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Ask Massively: Paying-to-win edition

Eliot Lefebvre

I'd like to announce the launch of my brand-new MMO, Ask Massively Online. This game should put to rest any questions of whether or not cash-shop users have an advantage over those who choose to play straight, as the game is using an actual pay-to-win model. If you pay me money, you win. No payment means you lose. We're still in beta testing and only intend to accept payments in the form of two-dollar bills, but so far we're doing quite well with the core systems.

Today's column actually does feature a question on the oft-bandied term used to indicate a dislike for the free-to-play model, but it also features questions about our comment system and the unbearable lameness of not knowing the answer to questions. If you've got a question you would like answered in a future installment of the column, you can leave it in the comments or mail it to Winning will be implemented in a later build.

Jejeune asked: So why do people throw around "pay-to-win" any time a game goes F2P?

A trend has emerged in which those who do not care for the free-to-play business model use "pay-to-win" in its place, in the hopes that this will somehow convince others that they are right. The belief is that someone with more money than good sense will simply buy everything perfect right off the rack and roll in at level 1 with the best items possible in the game.

Unfortunately, the analogy really breaks down for MMOs, which don't have a defined goal at the end whereby you win anyhow. Moreover, even the most crass attempts at grabbing money from players simply offer you buffs and improvements -- sometimes nigh-mandatory ones, but none that allows you to simply point at whatever you want to die and reap the victory. There's a variety of things in every game that can only be achieved through actual play, not through just plopping down a few dollars in the cash shop.

Even if such an option existed, it would be like paying for a game that just popped up a "You Win!" screen as soon as you load it. You Have To Burn The Rope is meant as a parody. Nobody actually wants a game like that.

Certain free-to-play games do make the cash shop pretty much mandatory for advancement, but again, that's sort of the core of the business model. It's like criticizing McDonald's for insisting that you buy food instead of eating it for free and then buying sauces.
potaco asked: Is there some kind of server replication issue that affects the comment system on this site?
The comment system can often take a little while to confirm and activate comments on the site once they've been posted, which can result in comments showing up in the overall comment count before they're visible to everyone. It's most notably an issue if you go from viewing the main page to the specific article.
Utakata lamented: I guess my question from last week went into the lame bin.
No, it's that our answer ("we don't know") would have been unspeakably lame. We try to avoid those.
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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