Pay to Win Gaming and Why It Ultimately Fails

This isn’t a conversation on games like World of Warcraft, which has proven that people are willing to subscribe to a game to play it if the game remains interesting enough. What this is a conversation about is whether or not games that require you to pay real money to play will win in the long run. These mobile/online games seem to follow a tactic similar to ones done by Magic. You can buy packs and packs of cards hoping for some incredible, unbeatable card or end up going online to buy a rare card that will tilt the game to your scales. The difference is a game like Magic has some staying power. People still play it. People even play Hearthstone and put money into it to win. I’m also not talking about these games.

I use an app called InboxDollars, where you do surveys and other things to get real money in your spare time. One day, I get this: “Play Final Fantasy: A New Empire to earn money”. I bite. It’s a free game and I could bank like $15 so why not. So I do. And I did. The game was interesting enough. Then I got attacked for the first time. No big deal. Rebuilt, refusing to spend money on pixels as I often do. (I won’t even buy that really cool mount on the Blizz store for WoW because of this refusal. If I win the lotto, maybe I’d consider it.) Joined a guild, then another guild. Then another guild. It seemed stable until the a bigger guild declared war on us until we decided to join them. We did. It’s just a game and I still refuse to spend money.

Then the top guild in the realm (NIC3) decided to just start ransacking everything. Which is fine, it’s a war game, only the problem is the idea of Pay-to-Win. A game that touts itself a “war game” kind of accomplishes that. The group with the most amount of disposable income and time on their hands is going to win. The problem with that is this: people in my guild have decided to leave the game. Other people will probably follow. I may stick it out because now I have a journalistic curiosity about how this is going to play out. What happens when this guild that probably spent thousands of dollars on a game so far gets everyone to stop playing? They will end up turning on each other and start outspending each other, until there is 1 lone person standing. There may be a surge of money for the time being, but is this a sustainable business model?

Probably not. I say that because how long do games like this actually stick around? If they were willing to pay people to start playing this game, the answer is probably “not much longer”. People get bored very quickly and even more quickly if they don’t have a fair shot. That may be why people are more willing to spend money on Overwatch loot boxes than they are other things. These are cosmetic items that look cool, but you gain no advantage in playing except for “wow, cool skin bruh.” That is exactly why these games don’t last and will eventually fizzle out.

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Overwatch: OWL and OWWC

I admit, as a biased Boston Uprising fan, I’ve been rooting for Team Canada because NotE is my D.va hero these days. I bought my youngest a NotE jersey only to be jealous I didn’t get myself one. (He also wanted a Sleepy from San Francisco Shock, but children have their own individual personalities.)

I was upset at the announcement that NotE was merely a sub. That was until he showed his true skills and ended up being seen on the world stage as we see him. Since then, we saw a lot of “this sub” and he continued to rock it out there, making Uprising fans proud that he is ours at least for now. He will be back at the World Cup playoffs and hopefully finals at Blizzcon in November. There were a lot of other notable performances, including ZachaREE’s bastion play on Hanamura. This stage wasn’t as intense as the Korean stage, but it was certainly a joy to watch.

USA ended up in 1st for the stage, with both USA and Canada joining South Korea and Finland in the playoffs so far. The next 2 stages of the qualifiers will take place over the next 2 weekends.

Now to the discussion of Boston Uprising and their roster. The only announcements that have been made so far was the release of Snow, Avast (noooo, meme king!), and Kalios. Later on, Mistakes joined the group of the released Uprising players. The fact that they released Snow, Avast, and Kalios wasn’t shocking. Snow only played once on the big stage in the regular season. Kalio only played a handful of times. Avast was never out there. Kalios seemed a bit salty about it, calling the team “pollution”, but quickly apologized saying that he shouldn’t have taken his feelings about the management out on the fans. It’s too late, at least for this fan. I found it to be a slap in the face as a fan, especially one who did root for him to succeed on the team. Avast was a good morale booster, but I get letting him go. Snow, in the little play I’ve seen from him seemed more solid than Kellex, but there must be a reason why Kellex got the spot over him. In Patriots Nation, we say “In Bill We Trust” so here I will just say “In HuK We Trust”. Hopefully.

There haven’t been any new announcements, which is a bit scary when you consider the opening up of free agency. Gamsu, NotE, Neko, and Striker are solid players that need to stay. They have to. Please don’t let them go. Aimgod seems to have excellent skills, but I feel as though the team just does better with Neko. Mistakes was another excellent player. However, he had mostly the same character pool as Striker without as much skill (not to say he was skill-less, he is a very talented player who I could see doing great things). Letting him go to play as a main DPS on another team that needs a good Tracer was a smart move. NotE and Gamsu are totally underrated tanks that seem to be the core of this team. If they leave, it could be pretty bad.

What Boston needs is a flex DPS that doesn’t overlap so much into Striker’s pool. If they had someone who could be a good Widow/Genji/Pharah, this would be ideal. The speculation that Colourhex could fill that role is something that I wish could happen.I would even be happy to take Agilities or pick up ZachaREE, who may overlap a little with Striker, but has shown to be solid on quite a few different characters. Also a better Kellex. There were so many times I screamed at the screen “what are you doing?!” You can’t heal if you’re dead all the time. I’m not sure if this means Kellex working to improve his survivability or finding a support that lives more. I think Kellex is a cool dude and a good fit for the team. I think he’s talented… when he’s alive long enough to show his skill. But another solid flex dps and a reliable support is all Boston really needs to make it and even win the Grand Finals this year.

As a Patriots fan, I worry about these things though. The Patriots have told amazing players to go because of money issues. Who’s to say that Uprising won’t take this same model? They currently have only 6 out of the 8 player minimum for their roster. These players haven’t been officially re-signed yet, which is scary. I stalk the pages for news religiously, hoping for some good news. A lot of things are going to be happening soon and I have a feeling that the news is going to come all at once.

 

 

Let the Grind Begin

Now that Overwatch League is over, I can adjust my focus to the other game that drives my life: World of Warcraft. (Though next week, I’ll take a look at all of the latest on OWL releases and free agency with a special focus on my team the Boston Uprising.) This week I can begin streaming again after the holiday, now that my face doesn’t feel like it’s on fire. For added enjoyment, I can let people watch me fail through Overwatch competitive placements prior to WoW’ing. I think I can handle the trolls now. Maybe, until a troll makes me cry. It could happen.

I hit 120 in only a few days. I would have been quicker had it not been for life, namely emergency surgical tooth extraction. But I did it quick enough that the grind began. My first goal: getting the Pathfinder part 1 achievement. I want the faster mount speed and to get my flying mount as soon as possible so that I can start the alt grinds. It’s more efficient that way. (Though this week on the stream, I will be doing a lot of Nightborne leveling. I really want to be a Nightborne.) I also want to farm up 7th Legion rep so that I can unlock the Dark Irons. This is probably the only Dwarf race that I actually want to play. They just just much cooler than the Dwarves of Ironforge.

The problem is that the grind for Champions of Azeroth and Tortollan Seekers (aka: Turtle Rep) seems to be a more difficult grind. Sure, they offer more rep per quest, but they are much fewer of them. Even with human rep increase racial, you can only do so much when only 2 or 3 of these quests are up at a time. I know that they don’t want people to just breeze through these, but it’s almost as annoying of a grind as fishing is. Still, you kind of need to power through it anyways because these two reps are essential parts of the Pathfinder quest.

There is also the mythic grind, getting as geared as possible for when the first raid is released tomorrow. The gear grind is real, especially when RNG hates you as much as it hates me. That’s really all WoW is: one big grind. You grind for rare mounts, rare pets, achievements, gear, alts. But we always do it because that’s what we do. I actually love the grind, but I also figure out the best ways to manipulate the system to maximize results. For instance, when my characters hit Legion I wouldn’t do anything with them except farm Legion invasions. You saw this from my streams, if you watched. That way characters would get rested XP for a faster leveling grind. It’s all about knowing the most effective way to grind what you want.

Tomorrow also comes the release of Warfronts, which I loved more than I do Island Expeditions. (Which I walked away with the Surf Jelly mount and a pet from completing.) These are great additions that I wish came sooner, but came before I lost total interest in the game. Not that I have ever lost total interest in the game. It will be interesting to see the changes that they made to warfronts on live and if there will be even more incentive to farm them other than the weekly and the world boss.

The Overwatch League: All-Star Weekend Edition

As much as I loved Overwatch, when they announced plans to do a professional league that they hoped would be as big as the NFL I was skeptical that they could accomplish that. Still, I was going to watch because I loved the game. I loved reading about Fury, a D.Va I really tried to learn from who ended up on the Spitfire. (Which is why, for those who complain about my having both Spitfire and Uprising gear, I support them whenever they are not playing the Uprising.) I was even more excited when Kraft decided to purchase a team in this new league, allowing my love of the Patriots to merge with my love of Overwatch. And NotE just might have taken over as my favorite D.Va. And Striker makes me want to hug him every time he cries. My mom instincts just kick in, I can’t help it. Avast is the meme king. These are a fantastic group of guys and I really hope to see them all back next season.

The year was an amazing ride and I loved being a part of it every second. I also loved being able to write about it and have people enjoy the posts. I’m sad I have no more OWL to post about for the next few months, but at least I can still enjoy my mediocre play and the fact that my beloved football starts soon. The league exceeded my expectations. It was well-produced, the casters and analysts were entertaining and knowledgeable. My only complaint is that Uber and Mr. X weren’t casting Uprising matches all the time. I bet next season is going to be even bigger and I can’t want.

Now that I’ve wasted your time reading about my overall happiness of how the league played out, it’s time to talk about the highly anticipated All-Star Weekend. I was disappointed that no Uprising members made the main squad, but Neko, Gamsu, and Striker all ended up on the roster as backups. Unfortunately Neko was unable to make it due to visa issues, but Gamsu and Striker made us proud.

The first match of the All-Star weekend was Lucioball, one of the game modes I never tried and refuse to. This 3v3 special map is only available during the Summer Games. After some savage trash talk before the match from the Pacific side, namely Fissure, the Atlantic team beat them in this first head-to-head of All-Star weekend. Next up, was one of the matches that I was the most excited to see: Mystery Heroes. Mystery Heroes is hands-down my favorite arcade mode in the game. In fact, I probably spend more time on Mystery Heroes than anything else in the game. Again, the Atlantic team came out on top in a hilarious show that even pros struggle against the ridiculous comps that come out of Mystery Heroes’ RNG. Then you have the Lockout Elimination round, which I was super excited the it featured Gamsu. The Atlantic team won this, giving them a 3-0 head start against the Pacific.

The Widowmaker 1v1 was something I wasn’t entirely excited about. I mean, how entertaining could this have possibly been? I watched, to write this blog and because I wanted to see Striker show everyone how underrated he really is. I predicted the Sayaplayer was going to be Carpe, because Carpe had the tendency of being very streaky. I was wrong. I then predicted the SoOn was going to come up on top over Architect, which also happened. At this point, it was more thrilling than I thought it was going to be.  Then, the match I was really excited about: Pine vs. Striker. My husband picked Pine, because as much as he loves Striker, Pine plays a lot more Widow than Striker. An accurate call, but I chose Striker anyways because I had faith in him. If he lost, at least it would be to Pine and that’s still respectable. This was one of the most entertaining of the matches, if only because of the hilarious dance-off that they decided to do mid-match. You put 2 pranksters in a map together, you are bound to get hilarity. In a close match, Striker came out on top and Pine could not be happier for his competitor. Surefour, another underrated player who I thought was going to make it to the finals, also came up on top over Fleta. Striker eventually fell to the unstoppable Carpe and Surefour took out SoOn for a matchup that no one saw coming: Surefour overpowering the man who declared himself the best Widow in the league (Carpe), to end up the winner.

Then it was the second match I was the most excited about: The Talent Takedown, where the casters and analysts had their fun playing on the big stage. Aside from Reinforce, none of the talent qualifies as pro OWL players. Reinforce is representing Team Sweden in the World Cup, but despite the walkout and jokes he didn’t actually entirely carry the team. Soe represented well and Semm made me jealous at his D.Va play. This was still easily the most entertaining of all the matches. The Pacific took away their first win with their Talent Roster of Puckett, Soe, Reinforce, Semmler, Hex, Crumbz, and Monte. This was followed by the aforementioned 1v1 Widow final where Surefour brought home the second Pacific win.

The Final match was the actual All-Star game, which saw everyone on both rosters play, including Gamsu and Striker. Gamsu was stoic, with a rare smirk the entire time while Striker, SBB, and Pine were having the time of their life on stage. (Including SBB dancing during the pre-match interviews.) Mickie was also the life of the party, as always. After a easy 3-1 takeaway from Pacific, they played a 5th match anyways that was just as entertaining as the whole event. I would love an All-Star weekend every weekend until OWL starts up again.

Final notes to wrap up. Mickie was the obvious choice for getting the Dennis “INTERNETHULK” Hawelka Award, which was awarded to the person who had the most positive impact on the OWL community. He’s always so positive and hilarious to be around  (it seems) that it was definitely earned by him. If he didn’t walk away with it, his former teammate and retired OWL player Seagull would have deserved it as well. Even in his speech, where he said he didn’t want his fans to be sad if he was sad, showed off what a remarkable person he is. He makes me proud to be a fan of OWL.

The fact that OWL ended up broadcast on cable channels live shows that this is growing faster than people anticipated. With the new teams they are hoping to acquire next season and the growing list of sponsors, this could actually make eSports tournaments more mainstream. This makes me happy. If boring sports like baseball, golf, tennis, poker, and bowling can get as much screen time as they do then OWL should get more attention.

 

A New Day, a New Expansion: Part 2

Yesterday went better than expected. Despite spending an hour trying to locate my current favorite quest in game (which was hotfixed during one of the few disconnects), the whole process went a lot smoother than I would have expected. Sure, there were some annoying bugs and getting booted offline 3 times in 4 hours. But it was playable, and that’s really more than WoW fans have come to know with this company. Their hamsters were spinning the wheels just fine last night. There were a lot of complaints, but honestly, has an xpac launch ever gone as smooth as this one?

Prior to the expansion, my guildmates asked me which zone they should be questing in. Of course if you have kept up with my blog on this, Drustvar got my vote. So far on live, it is just as amazing as it was on Beta and I couldn’t be more thrilled about that. The zone has this creepy Victorian vibe to it, probably what makes me love the zone the most. I think that the storyline is cohesive and immersive. Plus, a good portion of the zone reminds me of fall. I’m a New Englander that loves her fall.

My leveling plan is as followed: finish Drustvar, then do 2 war campaigns worth of quests. Then Tiragarde Sound, to see what they’ve added since Beta. I want to see the Jaina storyline play out. Stormsong is a pretty zone, but it wasn’t very interesting so that’s a last resort questing zone for me. Hopefully there are some great changes to make these zones better, but honestly I don’t have a lot of hope for that.

Today is a new day in the xpac. We’ll see what bugs await us and maybe get some instances in to try them out. My toon needs to get levelled quick so I can get back to my Overwatch Event. I say Blizzard should have waited until September to launch, that way us mega-fans of both games could enjoy the Summer Games before worrying about speed leveling through new content. Just a thought for next time.

Expansion Day! Part 1 on Battle for Azeroth

Today is the day that Warcraft fans have been waiting for, even moreso after the events of the pre-patch. In an expansion that is supposed to be about choosing allegiances, we are getting repeated reminders that there are no winners in war. Ignoring the debate of why the events happened as they did (I have several theories that I buy into, which I may dedicate an entire second blog), the events of the xpac did take place and they were heart wrenching. I played both sides of the scenario and I witnessed players on the horde side lamenting about how hard it is to fight for the horde after everything. Maybe that’s the entire point of the xpac. Soldiers aren’t meant to think about the actions of their leaders; they are meant to follow. And we are. And I repeat: Zappiboi for Warchief.

In this xpac, much like every other before that, I have made the difficult decision to stick with my original main: a human priest. I love my Void Elf, but I just can’t seem to take the plunge and swap mains despite how it is far cooler than the humans are. Though, let’s face it: most races are.

I will be doing a series of posts this week in addition to streaming the new xpac. If you want to follow me, check the sidebar for the channel link. This first part  of the blog will discuss my predictions for launch as well as some advice from playing in the beta.

First, my predictions. It’s a Blizzard launch of a major patch/game. It will be laggy, buggy, and annoying. Especially after the big item squish patch that broke the game. Don’t complain about it. You’ve played Blizzard games long enough to know this, I shouldn’t have to remind you. Just deal with it or wait until tomorrow when they hotfix the problems. (Or over the course of the next few weeks.)

I also predict that most players on Alliance side are going to go with the Tiragarde Sound, which will contain the Jaina storyline. She has gained waifu status after that incredibly awesome cutscene, so that will probably be the busy zone. Me? I’m starting off in Drustvar. In the beta, I really loved that storyline the best so it was the most enjoyable zone for me. It may be busy because the consensus is that Drustvar was the best zone in beta, but they could have withheld all of the cool things for launch. (Entirely plausible. Don’t want to give everything away.)

Okay, so that last one was also a tip. Here are some more:

  • When you get max level, the Battle of Stromgarde is amazingly fun as are the island expedition. Plus, getting free loot for seemingly little work is always a good thing.
  • Flynn on the Alliance side is hilarious and I wish he were real so we could be best friends.
  • The instances are a little gimmicky but I miss having mechanics that you actually needed to pay attention to in instances. Makes it more important to pay attention rather than playing Bejeweled. Sorry, wrong xpac.
  • I’m Pro-Night Elf and want them to destroy Sylvanas. Or the demon controlling her. (Maybe?) It will be really interesting to see what happens to this story later one.

Happy hunting, WoW players. The Battle for Azeroth will be upon us at 6pm on the east coast. I will start my stream around then, to share the bugs and the excitement of the release.

The Pre-Patch Event That Was Promised… but Did It Deliver?

During the Overwatch League, I continually spent my Monday Gaming posts discussing the leagues, recapping the important/shocking/interesting details of the week. I should have dedicated more time for my love of Uber and Mr. X, Soe, Puckett, Reinforce, and Bren. But I focused on the game. Next season, I will mention them. Because they are awesome and deserve it. Also, Uprising should definitely keep Avast because despite not playing, he is a huge morale guy that needs to stay. Just saying.

However during this time, I lacked the ability in my one day of gaming posts to mention my other gaming loves. In this case, my hardcore love of WoW and leveling alts. I have been streaming my beta/alting experiences (though apparently I still can’t figure out how to get my mic to work), but haven’t been able to really delve into the current happenings of the game. Today is that day.

The War of Thorns event was one that I played through its entirety in one sitting on the beta. I didn’t have the cut scenes, but the core set of quests were there. It was haunting on the beta, even without the cut scenes. It really was. I couldn’t get the “Can you hear the screams?” out of my head for several days. When I did the play through on live, which was separated into 2 parts, I again was haunted by the same voice line. It sticks with you in the most beautifully tragic way. The cut scene/Warbringers video of Sylvanas was emotional. I felt angry. I had the same feeling of sadness as watching Ysera’s fate in Legion. I actually wanted to PvP to kill horde players for their part in this madness. I read the pre-xpac novel. I was already bothered by the path Sylvanas was taking. She was becoming the cruel leader that Garrosh was.

It’s sad that they keep doing these storylines where the horde leader is a villain. I hope that this finally leads to redemption for the horde, and I don’t even main horde. But there is a bigger issue with this pre-xpac event: it was long and drawn out. There was a lot of hype going into it. I even loved it playing on Beta, though the alliance side was heartbreaking trying to save all those people only to have the screen flash with “Quest Failed” on a quest that you were meant to fail. If they had released it all at once, I think it would have had a better impact. You would have been fully immersed in the event, rather than going “Oh, part one was meh” then having a strong reaction to the second part. Did they have no faith in their product so they had to disappoint before delivering? It was likely because they didn’t want a huge roll out in case of bugs, but guess what? It was a disastrous rollout anyways. Hold off the event in a different patch, then release the event in its entirety at once rather than 2 parts. I’m not a coder or game designer. I’m not sure if that’s how it works, but I’m pretty sure they could have separated the code for the stat squishes from the patch events. Again, no expert here so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

I hope the Battle for Lordaeron is more successful. I hope that the cut scenes are just as amazing. I hope that Zappiboi is the new Warchief, with the wise and honorable Saurfang as his advisor. I hope that the expansion delivers the hype better than the pre-xpac events did. Until then, I will be streaming on Twitch. You can also find the link on my sidebar. Feel free to follow me.