I was glancing at Elonian Beasts Dye Kit and Istani Isles Mount Skins | GuildWars2.com, and was surprised to read you can spend 1,200 currency for a specific skin, or 400 for a random one.
GW2’s thing is they include a line like, “You’re always guaranteed to get a skin, and you’ll never receive a duplicate.”
Sure, but what is the point here? Personally, I’d rather pay more to get what I want, but that is because random pay-to-play loot tables trigger a warning in my head, and I don’t play games of chance that spend anything aside from a very small part of my time (so I’ll gamble in-character for a few minutes, but I won’t play a mini-game if it pays out based on chance).
Okay, so back to the point: GW2/ArenaNet is walking this fence between a business model and psychological manipulation, and we are even seeing regulators getting involved with other high-profile games that drain cash for random crap, seeing it as a form of gambling. But why are they doing this?
Money. So why aren’t folks doing new forms of capital support? I mean, these MMOs already have “virtual” and “digital” currencies, literally anything in the game. And it isn’t like my character is carrying around 3 tons of coins; if we are saying we can teleport around and transfer “gold” between users across geographic boundaries, why aren’t we hand-waving into existence some kind of player-cooperative support model?
A system I’d like to see involves converting real-world capital support (giving cash to a game company) into virtual resource allocation tokens, something a player or character can spend to activate parts of the game for themselves, but more importantly, for other players as well!
In GW2 specifically, we have things like guild banners and bonfires (I love bonfires! Everyone picks up wood and get bonuses! On the right track.). We also have all these triggers all over the place, to activate “real-time” events that make the world seem like it is living in the background, even when you aren’t around.
I imagine a game where you get your support gems or whatever, and spend it in different interfaces to affect the parts of the game you want: maybe you want extra XP for an hour, and it happens that everyone near you also gets that bonus. Or a guild is running a mission, and decide they entire map needs to run faster to achieve their goals.
I would love to see the balance and design challenges around that system, and to see a game being supported in a non-exploitive way. Because you know if we don’t think of alternatives, online games are going to become genuinely bad for humans to play, it will train millions of people to salivate at the wrong things. What if we instead taught millions to cooperate in order to lift everyone?