Drow for the Money: Putting
Marketing Before Fun
of drow in Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach (DDO)
highlighted a difficult issue common to massively-multiplayer online
games (MMOGs): companies have a tendency to put profit before the
interests of player fun.
This is an understandable situation, since
companies ultimately have profit as their goal, and it is in the
interest of players for this to be the case. But I believe that by far
it is better for a company to create a product that does not sacrifice
quality, gaining and keeping players by making a fun gaming experience.
In my opinion, that
Old Content for New Results
Drow can be gained by in DDO by gaining enough faction, or favor as
Turbine calls it, through the patron
. You gain favor by doing quests. In essence, you have to
repeatedly do quests--preferably on hard or elite difficulty--to unlock
drow. Once you gain enough favor, you can make drow (either just one,
but more likely as many as you can fit on the server).
Drow are distinctly superior to most races for most classes. That is,
with a bonus to Charisma, Intelligence and Dexterity, plus a basic form
of spell resistance, a drow character is an excellent choice for any
class that has use for these Ability scores. The only downsides are
possibly missing out in some racial Enhancements and that you have to
earn favor to unlock drow.
The way that drow are attainable in DDO rewards people for playing a
lot, but after the amount of favor needed is attained, the DDO
implementation of drow discourages use of other races for character
classes. The benefit to the makers of DDO of course is that people
spend a lot of time playing to first unlock the drow and then to level
their new characters. But this detracts from the game in several ways.
So Many Drow
First and foremost, the game will eventually have a disproportionate
amount of drow. Drow will be considered better overall as party
companions. A side effect could be that players who do not feel
they have the time (or who do not have the interest in playing the
hours necessary to acquire favor) will be excluded to some extent.
Don't even get me started on the Drizzt Do'Urden issue. Just don't.
Paying for the Next Guy's Drow
avoid overpopulation of drow, the developers of DDO could set the
amount of favor necessary to be a drow very high. But this would make
drow a benefit that only limited numbers of players can enjoy. This
causes people pay for another person's enjoyment (since only certain
people benefit from the coding) with their monthly subscription fees.
All these issues were clear to the designers of DDO when they decided
to use favor to unlock drow. The designers could have created an
experience penalty for drow that would be balanced. Instead, the way of
unlocking drow encourages larger play time, yet has the flaws I mention
Now there is not problem with a company using marketing to encourage
purchase and use of product. In fact, a consumer of DDO should want the
producers of DDO to aim toward making a large profit. This allows
further development time to be placed in a product, and makes the
product better. But by making a product where marketing is placed as
more important than quality (even in the form of a compromise, which
seems to be Turbine's aim with drow in all fairness), you have changed
the product's point itself. No longer is the product meant to be fun,
leading to profit. Now the product is profitable with quality and fun
This is my problem with the implementation of drow. It gives me the
feeling that I am being taken advantage of by the developers of the
game. It makes me feel like I am encouraging the developers in taking
advantage of me. After all, I am paying for the game. Shouldn't I be
able to participate in all the fun of the game (playing a drow) without
being “forced” to spend more money (in this case due to spending time
making the necessary favor) to play a drow? And if my predictions of
Stormreach being overrun with drow, or of almost no drow being used
because Turbine sets the favor goal too high, then I will feel betrayed
by the same people who I am paying to create DDO.
So sure, it's nice that drow are allowed in the game, and I hope I am
wrong in my predictions about how they will work out. Regardless, the
developers of DDO appear to have placed their profits ahead of my fun
despite the fact that people who enjoy their game are the ones who
Now I've given you my opinion. I hope that you'll take the time to
out our poll and make your voice heard