to take money away from the dumb, forgetting that it affects everyone, and on this topic the current shape of DLCs, all kinds of F2P scams and cash shop gambling paradise does and will affect us, even if we place us above it and say we never would fall for it. Those around us will, and somewhere down the line you'll make a few bad decisions as well.

Theory vs Practice

DLC is a mini-content update or addition, and there is really not much wrong with it, even if it ships on the first day of the game's release for some reason. If it doesn't properly connect with the main content, then it is a fairly poor and random update, but the main problem comes in the shape of its cost. Not only do I believe that the games are outrageously overpriced, perhaps somewhat due to the prevalent piracy issues -- or so I would like to hope -- the DLCs themselves are hideously overpriced in their proportion to the game. Most of them are also relatively useless and at times even unbalance the game experience completely, if not break it.
Good on paper, fucked up in practice, and thats that. Not particularly fond of people who think that 5-15 bucks for OP equipment or 30 minutes of nothing represents a good investment when compared to the couple times more expensive game that has at least 100X (50hours) more content. Lot of the goods we see around us have certain minimum price that is constantly raised, creating the illusion that it is supposed to be so and makes perfect sense as everything else small seems to be in the same price range.

F2P. Nothing is free, especially not a vast game that cost a ton to develop and market. B2P makes sense even for MMORPGs, especially if they follow EVE Online's expansion release cycle. But, even EVE is P2P and P2W, and not many other MMOs can boast with even half the content updates.
Buy2Play games often end up abandoned or are plagued by all kinds of issues (GW2 bots, hello), so I personally prefer P2P model. With P2P you get the constant updates and online environment does not feel entirely abandoned. With F2P someone is yanking your chain whether you realize the scope of it or not.

Besides just ranting about all of it, lets look at the problems here.
P2P is generally over priced. Good, reasonable exceptions exist, and unfortunately my favorite MMO is not one of them. ~14-21 Eur p/m for 12 years old game with no particular updates. Mkay. 5 bucks a month sounds reasonable to me, it is not a kickstarter we're talking about here.

F2P model often comes down to gambling. We all know gambling is bad, but lot of us for some reason seem to think that F2P gambling is different, and not bad at all. Legal way to gamble without even getting anything particularly substantial back, but sure as hell loosing money.
Or it comes down to Pay to Win. Depending how kills are handled, PVE players could ignore it somewhat, in some games, but PVP will get screwed over in all cases. Free Browser games haven't gone extinct yet, either, and once upon a boring time I played a strategy game like that. Very interesting people and lot of bustling activity. And professional civil engineers spending ton of cash every day in order to dominate with their army against other cash shop heroes. That was interesting.

As much as some may hate P2P or lack of flexibility in payment schedules or sums, F2P in all cases comes down to some kind of scam. Hopefully it'll border entirely with advertisements, but how many can you list that do not charge for something?

In a sense it comes down to the very same issue as with DLC, except being much dirtier. Investment does not produce reasonable gains. Calculate how much cash you could theoretically put in the shop to enjoy the game properly (not even talking about some kind of vanity items), and then compare it against reasonable P2P rate and your estimated time of playing it.

Only reason we have F2P is because it is more expensive/lucrative than P2P. A little funny understanding of Free, I think.


I think part of the reason why it works is because gaming experience can be as addictive as gambling (leaving actual gambling in surprise boxes aside, even!) and you continue to want the fullest experience. I guess levels of that addiction vary somewhat, but the better the game, the more you want out of it. And that is taken advantage of by selling overpriced shit which you'll likely obtain.

In short, I wouldn't mind reasonably priced P2P formula with decent update cycle, but Buy to Play with frequent expansions to buy is likely the fairest form. DLCs are all fine and dandy as well, if they actually were released without attempting to scam the gamer thoroughly (as seen from some really bad releases). Cash shop? You know, I have not a damn thing against some guy wanting to gain massive experience boost. It doesn't break the game in any way that I can see, even if it has its potential annoyances. Social attire? Well, may be we turn a blind eye to it, or buy bit of something ourselves -- as long as it isn't world of wushu style of scam. But fuck off with the Pay To Win and all who support it. Don't defend practical communism if it doesn't seem to work, and none of this shit works aside from scam.

Cynical side of me would say that this is some kind of brilliant response to the overwhelming internet piracy, but I cannot see any winners in this.
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Postby Psychotic » Fri May 10, 13 2:01 pm

Honestly, many of these are common sense to anyone smart enough to have it. The problem is that it seems the majority aren't that smart and most of us here and an extremely small minority.

As for the whole F2P vs P2P idea: Bots plague every MMO ever. F2P games need to generate income somehow and, 9/10 times I've found P2P game are overpriced, overhyped and not that great when compared to free variations, ironically enough.

Bots will plague to any game they deem popular enough to generate a profit from, even if they need to pay for a membership. If not then why would we get botters who just create and recreate Diablo 3 or WoW accounts? The risk is overcome by the reward.

F2P cash shops exist to make money. You can't host numerous servers with thousands of players for nothing, that's not reasonable, but it should be reasonable to expect that you can't pay to win. On that I agree. It's why Korean F2P MMOs tend to suck for most Western players (not to mention they pump one out every few months).

P2P in general is only overpriced for the current shit we pay for. Themepark MMOs are the norm and, whilst the concept is largely alright, in practice the end up being the same old shit we've seen since Everquest's inception. World of Warcraft didn't revolutionize that much, it just got lucky. Sandbox MMOs seem like an option but since most are PvP clusterfucks, they don't appeal to everyone, they also make far too many assumptions (EVE is a good example of a unfriendly game).

I don't care for either payment models if the game itself is good. As it stands most online games are repeats of the same shit we've had for over 15 years, so why should I bother paying for that crap? GW2 might not be the best game but it gives me the same repetitive bullshit for free. I am not at all required to pay for anything, nor is any item in the shop game-changing in the slightest, so I'm fine with it.

Until the quality of MMOs actually improve nothing will get better, and the quality will only improve once developers grow some balls and start taking risks. If using the "World of Warcraft method" was so tried and true then why has all the latest games flopped (in comparison to WoW)? By that logic, should Warhammer Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic not have been more successful?
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Postby synthetic » Fri May 10, 13 3:20 pm

Oh, I haven't forgotten about costs of maintaining the game, or perhaps even developing it, but cash shop is an efficient way to overcharge you massively without giving you any idea of how much is even reasonable to provide, or even don't tell you the total sum per time period until you do the math yourself. It is a scam through and through, not a service to the community.

Admittedly, players themselves have steered towards this model as of late and its a trend that bites them from the arse. Devs will be earning more money and players will be spending more money. Since it directly affects the immersion and game experience, it is not at all good.

Having played SWTOR several months, both as subscriber and free player, I can say that SWTOR failed because they pretty much screwed up every mmo aspect you can think of, whereas WoW forte was polishing the features and basic principles of an mmo. I personally have never played WoW and solely because I do not find their story-environment and art style appealing at all.

I am aware of some GW2 strengths and weaknesses, and think of the upcoming TESO with some concern. Even by using the minimalistic combat action system they have it could be a good game, but so far everything keeps pointing at another flop. I *really* hope they manage to fix it within months after the release, as in all likelihood it'll still ship as fairly poor game with short lifespan. I loved TES3 and found TES5 more or less OK, so all I can do is keep fingers crossed for their mmo.
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Postby Psychotic » Sat May 11, 13 5:58 am

The "scam" of cash shops isn't limited to cash shops, it can be found everywhere in society.

Go to a few restaurants, for example, and take a look at the prices of entrees and appetizers for the different menus. You might notice that different establishments price seemingly meaningless things far differently.

In general it's the minor things that are the best-sellers.

I refuse to call such tactics as scams however, and I refuse to blame the industry for doing this. They're trying to make money, that's the number one rule in business. Capitalizing on ignorance has always been profitable.

Maybe people should become more concerned with what they're spending on. Unlike some I do see the hypocrisy in bitching about an economic crisis then wasting your hard-earned cash on trinkets of vanity. Common sense isn't hard.
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Postby synthetic » Sat May 11, 13 6:05 am

The point I am trying to make is that all this reduces gaming experience and quality of entertainment. I am well aware of this applying in every niche of capitalist economy. Some marketing geniuses step harder on the toes of us with that common sense you emphasise, compared to others. Trends do not have to be entirely greed based as it has its repercussions, ones that are sometimes fascinating to predict.

I do fully agree with the reference to what is essentially a waste of money, but I see the entire stock market system as the primary culprit, personally. That, however, is a bit different topic.

Edit: Be careful not to provide support to the inflation with some of your reasoning, I don't think anyone sees that as a particularly positive aspect of the economy.
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Postby Psychotic » Sat May 11, 13 7:51 am

My point was that if people have a problem then people need to fix it.

Businesses profit by our lack of understanding or our apathetic view towards their questionable ethics and philosophies.

If people care then people can do something about it. I choose not to fall prey to the trap that is a cash shop and cheap DLC's unless I know exactly what I'm getting into and choose the path myself.

There is nothing inherently wrong with any of the things you mention (as you state yourself) but note that businesses very rarely self-regulate. The people should be doing that, and since the majority doesn't care then nothing is going to change.

Do I think cash shops, overpriced downloadable content and F2P as shoddy gimmicks designed to make money? Yes I do. Do I think such practices should become commonplace? No I don't. I do believe some things need to be toned down but that won't happen because the industry thinks it should, it will happen because the people do.
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Postby synthetic » Sat May 11, 13 8:45 am

I do agree with the points you make there.

Perhaps I hoped to see posts by some of those people that think F2P model is the best thing ever, but it is certainly nice to have a discussion with another reasonable person.
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Postby Psychotic » Sat May 11, 13 8:57 am

r12m wrote:I do agree with the points you make there.

Perhaps I hoped to see posts by some of those people that think F2P model is the best thing ever, but it is certainly nice to have a discussion with another reasonable person.


I'm not so sure you'll find a lot of people who agree with such a mentality, around here at least.

However, I too would be interested in seeing some rational responses from people who do think F2P is a great concept (in both theory and practice). Pity that most people who do think this aren't rational in the least.
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Postby Alex » Sat May 11, 13 9:08 am

F2P can be great, but it depends on how it's executed. I personally think the way TF2 implemented it is great, and it doesn't give players who buy items a real/big advantage over other players.

I often see games where you can either collect points by playing, and then buying/upgrading weapons (which aren't always more powerful than the default weapons, but are just a bit different in usage/have different effects), or you can choose to buy points with money, if you want to take the easy road. But even if you don't upgrade weapons at all, it's not like you have a big disadvantage.

But as soon as a game gives actual advantage, much powerful weapons or other boosts to players that buy items/upgrades, the game is unbalanced. Then a game - in my opinion - isn't really F2P anymore, as you can hardly play decently without buying items/upgrades.
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Postby clyzm » Sun May 12, 13 10:52 am

All games should be F2P

Paying every month to play a game, lol that's the biggest scam of them all
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Postby Tantalus » Sun May 12, 13 10:54 am

The worst offenders are phone games that have 'in-app purchases', not only are the games shit but it's sometimes very difficult to see if you're actually paying or not. Also limited functionality every day, fuck that.
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Postby synthetic » Sun May 12, 13 10:55 am

clyzm wrote:All games should be F2P

Paying every month to play a game, lol that's the biggest scam of them all


Not sure if serious.
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Postby clyzm » Sun May 12, 13 11:11 am

r12m wrote:
clyzm wrote:All games should be F2P

Paying every month to play a game, lol that's the biggest scam of them all


Not sure if serious.


Completely

Only P2P game I tolerate is WoW and that's because it's actually worth it with all the shit they put in it

EVE aka Capitalism in Space, lol no

SWTOR, what a farce
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Postby synthetic » Sun May 12, 13 11:24 am

clyzm wrote:
r12m wrote:
clyzm wrote:All games should be F2P

Paying every month to play a game, lol that's the biggest scam of them all


Not sure if serious.


Completely

Only P2P game I tolerate is WoW and that's because it's actually worth it with all the shit they put in it

EVE aka Capitalism in Space, lol no

SWTOR, what a farce


Ideal in theory is B2P;

F2P is scam through and through because nothing is ever free, and if you think it is then you are willingly putting yourself in the shoes of a homeless person on the streets that either block access to shops entirely, or are too poor to make any use of them. And once you start improving your living conditions you realize that its just an uphills truggle with over-priced or even temporary buy-ables.

I say this from experience with both completely "F"2P games as well as those having the option.

I personally currently prefer P2P only because of the reality of current such games that make use of the model, with B2P being often neglected and F2P just being a huge frustration.

SWTOR is funny because it went from PayToPlay onwards to incorporate PainToPlay model, apparently to a relative -- and no doubt a temporary -- success.

PainToPlay is just a less clever form of F2P.
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Postby clyzm » Sun May 12, 13 3:28 pm

All these terms :smt119

Yeah F2P is never free. First thing I learned in Economics class, nothing is ever free, everything has a cost associated with it. But I for one want that cost not to be monetary and especially to pay every month
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Postby Psychotic » Sun May 12, 13 5:36 pm

Sounds like a lot of bullshit.

F2P can be as free as anything if you don't use cash shops. Guild Wars doesn't require you to nor has it got any game-breaking items in its store.

You could argue that you pay in time but subscription-based games are, on average, more time-consuming.

Companies like Blizzard want you to play longer so that you pay more whereas many Western F2P games can't rely on the possibility that you'll use their store.

F2P is potentially more ludicrous but companies risk a lot more with their creation.

[e] I'd like to add that I also don't understand the apparent disapproval attitude towards subscription-based games.

Lots of things are subscription-based and yet people still buy those. From cable television to newspapers and magazines. Price might be an issue but the actual model shouldn't be.
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Postby Aidan » Mon May 13, 13 12:24 am

I play AVA from time to time. Classic F2P Korean FPS.


I like playing it because my purchased weapons are OP and everyone sucks (yes even when using the standard weapons). I always end up with some score like "62K 19D"
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Postby synthetic » Mon May 13, 13 5:16 am

Since when was it bad for a good game to be time consuming? :shock:

And the point isn't about whether or not someone is *forcing* you to pay, but whether or not it reduces game-play value to a point where you either don't bother for long, put up with a disproportionate amount of frustrations compared to all those that do go and gamble, or pay to win.

Choosing not to pay is really not much of a choice in that context. You cannot access a part of the game's content and tell yourself it was your choice..

I keep calling it a scam because you have to invest some proper time into trying to figure out the feasibility of buying what features you find necessary. I myself have used cash shop at the random moment some years ago, for utter rubbish now to think of it.

Regardless if you play MMO for PVP, game play experience in general, or raiding, F2P breaks all those things to various degree on server or play-field scale, so I am not even sure why I am seeing defensive points about it. Is it possible to grind through that to what ever level cap the game offers? Yeah, sure. I've done that myself. Is it a pleasant experience to see other players OD you, run faster or whatnot, access areas you're locked out of? Umm.. let me think about that.

Kind of a debate on principles here, as much like one isn't forced to pay, one isn't forced to play either. But, likewise, I don't think having no games to play means you've chosen not to play games. Doesn't make much sense.
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Postby Psychotic » Mon May 13, 13 6:41 am

It's arguable, at least in today's market, that F2P automatically degrades the quality of a video game.

I'd say the general market that buys video games these days has done that. In fact, many have asked for the changes people like you and I claim to hate.

Consider how many good games have come out of the past 10 years. Do you think they would have been made worse if they used an F2P model? Perhaps, but if they're already terrible games then I don't see how it would matter in the first place.

I understand your point, though. Most time-consuming games aren't also good, but I argue that that has more to do with how the current generation works and less to do with a payment model.

World of Warcraft is, by my standards, stagnant and old. You would expect that because you pay for it then it would give quality, but it does not. Guild Wars 2, at least for me, offers the exact same repetitive experience as World of Warcraft but does not require some monthly fee.

My biggest problem with MMOs has never been about the payment model, though. It's always been about the gameplay, regardless of whether the subscription model affects this or not.

Leveling, for example, is an antiquated system that does not simply need changing but removing altogether. Other time-consuming models that exist merely to increase play-time also need removing or at least changing to some degree, as well.

It's not the games or the payment, it's how they're played and designed that's the problem. P2P games, like World of Warcraft, have an equal opportunity to scam their players as much as F2P games do. I fail to see how one is worse than the other based purely on payment model alone.
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Postby synthetic » Mon May 13, 13 7:00 am

One thing I don't really mind, at least in most content that I can think of (likely breaks some elements in some games, still) is buying exp boosters. I don't mind that at all. I won't buy them, but if someone else wants to progress faster and spend a little extra, I'm completely OK with it. It is somewhat unethical imo, but likely depends on personal POV.

Social items get slightly annoying already, for what should be obvious reasons. And everything else from there is downhill.

In a way if the item is obtainable from the game itself, it doesn't necessarily disturb much, but may depend on additional circumstances.


WoW.. its a raiders content game, from a certain POV P2P even make sense, but its not the kind of content I myself find worth my time, but surely some players enjoy it. If they could buy the update chunks per piece, would be more fair I guess, but on the other hand they'd need a demo for every update or you're buing a pig in the bag, or how they say it.

For casual game GW2 uses a method (B2P iirc?) that WoW should use now, but won't. Certain things put me off from playing the game, but I did see the obvious casual fun in the game, and the quest system im GW2 seems to be an improvement over lot of other titles.

I do not agree with the point you're making about leveling system, but not going into it now.
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Postby Psychotic » Mon May 13, 13 7:21 am

I would say I have some relatively controversial philosophies on what I think MMOs should do. But they ultimately all lead to the same path: MMOs cannot continue in their current form. It is no longer a sustainable flow of cash like it once was.

In regards to cash shops, I don't mind them so long as the items they sell aren't game-breaking. Korean MMOs have this tendency to make their games "pay-to-win" (as you make note of) via their shops, and that entire scheme is absolutely pathetic.

However, much of the decent Western MMOs don't adopt such an unethical practice. Both WoW and GW2 (and I use these two as examples because they're current, relevant and display both sides of the payment spectrum) have micro-transactions to some degree but hardly worth complaining about.

Want to buy vanity items that make your character look cooler? Go ahead.

Want to buy items that reduce the time it takes for you to level? Go ahead. Though I believe these should never be an option on a titles release.

Want to buy items that allow you to surpass the strength of any character not buying similar items? How about you go fuck yourself. What's the difference between that and cheating?

Buying gear that can already be obtained is also a no-go for me, personally, as the game still favors the richest side. Even if I can get the items without paying a dime there will be plenty of people screwing over game balance by simply buying the latest gear immediately.
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Postby synthetic » Mon May 13, 13 8:20 am

Being innovative or providing choices between vastly different game play mechanics is a good thing if it works, and its not that I meant all MMOs must be level based, but rather that it is a system that has worked and fascinated people before computers even.

I already made a reference to how TESO could theoretically work even with minimalistic abilities approach they have taken. You have games that overload you with abilities, and I myself quite like it, but taking the direction of making it far more seamless sounds excellent as well. Unfortunately, I think TESO is probably doing it a little bit wrong.

All kinds of pay to win is pointless anyway, even gambling for real cash makes more sense.
So, fine, you pay for superior equipment and feel all great and mighty, until some guy who has same or better gear messes you up. What then? Buy even better equipment and hope that nobody with same equipment has more knack for the game? Not gonna happen, and you likely are already spending more money than any B2P or P2P drain you for, for bragging rights and ego boost until you get stomped.
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Postby Psychotic » Tue May 14, 13 4:16 pm

Check out Neverwinter if you want a new entry to the list of "shitty P2W games". Granted, that's what you get from Perfect World (and since it's also made by Cryptic then what do you expect?) but they've taken one of my favourite and memorable IP's as a kid and fucked in the ass.

That, more than anything - more than their insane prices for mounts or the ability to buy scrolls that revive you upon death (with no cooldown on their use) or even the fact that respec's cost MONEY - is the reason I fucking despise this game.

Don't get me wrong, if you get past glaring balance issues then the game is actually quite enjoyable (I quite like the combat) but I would love to beat the living shit out of the asshole who invented P2W and then force him to play the shit he's spawned for the rest of his pathetic, miserable little life.

Ahem, sorry about that. I just loved the Forgotten Realms as a kid.
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