I like to think y’all are smart people

February 20, 2010

I do, I really do.  For the most part, readers know what’s up.  Even amidst the flames, angry comments, and the occasional mistruth, readers know how to read an article that we put up on our site.  Furthermore, most readers understand that we (Massively.com) like to take a neutral tone with our news stories.  Even when our opinion as a staff swings the other way, we’ll put out a story that will more or less recite facts and leave the speculation up to readers.  Of course we put in the occasional joke and light commentary, but we’re about making sure the facts get across as facts.

So, this e-mail that we got in our inboxes this morning from the site’s comment box made most of us burst out laughing.  This is from a man who read our follow-up to the Allods Online cash shop story… the follow up that confirmed that Gala-Net wasn’t interested in changing their absurd pricing structure.

I was reading the Allods forums, and someone posted a link to your site to read a story about the Cash Shop debacle. I must admit, I’m a MMORPG.com reader, and had never been to massively.com.

The link I clicked went straight to the homepage rather than the original story about Allods [cash shop.] Then I see the new story on the front page which was the biggest example of corporate shilling I’ve ever seen from a site like yours. The response from gPotato did even address the concern. ZERO complaints have been made about ‘the lack of communication’. The community believes the prices are fucking ridiculous. Nobody cares that they didn’t formally announce the shop was opening.

Your use of phrases like “the player feedback wasn’t exactly positive” and “take a look at the entire official response for more on how the Allods team hopes to rectify the situation” is sad to say the least.

Although these companies pay you to advertise on your site, the players are the ones that visit your site which ultimately determines how much you make from your ads. Your front page recant of your previous story when no recant was called for makes it obvious to me that you care as much about the gamer as gPotato.

So, the reason this is funny… is today is the first and last day I will be visiting your site. (Clicked 0 ads while here). It looks like there could be good content, but unfortunately, the first thing I read is garbage.. and so I don’t have high hopes for the rest of your site.

Keep it ‘profitable’ joystiq & massively.com!

Angry much?  I guess the part of this e-mail that I find funny is that he quotes two lines that show a negative tone rather than a positive one (“wasn’t exactly positive” and “hopes to rectify the situation”) and he basically sees only what he wants to see.  Those two lines are pretty much opinion dead, more recitation of what happened in the Allods than any commentary on the situation.

For those of you who may not now, Allods Online, a game that we had been generally looking forward to, undid much of their hype by revealing absolutely insane prices on their cash shop items.  Some of their “microtransactions” are reaching upwards of 10 dollars, with a 6 slot bag space increase going for 20 dollars.  The prices are, without a doubt, horrid.  If this is still an issue next week, it’s getting the Anti-Aliased treatment, most likely.

But, back to the topic at hand, this is obviously a man who didn’t try to read our content.  Because if he did, he would have found my intensely unhappy comment down in the comments section.  I rarely drop my opinion on a company down in the comments section, as I like to save it for my opinion column, but this is one where I thought the quote Gala-Net sent to us was completely absurd.  They didn’t even try to answer our questions, and I think many of our readers noticed that.  What, with us getting, “We love Massively.com!” from the associate producer when we asked him to comment on the situation.  Yeah, that totally answered the question…

But, hey, he thinks we’re all about the advertising and milking moolah from game companies.  That’s cool.  He reads MMORPG.com, so he doesn’t have to read us. It’s not like MMORPG.com wraps their homepage in ads or anything…

Oh.  Whoops.  Sorry dude…

(All <3s to MMORPG.com and the nice people that I know there.  Was just trying to point out the inherent stupidity of trying to accuse gaming websites of taking “advertising bribes.”  We all run ads.  We all run ads for games.  Gee, I wonder why gaming websites run ads for games?)



  1. I say this with no knowledge beyond what I read on a few sites. But $20 dollars for a permanent(is it permanent?) increase in 6-slots, doesn’t sound “horrid” to me. While, at first glance, it may seem “steep”(see about 4-5 steps below ‘horrid’), I also don’t know the value system they’ve built. Permanent items are always more expensive. They also have a very high value, because they are permanent.

    A 6-slot bag may be extremely valuable, when compared to other cash shop items, and how it alters game play.

    It’s only my opinion, but maybe it is only slightly too high. I feel I would need to see everything before making that call. But the recent outcry certainly can’t justify itself. I spent all night, last night, assuming we were talking about an “obvious” increase in prices as if a $10 horse was suddenly increased to an obviously crazy price of $200(or some such “obvious” figure).

    What was, in reality, not an insane price, was treated like one.

    I am not trying to be callus, but I think this is predominantly a matter of certain players not being knowledgeable on the life-cycle of F2P games, and how cash shops work.

    • No, you’re not being callus at all Jeremy. I totally understand where you’re coming from and I like the point you’re making here, but I’m afraid I must respectfully disagree.

      While a permanent 6-slot bag addition does carry more weight and should carry more of a price due to being a permanent utility, I would argue if it was worthy of a 20 dollar price tag, or even a 15 dollar price tag. Putting one item up for that amount of money makes people compare it to what they can get for a subscription title.

      Looking through the rest of the item prices, the only other “bad” price that sticks out to me is the Bag of Perfumes for 13.50. Perfume is used to increase resistances and apparently cancel out the “fear of death” death penalty, but these things only last for 30 minutes. So, in essence, 13.50 gets you 20 perfumes, which is 10 hours of protection. That’s a decent chunk of game time, but I dunno if it’s worth 13.50 for 10 hours.

      Another sticking point is that both of these items are apparently cheaper in the Russian version of the game, making these price increases the sole decision of Gala-Net.

      The other potions, however, are dead on to what I’d pay and what I consider a microtransaction. 1 dollar for 5 for things like healing potions and things like that. That seems reasonable to me, and it would probably get me spending money like crazy if I was into the game.

      But, if Allods wishes to charge this amount for a small permanent increase in bag space (which you can get in-game, by the way, by farming for 6 mats with a stupidly rare drop-rate) I’d say either increase the bag space you get to something higher or consider switching to a subscription system for a whole bundle of features.

      My recommendation would be something like Mabinogi’s “Fantasy Life Club.” Paying the 12 bucks a month gets you a temporary increase in bag and bank space, shared item transfer across all of your characters, and a bag of potions delivered to you every month. That’s a great way to keep people paying without having them feel they’re getting very little. Plus, if they like what they get in the randomized potion bag, they’ll buy it on the cash store for extra.

      My guess would be that you’d see a sharp increase in ARPU if the bag was cheaper. I know that because it’s a permanent item that it would only be a temporary spike until the market is saturated, but with people making alts and new users coming in, I’d say it’s worth the gamble, from my standpoint.

      • Well, I went in without a lot of knowledge to compare for Allods, so thanks for the information of other items, and also for information on Mabinogi(another F2P I haven’t really played). I think it’s tricky. When I go into a new game, one thing I do with cash shops is try to look at the value that the in-game systems have created for items. If we are to take what pedro says below, perfume is very valuable, no?. Comparing that to other items that have different in-game values of their own can result in weird numbers that may not make sense at first glance. As it stands right now, it seems you’re getting 10 hrs worth of very valuable Perfume(which sounds to me like it could determine the difference, for some, whether a person plays for 10 hrs at high level, or doesn’t play at all- although personally I’ve yet to see a F2P game that requires anything of me) for 13.50, and compared to that a $20 dollar permanent increase in bag slots that will let you carry more of something so valuable as Perfume, for a one-time only payment seems fairly reasonable.

        In light of things, I would probably tend to agree with most of your assessments. I both agree with your points, and your way of thinking. In the end, it’s a marketing decision that I’m sure I lack adequate knowledge on. I’ve looked up a few points that I try to use for my own personal use like creating value systems, but There’s a glass ceiling for me, where I’d have to learn more business marketing to better understand things. Bottom line, if I were the one making the call, I’d lower the prices across the board for the NA market, but probably not by as much as people seem to want.

        As it stands now, it seems that a number of people feel the overall prices are too high, but they are balanced well.

        I have no idea where the sweet spot would be to increase the ARPU, and be good business for gala-net, but I do think that many people will pay those perfume and bag prices. I know you can’t just look at lowering the price, because you’d keep lowering it until it was too low, even if that made the ARPU continue to go up.

        A long time ago, I told myself to wait about a month to see how a game pans out with cash shop. It will be interesting to see how the economy balances out and how the community grows.

        In the end, I personally think they could stick with things the way they are and still build a suitably sized community willing to pay these prices. A lot of these companies appear to just want there games to be big enough, without being too concerned about growing the game beyond a certain point.

        I’d get in to learn these numbers myself, but I’m having a huge headache of a problem getting into the game. I’ve had problems for a month now, trying a few of their fixes. I’ve spent more time playing IT tech than playing the game and it’s frustrating, to say the least:) I’m once again downloading the full client, with little faith that it will work at all. Note: I’m not blaming the game, maybe it’s something to do with my Vista or something on my PC, but it’s still a pain and it’s keeping me from being more knowledgeable on this subject.

    • Jeremy, the six slot bag increase you can get in the CS costs 2 dolars in the Russian version of the game.
      In the Closed Beta the prices were shown as being 10 times smaller than what they are now.

      Not to mention that it is the smallest bag iincrease in the CS. Then you have Perfumes. In end-game it is almost a requirement to have Perfume on because of the severe Death Penalty and the nature of the game: PvP and PvE with lots of deaths.
      The perfumes on sale give you 10 hours of gameplay by 13.50$. Compare that to WoW and you will get an idea of whhy people are outraged.

      Also, another thing worth mentioning is that the people who are angry are people who were willing to spend money in-game if the item prices were reasonable. If that wasn’t the case there wouldn’t be so much of an outrage.

      • I don’t like to compare games in that manner. While I do compare different intricacies between games, and even their cash shops, There are reasons why I don’t compare some things.

        I believe while some details are comparable, games are primarily their own entity. They have their own microcosm that contains their own economy that works differently than other games based on a number of their mechanics and systems.

        While I might try to judge a fair price for a potion, based on current trends through all MMORPGs, it is a bit harder to try to overlay that comparison onto a subscription based game.

        What exactly am I comparing? Am I comparing how that price would go over, if WoW were to charge it? Or am I comparing it to playing the game for 15/month? Because with a cash shop, I never have to pay, ever. I can choose how much and how often I pay. To me there’s not many logical or legitimately comparable methods to a game that charges 15/month.

        I just think, when you start trying to say, okay this should be equivalent to paying 15/month, suddenly you’ve created a wealth of arbitrary requirements for yourself, that many probably wouldn’t even be aware of.

        Somewhere down the road, long before I entered the scene, the economy leveled out at charging around 15/month for a subscription to a MMORPG. That’s fine, but that’s not static either. Are you going to hold yourself to that ten months from now, if the economy changes and we end up paying 10/month, or 20/month, and what of the value of character transfers, and all the other micro-transactions that could take place?

        I don’t believe the answer lies anywhere near a notion that a F2P game allows you to buy success. I don’t buy into that ideal.

  2. Man, sucks that we taught Russia about the wonder of Capitalism 🙂

    Seriously though Sera… I am an avid Massively reader… and I cannot believe the shit you guys have to put up with. I know its the internet, and people on the internet are inherently stupid, but good lord. Emails like that make me think “Why write anything if people obviously aren’t going to read it???”

    Oh well. Love you, love Massively. Thanks for continuing to write for those of us that appreciate your articles, whether we agree with them or not.

    • If anything, it’s silly and it makes me laugh. 🙂 And thanks for all of the support, as usual. ^_^ This was less of a bitch thread and more of a, “Wow, you can’t be serious, but you are,” thread.

      And yeah, why did we teach the Russians about capitalism. =P You know the items are cheaper over there? Gala-Net (the NA publisher, different from the RU publisher) just made a bad marketing call.

  3. I read both sites and I’m partial to Massively honestly. MMORPG has too much going on and the majority of people that comment are.. well he pretty much made a perfect example. I use to write on a blog there once in a blue moon. However after getting tired of comments like that, I quit and now stick to my own blog.

    I saw the article he was complaining about, I found it informative. I remember an article retracted and an apology from MMORPG. Fallen Earth comes to mind. So I guess they are a bit more opinionated, which isn’t always a good thing.

    Keep up the good work 🙂 Massively is one of my favorite MMO sites to read.

  4. Yeah I didn’t read anything in that article that would have given me the impression of something like a review or opinion post. It actually reads like something in a newspaper. “This is what happened, this is how people reacted.” done. Just a case of the nerd rage.

  5. The Allods thing really leaves a bad impression, which is made worse by the seeming unwillingness of the company to change their pricing to make the game more palatable to players who want to play AND pay.

    Oh well, what can you do? It’s not like you’re the Patron Saint of MMOs or anything.

  6. Hey what happened to you?
    Haven’t seen an article in Massively for a while.

    • Oh, I’m still doing my Tattered Notebook column and Anti-Aliased! It’s just since my promotion, I’m doing mostly the twitter updates and social networking thing now. Leaving the stories to the writers while I do more interviews and directing from the back seat. Oh! And event coverage too! I’m at GDC right now. ^_^

  7. Aaaah! Nice to know that you got a promotion! 😀
    And i hope it equates to a nice rise in your salary.
    But it’s a shame that you won’t be writing articles more often because you were the blogger that i followed the most over there. You should drop by Massively and just give the news to the readers there because there’s been more people asking for you.

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