Pay-to-win is wrong... Wait, it's not? Really?
Thursday, May 10, 2012 8:56:55 AM
From since I can remember I have enjoyed completing a game by my own "hard work" (because let's be honest, playing games is such a job ). But when all was said and done I would enable some cheat codes once I have played through once and just enjoy it without worrying about secrets and finding ammo/health etc.
I personally view "pay-to-win" as cheating and the main problem with this is that it's cheating in a seriously big multiplayer environment which I have always frowned upon. It is the worst thing someone can do in my books (Well in a gaming environment anyway). But is this viewpoint maybe a bit short sighted? Do I have tunnel vision? Sniper vision? Am I missing the bigger picture? I have started to think that perhaps I am.
You see, as is always the case, there are 2 sides to every story. When you run in to a game with a super awesome destroy-all-life weapon you worked months on to get and you suddenly get killed by that same weapon by a character who has only been playing for a week I am sure you are going to be angry. So much so that some ranting about pay-to-win will ensue with a lot of choice words. But, there is a big point often being overlooked. What the circumstance of the other player is.
Many people who enjoy playing games simply do not have the time to sink in to a game. Often they are parents who rarely have time to sit down and enjoy a good game of Battlefield3, Rift, WoW or whatever online game they might be wanting to play, limited to perhaps 3 or so hours a week for this hobby. Is it fair on them if they barely have the time to get the unlocks and stuff that players who have more spare time have an easier time getting? You see while this isn't the best argument, it really is a valid one. In my experiance in gaming, there seem to be way more people out there with enough time than those without.
I fall somewhere in the middle. I have a reasonably busy life, needing to be up a 5:00am every morning and only getting home again at roughly 5:30pm. Then there is supper, cleaning (Myself and the house), spending time with the loved one and then the much needed sleep. I get perhaps an hour/2 hours worth of game time max on a night like this and only about once or twice a week. Weekends I generally try to catch up on all the lost hours. Yet it's still not enough to really catch up to the vast majority of players out there. My solution to this? I generally don't play games that require hours and hours of play to unlock things to be able to stand against the masses of other players. Rather I prefer games that don't require it. I play the ones where when I play I am on a generally even type of playing field or simply is just a single player experiance. (I am glad that Diablo III will have a "single player" type aspect to it. Phew). Don't get me wrong. I love games that require lots of play to unlock things. It just urks me when your ability to do this is made more difficult by players who already have this and suddenly you can't become good enough to get the unlocks since you are dying more than winning.
But let's be honest. This (avoiding these games) isn't a solution for everyone. Some people really would like to play Battlefield3 (I am using this one as an example since it is the most recent pay-to-win example that have people up in arms). They don't have time to unlock all the fancy scopes/grips etc.
Sure one can say it's simply skill and that the guns don't make the player so why should they be allowed to buy unlocks? But go play a round with a stock standard starting rifle, then go play a round with the much later unlockable grips and scopes and suddenly it's a whole differant game. In this same breath, if you are saying that it's only the skill that counts, then why throw your arms up when someone kills you with said high level equipment that was only unlockable later for you but he/she bought? If they killed you, then they must have the skill to do so with the starting equipment as well? No? well then why say that it's the skill and the unlocks are aesthetic and should only be allowed for those with time? You see there are just so many ways to look at this that there really is no real way of saying it's ok or not to pay for these.
The best way that this argument was put was said by a person somewhere on the internet or gaming magazine. I can not for the life of me remember who or where, but it is so true.
Rough quote from what I can remember: "There is the guy who is upset that he has spent all his time grinding to unlock this and can't afford to simply purhcase them. Then you have the guy who has spent all his time making money to buy the equipment because he doesn't have the time to grind it in game"
Quite the statement hey? Profound and true! This is the statement that made me think "Maybe I am being too hard on these guys/galz/its".
But then there is the really ugly side of this. The lazy one. The one who has all the time but refuses to practice at becoming better and so will buy advantages to claim superiority. These are the ones that I think most people dislike and the main reason why so many don't want people to unlock the content with RL money. I honestly think no one would really have a valid reason for hating pay-to-unlock if it was limited to the people who are online so little that the impact on the online gaming would be minimal. These guys wouldn't be filling the servers with noobs who couldn't shoot their way out of a hoard of kittens with a machine gun. No, instead you would have the odd guy/gal/it that would be online every now and then who is a slightly better challenge because his equipment is at least up to standard so to speak. Yes, the facepalm moments would be had. But at least it's not the lazy ones with all the time in the world who just refuse to practice properly or wait to unlock the items.
Am I making sense here or am I just rambling?
So what is the solution? I am afraid there is no real easy one. Perhaps a thing where it checks how often you play. If it sees that you play regularly but with seriously limited time, then maybe allow you to purchase ranks/equipment/however the game works since it would take you too long to unlock things. Maybe not all at once. But rather incremental. Like once a month. While if it sees you play all the time but just generally, really suck at it and make life hard for everyone, then not allow you to buy it but instead force you to work at it since you have the time to become better and have no excuse! Then to keep the real pro's happy allow them to buy it if they wish. The guys who have the time AND the skill since they will get there pretty soon anyway. This will give them the option. That way most parties are kept happy.
But this design has flaws as well. Prejudice is the first thing that springs to mind. Still going to have that unfairness level of "I worked my ass of for this" and the lazy ones crying for their mommies. But it's a starting place.
I for one, as I said earlier, don't agree with the pay-to-win model. I am one of those who don't have time to play a lot. I don't think it's unfair that someone gets to run around with a lvl 1,000,000 sniper scope-of-auto-zoom-kill while I only have a magnifying glass attached to my peashooter with ductape. It's part of the game. It sets the hardcore from the casual player and quite frankly, Mr lvl 1,000,001 (after killing me)has worked hard to get there. But I do finally understand, to some degree, what it is that some people feel about it and why they don't think it's wrong and in a small way, I agree.
So what is your viewpoint? Agree, disagree or just don't care?