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MMO Money Matters: Get The Most Out of Your Gold
When you make the decision to convert real-life currency into virtual currency, it’s a great thing to have options, and at least some amount of flexibility. Understandably, in-game currencies are different in each MMO. Because of this, it’s possible for the creators of the game to charge whatever they like. This can leave players reluctant to purchase anything to begin with, knowing deep down that their hard-earned money is absolutely restricted once it’s converted.
Giving players a level of freedom – as little as that may be – within this micro-transaction system, means players are naturally more enticed to spend. When your money in-game can be used for all the exclusive, real-money-only items as well as be converted into the virtual currency system of the game – used to purchase anything and everything else – a lot more options open up.
Unfortunately, systems such as this require quite a lot of planning and maintenance, so as not to mess with the general economy and balance of the game.
These types of systems, built on flexibility on freedom, offer just that in terms of features that accompany them.
A fantastic example of this is the PLEX system implemented in EVE Online. If they wish, players are welcome to bypass spending real money to pay for their subscriptions, and instead can opt to spend in-game currency. This is fantastic for a few reasons:
Firstly, players can essentially play the game for free, as long as they play it well. For people on a budget or with some kind of monetary trouble, this is a Godsend.
Alternatively, the type of players who prefer to hoard their money can do so by intelligently playing the economy. With enough work, it’s possible to make real profit playing this way.
The fact that this system provides players with so much influence on the economy is great. In games like EVE Online, where there is such a heavy emphasis on the economy already, the extra avenues opened are endless. This not only provides players with more options overall; it also adds an extra element of risk and reward. It’s not a matter of simply playing with imaginary currency anymore, and this brings a new richness to gameplay.
A rather new trend that’s starting to appear more and more lately is the concept of ‘Founder’s Packs’. If you’re present at the launch of a free-to-play MMO as of late, chances are you know what I’m talking about. Becoming a ‘Founder’ means that you have the option to pay a one-time fee, and for you donation you’re given exclusive in-game items, sometimes an exclusive title and/or various items to boost your character temporarily. Oh, and of course, the satisfaction of being one of the founding members of the MMO and having supported the game’s ongoing development.
For a lot of people, these intangible extras won’t be enticing at all. For others, this is a huge factor in the decision to cough up a chunk of money.
Most games give players the choice between a few different packs. Players willing to drop more cash gain bigger rewards, yet those wanting a simpler experience can still partake without their wallets suffering too much.
Many of the packs on offer from games truly lack any real depth and it’s easy to tell that many of these Founder’s Packs are shameless grabs at money.
With the shelf life of MMOs these days, it’s extremely important to consider how well you think this MMO is going to go in terms of depth and success – especially since you have such little information to work with given that most of the time, these packs are offered as early as alpha.
Yes, that’s $199 for a free-to-play game.
I’d like to say ‘gone are the days of gold farmers’, but all of these new real-money systems have now been refined. A couple of years ago, if you decided to buy some gold with real money, you’d be hard-pressed to find a legitimate looking website that offered it. It was almost impossible sometimes to tell the difference between a scam site and a real one.
Nowadays, there are plenty of very well-made websites offering MMO currencies for real money – many of the sites even offering currencies in multiple games.
I’ve become less and less adverse to the idea of dropping money on a free-to-play game – thanks, in most part, to League of Legends – and so have experimented with these systems in a few different games of late.
From my experiences, I have this advice to offer: research and experience the game before making any monetary decisions. As enticing as it may be to have that awesome mount before everyone else, or a pair of cat ears for your avatar, or whatever it may be – you might find you have a terrible case of buyer’s remorse the next week when you have no desire to play it ever again.
There is definitely value for money within these real-money systems, it just requires a bit of patience to get the most out of your money.