Thursday, 31 July 2008

Micro-transactions and the West

While I was mooching around buying Nightfall to expand my Guild Wars horizons, I noticed a couple of interesting things in the GW store. Specifically, for six of your English pounds (approximately $11.75, €7.50 (although priced at €9 and $10, so tough luck Europe I guess)), you can buy unlocked skills from each campaign.

To clarify for those not in 'the know'; in Guild Wars, once you learn a skill for the first time, it's unlocked and can be used by your pvp characters and heroes, and trained on your roleplay characters more easily through tomes. To learn the skill, with the exception of some basic skills you get when you start a character, you have to pay an increasing amount of gold, as well as a skill point, which you get through some quests and from filling up your XP bar once you hit the level cap (20). This can get quite expensive, when you consider there are 1235 skills in the game.

But with these unlocks in the stores, you can unlock a quarter or so of these for six pounds, times five for each campaign plus core plus the Eye of the North expansion, for £30 ($50, €45) you can unlock all the skills. My opinion: I'd rather just buy the campaign/expansions and do the hard graft to get the skills I want; I doubt I need all of them anyway.

But while I was looking, there's also the extra character slot at the same price. This is much more tempting. Although I currently have a couple of spare slots, I can see myself buying more once I run out. And there are a couple of other PvP-y things you can buy as well: not for me, but I'm sure some people must use them.

City of Heroes also lets people buy more character slots, but as far as I can tell, that's it for Western micro-transactions. (Yes, World of Warcraft sells character transfers and name changes, but thats a money-grab, not micro-transactions (no controversial opinions on this blog, no-siree).) Of course, both are owned by NCSoft, and Guild Wars has both a very different business model and very different game style from other mainstream Western MMOs; I'm still intrigued as to how many people feel its worth roughly three beers to not have to do fuss with skill unlocks, and whether its possible for other games to follow their lead with similar things for purchase. Maybe its worth six pounds to skill up to 350 in a profession in World of Warcraft, of for some number of extra skill points in EVE, looking at things that may have a similar time and in-game cost to the skill unlocks.

I think its a reasonable idea, but somehow suspect people would disagree with me.

1 comment:

Crimson Starfire said...

I once thought about buying the skills unlock for Guild Wars, but I decided against it because I thought it would be more fun to unlock them through effort. I'd only recommend doing it if you plan on doing a lot of GW PvP and couldn't be bothered putting in the hard yards to unlock them all.

Have fun with Nightfall, its the best campaign of them all ;)