July 5, 2009

RMT != micro-transactions

Darren, the "common sense" gamer, believes $10 is a bit much for a mount in free-to-play, but supported by micro-transactions, Runes of Magic.
Here’s the deal….and I’m absolutely disgusted by this. A “permanent” horse in Runes of Magic, it is 199 diamonds…let’s call it 200 cause that’s what it really should be (…seriously guys…time to start rounding things up…). 200 diamonds cost $10.94 Canadian.

Are you seriously telling me, with a straight face, that a digital HORSE costs me $10…FUCKING..DOLLARS!!!@!@ That’s if you want to buy it outright…for cash. You can buy diamonds on the auction house which you can then buy the horse…but good gawd. The horses dollar value straight up is almost as much as an entire subscription.
Following up on this is a discussion at p0tsh0t:
Truth be told, while I’m usually more of the mind that RMT is the debbil, I think the RoM mount topic is a decent example of an RMT item and approach that could work in most games. What the game companies need to keep in mind is that their RMT and game models should deliver value and entertainment to a broad audience with varied time budgets.
Here's the problem. Real Money Trade (RMT) is not the same as micro-transactions.

RMT occurs when players trade real money for items in a subscription-based game. The developers rarely see a dime unless, like SOE, specifically set it up to take a cut of the transactions.

Micro-transactions are a business model, meant to allow a developer to support a game. In most cases, the game is free-to-play.

In this specific example, Runes of Magic is free to play, but supported by micro-transactions. If a player wants a horse, they spend $10 for the entirety of the time they play the game. World of Warcraft on the other hand, is a subscription-based game that has a volcanic third-party RMT market attached. Players often pay upwards of $500 for unique mounts, on top of paying $15 a month to access the game!

Further down in the p0tsh0t post, a breakdown of what an epic flying mount probably costs in World of Warcraft:
Using the epic flyer as an example, if I really applied myself, I could probably log on and earn a few hundred gold a day without outlevelling our group too much in a relatively small amount of time each session. At 200 gold a session, that would take about 25 sessions to yield the 5,000 gold for the skill and the mount. If I played an average session every other day, that would be about 50 days or almost two months of just casual self-gold farming. All other things equal, I should be ok with paying the equivalent of about $30 for my epic flyer (or the equivalent in game currency).
So, I ask the "common sense gamer" why he is flabbergasted by a $10 mount when it is obvious players are willing spend 3 times that amount just to access a service that will allow them the pleasure of working hard to obtain a mount.

The truth is that many traditional MMOG players have lost touch with the micro-transaction movement in the market. They see a $10 price tag for something in a micro-transaction game and apply the concept to a subscription game. Immediately it seems insane that anyone would pay real money for something that they feel they get for "free" in their subscription game. They fail to realize they are paying in time and real money for a mount in their subscription game. Often times, a lot more. Not to mention the players going to RMT markets to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of real dollars for in-game perks in subscription games.

I was once one of the lost. I used to see micro-transactions as RMT. It's simply not the truth. RMT does not equal micro-transactions.


tagn said...

Microtransactions came from micropayements which was a term coined to cover credit transactions that were too small to be profitable for a business to process individually. When we start talking about $10, we're out of the "micro" league here.

RMT, on the other hand, seems to have no solid definition. I'll go with your statement above, that RMT = trading money for in-game items, but I see nothing to justify saying that the company rarely sees a dime. What RoM or EVE or FreeRealms, or EQ/EQ2, or Vanguard are doing are all variations on RMT from my point of view. The same goes for gold sellers, though I would say they are "unauthorized RMT."

Are you working from some definition of RMT that you can point to, some industry definition or statement, or is just how you think the two terms ought to be used?

Saylah said...

I agree with finding it odd that people will pay $15 per month then grind hours or weeks for the gold to obtain a bare necessity, which has cost them way more than $10 but balk at the outright purchase for $10. *shrug* Very weird.

Saylah said...

BTW - mounts shouldn't be about earning your stripes. I'm sick of players thinking that grinding mobs or repeating content simply to afford an item somehow makes that item special, when it's a base necessity like a freakin' mount. Epic fastest mounts maybe - base ones? I'd rather buy them day one than grind content for a damn horse. And if someone doesn't want a perma mount in ROM don't get one. Use in game gold and rent them or walk. Problem solved.

heartlessgamer said...

tagn, its quite simple.

RMT has ALWAYS been used to refer to the illegitimate side markets that have sprung up around MMORPGs. Developers do not originate or interact in the transactions. Usually developers outright ban the practice. That is not a business model, just as the 1,000's of services based of off Google are not Google's business model.

SOE is attempting to use RMT as a business model, but they so far have only done so as a minor sideshow to the main subscription for a game. They do not originate or sell the majority of the goods/services in their sanctioned markets.

Micro-transactions are a business model, started by the developers to give services and goods to the player. Developers originate and perform the transaction to the player.

Pretty simple differentiation.

Bhagpuss said...

If you see playing the game as "grinding", then yes it's weird that people do something they dislike and pay for the privelige. On the other hand, if you see "grinding" as playing the game, then paying separately for what you will get just for playing seems equally weird.

I think that successful MMOs ahead of us will cater to both mindsets, and a lot more. The only thing that's going to have to go is the idea that developers can maintain a "level playing field" or keep things "fair".

Personally, I get as much pleasure from doing without things as I do from having them. One of my mental quirks has always been that I often get more pleasure from deferring gratification than from being gratified; anticipating a purchase raises my mood more than making a purchase, and can be maintained for much, much longer.

I am also almost wholly uncompetetive. I really don't care at all what other people have, in games or in life. I'm interested in what I have and whether what I have allows me to do what Iwant to do, and that's it.

Consequently I get the best of both worlds in a game that runs on micro-transactions (and I agree that micro is no longer a useful prefix for transactions measured in dollars not cents). I get to play for free while other people pay the developers to keep the game going and growing.

On the other hand, to date I have yet to see any MMO that operates on a microtransaction model that has content that interests me. All the MMOs I've played that I really enjoy have been subscription model. I've played RoM, reckoned to be one of the best F2P MMOs, and it's very thin and watery compared to even a middling subscription game.

Early days, yet, though. I think soon we'll end up with all transaction models at once and we'll move to the ones we favor based on the content they provide, not the payment method they use.

Oh and yes, RMT does not equal Microtransactions!

heartlessgamer said...

Micro-transactions don't have to be about the cost. It is also about the scope. One transaction out of a 1,000 a day is micro in comparison. It takes many small transactions to make the whole, thus micro-transactions fits.