Welcome to the third edition of Reloading…
The subscription versus free-to-play (F2P) debate has raged, raged I tell you, for nearly, oh, a decade. (My apologies to Flowers for Algernon
) Recently the line between what demarks pure subscription from its previously ugly, but blossoming nicely cousin the F2P game has blurred. Vanity micro-transactions have become the beer goggles of gaming, turning passable into passionate.
Blizzard has offered many vanity companions, virtual creatures that follow you around the game but have no effect on your gameplay via their store. They sell for $10 each, with proceeds from some, like the Cenarion Hatchling being donated to worthy causes like the Tsunami relief.
Gamers complained about the vanity pets, but the level of moaning was low enough that nothing ever came of it.
Recently Blizzard community manager Nethaera made this post:
“With the continued popularity of the Dungeon Finder, many players have been asking for a way to group up with real-life friends who play on other realms to take on instances together. Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about a new feature currently in development that will allow players to invite Real ID friends (http://us.battle.net/en/realid/ ) of the same faction to a party regardless of the realm they play on, and then queue up for a 5-player regular or Heroic dungeon.
As this is a fairly complex service to develop, we don’t have a release date to share quite yet. It’s important to note that as with some of the other convenience- and connectivity-oriented features we offer, certain elements of the cross-realm Real ID party system will be premium-based, though only the player sending the invitations will need to have access to the premium service. We'll have more details to share with you as development progresses -- in the meantime, you may begin to see elements of the feature appear on the World of Warcraft PTR.
Uh oh, a gameplay service that will be pay to use. How dare Blizzard do this? (Apparently players had already forgotten about the remote auction house and remote guild chat
pay to use features).
Not only has Blizzard managed to stir up the hornet’s nest of players who appear to be running total personal budgets consisting of $15 per month, but they dredged that ugly Real ID
cadaver up from the lake for another look-see.
Real ID is essentially like giving your “friends” a) your real name and b) a tracking device that tells them whenever you are logged into your battle.net account. If you want to jump on an alt to avoid helping one of your leech-like buddies then forget it. They can track you down and hound you no matter where you go. Feel like playing Starcraft 2 rather than running your lazy friends’ low level toon through Wailing Caverns? Sorry, they can guilt you no matter where you are or what you are doing. Real ID is a license to guilt.
So, let’s take beer googles, a license to guilt and the always popular “Looking for Dungeon” tool, throw them into the Blizzard blender and see what pours out. So far, this is the result:
What I personally would much prefer to this system is a LFD tool that took into account the thumbs up and thumbs down ratings from our very own PlayerScore.com. Put the thumbs up people together and the thumbs down people together.
That way, not only would the patient, helpful types be rewarded by getting groups with like-minded people, but the pinheads would receive the very deserving reward of being grouped eternally with other arsewipes. This is like MMOG Karma, intelligent design, call it what you will.
Are you willing to pay to play with friends? Are you like Fonzie (Thumbs up all the time) or Potsie (Thumbs down)?
Send me your thoughts and comments, or just your favourite Happy Days memories.