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Too Long Didnt Read Version:
Whole point is to send the message that its not OK to monetize time and effort, as there is no cap for it (how much time and effort one can potentially invest) and it affects balance within specific time frames. I.e. you dont judge balance of a game based on the false premise that everyone has (the potential to invest thousands of hours to get "everything), neither thousands of hours invested since the beggining and at any point before everyone has thousands of hours invested in the game, any time and effort "economized" by spending on the cash shop does translate to factual advantages. Pay to Win. Fact that there is an illegal blackmarket is a fallacy argument that does not allow the game company to design a game to exploit human nature desire for power and progression with cash shops. It is not moral and ethical to do so as it dilutes the whole point of competition and playing a game in the first place. Its not about not being able to acquire some items in-game, so much as allowing people to acquire them through real money, faster, easier and/or in more amounts. Therefore just saying that one can get anything by "playing" and "through enough* time and effort" does not removes the negative effect of REAL MONEY CAUSING AN IMBALANCE AND DISRUPTANCE OF THE EXPERIENCE through direct or indirect effects on competition.
Throughly explained version:
You spend money to acquire something that ultimatelly allow you to bypass time and effort.
You spend money to acquire something that has value, thus generating value for you out of thin air.
The value you acquire translate into power. The time you skipped, translate into progression. Progression is power.
In the end, anything that is sold on CASH SHOPS that POTENTIALLY allows players to SKIP a portion of TIME AND EFFORT in the game to PROGRESS, ends up giving them a chronologically power advantage over others.
MMORPGs are designed so time is never enough. By design, there isnt a CAP at wich point spending more time does not provide any more material or subjective advantage to a player. By design players can always get more and better resources, gear, valuables.
In that sense there is always a chronologic race for progression and acquisition of resources, equipment, valuables or whatever that can be acquired through time and effort.
Under these designs, selling TIME SKIPPERS or TIME-SAVING CONVENIENCE ITEMS are an indirect way of selling power, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME, benefitting from the power bait on the cash shops and evading the criticism that our mmorpg community has grown to evolve and label by "Pay To Win".
Time savers affect the chronologic progression and position of power one holds at any determined point in time.
The main problem is that TIME SKIPPERS, CONTENT SKIPPERS, TIME-SAVING CONVENIENCE ITEMS, whatever the developers name it in their interviews END UP AFFECTING THE INTEGRITY OF THE GAME.
This causes a chain effect that start from the core design of the game, when rates of progression, amount of time and effort required to accomplish certain activiities is decided. Games end up being designed so that the default rate of progression or amount of repetition or attempts, or number of enemies killed, whatever activiity it has, ends up being artificially increased/slowed down in a detrimental way. While for the payers who are envisioned to benefit from the so called "time-savers" end up having a completely diference experience, one whose progression feels more acceptable and natural (as opposed to the artificially "tweaked" one).
This is clearly observed when games started to go from P2P to F2P.
When the factors of power are not subjective (relative to the character: such as levels, classes, skills, unlocks), but material (derived from equipment, upgrades, enchants, resources, whatever currency can translate into direct power), players are misguided into believing that the "progression is fast" or that "the level cap is easily reachable within a short time frame anyway", when in reality in these games the FACTORS OF POWER derive from the material branch. In other words, what commonly we call as "gear grind".
So today I saw the announcement about GUILD WARS 2 RMT and I died a bit inside when I saw the same rethoric speech by ArenaNets' O'Brien about offering "Time-saving convenience items". As if adding the word convenience to it would somehow disguise the pay to win nature of time-saving. And all that disregard the fact that real money will be directly translated into virtual value.
Each day the ethic principles that I grew up as a gamer is shifted into a new ethical paradigm. To me, adding money into the factor of gaming is unethical. Its not ilegal because we the consumers are unorganized and the moving force behind legislation lobbies wants more consumers spending their money and it will take a few years untill the society embraces this virtual social consumerist phenomn and start to treat us like "real life" consumers are.
I believe that what we can do, as I have written before years ago, is that creating a PREJUDICE, by LABELING NEGATIVELLY SOMETHING WE FEEL STRONGLY AGAINST, such as "PAY TO WIN" (as in "this game is pay to win, wich is bad, therefore it sucks" that became automatized in our mass conscience as modern gamers) is a way to VOTE. Is a way to CRIPPLE, is a way to CHANGE and CAUSE EFFECT. We have seen that smart developers ARE TRYING DESPERATELY TO STEEM AWAY FROM THE "OUR GAME IS PAY TO WIN" LABELING.
Now what I believe we must do, is start to impregnate the "TIME-SAVING", "TIME SKIPPERS" IS BAD! In the same way we managed to do together against Pay to Win. We must reject RMT MODELS THAT AFFECT THE INTEGRITY of our games.
That is the best we can do and we can easily spread this idea by just repeatedly applying the negative label filled with prejudice against the "time saving convenience items". In the end, they are as prejudicial to the games as the original pay to win, but this time, they are being camouflaged, masqueraded to bypass our perceptive filters.
You can pm me to discuss more if you want, or you can keep this one bumped for great justice somore people read. I know that the dark forces of censorship are strong on this one and even legitimate complaints may be misinterpreted as trolling, but may the light shine with you.
Older version created to discuss the issue at the time the first hints of this would be introduced in Guild Wars 2. http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/345045 . Since that topic is beyond revival time frame for bringing it back to the top, and since this one is directly related to Guild Wars 2 on the lights of the new in game experiences thousands of us are having, this one justifies its existance once again.