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Role Playing (Games) Sony Entertainment Games

SOE Allows Purchase of In-Game Items In Everquest I, II 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-that-gold-farmers dept.
Zonk points out some big news for fans of the Everquest games; Sony Online Entertainment has rolled out a system which allows the exchange of real money for items used in the game. Sony is making use of a transaction system called Station Cash which charges your credit card in exchange for a virtual currency which is then spendable on the items. Massively has a walkthrough of how it will work, and shows some of the items up for sale, including vanity armor, non-combat pets, and potions that make various aspects of your character better. "Each of these types of flasks comes in a tier. Tier I flasks increase XP by 10% and cost $1.00. Tier II flasks increase XP by 25% and cost $5.00. Tier III flasks increase XP by 50%, and cost $10.00 each. All flask tiers last for 4 hours on use, and more than one can't be used at a time." Further details on the system are available in the FAQ and the Terms of Service. This comes alongside news today that upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic will not be subscription-based, but entirely based on micro-transactions instead.
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SOE Allows Purchase of In-Game Items In Everquest I, II

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  • Money fight! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @02:01AM (#26056147) Journal
    I'm imagining a game between two people determined by how much they spend on the game. Oh wait, they already did that with Magic The Gathering.
    • by Gerad (86818) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:05AM (#26057355)

      While I can understand why you feel the way you do, your statement is wrong.

      First, a large amount of tournament play is "Limited" - that is, you use sealed product to play with, rather than your own cards. There are different variations that test different skills (Booster Draft vs. Sealed Deck), but both are extremely skill intensive, and an individual's collection has no bearing on their performance.

      In "Constructed" events - events where you play with cards from your own collection - it's often possible to outplay or outbuild the decks loaded with expensive cards at the casual or semi-competitive level. Tarmogoyf, a card that was selling for upwards of $50 on the secondary market, was an extremely powerful and efficient creature, but it could still be addressed by standard creature removal spells, such as Terror and Deathmark. Budget decks can often be around 90% as effective as the more expensive decks.

      At the ultra-competitive level, the cost of cards caps out and everyone ends up spending around the same amount of money on their decks (probably around $500 if I were to buy all the individual cards on the secondary market). While this does create a barrier to entry, I've never heard people complaining about paintball or racing as "determined by how much they spend on the game." Most hobbies have equipment, if you're looking at competitive level Magic, players invest in their decks, but everyone caps out on cards so money isn't a determining factor.

      Finally, players will often loan and borrow cards among their friends, further lowering the cost of acquiring cards to create a deck.

      • I've never heard people complaining about paintball or racing as "determined by how much they spend on the game."
        There's an old saying in racing, "How fast do you want to go?" The reply is "How much do you want to spend."
      • by theaveng (1243528)

        >>>I've never heard people complaining about paintball or racing as "determined by how much they spend on the game."

        That's because the thrifty people (like me) are not playing paintball or racing. Likewise cost is one of my reasons for Not doing online roleplaying. I just don't see the value in spending ~$200 a year for an online RPG when I can buy a $15 RPG off amazon.com or Ebay and have just as much fun.

        Of course I also limit myself to a 750k internet connection - a sacrifice most people are n

        • I'm not sure how many people go into debt with regular speed broadband and a mmog subscription (assuming they're not buying gold etc.).

          It seems like the usual problem is too much house, with too nice/many things, with too many nice vehicles that you can afford when times are good but that you're (knowingly or not) just a lay off away from bankruptcy...or where you know you are making above market compensation and assuming it'll last forever..etc.

          Either way a mmog or a magic fetish isn't likely breaking your

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        I agree that there are some ways to play without investing huge sums of money. I must say though, that as a former casual Magic player (I still play the online version every now and then), one thing annoyed me when I read about many tournaments: for pre-constructed decks, most of them limited legal cards to the last handful of expansions. Now, if I had some interest in returning to play, I'd be essentially SOL. All my cards are generally from 4th Edition, Ice Age, Fallen Empires, Homelands, Mirage, etc.

      • While this does create a barrier to entry, I've never heard people complaining about paintball or racing as "determined by how much they spend on the game."

        I think you need to watch more racing! In the few series where there are only minor limits on equipment (e.g. F1), the top teams absolutely dominate the lower teams and a lot of people don't like that. The other series put all sorts of limits on equipment in order to try to ensure that there is a level playing field

    • by splutty (43475)

      I'm imagining a game between two people determined by how much they spend on the game. Oh wait, they already did that with Magic The Gathering.

      Which is exactly the reason why I only played Sealed Deck tournaments. They were tons of fun, and absolutely not money related in any way, shape or form.

      Actually got a quite high standing in that as well way back in the day.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      I'm imagining a game between two people determined by how much they spend on the game. Oh wait, they already did that with Magic The Gathering.

      Well, you do what every other cheap player does - you do proxy cards! While worthless as an item, they can level the game somewhat so you don't have to spend too much to get a lot out of it. Of course, many Magic players will scoff, but I've never understood why since it levels the fields between those who can pay, and those who can't. (I will admit it lowers the wor

  • Ah I get it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SnapperHead (178050) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @02:02AM (#26056149) Homepage Journal

    So, they are basically second life now ...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Wax_and_Wane (558470)
      Not unless they can actually create any item that they can imagine, script it themselves and then sell it to any of the active players for microcurrency that they can then cash out into real money. All without breaking any EULAs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If you overly waste money on virtual items, you're probably edging towards the game being your first life.
    • Not quite.

      Everquest has 100% less flying penises.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @02:11AM (#26056227)

    Some people have money.
    Some people have time.

    The only problem would be the game representing it self to be something it wasn't.

    It hasn't been a remotely "fair" game since the day it was released.

    From 1999-2003, if you had 8 hours a day free and could get off before 3pm EST, you got every good camp (before anyone else got home) and got every rare spawn. I never saw "Venril Sathis" until I chewed on the Dev's ear at the Dallas Fanfest and finally convinced them to add random timers to the spawns- which were previously fixed at 24 hours- and the servers usually were rebooted during the afternoon in those days.

    Even today, People who can play 8 hours straight have a 100% chance of getting most rare spawns in one sitting, while someone who plays 2 hour sessions may never see the rare spawn (and probably can't get the rare spawn camp).

    And fairly early, some wealthy players took the other route-- you can play 40 hours a week-- or you can just drop $500 and get a fully developed character from someone who played 40 hours a week (the hourly rate was often ludicrous-- probably 70 cents an hour). $700-$900 for a character with 100 days played (2400 hours).

    Then there was the Legends server-- scheduled spawns, and "The best guild money can buy".

    I had a good time playing- I learned some important life lessons, and my guild leading experience lead to my current team lead job (and awareness that being a manager is probably not worth it).

    But I know a lot of folks are going to feel put off because of the money-- and that's just an arbitrary opinion. Having $1000 to spend is no more unfair than having 40 hours (hell- some played 80 hours) a week to play. The game was never rocket science-- I was in one of the top ten guilds for six months and it was almost identical to the casual guild I spent years in- except the people their played 6 hours a day, 6 days a week instead of 4 hours a day, 3 days a week.

    • by kahizonaki (1226692) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @02:59AM (#26056509) Homepage
      There is quite a difference. Money cannot buy authenticity. Authenticity in the game is built by spending the time in the game, having, as people above have mentioned, experiences in the game. To have worked through things like that 'builds character', as Calvin's father might say. Someone who buys a character, or buys stuff, got it 'the cheap way'--he is not authentic. Think about a person who has a lot of money and goes out to become a 'real cowboy'--He buys the horses, the land, the hat, expensive spurs, all the saddling and bridling, etc.--all a a premium because they're 'authentic'. Then he puts them all on and goes to try to hang out with 'real' cowboys. "Look at me," he says, "I'm a real cowboy--all my things are authentic cowboy." Of course, then the real cowboys laugh and tell him to keep thinking that, and to keep paying them to be his friend. Or they just beat the horse-shit out of him.

      Money cannot buy authenticity.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @03:14AM (#26056579)
        That's what slashdot needs -- more cowboy analogies!!
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by tehcyder (746570)

          That's what slashdot needs -- more cowboy analogies!!

          Expect a flood of Brokeback Mountain trolls to follow...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cgenman (325138)

        Arguably, one can get the authentic WoW experience in about 1% of the time it requires to actually play. The player who has spent that amount of time intrinsically understands the game the same way that the person who simply got bored and grinded for 40 hours a week.

        Being a cowboy requires skill. Being a level 70 mage simply requires time.

        • Being a level 70 mage simply requires time.

          High-level content also require skill. But you hit the key point: MMOs force repetition, and much more repetition than what is needed to acquire the needed skill.

          This is a fundamental flaw in the current model. Charge on a monthly basis, and they need to prevent people from playing 'too fast', or they would loose those customer.

          To be blunt:
          You know something is wrong when your customers are willing to pay extra to avoid playing parts of your game.

      • by drsquare (530038) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:06AM (#26057065)

        What's 'authentic' about killing a million rats to level up a character? It's no more valid than flipping a million burgers and using your pay cheque to buy a character that's killed a million rats. Similarly, what's the difference between buying an item, and winning it in a lucky roll?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by NormalVisual (565491)
          What's 'authentic' about killing a million rats to level up a character?

          Especially when apparently only 20-30% of those rats have eyes, ears, or whatever other part of their anatomy you're supposed to collect. :-)
          • That could at least be remotely explained with "well, the rat's ears were so mangled by your slashing that they couldn't be identified anymore".

            But could you explain to me why some little rat could drop a pair of pants for some ogre or a two handed mace? Now where the heck did the rat store that?

      • by Aceticon (140883)

        Keep telling that authenticity spiel to yourself when your character gets Pwned in PvP by a little kid that bought a Sword of Pwnage and a Dollar Potion of Mega-boost with his daddy's credit card.

        Game items that you can buy with real money should never change game balance in any way - they should be pure vanity items. Even XP boosters are bad for the game ...

        • by Firethorn (177587)

          Yes, but as we've learned with Everquest, WoW, Eve Online, etc... You CAN'T realistically stop the real-world wealthy* from buying advantages in the game.

          Thus, perhaps it's better for the game company to realize this and provide them a legitimate way to spend their real world money buying advantages - at least this way you have a better chance that the people in the game are actually playing - not being gold farmers to feed the secondary market.

          The old school MUDS often had this - and it normally worked ou

      • While I agree with your point to some degree.

        Every class can be run well with about 5-6 hours of reading the strat boards and your spells.
        It can be essentially mastered in less than a week.

        I only saw two or three truly excellent people in 8 years and they played any class they picked up equally well so the issue was really that they had superhuman reflexes (so they did things exceptionally fast- I played Ultimate frisbee with one of them and his reactions were superhuman there too) more than that they had "

  • Recruit-a-friend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cjfs (1253208) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @02:15AM (#26056269) Homepage Journal

    You can't actually tell people they can directly buy XP increases. You have to setup something to obscure the issue and pretend it has a legitimate usage...

    *cough* WoW recruit-a-friend *cough*

    • by Hays (409837)

      Good point, although the recruit-a-friend EXP bonus works even with free, trial accounts (which are capped at level 20) and ceases to work on any account at level 60.

      So in total, you could argue that this is a shell game to make you pay for an experience bonus, but it's only going to matter for a level range that is perhaps 1/3rd or 1/4th of the leveling process.

      I actually really enjoy the leveling process in WoW. I can't imagine how it used to be in EQ, where you would just camp one spot in a dungeon and r

    • by illumin8 (148082)

      *cough* WoW recruit-a-friend *cough*

      I look at the recruit-a-friend program as a way of Blizzard evening the playing field for new players that are just starting the game. Sure, those of us that have been playing for years have quested and grinded all the way up to 60, then 70, now 80, the hard way. We did it before they eased the leveling curve, when the grind from 20-30 was about 40 hours of mind-numbing, boring gameplay.

      The fact is, the newer content is a lot better than the older content. If you had t

      • If you had the same leveling curve, WoW would suffer the fate all aging MMOs suffer: No new people.

        Why bother starting a game now when you see it's been running for about 4 years now and you are always behind the top crowd, facing the reality that you cannot catch up? WoW solved this problem. Like it or not, and as a top level player it's likely you won't, but people starting now have the fast pass to catch up. The months it took you to get to 60 are now a matter of days. The months it took you from 60-70 a

  • I'm not familiar enough with EQ's economics or it's loot mechanics but were I playing the game I'd be seriously concerned with the impact this would have on it's mudflation. I'm guessing at this point SOE, they are still running it right?, does not really care enough. (And from what I've heard they have never really cared that much at all but...) And are going to thinly veil this as something that won't have any 'real' impact.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      The items offered for sale are not game breakers. The XP potions are a cool thing, but each expansion, every player account is handed boxes of those.

      For those not familar with EQ2, once a character reaches level 20, there are two sets of item slots. Normal armor (which gives stats), and appearance slots, which do not affect character stats in any way, but they just give a look. For example, a raid inquisitor (DPS group healer) can be wearing plate, but appear to be wearing robes and a santa cap. This al

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It won't, really, at least in EQ1. Having diminishing returns on power from experience--the Alternate Advancement system--ensures that the relative power boost from even a fulltime 50% experience bonus would be modest. The remaining items besides experience potions are mostly cosmetic. The virtual trading card game, Legends of Norrath, did far more damage to game integrity, and even then I only consider one of the Legends of Norrath items to be truly game breaking (the Kiss of Erollisi Marr).

      What most of

  • So when you spend money in-game does Sony pay tax on that?

    • by julesh (229690)

      So when you spend money in-game does Sony pay tax on that?

      Tax would be paid at point of conversion, same as if you buy gift vouchers.

  • So, basically this is an upgraded version of Station Exchange [sony.com], except that it's active on all servers?

  • Only Fluff Items (Score:4, Informative)

    by MarioMax (907837) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @02:48AM (#26056445)

    Take it from an actual EQ2 subscriber, the items being sold are fluff items. Nothing more.

    You've already been able to buy tons of fluff items with their Legends of Norrath card game (booster packs often contain in-game items to use and trade). This is no different, only more direct.

    Blizzard isn't innocent either, they're planning the same thing. http://www.thegrouchygamer.com/?p=157#more-157 [thegrouchygamer.com]

    • by Hays (409837)

      50% extra experience gain = "Only Fluff Items"? Giving a player with more money a competitive advantage with the core gameplay mechanism is "Only Fluff Items"?

      Blizzard rewards from Blizzcon, Collector's editions, or card games are "Only Fluff Items". This crosses a terrible line.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Todd Knarr (15451)

        You already get 55% XP potions as veteran-reward items. Nothing new there. The only new thing is the achievement-XP potion. That's 10% or 25% for 4 hours, 50% for 2 hours. But it only boosts AXP you earn. Unlike regular XP, relatively few things give AXP. Quests, discovery locations and named-mob kills are the big things. And how many quests can you complete in 2 hours? How many nameds can you realistically find and kill? And you can't farm them, you get AXP for any given quest, discovery or named kill once

      • by drsquare (530038)

        That's not a competitive advantage, just a time advantage. It means you can get to the same place in 20 hours of killing goblins rather than 30, giving you an extra ten hours to do something actually entertaining.

      • Spend an extra hour playing or spend an extra hour at work for overtime pay for that 50% potion.

    • by Stormie (708)

      Blizzard have just announced their system, it is purely cosmetic changes to your character's appearance - gender, face, hair and skin color, hairstyle - combined with the paid name change service already available. No items, not even fluff. Certainly nothing that has any in-game effect on your character's abilities.

      http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?tag=CRCFAQ [blizzard.com]

  • It's genius! Some people will get pissed off and cancel, and some will cough up the dough and continue playing. This way, SOE uses fewer resources and (maybe) turns even more of a profit.

    Later on, they will start consolidating servers (through the guise of Free Character Transfers, and later forcibly).

    Then, they'll release Everquest 3 and hopefully draw even more of the population off of EQ1&2.

    I'm actually not being sarcastic here. I think it's a pretty clever way to ramp down an aging and/o
    • by will_die (586523)
      Curse you!!!
      All the links and everything about Everquest 3 is an April Fools joke :(
  • by forgoil (104808) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @09:24AM (#26058903) Homepage

    "What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it..."
        -- Andy Warhol

    In WoW or WAR I am on the same turf as everybody else. My character isn't limited to my bank account, my status, my job, be it good or bad. This maintains the fragile illusion of these games, that you are in fact someone else. This shatters completely as soon as you bring reality (in this case money) into the game. Be it micro-payments or macro-payments, the alternate reality is broken and dead. Spock no longer just have a little beard, he also has purple hair and moonboots.

    This is just a combination of poor games and greed. Instead of improving the product (or replacing it) or being happy with what you got, they hope to make more money this way. I won't fall for it myself and I hope others won't either. This decision was taken by someone with dollar signs in front of their eyes, not someone who dreams of Jedis, Orcs, and Elfs. I only play games made by and ran by fellow dreamers.

    • "What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it,

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by kenp2002 (545495)

      get out of your mom's basement. You live in reality. MMOs are entertainment, not an alternate universe or second life (pardon the pun.) You statement scares the hell out of me. Too many of you are trying to escape reality by fleeing into a game where you think everyone is on an even playing field. Get a crack pipe or some drugs, no different when it comes to trying to escape reality.

      I've heard authentic toss around in this discussion... wtf? Street cred in an MMO? It's GLORIFIED CHUTES AND LADDERS! My God p

      • by ifrag (984323)

        Did you hit reply on the wrong post? I suppose that's just a blanket reply to the entire group but you just happen to hit that one.

        Too many of you are trying to escape reality by fleeing into a game where you think everyone is on an even playing field.

        In some, the playing field actually is even, or at least closer to even than others. And sometimes it even stays that way.

        Get a crack pipe or some drugs, no different when it comes to trying to escape reality.

        When you smoke crack it's gone. No matter how mu

      • by dswensen (252552)

        Get over yourself.

      • by Knara (9377)

        Someone had a few too many cups of coffee at their Meatspace job this morning, I guess.

      • by brkello (642429)
        I don't know anyone who plays these type of games who live in their mom's basement. All are professionals working for a company and doing quite well for themselves. Everyone escapes reality through reading books, watching tv, watching movies, etc. This is no different. Doing drugs is different since it can alter your actions to make you do stupid things and is illegal.

        Your biases are kind of sad. They remind me of older people and their racism towards voting for someone who is black. The future of ent
    • It only breaks it for the existing players, then only if they care. If the game was new [playrequiem.com] then it wouldn't be a big deal, and everyone would go on with life, playing the game, and having fun.

      Change is scary, isn't it? Especially if it threatens something you have invested a lot of your life into.

      If you don't like it, switch MMOs. There are plenty of other ones out there. If its so important that you can't get over it, seek professional help. It is a game.
    • by Hillgiant (916436)

      My character isn't limited to my bank account, my status, my job, be it good or bad.

      Not necessarily. Nearly any objective in a MMORPG can be achieved with sufficient time input. Therefore, time investment is an equivalent to material wealth in "meatspace". RMT advocates argue that they are just exchanging one form of currency (money) for another (time in game).

      Personally, I hate RMT. Mostly because I lack both time and money. However, no sane game developer can ignore RMT now. It is too prevalent and the steps required to prevent it are too draconian. It must be designed around.

    • Not all people have equal amounts of leisure time. The illusion is thus broken before money is introduced.

  • by Valen0 (325388) <valen@esco m . us> on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @10:33AM (#26059761)

    Anyone get a flashback to the "Itchy and Scratchy Land" episode [snpp.com] of The Simpsons:

    [Homer and family are at at Itchy and Scratchy Land gate buying tickets.]

    Homer: One adult and four children.

    Woman: Would you like to buy some Itchy and Scratchy Money?

    Homer: What's that?

    Woman: Well it's money that's made just for the park. It works just like regular money, but it's, er..."fun".

    Bart: Do it, Dad.

    Homer: Well, OK, if it's fun...let's see, uh...I'll take $1100 worth.

    [Homer walks in and sees all the signs: "No I&S Money", "We Don't Take Itchy and Scratchy Money", etc.]

    Homer: Aw!

  • "Tier I flasks increase XP by 10% and cost $1.00. Tier II flasks increase XP by 25% and cost $5.00. Tier III flasks increase XP by 50%, and cost $10.00 each. All flask tiers last for 4 hours on use, and more than one can't be used at a time."

    What has MS service contracts got to do with this game?

  • by Megane (129182) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @10:38AM (#26059835) Homepage

    Tier I flasks increase XP by 10% and cost $1.00. Tier II flasks increase XP by 25% and cost $5.00. Tier III flasks increase XP by 50%, and cost $10.00 each. All flask tiers last for 4 hours on use, and more than one can't be used at a time."

    FFXI has been doing this for free [ffxiclopedia.org] (at the cost of some in-game numbers that you can easily get doing normal XP leveling) for a long time. 50% extra XP for 3 hours for 1000 max XP (which means you get a total of 3000 using it), and there are a couple of other rings with different rates and times. Depending on how you get your XP, it could be used up in one hour, or you could go all 3 hours without finishing it off (which is why the other rings exist).

    3000 xp is half a level in the 20s. There is also a 16-hour cooldown time, and a limit of 7 charges per week for this item, but that's still better than forking over 30-70 bucks to $ony.

  • I'm on a private server!

    Seriously, who willingly hands over money to Sony when there are better alternatives? Just buy titanium edition ($20 at circuit city or $9 used at half.com or amazon.com), install, don't patch (use special launch command), pick server, ???, profit!

    Oh and it runs fine under wine to boot. Best part is I can look at the server side code and submit improvements that help everybody else!

    P.S. Thank you EQEmu and Project EQ!

  • They are also doing this in the original Everquest. Like Wii points, the money ratio is a penny a point.

  • Tier III flasks increase XP by 50%, and cost $10.00 each. All flask tiers last for 4 hours on use, and more than one can't be used at a time.

    They're selling drugs, aren't they?

  • None of the top comments even mention gold farming. Every MMO game that I'm aware of has the farmer element. Sony is just cutting them to the quick.

    But that aside I just kind of shrug at this. I was an EQ2er for a while but gave it up. Sony fouled their own game. First they lost a ton of people to WoW who thought that EQ2 was too hard than they lost more people when they dumbed it down to WoWs level and lost more people who wanted a hardcore gaming experience. That's where they lost me.

    Oh well, I still ha

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