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”.)