Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An Opinion on Plex as Pay to Win

I played Diablo today with my best friend. We've not played it in a few weeks. In general the game has been a huge dissapointment for me. However, its the only one that we play together. She avoids Eve and all MMOs because her obsessive nature will drag her in and addict her in moments.

At the login screen there was a big news blurb about the real money auction house. I flipped past it, becuase I did not care. I know a few people that are making a bit of personal income off of this. People want the high end equipment without the grind and will pay cash for it. Then, I had two friend requests from a gold seller. I declined those as well.

However, it made me think of PLEX.

There is a thread on the forums at the moment about paying to win. The sides are rather devided about the issue.

In Eve, more then many (or maybe any) other game I have played, the ability to sell a PLEX for ISK does not feel like pay to win to me. When I first started to play City of Heroes, occasionally I'd be spammed by someone selling 'credits (aka gold)' on a website somewhere. I thought that it was a scam. Who would pay for gold in a game?

I didn't understand RMT until I came to Eve and started to read about it. I also had the same naivety about bots and botting. I play games for enjoyment of the game and attaching a business task or a money task to it was beyond my tiny scope of understanding. Games = Play. Work = Place I go to that causes me to afford Play. City of Heroes was the first game that I ever paid a subscription for. I never got into EverQuest and later WoW simply because they required monthly subscriptions. My first multiplayer game was a text based MUD that I didn't have to pay for.

I first got into the monthly subscription thing with Hellgate: London. Having my subscription cherry popped, a few years later when I tried City of Heroes it was easier to accept. CoH cost the same amount as Eve did and I was playing it up until I tried Eve. I then dropped my sub and subscribed to Eve instead. I figured one sub was enough. Hahahha. Oh Eve... alts... ahhhh... but let me not wander to far....

Eve's NeX store never interested me. I will admit, I purchased some outfits from City of Heroes. They were always coming up with new fancy ones. I stared at my character a lot. I think I paid a total of 10 USD all told for things eventually. I don't have a 'have it all' type of personality. Mostly I went for a package that had wings. I had a thing about wings because I liked to fly. I liked to fly and in Eve I had a spaceship so I was satisfied.

I can see how NeX is a slippery slope, but that is not the Pay to Win discussion I'm wandering through.

What I still did not understand, until I had been playing Eve for months, was buying PLEX for ISK. I could not learn the cute little outfits in City of Heroes in game, otherwise I would have. Because I could earn the ingame currency, buying it out of game made little sense to me. Thus, the selling of PLEX for ISK made no sense to me at the time.

I'll admit, I thought it was a bit dumb and to a certain extent bothered my ehonor about 'playing' the game. I felt that they were skipping an important part of playing, which was earning the 'money'. I'm a gold hoarder in every game I play. I had the billions of piles of coins in Diablo 2 spread all over the town.

A few months down the line I changed my tune. Some of that came from hanging out with people who paid for their subs with PLEX. My personal desire for them to continue playing outweighed my vague opinions on something I had not thought about. I also thought it was a very cool feature that opened the game up to a wider audience. I also learned a bit more about Eve.

In many games, ISK/Gold/Currency = stuff. Stuff = power. Some stuff = IWIN button.

In Eve, ISK = Stuff. Stuff does not equal power or IWIN. Stuff can often compensate for a lack but it can not make up for it. Someone who does not know how to play will still not know how to play, even if they pour all the isk in the world into their fits. Also, in Eve you lose stuff. Even stuff purchased with ISK gained from selling PLEX purchased with real life ISK (The icelandic people are RMT because they buy ISK with ISK. Terrible world we live in).

Such was explained to the person who asked in the New Player Q&A forum section if he could buy officer mods off the market. I am sure that he heard about how great they are. With the power of plex, it seems that greatness can suddenly be yours. The overall opinion was "Please no. You are not there yet" and "Where are you undocking?"

That is how fits like this appear.

The above Navy Vexor was being used, I believe, to grind through level 3 missions by someone who was trained almost 100% for industry and mining. I am not a fit expert by any means, but I remember seeing the cap rechargers and the power diagnostic units and thinking... "his fitting skills are terrible and that is the only way he can make stuff fit." Then I noticed that the faction drones (I didn't even know we had faction drones and this alerted me to that) were because he did not have T2 drones for the same reasons.

At the time, I was slowly working through an endless grind of fitting skills that felt like nothing was happening to me. But, looking at that I realized I could fit ships as they were ment to be fit. I know that rechargers and diagnostic units have their place. I don't think that place is on a faction mission Vexor. And he was still struggling. So shiny things did not fix the problem.

And yes, I know that he was using PLEX to finance his in game goals and replace the constant flow of lost stuff. He told me so :)

That is why I have a relatively neutral opinion of PLEX. Throwing ISK at something does not save you from playing Eve because playing Eve is not all about ISK. There is a thread on the eve online forums in crime and punishment where a woman is quite upset because her husband was scammed out of billions of isk in items that he paid with from ISK gained from selling PLEX.

I really loathe the reverse ISK -> Plex -> IRL conversions.

In City of Heroes, if you could buy an item you had it. There was some level restrictions but making it to the max level of 40 was a simple task. The super expensive sets to make your character a true badass was a handful of in game money away.

In Eve Online, you can buy an item, and then it might take 6-9 months to fly it, and another 12 to fit it properly, and then someone destroys it and its gone forever before you even got a chance to take some amazing screenshots after you undocked.

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