Today in P2W: Gamers are getting older and that’s okay!

Today I came across this passionately one-sided opinion piece over at Massively OP which makes a somewhat poor case against the ever-rising pay-to-win model for videogames (yeah, am still reading about MMOs and stuff!). I admit it was a disagreement between Isarii and Scree on twitter that made me aware of its existence, so like every curious MMO blogger I was drawn to the drama – and there is always drama when players discuss pay to win.

Now before I address the Massively article, I’ll say this: I am personally not a fan of P2W games. I don’t play any and they tend not to interest me in the slightest. I gave Candy Crush 15 minutes of my life once, out of obscene curiosity and recoiled in disgust after the first of many enforced time locks popped up. That being said, I am not afraid of P2W games either; while their market share may be growing, I don’t believe them to be an imminent threat to more traditional games or gamers since they do not cater to that target audience. We all know that gaming as a whole is getting bigger and the really significant growth of the last few years belongs to social or “casual” as well as mobile gaming. – Geeky and niche MMO gaming? Not so much. Still, we have little to complain about compared to our humble beginnings. So I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t fear P2W games any more than I fear that WoW has destroyed the MMO genre when really, WoW created its own market and if anything, helped other MMOs along (midterm copycat fails or not).

Of course one can take a moral approach and try analyze how (un-)ethical P2W models are. There may be merit in that discussion, although personally I am not prepared to have it (and my liberal stance on f2p is hardly news). Too often does it come down to players defending what they know versus what is new and still unfamiliar ground. Or worse, everyone starts sounding like a wanna-be psychologist and umm gaming addiction and save the children. There are some shades of grey, may-be, but essentially all videogame ventures and business models are looking to make the most money in the most effective way possible, triggers included. There have always been players at the shorter end of the stick of whatever business model. How exactly is this such a great “truth” we never heard of (in reference to the Massively article)? So while I understand some critics’ concerns and where they come from, I tend to agree with Scree on this one. The times they are a’changing and maybe we need to keep an open mind and try sound less like our at least proverbial grandparents.


We’re getting older, oh noes!

My immediate reaction to the Massively piece was, passionate rant or not, that it’s incredibly condescending towards anyone within that “older gamer group with disposable income” who dares to play games differently and enjoy them differently. Jef Reheard even goes as far as saying that P2W players don’t actually play the games – no, they “pay their way through instead of playing it through”. This is also clearly not fun! That makes you wonder why the heck all these weirdos keep paying money for something that surely is objectively horrible but wait, there’s the answer to that as well: they are lab rats that act out of compulsion rather than umm, the righteous and sound enjoyment of the non-P2W advocate. Yep…that really is the gist of the article, I’m afraid. You got some jolly “no real gamersss”-disdain, mixed with the old “not fun”-trap and some pseudo-psychology spice to top it off and make this one unsavory cocktail to drink.

It’s no longer about the fun or the escapism of gaming; it’s about capturing a bite-sized piece of those bygone days when they had time to play, and of course it’s also about satisfying those psychological skinner box urges[…]

I snorted. And then I self-cringed too because I’ve had my share of “why achievements and instant gratification are destroying my MMO”-rants and malcontent on this here blog. I still hold to the journey is the reward (for_me). However in hindsight, and also really whilst writing, it’s apparent that dramatic rants were dramatic. I think us MMO explorer types can live alongside the achievers or killers just fine for the most part, heck some of us even like one another despite our different playstyles (<3)! And none of us have gone out of business.

But back to P2W: as a general rule, all panicky reasoning is bad reasoning. And sure, you might find P2W cheap or cheaty and that’s alright, but obviously there are many ways to find pleasure in games. I’ve played MMOs in the past just to dress up my characters and yes, buy exclusive clothes from an ingame store. Likewise, P2W-players do very much also play the games they invest in, duh – it’s not like they’re just paying money and then never spend any time on actual game play. They just play differently. Maybe they want to skip stuff they don’t consider fun (like grinding!), maybe their sessions are shorter. Either way, it seems reasonable there should be a market for such a customer. It also seems contradictory (and patronizing but let’s forget that) to say the model is dangerous for the weak of mind and spirit and then make a point out of how it’s a more mature and financially stable target audience that sinks money into P2W games like World of Tanks and ArchAge?

And gamers are OK with P2W in large part because they’re getting older and they’ve outgrown gaming. They have mortgages, multiple jobs, kids, and a dozen other excuses for circumventing game mechanics with real money.

Ah pardon moi! I did not realize gamers needed “legit excuses” for the way they play games at all. As far as I am concerned, an aging player base with more disposable incomes and diverse tastes in gaming is brilliant news for the videogame industry. We are entering uncharted waters still with the first generations of videogamers advancing through their middle age; this process is far from over. Games, genres, markets, business models: they are far from being fully explored or formed or finished. I’m not sorry for growing older or changing my spending ways – what a silly argument to even have.


Many changes, handle it!

I’ll make it a simple summary: whatever rants declare (good old) gaming is dying or getting worse or going under for reason “XY” are wrought with fallacies. Cathartic at times maybe or endearing in their zeal, still wrong. Don’t trust them, don’t worry about it. The only truth is change. Games change. Audiences change. It all changes constantly. Sometimes you’ll like it better, sometimes you’ll like it worse. Most likely, it just means we’re getting more games and different games and more diverse, specialized markets and business models. We’ll see things come and go, over and over because such is the paradox of time (green is the new green!). And some games you really should avoid, ideally without preaching to others (too much).

Yesterday a still studying co-worker of mine showed me an interview he did with a 60-year old pharmacist who happens to train apprentices. The topic was “today’s youth” and communication, or something. It was basically an old fart talking about how young people cannot concentrate anymore, constantly use their mobile phones for wasteful activities and other weird things the old man (old because of his ways) clearly did not come close to grasp. He had zero understanding of this new generation he was supposed to teach, in fact he had no interest to learn about their world at all. It was a most tedious read for me, also because I have worked with young people and count myself among the digital age children. I fucking love the internet and over-sharing on twitter.

That’s why I am somewhat radically over the ever-fearful, judgmental whinging of fading generations, in all walks of life. I hope one day I’ll be a better old person (with a cool hat). There is a new world born every day and I am ready for the next adventure.

(…and I’ll still tag this post under ‘rants’ because :IRONY:)


  1. Bravo. Said it better than I could. Though admittedly I didn’t bother reading that MassivelyOP editorial post. I know THEIR arguments. I use to espouse them back when I was unemployed and didn’t have a job or a career. Its easy to fall into the trap.

    Largely I think there is a connection between this anti-P2W crowd and the large entitlement generation that is increasingly reliant on others to provide for them. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it gaming-socialism, but looking back at the arguments today it might appear to be the root of a movement bearing that name.

    I’m not some political whackjob that tries to draw lines between gaming and politics, but unfortunately we’ve already readily encountered that with the “gamergate” nonsense. Its clear lines are being drawn in the gaming industry by its consumers and everyone has an opinion.

    The notion of “fair play” in a game is seemingly one of these symptoms. I understand the need for a balanced environment in a PVP game, yet vast amounts of time are spent trying to find an edge over your opponents to obliterate them with it. Paying to get to that point may seem unfair to the players who didn’t pay (and who were obliterated), but few of these people see the other side of the spectrum.

    How fair is it to the passionate gamers who have very real life commitments they are beholden to. Are they merely to give up their gaming passion for those who can beat them mercilessly because they had 50 hours to outlevel and outgear me while I sat at work? Where is my fun in that instance? If I’m willing to pay to “catch up”, why can’t I? Whats so tragically wrong with that?

    The answer is simple; its the initial rush when a game launches that attracts many of these players. They want to be #1 and to hold it for as long as they can. Allowing someone to simply step into that position by spending real life cash threatens the (in my theory) physiological rush they get from running towards that #1 position.

    They don’t care that eventually their 50 hours a week to my 5 will inevitably put them into the same position as me having spent my P2W dollars. Their complaint now becomes why is my journey 50 hours instead of 25. Conspiracy!

    Its all very tiring when the debate comes to this point, because they are who they are, no debate on the merits of an audience who largely funds their “free” gaming experience seems to be worth listening too.

    You’d think the idea of the “1%” of gamers who are willing to pay extortion-level cash to fund the “99%”‘s cost-free experience would be enticing. Unfortunately, that never seems to be case… They’d rather fool themselves into thinking buying a pretty princess costume once every 6 months somehow paid for their above-average server usage (and recouped the development cost to boot!).

    Well said all around.

    1. Jep, that’s basically my main problem here: it’s one group of players thinking their approved models are superior in every way and everyone that plays differently from them or wants different games, god forbid, is not a gamer or harming games or etc. blabla. It’s dramatic at best and close-minded at worst. I personally don’t understand the ire in places against p2w; as I said above, I don’t feel like these games are harming MY hobby (mine! ppl with different tastes/lifes should get no say! ……..). Blatant p2w is not going to rewrite VG history.

    2. To be honest, I don’t think competitive PvP is a good fit for either “pay to win” or “play hundreds of hours to gear up” games. I’ve never found PvP in MMORPGs to be particularly fun for that reason.

  2. Candy Crush seems like an odd example. I’d have filed that in the “nickel & dime” school of F2P odiousness, not “pay 2 win”.

    p.s. if you’re patient you can constantly wind the clock on your phone/tablet forwards and backwards to circumvent the time-locks. That’s what my partner does. 🙂

    1. CC is maybe a limited example because it lacks the competitive social aspect which seems to anger p2w-haters in PvP-focused games especially. And that clock business sounds like a lot of hassle just to play it! 😉

  3. As I sort of started saying on Twitter, the majority of this post is just opinion. That’s fine – what else is a blog for, right? What makes this worth mentioning is that while the opinions expressed are relevant to the topic, almost none of them address anything in the Massively article that they’re meant to criticize. These two segments, right here, are basically the only parts directly responding to the article:

    “My immediate reaction to the Massively piece was, passionate rant or not, that it’s incredibly condescending towards anyone within that “older gamer group with disposable income” who dares to play games differently and enjoy them differently.”

    “Ah pardon moi! I did not realize gamers needed “legit excuses” for the way they play games at all. As far as I am concerned, an aging player base with more disposable incomes and diverse tastes in gaming is brilliant news for the videogame industry.”

    So what can we take away from this? You’re upset that he singled out older gamers – and to be fair, while I think his point is spot on, I can understand where you’re coming from on that one (I would totally be included in his older gamers demographic). That doesn’t make him wrong though, and the blog didn’t even attempt to address his actual point. Here’s Jef’s point with regard to aging MMOers in its entirety:

    “And gamers are OK with P2W in large part because they’re getting older and they’ve outgrown gaming. They have mortgages, multiple jobs, kids, and a dozen other excuses for circumventing game mechanics with real money.

    It’s no longer about the fun or the escapism of gaming; it’s about capturing a bite-sized piece of those bygone days when they had time to play, and of course it’s also about satisfying those psychological skinner box urges that MMOs so expertly and insidiously trigger. The need for that next level ding or that next piece of gear supercedes the need for a balanced, immersive virtual world where acquiring those things take time, effort, and cooperation, and this leads directly to the acceptance of P2W.”

    This is the inverse of the most coherent parts of Scree’s argument against me, and in his defense of pay-to-win, I think he completely validated Jef’s line of reasoning. As we grow older, we just don’t have as much time for these games (I actually dropped off the internet for 9 months last year when I switched jobs, so I have to agree). It’s *easy* for older MMOers to go “well, I have less time, but I have more money – I’ll just pay for gear instead of farming it!” This is *exactly* the reasoning Scree provided in his defense of P2W on Twitter earlier today, completely validating that portion of the article. Your post completely missed the point of those quotes, and didn’t address their actual message at all.

    1. I mean, honestly, just look at the title of this blog. You got offended by a single line in his post and railed against it without any consideration or response to its broader points. I guess that’s what I’m saying.

    2. Umm yeah. All opinion pieces are ‘just opinion’. Your reply is just an opinion too – you think it’s superior to mine or Scree’s while I don’t. 🙂 After years of blogging, I feel capable to get the point of articles, especially those that choose close-minded arguments to build a case. Since I feel you didn’t get my point either and I’m not just singling something out in the MOp post, I’ll elaborate.

      I see very little provided in that ‘entire quote’ you gave that isn’t already addressed above. The gist of his post is “silly p2w gamer/s are distressing me because they threaten my hobby” – he even says it right in the intro (“it’s the seeing things you love retconned into things that you don’t love”). He then goes on to define fun and proper advancement and whatnot for everybody, the true way of gaming the way he sees it, “balanced, immersive virtual world where acquiring those things take time, effort, and cooperation”. Yeah great, look I could have written that myself. 😉 But that is one, narrow brand of game and playstyle and it’s not the genuine one and only. “It’s no longer about the fun or the escapism of gaming” = overly dramatic. There is not one way of gaming and p2w is not “infecting” everything. If he can’t enjoy AA anymore, tough luck. I play escapist games 90% of my time, plenty of MMOs provide that experience.

      Love it or hate it, other games and other payment models have an audience and sometimes that audience is not you. I don’t defend p2w in particular, I already stated I find it boring and I’ve never spent any cash on p2w. But I am dumbstruck that we are honestly debating what is allowed to be fun for other gamers or that gaming does not exist in a timeless vacuum. And of course aging gamers change the gaming landscape – so what? Many of them are the same people that bought the first videogames and made the growth of the industry possible. And those that sink money into p2w obviously feel it meets their playstyle, lifestyle, whatever.

      “The first step in correcting a problem”…the end of the MoP article is just as close-minded as the beginning. And unless Jef is a time traveler come from the future, he cannot see the “long-term benefits and drawbacks” of something that’s only just begun, either.

      1. While you seem to rail against others judging your approach to paying cash for power, you miss the core point that mixing real-world cash into a virtual, social and shared world (beyond a barrier to access) is just bizarre from a play-standpoint.

        The argument you seem to espouse isn’t even an argument, it is something along the lines of, “you can do it therefore it is okay”.

        But I can’t see how you can’t admit that the drive to pack more and more microtransactions into every game isn’t a bad thing for the integrity of these worlds, themselves. There’s a certain liberal argument to be made that a non-pay-for-power world is far more egalitarian than one which mirrors our real world where “pay2win” is a seriously depressing and routine aspect of our political/social process.

        It all goes out the window when we realize that “available time” is not a simple inverse of one’s income. In fact, those who make the least often work the most. This dangerously creates a situation where enjoyment and balance in-game become inherently dependent on one’s real-world income and class status.

  4. Change is happening fast in all industries: Music, television, comic books, automobiles, tobacco, etc etc.

    We will all adapt eventually, but the smart ones will set the trend and make boatloads of cash.

    1. Go with the times. There’s plenty of things I don’t like in gaming today. I’m still curious why others enjoy things I really don’t! 😀

  5. For me, there’s an okay P2W and a bad P2W. The okay is when players aren’t in competition with each other – that is, the guy with the store bought armor isn’t taking anything from you. I can deal with it because I probably feel more satisified when I earn my stuff rather than buy it.

    But, in PvP and competitive MMOs…It’s awful. They are basically circumventing hardwork and YOU are losing out because of it.

    As a whole, I’m against P2W though simply because I feel it speaks badly about a game. The content isn’t good enough for players to actually want to play through is what I see developers saying. As if they don’t hav faith in their game and if they don’t have faith then I also don’t have faith.

    1. I’m on the same boat – I simply avoid games that rely heavily on RMT, especially competitive games. But then, I also avoid lots of other games I don’t approve of for different reasons while tolerating that they are “for other people” who have fun with them. Not sure why we should treat p2w differently and start looking for people to blame. It’s just another brand of game for a different demography than us.

  6. I didn’t bother to read that Jef Reheard post when it came out because I have better things to do with my time than read Massively OP OpEd pieces. I thought I ought to at least scan it before replying here though so after I read your riposte I read Jef’s piece that provoked it. Back to front, I know.

    Somewhat to my surprise, having come to it from your “rant”, I found it reasonably well-argued, thoughtful and good-hearted. I think the quotes you have taken from it sit much less aggressively within the original, where the air is much more elegaic and wistful than the full-bore passive-aggressive blamefest I was expecting from your commentary.

    I also find it quite ironic that he is using people in their 30s as examples of “older gamers”. I do not consider gamers in their 30s to be “older gamers”. I would consider them to be core gamers. Then, many people seem to have a problem recognizing that gaming is not, and has not been for a very long time, purely or even mainly a pastime of youth.

    I remember a previous occasion here on your blog where you expressed some difficulty in believing that, back when EQ started in 1999, many of the people playing were not only already in their 30s but a good way beyond that. I commented then that I bought EQ as a 40th birthday present to myself and that one of the first guilds Mrs Bhagpuss joined in 2000 had a female guild leader in her late sixties. At the time I bought EQ I had been already been playing video games for two decades.

    As I said before, other than children playing alongside their parents (or in some cases grandparents), of which I encountered many, I only ever met two players in EQ between 1999 and 2004 who admitted to being below college age; most people playing seemed to be 25-35 with many much older than that. By the time I was playing Vanguard in 2007/8 (I think that’s right without looking it up…) the average age of players owning up to their age in chat was nearer 50 than 40.

    MMOs have always had an age demographic that skews towards middle-age. Before WoW I would contend that it was mostly a middle-aged hobby, populated largely by people who had played tabletop rpgs and/or text MUDs during the 1980s and 90s.

    I’m slightly confused by your take on aging gamers overall; at one point you defend them, saying “As far as I am concerned, an aging player base with more disposable incomes and diverse tastes in gaming is brilliant news for the videogame industry” but then you bring out an example of a supposedly close-minded older person to make a point about the negative effects of “the ever-fearful, judgmental whinging of fading generations”. I get that you are differentiating people who adapt as they age from those who don’t but it suggests something more like split between “people whose attitude I approve of vs the rest”, with age actually having very little to do with it.

    Getting back to the main topic of P2W, I think it’s very simple: two perfectly acceptable pastimes are being confused: gaming and shopping. There is nothing at all wrong with enjoying shopping but it is not the same activity as gaming. When you say “I’ve played MMOs in the past just to dress up my characters and yes, buy exclusive clothes from an ingame store” that’s a description of going shopping, albeit with an unusual purchase requirement – as though, in real life, you’d been asked to do 50 star jumps before being allowed to take your purchases to the counter.

    Anyway, that’s far too long for a comment! In the end I don’t think it makes a blind bit of difference. There are way more games than any of us will ever be able to play and if people can’t find anything to their tastes among the vast range available then they really can’t be all that interested in gaming to begin with. That’s my take on it anyway. Don’t like P2W games? Play something else. There will always be something else. No need to worry that there won’t.

    1. “Don’t like P2W games? Play something else. There will always be something else. No need to worry that there won’t.” – This and essentially your last paragraph = what I mean. 😉

      Even after a re-read, I don’t personally perceive the MOp piece to be much more than a rant or maybe, wistful lament by someone that feels their playstyle is threatened. I can even sympathize with that but no matter where a post comes from, if you need to blame a certain group of gamers for the way things are today, or declare how what’s fun to them is not legit fun, you are off base. That’s willfully ignorant of ‘why’ some p2w games are successful. Love it or hate it, gaming belongs to everybody. Or shopping 😉 even if I can agree with you that some of it is pure shopping, it doesn’t mean you do not also play (in the traditional sense) in p2w games. You do very much both, especially in PvP-focused games and even social games (unless the socializer is not officially an accepted playstyle anymore).

      About the confusion: I am not actually interested in age at all or the fact that this guy was 60 which is why I added a parentheses there. Age is not the deciding factor over how open-minded people are, although too often there’s correlation ofc. What I *obviously* do not approve of is rule of establishment or conservatism; whoever be the established group incapable to deal with change or more diversity. Veteran gamers need not be old in order to be close-minded; in fact I think many within the 30-45 age group with higher incomes are very laidback about change because their lives have changed (this is where I agree with the article, I just fail to see how it’s an issue). Call the opposite faction ‘grumpy veterans’ or whatever, so it won’t be confused with actual age.

  7. Hi all.
    I come from a extremely profitable video game company. I will give you a gist of what is real free to play

    Here is a description of a good sword fighting f2p game that cares about the players:

    Paying players must receive swords
    Free players must receive ONLY sushi sticks
    Some free players could convert
    But we actually don’t want all free players to convert to paying because we want paying players to feel happy fighting the average player. Winning him almost all the time 🙂 and feeling good and happy.

    Those who did not pay ARE conent.

    All the whining about P2W comes from free players. They think we don’t care about users. We do. We do care. We just can’t afford to give free players swords.

    Here is a video from another f2p of a fight between free user and paying user

    Here is a video of the same paying user fighting multiple free users
    For some people it’s fun
    Remember millions of people think their credit card is also a weapon.

    It happens in RL too. drones , bombing people in caves – is pay to win.

  8. “Your doing it wrong” and by that read “differently to me”, is a reoccurring theme in most of Jeff Reahard’s posts. Blinkered, condescending, factually inaccurate are just some of the terms that Mr Reahard can be legitimately labelled.

    I won’t criticise his writing style because he does express himself in an accessible way. However I do not consider him to be a clear and analytical thinker. Simply put he thinks with his heart and not his head which is the ruination of our species.

    I was considering writing a rebuttal but frankly why waste precious time and effort when I could be doing something more enjoyable? So I shall just confine myself to leaving a comment on someone else’s response 🙂

    I find it ironic that something like gaming, which in many ways is the zenith of Western decadence is debated in such a fashion by the likes of Jeff. America is the embodiment of “your on your own culture” and “sort out your own problems” mentality. Yet when it comes to MMOs there is an bizarre and paradoxical expectation of some sort of socialist utopia, driven by a meritocratic principles.

    This is why I’m slowly winding down my writing activities because I’m tired of the nonsensical drivel that is the mainstay of the blogging community. The same debates come round with a regular monotony and frankly it’s a forgone conclusion which side of the argument most people will be on.


    So my next blog will be about bee keeping, although a small voice in the back of my head tells me that even that community will have folk like Jeff Reahard.

    1. Just like Roger Edwards said above, I was thinking of writing a response to that MOP post, but what the hell. P2W is one very dead horse I’d rather watch others flog.

      I’ll just say that my personal rules on paying to get ahead in an MMO are simple:

      1. It must not also mean inconveniencing non-paying players (a la SWTOR and its odious skillbar paywalling).
      2. It should encourage activities separate from non-paying players (usually this is PvP, like LoTRO’s PvMP), so the paying ones can enjoy their purchases to the fullest in their own circles.
      3. It should, ultimately, lead to game improvements, not just more nickel & diming (like Neverwinter’s deplorably in-your-face monetization).

      Just my thoughts. In the end, I agree with you: P2W is just a different brand of game with its own demographic.

    2. Oh I missed that then – never really followed the writer but now I’ve realized it’s somewhat endemic, ye. Ah well, I’ve sorta been there myself in the past, sometimes you’re just grumpy and overly protective of your hobbies lol.

      And I say YES to beekeeping! 😀

  9. I can’t say I liked the ending of your post, which sounded all too much like “old fogeys just hate all change”. 😛 It’s true that change is inevitable, but not all change is good and I think we absolutely should always keep a critical eye on it and not just go: “Oh well, that’s just how the new generation does it, I’m sure it’ll all be fine!”

    That said, I don’t disagree with your point that P2W is simply a different type of play and not one massive trend that is about to obscure everything else. I used to be very much against the concept but in practice I’ve found that it affects me a lot less now than I thought it would. (I play Neverwinter online as a casual game, which is pretty heavily P2W for a western MMO, but you kind of roll with the punches until you get to a point where you feel it becomes too much and then you stop there.)

    Nonetheless I do find the trend of real money influencing gameplay in more ways than ever a bit disappointing, because I don’t want to think about that while playing an MMO. I like Bhagpuss’ shopping comparison because that’s something I have very mixed feelings about as well. At work a colleague overheard me saying that I hated having to buy new shoes and exclaimed: “What’s wrong with you?!” That’s how the intrusion of cash shops makes me feel: another aspect of our society that I’d rather not have to deal with in my escapism chipping away at my fantasy world. But it’s hardly a case of the sky coming down on our heads just yet.

    1. I get that. I think we need to have conversations about ‘how’ f2p or p2w is included in games, certainly. I’d also recommend to avoid the big offenders like the plague. Still, to each their own. Somehow I just don’t see p2w conquering much more than it has up to now – nothing of greater consequence, anyway. We’ll see, I guess.

      And…old fogeys DO just hate all change! =P
      Haha, no really I gotcha. I don’t disagree either, not all change is good and between ‘some’ conservatism and progressive fresh thinking, a healthy balance lies.

  10. Great post, Syl; of course, this is what I’ve been saying this since people were snarking that “if someone is willing to pay to bypass some part of your game, obviously it’s not fun and shouldn’t be part of the game.”

    The whole “pay to win” thing gets thrown around a lot in situations where it’s not applicable. Are there shitty games where the person who has literally paid the most is guaranteed to win? Sure, but that’s a flaw in the design, not the business model. There’s exploitative subscription models, too.

    At the end of the day, some people just find different things fun. Just because your definition of fun is (or was) in the majority doesn’t make your opinion more universal, it just means that you have more games you can enjoy for the moment.

    1. Thanks! Am glad I was able to get my point across, it’s not always easy. To some I am no doubt a dirty p2w-lover by now! 😉

  11. “Sure, but that’s a flaw in the design, not the business model.”

    Except in this case it’s the business model that encourages the design elements – that only later get recognized as flaws.

    Here’s some input from an old timer(me): I have always played games or participated in leisure activities for the competitive or entertainment value. Most “games” have clear and distinct “win” conditions, most leisure activities do not.

    Yet, we live in an age where “personal win conditions” are thriving because it’s politically incorrect to question their importance. I can now drive down the road, notice that there is nobody in the McDonald’s drive-thru and whip in and score a no-wait sundae! Even better, I can get on facebook and let everyone know what I’ve just accomplished – in spite of my waist line.

    The Hollow Victory™ – coming soon to an activity near you.

  12. “It’s no longer about the fun or the escapism of gaming; it’s about capturing a bite-sized piece of those bygone days when they had time to play, and of course it’s also about satisfying those psychological skinner box urges[…]”

    That article nailed it, IMO.

  13. I’m not sure how I missed this.

    (Oh wait, now I do. Never mind.)

    Anyway, I felt that as the “old guy” who regularly reads your blog, I should be the one to state the obvious: P2W has been around since video games existed, in the form of “how to win” strategy guides for games. (My brother once had one for all of the different iterations of Pac-man.)

    There have been strategy guides for Zork, and even when Colossal Cave was released, I’m sure there were people providing each other tips on how to win (and if there were ways of doing so, they’d try to get paid for it).

    P2W is nothing new, so the same people getting all worked up about it don’t know their history.

    If people want to pay to win, fine. If they don’t, fine. But there is no single way to play and/or win at video games.

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