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Ask Massively: Let me show you pictures of my cat edition

Eliot Lefebvre

Oh, wait, I can't show you pictures of my cat because he's currently hiding. I can show you pictures of what my cat normally looks like, except that we recently had him shaved so that the hot summer wouldn't be hitting him with a full long-haired blue coat. He's decided to repay this kindness by sulking and screaming at Ms. Lady and me because we have humiliated him.

To be fair, he does look pretty pathetic now. Even if he does resemble a tiny lion.

Now that we've lost absolutely everyone but the hardcore Ask Massively readers, we can delve into this week's questions, centering on TERA's political system and the curious grip that free-to-play games can hold upon our wallets. As always, you can mail your own questions along to or leave them in the comment field to be answered in a future edition of the column.

Truffle asked: Why has it taken this long to see anything like TERA's political system in a game?

It hasn't. Lineage II and Pirates of the Burning Sea both feature systems in which players get a game-supported dominion over a portion of the game world, and looking at player-run cities in games such as Star Wars Galaxies, Anarchy Online, and the now-defunct Shadowbane should make it clear that similar root ideas have been present for quite some time. And that's just off the top of my head.

The issue is less that the system is revolutionary and more that it's never been implemented in a large scale within a major, modern title. Even Lineage II had some pretty strict limits over what player organizations were allowed to control. The political system is certainly going to be unique, and it remains to be seen whether the system will result in a de facto oligarchy or it will be an accessible system for players from all walks of the game.
PrimeSynergy asked: Am I the only one who gets the urge to sub to a game after it becomes F2P?
Nope, and that's actually the crux of the subscription-optional model that Turbine kicked off with Dungeons and Dragons Online. According to all reports from the company, it wasn't just player count that went up -- it was the number of subscriptions that rose, despite the fact that it was now possible for more people to play without subscribing.

Why? Because even more than we love to get something for free, we love the sense that we're getting a great deal on something. So the companies give a lot of nice things to everyone in the game but save the really good perks for the people who pay a subscription fee -- usually obviating the need for a cash shop in the first place. In other words, we feel as if we're beating the curve by paying our $15 per month rather than just buying things piecemeal, and all the company really loses out on is an initial box price.

There's also the idea of persistence of value. If you don't subscribe for a given month, you can usually still access a goodly part of the game anyhow. So if money gets tight for a given month, dropping that sub and then going right back the next month is less of an ordeal than unsubscribing and being locked out of the game until you sign up again.
Looking for some advice on which class is best for soloing in Aion? Not sure who this Raph Koster fellow is? Curious about the release date of NCsoft's newest MMO? You've come to the right place! No one knows MMOs like we do. If there's anything you'd like to know about the MMO genre or the site itself, Ask Massively is here to help every Thursday afternoon. Just ask!

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