Tuesday 25 June 2013

Quote of the year!

Tobold is at his usual tricks, raising straw man arguments so he can demolish them. His latest strawman is one he's very fond of: 'stupid "all Free2Play is evil" ranting'. Of course, there's nobody saying that Free2Play is evil. But Free2Play is really a proxy term for what is dear to rich-but-time-poor Tobold's heart: Pay2Win. But when I commented that Pay2Win is the issue, not Free2Play, Tobold replied with this astonishing response:

"Pay2Win is not an issue"

I am dumbfounded! The sad thing is, he really believes it. The internet is chock full of discussion and complaints about Pay2Win games, but Tobold has his blinkers on, and doesn't think it's an issue at all. Instead, he tries to muddy the waters by pretending that nobody agrees on what it even means, exactly.

Anyway, Tobold did not choose to answer my substantive point which was that in a game of skill, if you can improve your chance of winning by opening your cheque-book rather than by improving your skill, it rather removes the point of the game.

Now you may make the point that not all games are games of skill, and I won't disagree with you. Some are games of exploration, some are games of collecting, and so on. But where a game is a game of skill, what's the point in paying to win it (or paying for a precursor to it)? It doesn't improve your skill in the slightest.

And I'm not against somebody writing cheques to pay for training (such as professional athletes do), because ultimately, the trainer is simply helping you to develop your skill to its full potential.


  1. People pay to Win in World of Warcraft. It used to be buying gold until Blizzard devalued gold by making it so readily available; now it's buying pvp achievements and gear.

    Blizzard say they are on top of this, but a quick look at some of the characters with high BG ratings shows otherwise.

    Now I would agree with you that getting achievements/gear by paying with real money is a bit pointless, but obviously there are people out there who disagree.

    I guess the real question is, how does it affect me? In WoW I don't think it does. Bots are more of a problem in WoW than people paying for titles and gear.

    In other games perhaps it does.

  2. Dacheng, I'm sorry but I'm mostly with Tobold on this one.

    I believe his claim to be a hyperbole. There is no consensus on what Pay2Win is, although I am sure there are at least 2 people who agree on the definition. There is no opinion that is held by majority or significant minority of the vocal people. Actually, probably the best definition for Pay2Win is the one given by Tobold, even if it is a hyperbole.

    I don't agree he "muddied the waters" by saying this. It is possible to do that by merely stating a fact but I do not think it's the case. I think Tobold simply states his initial point by other words. Different payment models fit different people.

    The problem with skill vs. money argument is, we already have a skill vs. time trade. (It is possible to improve one's performance by performing repetitive actions instead of increasing one's skill.) Why is that OK if the former is not? Why is it not OK to trade money for time based on the argument it is possible to trade time for skill, i. e. trade money for skill indirectly?

  3. You took that quote out of context.

    Of course it would be an issue if there were games where you actually paid money to win. But I don't even know an example of one. There are millions of games where advancement is a function of time, and you can buy faster advancement. But I've seen too many people apply the term Pay2Win to games that don't even have a win condition. And most of the time it is applied to games in which advancement has very little to do with skill. 95+% of the content of any MMORPG is not about skill, so how does buying a +100% xp scroll become Pay2Win have anything to do with skill?

  4. Have to agree that this argument doesn't work well for low-skill games like MMOs, where mechanically the game caters to the lowest common denominator and when you buy items to improve the game, what you're really doing is buying a way out of time-sink/grind elements. Skill based games that could break in a Pay2Win process would include competitive shooters like CoD or Halo where, if they let you buy a killer "winning gun" or temporary damage/armor boost then you'd clearly be getting a pay2win feature. However I think arguing that MMOs are doing this is implying that the grind and time-sink elements are necessary requisites to enjoying the game or improving whatever modest skill the game might require, when in fact those are relics from the days when MMOs needed to drag out the play experience for as long as possible to keep monthly subscribers paying and playing.

  5. It is a common feature of protagonists who are defending a weak position that instead of dealing with the arguments that you propose, they instead fall back on asking for definitions for concepts that are well understood, in the hopes of deviating the discussion away from their weak position, by pointing out that not everyone on the planet agrees with one definition. Well, that is true of everything. If I were to say that murder is wrong, the best defence anyone could make of a counter-position would be to argue "Not everybody even agrees what murder actually is" (followed by the argument "We don't even agree what wrong means").

    I don't ask for a definition of "Free2Play", because generally I have the same understanding of it as Tobold, and I have generally the same understanding of "Pay2Win" as Tobold. We may differ on minor details, but we both know what is generally meant by it. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

    Most MMORPGs are not examples of games of player skill. They aren't intended to be. But for genuine games of skill (such as any FPS games), Pay2Win negates the point of the game. I agree with you, Vlad, that it isn't as big a problem in MMORPGs as it is in other games. I don't mean that it isn't a problem at all in MMORPGs, just that it isn't a big problem.

    Imakulata, you said "The problem with skill vs. money argument is, we already have a skill vs. time trade. (It is possible to improve one's performance by performing repetitive actions instead of increasing one's skill.)".

    Well, where spending time/performing repetitive actions doesn't increase your skill but does improve your performance, we are not dealing with a game of skill here. MMORPGs are a great example of this. A level 90 mage (by virtue of having spent the time to get to level 90) does more damage than a level 1 mage despite the players being of equal skill. So Tori, to answer your point, MMOs aren't mainly games of skill, and my argument doesn't apply to them. In this article, I'm only talking about games of skill.

    Tobold, although you say that you don't even know what Pay2Win is, I see you've managed to write two more insightful articles on the matter, culminating in Everything is Pay2Win.

    It is reasonable to complain about Pay2Win in games that are not games of skill, but I am not doing so in this article. I leave that for another day.

    1. "(such as any FPS games)"

      My "M" key is a little sticky. I meant to say

      (such as many FPS games)

    2. I'd like to state that (as far as I know) the F2P discussion pertains to MMORPGs and games with leveling elements (such as WoT) and those were the games I had in mind when writing my comments. I can't speak for Tobold but I'm sure the same can be said about him. (He does mention MMORPGs repeatedly in the later posts.)

      I understand your point and don't disagree, however I believe the claims (such as the one about not agreeing on what P2W means) are true for MMORPGs and other games that implement leveling.