The $10 Level

In this November rain, at least some news is ripping through the MMO ‘sphere’s apathy. Mythic has decided on giving players the option to buy levels. At $10 a pop, all characters on an account get a War Tract, which when used will advance the character one full level. Players can only use this once per account. Players that really like Warhammer Online will likely then pay only a couple bucks per character’s level. Players with only one or two played characters will be paying $5 or $10 per character level, which is a tad steep. However, characters created in the future will also get the War Tract in the mail. They bring about a few other cash shop items too, which Arkenor breaks down.

Ardwulf thinks that if anybody really cared about Warhammer Online, this would be a scandal. It is a small one on Warhammer Online forums, where cries of MMO death are slightly amplified because of this. But, I think Spinks has the right of it. The “suck” was already there with the end-grind hell levels. Having the option to pay past this suck, while not the best option, is far better than if hell levels were designed so subscribers would want to fork more money in to get back to the fun.

It seems to me that the Western MMO audiences are more readily embracing so-called microtransactions, but they are not yet accepting of games designed to push players into purchases. If MMO-X was released, kept the status quo for years, and then gave a cash shop item to ease the pain, it would not the greatest thing, but it is acceptable. If MMO-X releases exactly the same, but with the cash shop item on launch, players would cry foul. (I saw a lot of this in regards to the Guild Wars 2 transmutation stone uproar.) It’s a thin red line where players’ wallets stand.

Chris at Game By Night is ejected forcibly from a blog-cation to comment, and he thinks that this is more evidence of Warhammer Online going to a subscription-less or hybrid model. Honestly, I am at the point where I am really unsure as to whether it would help. Clearly the evidence shows that Turbine’s toilet paper is now a wad of Franklins, but both Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online seemed like stable games at the switch. Warhammer Online seems eternally plagued by RvR issues, and every major patch seems to try something new on the PvP front.

Honestly though, the $10 level is a gimmick. Players still can’t buy their way to 40 because the War Tract limitations are pretty severe. It’s not a meaningful cash shop item. It’s not permanent like an appearance item. It’s not substantial like buying a mount or weapon. It’s just at best a way to get money out of players wanting the equivalent of a $10 party popper. The other cash shop items that just dropped have much more weight on the future course of Warhammer Online, in my opinion.

what’s that? hawaiian noises?

14 thoughts on “The $10 Level”

  1. The thing is, an experience level in WAR is not very meaningful. The 100 renown levels is the bulk/meat of the game. That’s why I don’t really see it as a big deal.

  2. That’s a good point – DDO might not have had a large subscriber base when it transitioned to F2P, but it was developmentally very stable; the game was headed in a positive direction anyway. LotRO even more so, save for the lack of recent new high-end content. Same applies to EQ2, except that it kept the regular model around and handled some of the details of F2P less than ideally.

    Warhammer, I’m not so sure. It still seemed stunted and broken last time I dropped in (about three months ago.) It’s about half an MMO to begin with, and half of what’s left doesn’t work right. In trying to fix it Mythic seems like a blind man with a sword, stabbing randomly in all directions.

    You’re right that, at the stated price and with the stated limitations (that each type of pack can only be redeemed once per account is buried in the FAQ,) the buy-a-level package really won’t have a significant impact on the game itself – the horse is actually more impactful on play.

    Which makes me wonder why Mythic bothered in the first place. The vanity pet? Cool. The trophies? Well, okay, I guess. But I can’t figure out what the buy-a-level microtransaction is supposed to accomplish aside from making existing players go needlessly spastic – nobody can use it to blast past difficult late-game levels, and even if the limit went away, it’d be horrendously expensive to bypass, say, half a tier. Especially considering that the endgame such a player would be moving to is scarcely more fun.

  3. Still missing, and not being discussed yet, is the upcoming “Power Level” for a fee deal and the pay to transfer off your dead server offerings.

    Per the 1.4 patch notes (which some complain is not set in stone, but when ever older patch notes have gone up, they have not changed)…there is this little tidbit:

    “The Progression Pack gives players an opportunity to advance through the Renown Ranks faster…”

    This basically says “Pay for this pack and reach higher Renown Ranks faster”. So, you can speed level for a fee if you wish.
    This is a new precedent. I cannot find anyone else who has offered a way, past free to play games with cash shops and XP potions, offering a particular offer to level faster…at a cost.

    This I think is causing more of a ruckus, than a free level, which is, as you say, quite limited.

    Then there is the whole “Transfer” characters for 20 bucks. This is all well and good, as most MMO’s do it. BUT, with so many servers being noted as dead in WAR…it is like you now have to pay to help Mythic fix population issues.

    This is a virtual cash shop mess. Hopefully they figure out better methods to monetize.

    Time will tell.

  4. I think the 10$ for a free level is a waste of time. Hell there is a quest in the game that gives you a free level, so god knows why I’d spend 10$.

    I honestly thought the accelerated leveling in RR was going to be for all. Not for those with money. It seems that Mythic have gone out of there way to put peoples noses out of joint.

  5. Honestly, I don’t understand why most PvP/RvR games have levels anyways. Don’t give me that “learn your character” bullshit, people can do that either way.

    If you’re not going to have a meaningful levelling game, why bother having one at all? Just let players make characters at the cap and get into the “real game” immediately if they like.

    “Oh no! But then there will be more useless characters running around!” No. Within a week or so, people will be good with their toons or not, much like they would have been if they levelled. Bad players are bad regardless, good ones will figure it out quickly enough. It’s just a mindset thing.

    1. Wholly agreed. This is a fundamental design flaw, not ameliorated in any significant way by the ability to buy a single level. The game won’t be broken by this, and indeed, would benefit from everyone being at the level cap anyway, if a level playing field is at all important.

  6. A single level means very little in WAR. Does make me wonder who the hell would bother with it.

    Far more interesting to discuss and point fingers and laugh at from a distance would be if they made it repeatable, taking us down the slope of DOOM to hit the very end.

    As of now, the acceptability of the Progression Pack and its implications of cash shop affecting PvP has further reaching consequences. To add onto openedge1, I found this doozy in the 1.4 patch notes:

    “Players now have the ability to progress past Renown rank 80 with the purchase of the Progression Pack, available separately at the EA Store.”

    I dunno. Maybe I’m reading this wrongly, but I have to assume that RR 81-100 (and thus the new item sets) can only be accessed if you buy the Progression Pack. That sounds like a forced microtransaction in order to stay competitive if you ask me.

    Seems like $10 for a free level is a red herring meant to throw us off the real scent. :)

    1. Just to clarify, I’m not saying RR100 is automagically more powerful than anything else. I’m just pointing out what is in essence a mini-expansion to raise the level cap, so to speak.

      Once you hit RR80, you might as well pay the extra bucks to open out the next phase of achievement bar progress, unsoweiter. The PvE divide of haves and have-nots, that we see in games like WoW, is about to hit RvR, making it all that much harder to ever catch up.

      1. I would go ahead and say that. They are selling a higher level cap with a PvP-centric endgame. 20 realm levels may mean less than 5 experience levels, but level cap increases are not “optional” upgrades in a PvP game.

  7. Well unlocking 80-100 isn’t really any different that Wrath of the Lich King unlocking 70-80.

    Its the increased leveling speed from 1-80 that is the ‘unfair’ part. Lets say it hypothetically makes you gain ranks 20% faster.

    Thats a 20% increased xp potion. That is PERMANENT.

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