Friday, March 19, 2010

The Cash Shop in Allods: they are doing it wrong

I've been having a lot of fun in Allods. I've been playing for close to a month now. Based on simple general goodwill, I have reached the point where I would usually spend money in a FtP MMO. In fact a few hours ago, I spent some time digging through the cash shop to see if there was anything I could justify spending cash on. There wasn't anything I was willing to buy. After some reflection, I realized it basically came down to one thing:

Cash shop items in Allods Online add value to a character, rather than an account.

In the past I've happily spent cash in a lot of FtP MMOs. In Kingdom of Loathing I spent a little cash mainly to donate to the cause (a great great game), but as a side effect my account became permanent whether I actively play or not. In Wizard 101, I bought access to new zones once I gunned through the newbie areas. They became permanent content added to my account, accessible to all of my alts. In Dungeons and Dragons Online, I bought access to a race that had better starting stats for a mage type then the regular races. I understand that I could have earned the race just by playing if I were patient enough, but I'm not. Regardless, I can now and forever start as many Drow elves as I feel like.

The theme among those purchases, all of which I am very happy with, is that they added something to the value of my account rather than to a particular character. A character I might lose interest in once I get to know a game better (basically any character I start) is not worth investing a lot in.

What does Allods offer? Bag and bank slot expansions that apply only to a given character that purchases them. If you get to level 25 and decide you hate the class you are playing, tough just set your money on fire. There are also chests that have randomly generated rare items which are highly unlikely to be useful to any given character that you buy them for. Finally, my understanding is that at the higher levels you are forced to buy consumables to be competitive at PvP and raiding.

The problem with the last option is that I hardly ever hit the cap in any MMO. I've done so in less than a dozen that I've tried over the years. I also hated the endgame of all but two of the MMOs I did hit the cap in, and promptly quit. I don't know how many other players like me there are out there, but if I'm anything like normal their strategy for earning cash from their players is next to insane. Hope that (A) players make it to the endgame in the first place, and (B) they like it so damn much they are willing to start forking out cash to participate in it. Either they have the best endgame on the face of the earth, or they are utterly delusional and need to change their strategy fast before a fairly enjoyable game crashes and burns.


  1. I can to a similar conclusion myself recently, not from actually playing but from reading yourself and other bloggers, as a result I went ahead an uninstalled the game. There's just too much uncertainty from Allods about their business model and store for me to invest any time with them. There are so many other options for my MMO and general gaming time, it's not worth the drama.

  2. Yeebo, your and Blue Kae's responses say a lot about the state of Free2Play games. We've been hearing over and over that is you don't like the cash shop, just play for free if you're having fun. But the cash shop is an intrinsic part of the game design. A badly designed cash shop leads to an unbalanced game. And as you've pointed out, you're not on a level playing field if you're not paying.

  3. @Blue Kae: I'm still having enough fun to keep playing for the time being. At some point I'll hit a soft cap where I need to hit the item store to keep making good progress, and at that point I'll move on. However, I get bored with 90% of the MMOs I try by the mid levels anyway, so it won't be a great loss to me.

    @Anjin: there are a lot of FtP MMOs "doing it right" imo. Hopefully those will prove to be the more financially successful ones, and we will see fewer baldfaced attempts to milk customers in the future.

  4. You're absolutely right, but it's more fun to complain about the bad ones than celebrate all the good ones. DDO and W101 (and oth games I'm sure I'm missing) deserve a lot of credit for getting it right, though.

  5. Agreed, Runes of Magic, Wiz101, and DDO are all doing a much better job, in my opinion. Unlike some, I don't think that the F2P model won't work, but it works better when you're charging for true convenience items and for content, not when you're game is designed to push people to the cash shop.