RMT in Vanguard

Some time back, SOE added balls-out Real Money Trading to all Vanguard servers. I think I might have mentioned this at the time, but I never really commented on it. I was, and am still, conflicted on the issue.

On the one hand, I am staunchly opposed to open systems of trading money for in-game goods. I think they’re a route for people with more money than time or sense to succeed at the game with an advantage over those without money to waste. I view these sorts of practices in much the same light as I’d view cheating via bug exploits or hacking – working around the established norms to ‘win’, even though these kinds of games (PvE-oriented MMO) aren’t really designed to be ‘won’ in a conventional sense.

On the other hand, there are schemes which are de facto RMT, but which are tightly regulated, to the extent that I don’t have much of a problem with them. EVE Online, for example, offers EVE Time Cards, which you buy in two-month increments and can then sell to other players. Last I heard, a Time Card for two months of play is going for about 300 million ISK, which is a very substantial but not galaxy-shaking amount of money. But all the ISK in the Galaxy won’t make up for a character without the skills to do things with it, or a player without the skill to execute those things. And character skill points and player skill are the two things you can’t buy with ISK. So while I think the practice is still somewhat shady and I’m leery of it, I think it’s okay in the case.

At the other extreme are some Asian MMOs wherein you can buy any item for some amount of real-world cash. People in those games have far exceeded the paltry $15 a month we westeners are accusomed to paying, even those with multiple accounts. People have literally pauperized themselves to succeed in such titles. In some cases, the cash expenditure doesn’t even get you a real item, but a chance at a random item. It’s like a lottery ticket with virtual goods as the prize, and like the actual lottery, the people running it have a house edge. You might spend your life savings on such tickets and end up with squat. Of course, this is of little concern to me personally; even though I thoroughly disapprove of such practices, I choose to exercise that disapproval simply by not playing these kinds of games.

On the grippng hand, I have a great fondness for Vanguard and am willing to forgive it many faults. The Vanguard RMT scheme is somewhat regulated, in that the transactions are processed through SOE, who then has the right (indeed, the obligation) to police those transactions, but the financial motive will be to interfere as little as possible except to insure that all transactions are fair. But it will have an impact on the game.

For example, many items in Vanguard up to the point of RMT’s introduction were bind-on-pickup, with reason. Does that reason now get overridden such that that new items tend to be bind-on-equip instead? Or even not bindable at all, so as to encourage continuous trading of those items? The binding mechanic now so common is an artificial constraint that I could live without, but doing so would have profound impact on the economy. Quality items would be passed around indefinitely without some kind of mechanism to remove them from play, and prices on those items, as they continue to drop or be crafted, would inevitably spiral downward, neccessitating a particularly dire form of gearflation.

Raiding might also change dramatically as powerful items befome available to people who haven’t done the raids yet. But maybe this isn’t important – raiding isn’t really the strong point of Vanguard, although it does boast numerous raid encounters and some extremely elaborate raid dungeons (I assume at this point that the Pantheon of the Ancients raid is live,) and while I know there exists a raiding culture in the game, I don’t know that it’s very large or strong compared to raiding-focused games like WoW or EQ. To me Vanguard is all about the wonder of exploring the world and not at all about leveling or gear.

Of course, at level 5 it’s not as though RMT is very evident. I played a little last night and enjoyed myself very much again, tweaking some settings down (while keeping them overall pretty high) to keep performance a bit less choppy. Tonight I should have a couple of hours to play, and I may make another new character for it, or maybe go right back to one of my numerous higher-level characters.


5 responses to “RMT in Vanguard

  1. At level 44 it’s still not evident. In fact, the ‘core’ players of Vanguard don’t seem to use RMT at all, and I’ve yet to see much change what so ever since it came into the game. The craft channel is still bustling, and people are busy grinding away to level 55. RMT or not.

  2. The Eve “PLEX” is $34.95 for 2 months (so it costs more than a regular monthly sub — $17.50 per month instead of $14.95) and is given to you in the form of 2 certificates for 1 month of play. The going rate for a single PLEX certificate is ~300 million ISK, so when you buy 2 (minimum required) you’re actually buying 600 million ISK. Enough for a nice Empire faction BS, but still not enough for even a Marauder or a Pirate faction BS. Add in your point about player and character skill not being affected and. . . . .

    Yeah — certainly not gamebreaking. I might even break down and buy one someday just so I don’t have to grind missions.

  3. This is pretty usual for gamers, they are mostly OK with FULL RMT in EVE, well, because it’s EVE, but are opposed to most anything else.

    Although you really seem to be going both ways on your feelings, understand that cash-shoppery and RMT is the same in all games, and even the very subscription is a form of RMT.

    Ah, forget it, I need to write a new blog anyway..I’ll go into details there. Needless to say, I can’t say I am surprised that anyone is OK with the EVE stuff, even people that are staunchly opposed to RMT. EVE has nerd cred, I guess. 🙂


  4. It seems only RMT discussions summon a reply out of me. I’m so hugely interested in RMT and the possibilities it presents.

    I think RMT has been getting a horrible reputation thanks to the current black market situation with non-regulated RMT games. I’d like to seperate black market from regulated RMT and would like to perhaps persuade some viewers to actually not-minding RMT.

    I completely understand why people hate the black market RMT. It’s uncontrolled and un-regulated and because of this it raises tons of issues such as fraud, phishing, hijacking accounts etc…
    Not only that, it is also proven that because of the black market, early introduced in EQ1 and UO, these companies have had to increase there costs and focus to Customer Support instead of Game Development. A game designer from EQ1 has stated he estimates losses of millions of dollars due to this. Customer support requests for hacking, bots, banning etc… are all time consuming issues that require customer support hours.

    So all in all black market (even though i have participated in it) overall is pretty bad.

    Why you shouldn’t hate regulated RMT. A regulated RMT will substantially lower or kill off the black market for Vanguard. It may not completely kill of the need for third party vendors because from what I can tell Live Gamer and the eXchange market is only available to US Paypal verified users.

    This means alot less customer support issues which in turn means more time to make Vanguard better.

    Another great thing about legislated RMT is that we the players can finally make money doing what we love. Pay some bills while you play, without worrying about getting banned.

    I know it’s hard for some hardcore gamers to wrap their heads around, but making money off gaming is not just being done to save time from some grind (which I think is viable), but also to satisfy the needs of the more business oriented gamers. It’s just flat out fun to try to make money from having fun 😛

    Another big plus, and a big reason why SOE brought in the regulated RMT, is because, well, they are going to profit from it as well. Why loose money to the black market when you can profit by regulating it. Not only will they profit from aleviating alot of the black market issues, but they are most definately getting a cut of every transaction.

    SOE getting more money! Is that really so bad? They’ll have more money to maintain and improve your favorite game, thus not shutting it down because it is not profitable. More development = more content and features.

    Regulated RMT isn’t so bad, and looking at the power of the black market (3rd party RMT) I feel strongly that regulated RMT is a NECESSITY. If a game is popular the black market and all it’s problems will be there, so the question is, would you rather have an uncontrolled 3rd party market that takes away from the game, its development, its profitability and growth; or would you rather have a regulated RMT, which will give the average player an opportunity to make some money, increase the games profitability, and making your favorite game even more successful.

    That’s all folks. Please excuse my run on sentences and grammar errors, I ran into this post half asleep 😛