Shooting Myself in the Foot?March 19, 2009
In my youth, RMT was just a trade union who, when they went on strike, caused a few troubles to my getting to and from work or off on holiday around the country. Now as a hardened MMO veteran (how scary that I can call myself that and semi-mean it), RMT is a far more isidious thing to me: real money transactions.
When Ultima and Everquest launched, I was very sceptical about the idea of paying a monthly fee to play a game. It felt wrong that a company could take money from me over and over again. And then my sister lured me into Dark Age of Camelot by letting me play her beta account while I was living at her place for a few months before moving to the US. I was hooked by the beta, or at least I started to see the point to it. A few changes in my mindset later and I was signed up with a 6 month subscription and a game for the next two years or so. I still thought it was a rather strange concept, but I could accept it took the place of other entertainment (ie. cinema) in cost and actually, there was enough content there for me to justify it.
And that’s where we’ve been for a while. Happy to pay for a subscription for as long as I’m enjoying the game. Increasingly though, we’re discussing playing 2 or 3 games concurrently and it’s still a little hard for me to get my head around paying to play a game a little more casually (thankfully LotRO has the lifetime subscription so I’m not actually paying twice at the moment).
Games a while back suggested they might look for other revenue schemes and I’m sure we’re all aware of developments in that area. I understand the idea, but I always want to see it in practice before I pass judgment. I don’t mind if it’s little things that need paying for, but we all know there are some fine lines that could easily be crossed. I shouldn’t mind, except my entire life is based on earning what we need to live and then enjoying the spare time we have because we’re not working full-time. So every expense becomes a bit more important to me.
It’s come up recently because I glibly said I’d quite like to see how Vanguard is doing for a free trial period (or even resubbing for a month since I have the game and characters) once I’ve played through Book 7 in LotRO). The following week, they announced they’d be bringing in RMT, and my heart sank. I always said I wouldn’t play an RMT game. In the same way as I said I wouldn’t play a subscription game. So maybe I’m looking at needing a new mindshift… but not yet.
A lot of people have been discussing RMT lately, and I’m sure all have better perspectives on it than my very judgmental self. It’s certainly something desirable for games companies, new revenue streams are good for all of us if they allow top-class games to keep their quality. But I think I’ll remain a little nervous of them for the moment.