At Spinks’s suggestion (congratulations on that engagement to Charles Dance, by the way), I have been trying Game of Thrones Ascent, a Song of Ice and Fire-themed game on Facebook. They have had exciting growing pains as millions of people pounded unsuspecting servers over the weekend.
As ever with these, monetization is an important question. Beyond the usual power and convenience items, one or two items in almost every upgrade track (for the talent trees and each building) require the RMT currency to unlock. For the buildings, that is usually the best economic upgrade it has to offer, like doing things faster or queuing up resource gathering.
The talent tree RMT upgrades get interesting because most of them are PvP improvements: better rewards, higher defenses, more frequent attacks. The increase per point is small, but they add up, and the cash shop items are stronger than anything I’ve seen available for crafting so far.
I feel like I should be upset at what translates to a pretty blatant Pay To Win, especially since unlocking all the options would take more than $50 in cash shop currency, not including any convenience or power items. (So far, the only way I have found to earn the RMT currency in-game is the reward for logging in for many days in a row. This is odd; most games give you a little so that the taste will encourage you to buy.) Part of this is ameliorated by the fact that you still need to spend the talent points in those PvP skills, so the people you are attacking are spending theirs elsewhere and probably not falling behind much. The improved economic options are a bigger thing than the explicitly PvP options. Part is the comic’s observation: if you are not paying for the game, your only value to the company is as content for the people who are paying. In F2P MMOs, you provide content by grouping, talking, and being someone to whom the paying players can show off their leetness. Here, you are sheep to their wolves. That makes a certain sort of sense to me, and it is not like the strictly PvP games where the only reason to play is to fight others. You get to play along/through the Game of Thrones story, so presumably you could PvE it up in quiet obscurity. Also, this is Westeros, where life generally sucks for the poor and powerless, so if you’re not bringing money to the table, the nobles will stomp on you while sneering.
Ooh, reincarnation mechanic. If that comes with an ascension bonus, I’m interested.