For most Western gamers, the concept of the item mall in
games is scarier than images of href="http://grrlplanet.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/rosie-odonnell-exit-to-eden.jpg"
target="_blank">Rosie O'Donnell in S&M gear.
The foundation for the fear of item malls rests on two separate issues.
The first concern is that the item mall will suck up more than the
$15/month that is the current standard among MMOGs. The second cause
for panic is the gnawing sense
of dread that item mall purchases will be necessary in order to enjoy
where teh skinny Smurfs came from!
As a fan of F2P games, I'd like to tell readers that being
afraid of item malls makes as much sense as href="http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/58730.html">the
square root of negative one. Unfortunately, many
F2P titles validate the fear, and instead I have to convince you why
should ignore your instincts when considering the item mall for style="font-style: italic;">Atlantica Online.
First, let's cut into the meat of the fear like an 8th grader in
science class with a frog.
It doesn't take href="http://www.answers.com/topic/alan-greenspan">Alan
Greenspan to figure out why companies use an item mall. The
the trend of microtransactions in MMOGs well. It is much easier to get
consumers to make several small purchases than a single larger
purchase. It's why every convenience store in America lines the shelves
at the checkout with href="http://www.esquire.com/cm/esquire/images/twinkies-0407-460x360.jpg">Twinkies
The impulse items that line the counters in convenience stores
are exactly why href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122165238916347677.html?mod=googlenews_wsj">people
who cannot manage money find themselves on game shows like href="http://www.g4tv.com/hurl/splash.aspx" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Hurl to
make some extra cash. When you are not keeping track of what you spend,
it is easy to spend more than intended. That's why in
West--particularly in America--we love the flat rates charged for
subscription-based MMOGs so much. It's easy to plan for that single
charge of $15 each month, but it's hard to track multiple purchases in
an item mall.
The Second Cut
Even if you're href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34w8xqFz3eU">Scrooge
McDuck and know how to pinch pennies, you might still worry
that the F2P title you love will be ruined by an item mall with a
certain type of merchandise. The famous one is always the boost to XP.
Many Asian games, notorious for making finer treadmills than href="http://www.nordictrack.com/" target="_blank">NordicTrack,
sell items that increase XP for a limited time in their item malls. href="http://tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/769"> style="font-style: italic;">Requiem: Bloodymare,
a game mentioned often in this Top Ten, sells href="http://www.playrequiem.com/ItemMall/itemDetail_03.aspx"
target="_blank">XP boosts. More often than not, XP
buffs only serve to correct the problem of an unbearable leveling
curve. The people who shell out the cash can level at the normal rate
while those who do not are left out in the cold href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeaI-UAH4gk">like the
president of Columbia Sportswear.
In the case of the lemons sold in item malls, the second cut
runs deeper. Players get the impression that developers care about
nothing but profit because they have to pay for services and items they
get as part of their subscription for other games. Who cares if it's
actually cheaper to buy the components you want individually? Paying
for XP boosts so that you don't stab yourself in the eye with a pencil
makes you feel like you're dealing with a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IStY4-qPO5A">used car
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 159px;" alt=""
trust this guy, but NDOORS won't try to scam you.
Back to the Atlantica
Online item mall. It looks like NDOORS has decided to sell
items that are mostly cosmetic and convenient, the best kind of things
to sell. Sure the items can make your squad more powerful, but we're
not talking href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konami_Code">Konami
cheat code invincible. Let's look at some of the great items
Licenses: These unlock abilities and conveniences ranging from
able to see the health of enemies for attacking them to having a
permanent mercenary room to store an extra mercenary. Players can still
get similar items in game, but the chances are slim or the effects are
fleeting. Having a permanent mercenary room saves the need to purchase
them with in-game cash. It does not break the game. My prediction for
the best sellers from this group? The permanent merc room is a bargain
at roughly $5. Also, the Teleportation Licenses make travel as fun and
easy as travel aboard the href="http://fantasymaps.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/90_star_trek_enterprise_schematics_ncc1701d_starship_computerdesktop_wallpaper_s.jpg">NCC
goods here include highly desired spells and potions. Power Potions
provide a temporary buff to the squad, making everyone do more damage
and take less. The Secret Vial of Rebirth is a virtual sex change
operation, allowing players to change the gender of their avatars. Like
the licenses, supplies provide a cosmetic benefits or temporary boosts
that do not disrupt game balance. Best sellers from the supplies
will likely include The Secret Vial of Ambrosia, which will change your
main character's class so you don't have to reroll if you decide the
class you picked does not fit your lifestyle. At just under $5 per 100
uses, Ambrosia could be another hot item because it provides massive
healing to the whole squad that will help even level 100 players. Of
course, the players who buy the Secret Vial of Rebirth can always
Crying Game for fun.
This option allows players to buy collections of the favorite licenses
in a single transaction. The beginner package combines the Health Check
Licenses with some Teleportation Licenses. More expensive packages
include Patrol Licenses (decreased chance of enemy reinforcements
joining a fight) and Auto-Search Licenses (a summoned minion loots
corpses so that you don't have to waste mercenary turns to do so.
Packages are the most expensive options in the item mall, but that can
save money for the player who was going to buy all of the stuff anyway.
The most expensive package runs about $39 for 90 days, an average of
$13/month. Priceless like that make NDOORS seem a little less href="http://www.bustatoons.com/blog_images/blog_hordak_laugh.jpg">Hordak
and a little more href="http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/k/kowl.jpg">Kowl.
The Atlantica Online
item mall does it right. Gamers can choose to never spend a dime and
still enjoy the game to its fullest. People who have some extra money
can buy some items and abilities that will enhance their enjoyment
without giving them an unfair advantage. In a market full of stinkers,
the revenue approach from NDOORS in style="font-style: italic;">Atlantica Online is
like a shot of href="http://www.febreze.com/en_US/banners/images/ban_fabrics_and_air_FR.gif">Febreze.
The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed are those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of
the Ten Ton Hammer network or staff. style="font-weight: bold;">
The Top Ten
to page two to see Ralsu's latest Top Ten list.
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