Allods Online’s First Firestorm

Turns out there is a big flap over the pricing in Allods Online’s cash shop. The usual hyperventilating can be found in the comments to Keen’s commentary on the issue; Anjin’s response is more measured, but Alysianah over on Mystic Worlds is a bit worked up.

Me, I’m anti-drama. I think Allods is a pretty good game. And yeah, I think the prices sound pretty screwy (I haven’t actually spent enough time in-game to see them for myself – the start of open beta means another character restart, and you can’t view the item shop until after you’re out of the starting adventure. And I won’t get the chance to do that today.) The official response certainly makes it sound like the store prices are where they want them to be at least for the moment, although the door’s been left open to changes.

My feeling is that this kind of thing is self-correcting through the wondrous power of capitalism. If the prices are too high, nobody’s going to pay them, and unless the people behind Allods are irredeemable dolts, they’ll go down to something more sensible. If people decide to pay them anyway, that means they are not too high, and they’ll stay where they are whether bloggers are tearing at their clothes over them or not.

The other free-to-play title I’m getting involved in, D&D Online, also has microtransactions that I’m thinking about eventually dropping some cash on. I have to admit that I was not considering spending any money on Allods. Which is not to say that I would never, just that I hadn’t given it any thought up to now. Again, the prices seem overly high to me – discouraging me from changing my position. And I get the WTF factor that people are experiencing upon seeing what appear to be beefy prices for the microtransactions.

But, as the official response rightly points out, the game is still free, and nobody’s forcing anybody to spend any money on it – and the designers seem cognizant of both the dangers of allowing players to buy success in the game, and the desirability of having the whole game available to players who don’t spend cash. So I fail to see any good reason for all the gnashing of teeth.

On top of that, there’s the fact that Allods plays a great deal like World of Warcraft – which means that if you’re going to be spending over $15 a month in its MT store, you may as well just pay the WoW subscription fee and play that instead. This is Allods’ great virtue – it plays like WoW but is free – and asinine prices for MT items doesn’t change that.

In other words: Chill. If the prices are too high, don’t pay them, but don’t over-react by calling for boycotts or howling about how Allods Online is “raping” you. For Christ’s sake, people.

Fun Latin Fact of the Day: Our English word “asinine” comes from the Latin asinus, meaning “donkey”.)

14 responses to “Allods Online’s First Firestorm

  1. I think you are being harsh on the reactionists at Keen&Graev! I thought most responses were appropriate.

    Most people expressed shock at MT prices which are orders of magnitude above expectations – most of those will be people who have been eager to play this game so doubtless betrayal is just one emotion that they are feeling.

    Personally I’ve watched from the sidelines for months, and while I found a few aspects of it interesting I waited to see how it launched – but even to an onlooker the MT prices were clearly crazy.

    First I thought it was a mistake; now I know it’s not can I just shrug and walk away knowing this game is not for me: I can’t trust a company that has the gaul to try such price gouging and I’ve seen before how ugly things get with ever far more moderate MT schemes.

    Sure “if you don’t like the prices, don’t pay” and that’s consumer choice in action – but with the prices so very high, and a captive market it’s pretty reasonable for people to boycott that element of the game to accelerate the adjustment and send a clear message to gpotato.

    At the least it’s a PR blunder by the Devs because I won’t be the only one this tips away from the game before I even started. No subs to lose but player numbers will be down and each player is a potential customer of the cash shop.

    Back to playing no MMOs for me and waiting for “the next great MMO”!

    To those who play Allods – have fun and I will be watching and hoping they fix the shop for you fast.

  2. You know people are worked up because they were planning to spend money in the cash shop IF the prices were reasonable. Which they aren’t.

    People were willing to spend money there buying a wide variety of items, including perfumes bags, bank space, incense and so on.
    With prices like this people won’t be spending money, and when they spend it will be from time to time. So long to revenue from guys getting stuff for alts as well because with those prices people will tend to stick to one character.

  3. It’s a Pedro said, we like the game enough that we were prepared to support the game with our money. I’m thankful that I hadn’t pre-purchased any funny-money and now I won’t for a very long time, even with a temporary adjustment. It’s a trust factor now. I know they need to make money. The people that don’t care probably were not going to spend. I’m with Keen and many of his readers, I was ready and willing to spend money to support the game but I wouldn’t be gouged. So now I’ll consume resources without giving something back in return. Is that really what they want?

  4. Also many don’t realize how not getting more bag space actually impacts your play session. You have 18 or 29 slots that the quests routinely consume 1/3 of. There are no mounts so now you will make the long walks back to vendor trash OR leave trash on the mobs and have a lot let cash, in a game where you talent points must be purchase by buying rubies. There’s a ripple effect that people who haven’t played do not immediately see.

  5. I fear that I have been misunderstood. Let me clarify.

    1) I agree that the prices as they are now are preposterous.
    2) Choosing not to spend money on said items is a perfectly valid and understandable decision.
    3) Being honked off at both the situation and the wishy-washy (at best) response from the gPotato people is also understandable.
    4) Keen’s reaction of basically, “WTF, they better fix this” is also reasonable. Some of his commenters are bugfuck crazy. Bearing in mind that “Some MMO players are bugfuck crazy” is a tautology.
    5) With the amount of information we have right now, “Waaah, I’m leaving!” is an overboard reaction. I can only assume that, if true, such people were going to be leaving anyway, under the rationale of some real or imagined slight, sooner rather than later. MMO players are not by any imaginable definition a “captive audience.”
    6) If the situation is not fixed, people are justified in leaving. But right now, before anybody has had time to offer a substantive reaction, that’s premature and outlandishly silly.
    6) If prices are indeed more than the market will bear (as seems to me to be the case – but people are sometimes wrong about this kind of thing,) simple economics will result in a downward adjustment. Maybe not instantaneously, but it should happen within a couple of months if the people behind the game have any economic sense at all.
    7) With that in mind, deciding not to play until such time as prices are made non-retarded is also a valid decision, especially if one feels that without some MT items, the game experience is not fun. But expecting an adjustment less than 24 hours after the problem arises, and then whining that you’re going to leave, is not reasonable.

  6. I don’t recall Keen saying we’re ready to rage-quit, nor I. We’re all encouraging a boycott of the CS itself only. Boycotts have worked in all aspects of life before so, we’re encouraging like minded folks to join in. We’re suggesting that people vote with their credit cards by not spending money.

  7. Addendum: I may be coming at this from a different angle than some people. I feel that the primary attraction in a FTP MMO is that it’s free. There is of course a wide spectrum of definitions of “free”, from something like Entropia Universe where it’s nominally free but you have to spend money to actually do anything, to titles like Allods where you can pretty much experience the whole game for free, with MTs for convenience items.

    Whether the game is actually any good or not is a separate issue: most FTP games are utter garbage. Allods is not. So I’m willing to cut them a fair bit of slack when it comes to stuff like this. That’s not to say this isn’t a cockup – it is.

  8. We want the game to succeed. It looked like the first game to legitimize the free to play model in North America. Players wanted to financially support this game we have played and loved.

    And then they insult us with the cash shop prices. Do you think $20 for 6 slots of bag space is even remotely reasonable? What about for every alt you roll? That’s why we’re upset. We want the game to succeed but the company itself is fighting us on that with stunts like this.

  9. Yeah, some of the prices were really high. I have hopes they will evaluate and adjust them. It’s a very polished game, very good game to be free.

    If the prices are bad, don’t buy anything. The cash shop funds the game, people forget this. Though one item being more than a monthly subscription for most is very steep.

  10. Ardwulf, the problem is that the “free” content has a ton of roadblocks in it designed to get players to monetize. If people can’t afford the shop, the roadblocks will wind up driving them from the game.

    If they don’t correct the market very quickly, long-term damage can be done. If they don’t at all, good luck making a profit.

  11. Personally, I think that the nerd raging has a value. There are some people who will pay prices, no matter how unreasonable. Based on that sample, with limited from the community, the publishers might conclude that they judged what the market would bear correctly. Because there is no subscription cancellation survey to fill out in a non-subscription game, votes of “I’m quitting because your prices are insane” aren’t really registered any differently from “I’m quitting because I dislike the game”.

    Meanwhile, the sheer absurdity of the prices was severe enough to make the outside observer conclude that those who are complaining are correct. The net result has been a large and well-deserved negative shift in the word of mouth on this game. The math has now expanded from “how much money are we making from these sales” to “how many people who were on the fence will now never try, and therefore never pay for, our game because of our prices”. That’s a pro-consumer side of the equation that would never have come into play if the community had meekly sat back to let the market speak for itself.

    In the end, publishers wield much more power than the playerbase does. We CAN vote with our wallets and feet, but only if the issue under discussion is worth quitting the game over. This is why so many subscription games are getting away with additional fees and item shops on top of the subscription. Anything that helps level the playing field in the consumer’s favor is a good thing in my view.

    (P.S. See also that content patch that Cryptic thought they could charge an additional fee for in Champions Online.)