I can’t stop raving about Wizardblox. Other MMOs need this pronto. It gets even better when my wife plays Wizardblox and all of the sudden I see a gift pop up on my Wizard101 screen telling me she just sent me 100 gold or so. It’s a funny hypocrisy, but I hate getting crap in game – like for Lord of the Rings Online festival gifts where I get some crappy food I will never use. Yet, when I can accrue some crap and some other niceties out of game… it feels nice. It feels rewarding.
Anyway, one thing I received through Wizardblox was a transformation potion that changed me into a Krokotopian mummy for an hour (I love how they run with their little Krok legs). I landed in the commons area of Wizard City, and my screen blew up with friend requests. I couldn’t hide in the mass of players when I was standing twice as high as them. I had to quickly run out of the zone with the annoying friend request in the middle of my screen.
I was later reading the forums at Wizard101 Central where players were complaining about the “scamming” attempts they received when they rode around on their ~$20 wings. The attempt in Wizard 101 went something like this. The player would receive a friend request, and click accept. The new “friend” would then ask for the player to buy a pair of wings for the “friend.” The obvious reaction should be to unfriend the offending… err… “friend.”
This was a completely foreign phenomenon for me. In the subscription games I played there were moochers, sure, but the culture was very resistant to any sort of panhandling. Furthermore, the mooching seemed to mostly happen publicly in open chat channels. The elite hardcore wearing their elite armor on their elite mounts did not seem to be singled out. People were congratulated, occasionally, on having the most epic mount costing a million gold or having glowy hands from the collector’s edition. On the flip side, jealousy often came to the table as well as backhanded remarks on the afflicted gamer’s lack of girlfriend, job, and life therefor. Yet, begging seemed to be a rarity.
In Wizard101, I think the degrees of separation between perceived real life liquidity and in-game fame were far less than the other MMOs I played. Players wearing wings must have money to throw around. Let’s be their friends in the vain hope they will spread their good fortune. Why else would they want to wear those expensive wings?
Interestingly enough, I did not see a similar occurrence with Guild Wars recent costume sale. Individually the costumes were nearly a third of the cost of the Wizard101 wings, which clearly had an effect. Guild Wars costumes were for the masses, and they were priced accordingly. They were still an unnecessary luxury item, but $10 is an average lunch on the East Coast. $20, however, gets into, the “other” realm of ‘what other things could I buy with $20 that I might want.’
Even more importantly is the community built around the finer points of the business model. In Guild Wars, even with all their luxury items like character slots, sex changes, and costumes there is no way, as far as I am aware, to gift anything to another account. In Wizard101, there is a gifting system where real money can be turned in to friendship.
Yet, I find no fault in what KingsIsle is doing for Wizard101. We are going to see more and more luxury items in MMOs which reflect on our own disposable income. This is not a new thing as collector’s editions filled with special wings, exclusive dances, and different faces have been around for years. Now, it’s just a little easier for those that are hardcore with their jobs and families to prove their worth… and I am only being half facetious.
federal agents mad cause I’m flagrant