|Comfort food is sometimes what you need.|
It has taken a while, but I have come to be comfortable with the value of my playtime. I am not one of those people who looks at what I earn or achieve as something to be directly measured in relation to how much it costs me in the virtual world. However, I know this matters to a great many people, especially now with the introduction of the WoW Token. Suddenly ‘value’ has become a subject for contention: is this game ‘worth’ what people pay for? Are you getting ‘decent returns for investment’ in Azeroth? Is being able to pay for playtime a liberation, or is it simply another way of tying players to the MMO in the long term?
|Buying stuff for cash is not new.|
I think quite a few people have conveniently forgotten that buying gear for Gold isn’t some kind of revelatory step forward. As you can see, that’s how the game went down in Pandaria too. This isn’t some sinister conspiracy by the company to jack up prices and take advantage of the playerbase, who are now out of gold because they bought all the Tokens. This is Blizzard placing a different monetary value on items based on the advantage they’ll give players when they obtain them. You’ll also have all manner of people now telling you that the purchaseable items are vastly inferior to anything that drops in a Raid (because Tier and Stat Itemisation) but then I’d probably stop you and ask why you’re gearing from a vendor in the first place, because I’m betting no raider worth their salt is going to care about that anyway. If you want to create a conspiracy theory, I don’t think I’m going to stop you.
Time moves on. With that realisation comes the understanding that actually, why you play is largely academic next to the fact you’re playing at all.
|Time for a quick getaway!|
Buying gear for gold allows the person who just bought their 90 to clothe themselves at 100 quickly and easily so they can get carried by their mates in a raid and gear correctly. It further enhances the path of convenience for those who want to jump in and get a Class ready with the minimum amount of fuss so they can easily help their friends. None of this means they’ll be any good when they get to current content, of course it doesn’t, but for many all that matters currently is throwing around three words. Blizzard have become pay to win. I’m going to write about this at length for the paying job this week, because I think what a lot of people are failing to factor into the equation is a quite basic and obvious factor in all of this. Why can’t people do that? There are those like my husband who will tell you that this effectively devalues all the effort he’s put into raiding over the years, but that really is a falsehood. The people that many think should be most aggrieved, I suspect, will be the ones that actually welcome this change. This now gives them more choice without the need to risk compromising losing their accounts.
|Fixed is relative ^^|
If you want to hand over real world money to play this game at an increased rate to someone else, the moral and ethical issues only really matter if there’s some kind of officially-sanctioned prize at the end. There are those who consider World First as being just that, except there is no prize except being first. ‘Cheating’ in that regard is exploiting mechanics, and I highly doubt that allowing a Top 50 Raider to come in and buy an item from a vendor is giving them any advantage in the long term other than allowing alts to help gear mains in raids. Honestly, this doesn’t matter to anyone except someone like me who can now, if they so desire, spend the equivalent of about $100 in real-world cash to begin to get an alt to 675. Buying gold ‘legally’ didn’t exist in Pandaria. Now it does. And that, like it or not, is the only thing that has changed.
I think what needs to happen right now is twofold: people need to decide what they want from Warcraft and then they have to accept that everything they do in game has a value. If it matters that much to you that real life money can buy gold, then perhaps it is time to re-assess the whole experience of gameplay, because this isn’t ‘broken’ or ‘wrong’ it is just different. This is convenience and accessibility for many, even though the moral implications for some may have crossed a line.
Players need to choose what matters most to them and act appropriately.