Category Archives: Pay to Win

Lockboxes Are Annoying, But We Should Move On

Few issues in the MMO community stir up strong feelings the way lockboxes do. These virtual gambling devices stir up a level of hatred and vitriol unmatched by any other issue in the MMO world. And yet, they continue to propagate unchecked through our virtual worlds, despite the best efforts of the community.

A advertisement for a lockbox in Guild Wars 2

If I may play Devil’s advocate here for a moment, I think the time may have come for us to take a step back and examine whether all the furor over lockboxes is really productive. It’s clear that lockboxes are here to stay, so perhaps it’s time for us to learn how to live with them.

But First…


What is a ‘Pay To Win’ Cash Shop in MMOs?

This article was originally posted March 19, 2016. It has been recently updated.

Like a lot of MMO players, I’ve been sinking a lot of my free time into Black Desert Online. I’ve been sinking in my not-so-free time too, but I suppose that’s the curse of a good game. One of my two biggest concerns with Black Desert was the possibility of a pay to win cash shop. Korean MMORPGs are especially known for cash shops where paying real money is the only path to the top. In a lot of these MMORPGs, money advantages provide a completely insurmountable level of power.

Black Desert has launched with what most do not consider a pay to win model. However, one item in particular has raised some serious concerns… Continue reading


Does RMT Have a Place in MMOs?

RMT. Real money trading. The nasty three letter acronym associated with gold farming, pay to win, and bots. It’s existed in MMOs for the better part of two decades, back when Ultima Online gold traded at higher exchange rates (200 gold to $1 USD) than the Italian Lira, Hungarian Forint, Indonesian Rupiah, Vietnamese Dong, Colombian Peso, and several other real world countries (250 to 14,000 units to $1 USD). This was in era where all real money trading took place on eBay (sometimes facilitated by company employees), before more specialized shops opened their doors.

ultima online gold pile

People will kill to become a Colombian millionaire.

Eventually, massive inflation sets in because wolves… Continue reading


Is Augmented Reality the Future of MMOs?

Pokemon Go is a huge hit. There’s no doubt about it. The mobile game sensation earned over $200 million in its first month of operation. Much of the game’s design and locations originate from developer Niantic’s first augmented reality title, Ingress. Real world locations act as key destinations for players to visit and interact with in both games. In Pokemon Go, these are gyms where players fight their Pokemon and Pokestops to collect resources. It seamlessly blends in with the real world and requires only a phone to see the virtual overlay. Pokemon Go boasts many similarities to MMOs so it got me thinking. Is Augmented Reality the Future of MMOs?

augmented reality ingress

Augmented Reality, Present Day

Few… Continue reading


We Love Pokemon Go Despite Hating Everything About It

Pokemon Go has certainly taken the world by storm. Nintendo’s stock has risen a tremendous 44% since Pokemon Go’s release last week.

Nintendo stock up 45% from Pokemon Go

Nintendo stock up 45% since the July 6 NA/AU release date of Pokemon Go.

The augmented reality (AR) game is certainly making news, both good and bad. It’s encouraging people to walk, which fantastically combats increasing worldwide obesity rates. However, not all is well as criminals used the game to locate groups of players to rob late at night. It’s also steering focus away from the real reality, making a Pokemon Go related car wreck seem inevitable. Nonetheless, Pokemon Go is clearly the latest hit in… Continue reading


The Enemy Is Pay to Play, not Pay to Win

There was a time when lengthy ruminations on MMO business models were a staple of the community. You’ll still see people arguing the merits of free to play versus subscription from time to time, but it doesn’t have the vigor it used to. The industry has mostly stabilized, and while some games still maintain mandatory subscriptions, these days free to play and buy to play are the norm.

A warlock character in Neverwinter, a game with a very overbearing cash shop

That means cash shops are now the new normal, and there is always a great deal of anxiety around them. “Pay to win” is the frightful term whispered in the dark corners of the MMO world, a… Continue reading