Oh noes, I used the item shop!

In my last post I mentioned that I have picked up Age of Conan again to test the new PVP server – there’s not an awful lot to play for me at the moment, and I must admit that Hyboria’s setting holds a special place in my heart. Already, the horribly flawed UI, quest or AH functionality frustrate me again (how hard is it to fix these?), but the world in general has that feeling of “home” that I’d otherwise only get in Azeroth.

PVP starts early on and I’m having a great laugh with it; I soloed quests in the starter dungeons and got my ass kicked around every corner until I finally learned how to make proper use of my hiding skill, questing in sneaky mode, what a thrill! Once you’ve lost enough items to some rogue lurking in the shadows (I promptly lost my first blue item that way too), you begin to play a lot differently, making use of walls and corners, always minding the nearest exit. The look of the outside towns and quest hubs is hilarious too: entirely deserted, not a soul around. You think! In fact, they’re all around you, as you realize when a player suddenly drops out of stealth next to you or two start dueling in the middle of town, with more and more players popping out of nowhere and joining the battle. I love it!

That’s not the only novelty in AoC for me though – there is now the item store and yes, the vanity window. Sigh. A fatal combination for somebody such as myself! I had to do it of course, I had to browse what social armor is up for sale. To my defense, the standard armor in the game is very lackluster and looks hardly ever change until you reach max level and go for instances. Who wants to wear an orange plate mail and cow-hide skirt forever?? Just give me one nice set that I can keep wearing the next weeks and months, mkay.

Now, the item shop is pretty sneaky and I blame Funcom for everything that happened from there. I meant to buy ONE set with real money and maybe a bag for more item storage. But of course, the armor is displayed so badly in the shop (and there’s no wardrobe feature) that you basically need to buy in order to check what it really looks like. I didn’t do that of course, I was smart (muaha!) and browsed the net for previews. After 10 minutes I had still found zero screenshots and that was when I really lost my temper. “10 Euros, who cares?? Let’s do it!”

So, I did it. And again, and again. The first set was shockingly bad and then I bought a wrong one by mistake (it was called Transcendence, what can I say). So I bought one more that I finally liked. And since I have 2 characters I play on different servers, I bought another for my high-level priest, too. This is my story on how I spent 40 Euros on virtual wardrobe until I was out of cash to even buy that bag. Had I not read Syncaine’s story on his micro-transactions bill for League of Legends just this morning, I would still feel a little guilty…..but, I don’t! Not really. Lalalala…!

Real-money transfer is coming, friends. Like to learning how to manage an allowance, it takes some self-discipline at first, yet I’m really starting to endorse all the pros of this business model. The times of paying for a pig in a poke are over; here’s your chance to play MMOs first before agreeing on just how much you actually intend to spend on them long-term.

…if you can handle it, that is. Honestly though, can you really blame me?

How I spent 40 Euros in Age of Conan

A good weekend to all of you, the well-dressed and those still running around in cow-hide!

12 comments

  1. Welcome in the new world. You are right. There’s no stopping this.

    The only company still waging an already lost war is actually Blizzard. And they lost a lot of battles already.

    I try to draw some please from the fact that other people are stupid enough to spend 40€ on vanity. But then, it is a foul pleasure. No, I don’t enjoy this.

  2. “I try to draw some please from the fact that other people are stupid enough to spend 40€ on vanity. But then, it is a foul pleasure. No, I don’t enjoy this.”

    some people are “stupid enough” to pay subscriptions for games they don’t really enjoy playing, Nils. so I don’t know where this is coming from – one way or another we all pay for a virtual experience, whether it’s a module, a sub or item store goods. it’s merely a shift of financial investment and IMO I make the better bargain if I pay for something I actually enjoy. at least here I am in control.

    as for vanity or not – *yawn*! :)
    it’s all pixels bought with real money, whether you think you need a sword with XP-bonus or just a pretty dress. to buy powerful gear in order to advance faster or better, is a form of vanity too. the point is individual fun and you’re not the judge of someone else’s pleasure. You know why games like Farmville are so popular, right?

  3. P.S.: I actually believe this was a very good experience for me – I don’t intend to spend money in this fashion every time. but then, you heard Raph Koster yourself – this IS where they intend to go and they will make absolutely sure there are plenty of reasons for each player to leave money in their shops. they will get you too, one way or another. else the whole reasoning against subs wouldn’t pay off.

    I still think it isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I paid 120Euros / year for WoW subs before. that’s a lot of ingame items in an FTP. so we’ll see how it all turns out.

  4. “to buy powerful gear in order to advance faster or better, is a form of vanity too. “

    i actually find this a lot more problematic than vanity gear. who cares about people buying nice-looking dresses. I like to collect mounts and happily pay for that. it’s not a game-altering thing in any way and hurts nobody.

    micro-transactions games give me the choice to direct what I pay for. RPers want different things than raiders or pvpers, or xy.
    I prefer this to a sub and i have paid much less than 120euros/year on the ones i am playing.

    i dont understand the issue some mmo players still have with this.

  5. @Corey

    I keep hearing this from players who have played FTPs like this for a long time and it’s very interesting for me. I think in many ways you’re more progressed than those of us who only just start regarding this option seriously. I don’t know if GW2’s shop will only ever feature cosmetic items, I could see them very well implementing more relevant things in order to get everyone to buy them – but either way, I fail to see how it is so different from subscriptions. assuming the game as a whole is still a package worth playing (goes without saying for me).

    Another very interesting aspect of the item store is that it actually takes some reward-focus away from the game: to some level, vanity is important for all players – otherwise MMOs like WoW which rely heavily on their player’s reward- and collector’s drive, wouldn’t be successful. players like gear. players like mounts and other items. players like to show off (or role-play). period.

    Yet, an item store removes this factor as prime motivator; you can acquire the same easily and fast by paying a bit of money. this means, the game as a whole needs to find a different focus – different, more interesting ways to hook its players long-term. and this is my very selfish hope, that it means we see more focus on cooperative gameplay again, and things like narrative and setting. =)

  6. @Nils

    Cheers, for the follow-up.
    Don’t worry, I’m way past the stage of truly feeling guilty about spending some money for my own, ‘useless’ pleasures – and I’m actually a very controlled, almost greedy money spender (Swiss genes!). this post was more meant to be cheek-in-tongue frivolous. :)
    maybe you’ve seen my other topic on RMT and the classist fallacy – I truly don’t see any harm in spending a bit more money on MMOs (funny enough, many seem to spend less in FTPs anyway). it’s a little phony to say it’s okay to pay a sub, but not okay to use the item shop. I don’t think as experienced gamers we should fall for this kind of argument. there’s nothing to feel guilty about here. I agree of course that there ARE clear dangers. but then, there is choice and choice always comes with self-responsibility.

    As for WHY I actually see so much potential here, also check my answer for Corey. it’s about a lot more for me than just buying some shinies, nice as they may be.

  7. “here’s your chance to play MMOs first before agreeing on just how much you actually intend to spend on them long-term. “

    And this is my favorite part of F2P games. They HAVE to hook their players through good, interesting gameplay (or addictive methods but let’s not talk about Farmville) in order to get them to spend money. And when they do spend money, it is at their own leisure and at amounts they prefer.

    That being said, sub based MMO’s are not going the way of the dinosaurs. Some games are doing a great job of combining both, but there are a good number of people who prefer the pros of a sub rather than F2P. A support staff that actually exists comes to mind.

  8. Never played this game myself. This is actually the first thing that I have read on the game.

    The ‘stealth’ mode sounds cool XD

    – Jamin

    (P.S. Coincidence that the Conan film is coming out now? I think not!)

  9. @StrawFellow

    I agree there’s room for both, I don’t expect subs to disappear forever. however, what I personally consider a rip-off is a game that features both (which is also why I am not happy with the way WoW went) – making you pay for a sub AND extra items, is basically making you pay twice for the same thing: time. a sub already charges time and items are also a translated time gain. it doesn’t sit well with me, optional or not.

    @Jamin
    It is actually very fun if you enjoy open PvP like that and can ideally play with a bunch of mates. I don’t intend to play it forever, it’s a way to kill time until GW2 for me; but it serves its purpose atm. :)

  10. Can you please tell me where to get those little head jewelry from the screenshot? I’m trying to get some nice headpieces in AoC which:

    1) Does not cover my face
    2) Does not mess up my hair.

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