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Old 08-23-2005, 05:19 PM   #1
Valg
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This came out of a promotional thread Brody posted on, but it's a tangent to it, so I'm starting one here as to not threadjack.

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Brody Posted on Aug. 23 2005,00:32
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Pay for perks. To be a noble, you need to get sponsored, however - either by playing a commoner and earning enough XP through roleplaying, writing a really good biography, or getting another player to spend their XP on you if they're looking to expand their family. You can be a noble of the realm without ever spending an RL dime, but you do have to earn it through some sweat equity.
When you're designing a game of this sort, how do you price "sweat equity". If RL money purchases you Item Y that a competent player could get with X hours of gameplay, how much does Item Y cost? 5X? 10X? 50X?
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Old 08-23-2005, 08:22 PM   #2
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Good luck getting an accurate response, you will probably get a "that depends" answer.  Pay for perks MUDS will always state all elements of their game are capable of being reached for free, but "it depends" on blah, blah, blah pick one from column a, two frm column b, and on, and on, blah, blah blah...

If you don't gain a great advantage in time saved , or for eq/spells/status/credits gained by paying for perks, what's the point of paying for those perks?
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Old 08-23-2005, 08:33 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (GuruPlayer @ Aug. 23 2005,21:22)
Good luck getting an accurate response, you will probably get a "that depends" answer.
That's probably because it does depend. Pricing in any kind of isolated market is very very difficult because you cannot use pricing data from elsewhere. Each virtual world is, effectively, a highly isolated market and the products you're selling can't really be compared to other markets.

In the end, you just charge what you think the market is willing to pay. We set a lot of our initial prices by auctioning things off and seeing what they were worth to people. From there on out, we just draw on our experience to inform our pricing decisions.

--matt
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Old 08-24-2005, 01:22 PM   #4
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Well, sure. But after pricing a number of such items, and watching your game, you probably have an idea of how much time each dollar buys. I'm not really concerned with the price of Item Y as I am with the 'exchange rate' of the underlying "dollars for minutes" currency.
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Old 08-24-2005, 01:35 PM   #5
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An example taken from another game that publishes (some of) their cost/benefit information, to give an idea of what I'm looking for:

You can write essays, sign them over to the game, and receive perks if they decide your essay is worth printing. A 500-word essay nets you:

2.5 units for an interview
4 units for player guides, tips, area tours, etc.
Just over 3 units for history/background.
Negotiable rate for other work farmed out to you.

Units can be purchased for US $0.65 each. So a 500-word essay is worth somewhere in the range of $1.60-$2.60. I could optimistically think up, write, check, and email a 500 word essay in an hour-- I've had exams like that, and writing about MUDs is probably easier than most university-chosen topics.

So on that game, my time is worth about $2/hour when invested in creative writing. If I need 3 units, I can either spend $2, or I can spend 1 hour writing.

Are other games comparable?
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Old 08-24-2005, 02:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Valg @ Aug. 24 2005,14:22)
Well, sure. But after pricing a number of such items, and watching your game, you probably have an idea of how much time each dollar buys.  I'm not really concerned with the price of Item Y as I am with the 'exchange rate' of the underlying "dollars for minutes" currency.
Well, in our games, it completely depends on how good you are at playing the game. The better you are at the game, the less credits are worth, since you'll have an easier time gathering gold (in-game currency) to purchase credits with on the gold/credit market. It also depends on the current exchange rate between gold and credits (set by free market forces, since it's players doing all the buying and selling to each other). The range can be huge...up to, say, 7x less for a highly skilled player vs. a poorly skilled player, and that's without taking into account exchange rate fluctuation over time.

The process is further complicated by the fact that people value their time vastly differently and by the fact that if you're particularly skilled in a couple areas (specifically, writing and visual art) or if you lead an organization then you might be able to earn credits far, far faster due to, respectively, contests that reward writing and art quality (as opposed to volume, so there's a gigantic range of time to credits there) and in-game mechanics.

--matt
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Old 08-24-2005, 09:04 PM   #7
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So these units are like credits?  Or are they role-playing points?

I would say that a 500-word essay wouldn't be that hard.  Some people write 500-word essays here on the boards!  I'd like to find out what game this is, I could use my writing talents to earn points in a game instead of just in my job.

As far as pay-for-perks go, I don't like them that much.  I don't think my hours of role-playing and training are worth $1.60.  But my main issue with pay-for-perks, and I'm not trying to go off topic here, is the fact that there is no IC explanation for buying a bunch of perks in real-life.  Therefore, most pay-for-perks MUDs tend to be "grinders" where you sit around and cut a swath through monsters all day, and some sort of random celebration pops up every once in a while.  Those MUDs a rarely role-playing centric.

I'm sure there are exceptions, but this is what I have seen from my personal experiences.

If I were to price my time, I wouldn't be able to put a price on it. Solid work in a MUD, in my opinion, is the only way you can truly appreciate it. If you've built your character from the ground up, you will like him/her more than some trophy character with the giant weapons that you use to show off to all your friends from "IM".
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Old 08-25-2005, 04:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Ilkidarios @ Aug. 24 2005,22:04)
 Therefore, most pay-for-perks MUDs tend to be "grinders" where you sit around and cut a swath through monsters all day, and some sort of random celebration pops up every once in a while.  
Yeah, that's actually fairly incorrect. Most pay-for-perks MUDs tend to either be socializers or PvP. (Habbo in the first case, for instance, and Iron Realms in the second.) At least 3/4 of our sales are driven by PvP, for instance. Few of the "powers" you can buy even work on NPCs. Bashing MUDs are probably the least suited for buying things, since in them, acquiring those things is generally the goal. You can't sell a main game goal or people will lose interest.

--matt
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Old 08-25-2005, 11:28 AM   #9
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Nope, youre completely wrong, logos... What do you normally have to do before you can box with the big guys? run the treadmill, of course. Buying credits, saves you the time and work/grinding of running the treadmill and gets you right to the big guys....
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Old 08-25-2005, 02:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Aug. 25 2005,05:18)
Most pay-for-perks MUDs tend to either be socializers or PvP. (Habbo in the first case, for instance, and Iron Realms in the second.) At least 3/4 of our sales are driven by PvP, for instance. Few of the "powers" you can buy even work on NPCs. Bashing MUDs are probably the least suited for buying things, since in them, acquiring those things is generally the goal. You can't sell a main game goal or people will lose interest.
I don't get it.

You're saying that IRE sees itself as centrally PvP, and that most of your sales are driven by PvP. I get that.

On a "bashing" game, you would presumably buy items to get a leg up on NPCs, saving time on the hypothetical treadmill. On a PvP game, you would presumably buy items to get a leg up on PCs. (If the items didn't give you a leg up on PCs, why would people buy them in a predominately PvP game?)

The only difference is that in a "bashing" game, you'd get an absolute edge (since NPCs don't have RL money to spend and can't improve themselves) instead of a relative edge (you only have an edge on people that spend nothing, or spend less than you do).

Why is selling things for RL cash desirable in the PvP model and not in the bashing model? Because of the escalating sales produced by the arms-race competition necessary to keep up with Ye Olde Joneses?
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Old 08-25-2005, 04:27 PM   #11
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Folks, no "play for perks" admin is ever going to come out & say that x amount of time will get you x amount of credits/perks, because they are not going to admit it takes an exorbitant amount of game play to earn the millions (billions?) of game coin to buy credits/perks from other players on the "open market" in their mud.  How else can they sucker players to come play on their mud, get hooked on the initial game play, & then realize that if they don't cough up some cold hard R/L cash, they will never reach the upper echelons of that MUD?

It's all about the money!
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Old 08-25-2005, 05:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Valg @ Aug. 25 2005,15:05)
Why is selling things for RL cash desirable in the PvP model and not in the bashing model? Because of the escalating sales produced by the arms-race competition necessary to keep up with Ye Olde Joneses?
I don't play bashing games except for research purposes (Everquest, etc), but think of it this way: In Everquest, most people pretty much only have one goal: Get to the highest level and kit yourself out with cool equipment. People won't react well to the company selling them that equipment (though, of course, it's still for sale, and it's a bit irrational to care whether other people are buying it from the company or from 3rd party sources). That's because something like Everquest is focusing largely on MUD-as-game vs. MUD-as-world. In something towards the 'game' end of things, selling the point of the game is a bit like selling extra moves in chess (not that bashing games are as tight a game as chess, of course, but you get the idea I suspect).

In games that lean more towards 'world' than 'game', there's much less reason to object if you're the sort of player who might object. Inequality is part of worlds, where it might not be part of games.

I mean, players generally certainly will buy things in any type of environment that they value. Doesn't matter whether it's a chatter, a roleplaying intensive game, a bashing game, pvp, political, economic, house-wife simulator, whatever. If people are playing it, the context has value to them, and if the context has value, things within the context will also have value. I just tend to believe that players (and potential players) will react better to selling things in 'worldy' environments as opposed to 'gamey' environments. PvP is often instituted in MUDs as more of a 'worldy' feature, though that's just a design decision. Buying items in Quake or some other purely gamey PvP environment probably wouldn't fly so well.

So I guess what I really meant to say is that it's more a matter of distinguishing between world and game when you decide what you're going to sell. There are few to no examples of black & whiteness here either aside from extremes like Quake (pure game) or Habbo (pure socializer).

--matt
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Old 09-15-2005, 07:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Aug. 25 2005,18:41)
I don't play bashing games except for research purposes (Everquest, etc), but think of it this way: In Everquest, most people pretty much only have one goal: Get to the highest level and kit yourself out with cool equipment. People won't react well to the company selling them that equipment (though, of course, it's still for sale, and it's a bit irrational to care whether other people are buying it from the company or from 3rd party sources). That's because something like Everquest is focusing largely on MUD-as-game vs. MUD-as-world. In something towards the 'game' end of things, selling the point of the game is a bit like selling extra moves in chess (not that bashing games are as tight a game as chess, of course, but you get the idea I suspect).

In games that lean more towards 'world' than 'game', there's much less reason to object if you're the sort of player who might object. Inequality is part of worlds, where it might not be part of games.
There's no difference between killing something to loot coin or eq to "get to the highest level and kit yourself out with cool equipment" and Viagra MUDs, where you pay-for-perks.  They both depend on spending resources outside of the game itself (whether it's the players' time or their money) to achieve in the game.

You mention equality.  Most people that play games realize there isn't equality in the world, but that doesn't mean they really want it in their game either.  That's why there are cheat codes.  Most people transfer their same ambitions from reality into the game world (if not to even a greater level than in reality).

The only real difference you see in players is when they accept the inequality as long as it pertains to the game world.  In other words, they expect nobles in the game to have certain things because they're noble.  They do not however, expect that the nobles' players became nobles because they have money in real life.  Same goes for anything in the game be it objects, wealth, or power.  Only what occurs within the game can determine what that player will rise to (now, with their present character, or in the future, with new characters).  If the border between reality and the game world is not strictly enforced and separated at all times, real-life ambition will seep in.

Pay-for-perks is probably the ultimate "gamey" style since in order to remain profitable, there has to be an advantage to paying.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 09-15-2005, 08:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (prof1515 @ Sep. 15 2005,20:17)
Pay-for-perks is probably the ultimate "gamey" style since in order to remain profitable, there has to be an advantage to paying.
That's completely untrue. Habbo Hotel is the most successful pay-for-perks game in the West and is basically the least gamey MUD/MMO possible.

Edit: It may be the most successful pay for perks game in the world, but I don't know enough about the Asian market, where pay for perks is way ahead of the West in terms of popularity. If WoW goes ahead with its plan to sell trading cards that give benefits in-game, they will be the most successful game using pay for perks, though they won't be getting anything close to even half their revenue from that. (Habbo is pure pay-for-perks.)

--matt
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