Repetitive Monetization Theoretics

Newsflash: MMO’s make you grind.

(That new, informative and ground breaking statement should win me a blog-pulitzer, or blog-nobel, I am certain of it.)

Follow Up: People tend to not like grind.

MMOment of Truth: Grind equals profits for companies (both in the form of longer sub fee collection, and minimizing development costs)

Sad Truth: Inclusive of the above statements, MMO companies don’t treat their customers very well. [insert any analogy here that shows the longer a company forces a customer to wait for something, or to receive their item, or charges more to one customer for the same item than another customer, etc etc – the poorer the customer feels]

Solution 1: Develop a fun game that doesn’t have grind as it’s core, “innovating” feature (not going to happen anytime soon)

Solution 2: Enhance the experience with Real Money Transactions (community has a hard time accepting the current iterations of the model)

Solution 3: After the break! (oh, how I love cliffhangers)

Grind Access Hybridization. (GAH for short. You know you love that acronym. GAH!)

I am sure the statement “The first time you experience something in an MMO it is new, and hence not a grind” would be acceptable. I mean, The Nesingwary Quests were fun the first time. Repetitive killing, sure, but who knew what other beasts you would have to face – and what was at the pinnacle of the quest? Insert Nesingwary BC ver 2.0, and Nesingwary LK ver 3.0, and it’s not quite as exciting. The first character you level to max is the adventure, not so bad! When you have to repeat that content – not so good. GAH!

The first time you save up all your hard gold, master the AH to make more, and spend hours farming herbs/nodes for that final top up to buy a $5000 epic flying mount? Not so bad – it’s an achievement! The second or third time you have to do it? GAH!

Your first Giant Epic Purple Drop after beating a boss instance – thrilling! The 41st time you defeat that boss on your third max level character? (say it with me) GAH!

[editor’s note: I had a hard time sleeping last night, and dreamt of informercials. I’m sorry for bringing it here]

Grind Access Hybridization sounds so fancy! So intriguing! What in the hell does it do? Do you want to hear more?


Well, here you go! You lifelong WoW players won’t believe this, and it is sooo crazy – but it will ease the grind and make you feel all pretty, popular and important!


BOA. Bind on Account. All your items – vanity, collected, earned, tradeskills, titles, mounts, rep grinds, levels, instance access – you name it – if you have done it once, you don’t have to do it again – IF you don’t want to! The Grind Access Hybridization model rewards customers without marginalizing content (heck, if you have done it once that is fair enough). You can pass that epic mount from character to character. You can pass that epic armor/weapon to anyone on your character select screen (if useable by that class). Since you have such limited content, you allow your customers to enjoy that limited content in the context (characters) that they choose. Hey, they already did it at least once – why force them to do it again?

GAH, it’s so simple.

Buy now, limited quantities, and if you purchase in the next 15 minutes you receive the album “All the MMO’s I’ve loved before” absolutely free.

9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Ok, so the question that begs is this: how would you level your alts? I mean, when you have 800 alts (like I do, and still borrow yours on occasion…), how do you get them to max level?
    And, granted, there are BOA items in game now, and they are pretty darn spiffy, though the “end game” raid items do outshine them by far. Since I have nothing else to spend the “currency” on, I use them to buy shiney stuff for my alts… vendor garbage as they level = mass $ by the time max level is reached, as most of the BOA items will be better than what gets picked up along the way.

  2. Why do you say the microtransaction model isn’t accepted at the moment? Aeria Games seems to have over a million players, and Runes of Magic as well?

  3. @Hez: Two ways to deal with that one. You either have absolute levels (meaning, if I had a character at level 70, I can transfer some – or all – of those levels to another character). This way it preserves alts and the time/grind mechanic while making it easier for people to enjoy the game level they have earned. The other, is take the top level character you have and allow players to make any new character at that character level (or a derivative – level minus 10, etc).

    @Ramon: In North America it really isn’t. People look at it with such negative eyes for a variety of reasons. While it definitely has it’s place (over here, even) no “AAA” MMO uses it. People are afraid of difference, and change, and some of those fears are founded on the RMT schemes from overseas and otherwise. Check around the blogs with the DDO RMT announcement, read some comments, and you will find a vast amount of the NA MMO playerbase things RMT is “unfair” in one regards or another.

    I am a RMT activist, for the record. =)

  4. Having to repeat quests on alts IS irritating, and it’s one of the reasons why I preferred Final Fantasy XI – because of it’s job system, once I finished a mission or unlocked something it was done for good. I could still switch between being a Paladin or White Mage or Monk or whatever but I didn’t need to do anything all over again because I was the SAME character. And if I went on a BCNM 30 and fought a notorious monster only to end up with loot that, say, only a Bard could use, while I was playing a Paladin – well, that’s fine, because I could BECOME a Bard.

    So… having more items that are BOA is a good idea (I mentioned on my blog once or twice that I thought it would be great if Heritage Quest rewards in EQ2 were BOA [Heirloom in EQ2 parlance]). But I would prefer a Final Fantasy (or Free Realms)-style Job System instead.

    That being said, as FF demonstrates, being able to transfer content between alts/jobs doesn’t eliminate grind. 🙂

  5. You could also just let players completely respec their characters at any level, including total class swaps. (And race, if we’re going to be anal about limiting classes per race.) That’s effectively what I argued a while back.


    Lars, I love the Job system, too. It *does* eliminate alt grind… but not other flavors, you’re right.

    GAH! I love it. 😀

  6. One thing I really liked about LotRO is that if you bought a house, all your alts on the server got instant access to it as well. So, you only had to buy a house once, and then all your alts could use it.

    In my recent mega-post about my experiences in LotRO, I wondered why some other aspects couldn’t extend to alts. Why do I have to grind up rep with all the Ranger factions, again, just to get the rewards I want? My Champion did it, why can’t she vouch for my other characters?

    A few years ago I brought up the concept of generations of characters. The short version is that every expansion you’d generate new characters (*waits for screaming to subside*) with some of the accomplishments from previous generations carrying over; but the result of this design concept is that you’re building a family instead of a character (or a main and some alts). Because of this, all your characters would be connected. Get faction with a mage tower? All characters would be welcomed, and next update you’d have the option to have a character trained from birth at the tower to get access to the exclusive class.

    Going back to LotRO, I’m having some fun working up the different crafting skills. Even though the work is repetitive, each crafting class does slightly different things. What I’m not looking forward to is going out adventuring and doing exactly the same quests on every character; I’ve already run the Shire quests four times, do I have enough fortitude to do it on the three remaining characters?

  7. @Brian: I like the concept for sure. I made a similar thought (think it was over at Tesh’s place in a comment section) with the idea of “Legacy”. You play a character until you no longer wish to anymore, and then the Legacy is passed on (either kin, or an apprentice)in some logical manner. You could add an interesting element to gaming – age! Also, if done correctly could have some great lasting gameplay ideas.

    Your character defended a town from [insert mob type here] for a long time. He was a hero of the realm. He sacrificed himself to save the town, and now his daughter has taken up the mantle. A statue is erected in town to remember the father by. The daughter, although not as keen with a sword, is an excellent diplomat…

    Gives the opportunity to change classes, etc, with a base backstory for the new character.

    My second thought along those lines, is if you want to abandon a character the character stays in game as an NPC – until killed, or whatnot. Notable, powerful characters that have done either extreme good, (or extreme bad) may survive as a quest NPC – or a raid boss. There is a lot you can do with the passing on of characters to make it enhance the gaming experience – in some form or another.

    @Tesh: Saying GAH is very therapeutic, isn’t it? =)

    @Lars: If a game is built for grind there is nothing you can do about it, unfortunately. I would argue that WoW really isn’t that bad of a grind the first time through – when experiences are new and intriguing. Grinding Argent Dawn rep once to get the rewards isn’t so bad – there is a clear goal, and mechanism, to do so.

    Having to do it again (and again.. and again..) is where the grind feeling really sets in (for me). This sort of a system would negate that – without completely marginalizing the content (as you have to experience the content at least once to not do it again).

  8. @Chris F: Is it really that bad? Wow. I did know that USAnians are sceptical of the whole RMT thing, but I thought that would only remain until they see some more western and polished games (like RoM) do it.

    Also, now you NA people have your own F2P in Free Realms 😀 Although Free Realms is doing it wrong: You don’t let people buy gear that makes them automatically better than anyone else. You should just sell convenience and crafting items, like RoM, Luminary and I guess most of the Asian games do.

    I’d be sceptical too if RMT meant being able to buy an uber gear for your level 1!

    I love Turbine’s decision with DDO though, I would never have played the game with a fee, but now I’m enjoying it 🙂

  9. @Ramon: Perhaps it isn’t as bad as I say it is – most of my impressions of the anti-RMT theme comes from reading gaming blogs, and the comments posted in them. Your typical DIKU/SUB defendant hates the idea. It’s the “American Dream” so to speak – gaming is the only place they see where there is “equal footing” – once you introduce a RMT model now the people who have more in life then they do already (realistically or in principle) now have an advantage in the virtual life as well. It is a common argument.

    I agree that it just isn’t done right – there are so many ways to do RMT without the supposed advantages. I love the idea of RMT both from a clever business perspective but also from having your time invested mirror your monetary investment as well. We will see what new titles do in the NA space.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.