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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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.

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.

Girls and Gaming

I’ve been an avid gamer for a long time. I’ve been big into online games since Vanilla WoW, though I’ve been doing more beta than live WoW these days. There has been a lot of talk about girls and their treatment by other gamers. I have decided to weigh in as someone who has been doing this online thing for probably just over a decade. I don’t really want to do the math because some days I already feel older than I’d like to admit.

Gaming was a lot easier for me before I started raiding and had to speak on Vent. Before then, I could just be a good player. Okay, mediocre at best. I had potential, I just get in my head and decide the living is more important than the meters. It was easier back in Vanilla. There were defined roles. Priests were healers, backing up their Paladins in the 40 mans. It was cut and dry. Then instead of just being a player, you became a “girl player”. That was that. Girl first, player second. Eventually, for a short period of time, I became a named GM as part of a council. My peers, male, were regarded as just being “boys”. If I had to reprimand someone or give orders in raid, I was the bitchy girl bossing them around. It happened. The guys laughed. It bothered me a little at first. Not because of what they were saying but because I know why they said it. Anytime I was in an Officer style position after that in WoW, it was the same thing.

When people made jokes about me, they treated me like a wounded animal. It’s okay, they’re just jerks. It’s instinct, right? Protecting the little girl. It sucked but you sucked it up because you couldn’t show weakness. I started mouthing off and not taking it. That’s an easy way to make you a heartless bitch again. You get over it. After a while, things in the game got better. Aside from comments like “we have girl players. Some of them are actually good.” You have to work harder than your male counterparts.

Games like Overwatch are much worse about this. I refuse to talk on chat, unless it is absolutely undeniably necessary. Why? Because despite being praised earlier on in a match, the minute I spoke and came out of my gamer closet as a girl, I was suddenly no longer a badass. I was now terrible at the game. I was playing the same level of play that I was earlier on in the match, but suddenly now I have to get off of competitive because I have no idea  how to play. They would have respected me more if I pretended I was a pre-teen boy who hadn’t experience puberty yet.

It does scar you a little bit. It makes you not want to fully engage the game. Sometimes you get lucky. Maybe there’s another girl in the group. Maybe there are some more open-minded gamers. It’s not even a majority of the time you experience it, at least in my case. If I’m on a winning streak with a group and got 3 PoTGs (Play of the Game) in a row, I’ll speak up and get comfortable. But when it does happen, it stings. I shouldn’t be afraid to chat while playing a team based game. Look at what happened to Geguri. She is ridiculously good, so she obviously has to be cheating as a player. I’m not entirely sure she would have faced the same scrutiny if she were a male gamer.

The moral of this story: it depends on the game and the people you surround yourself with. In WoW, my guild treats me as one of the guys. They don’t care about anything other than that I’m a team player who shows up and does my job. There’s still a little bit to go with games like Overwatch, but I feel as though part of the problem is the age and maturity of the players. As more women dominate this game, I think it will be a strong turnaround.

Overwatch League- Stage 4, Week 2

It is nearing closer to the end of the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. The playoffs are coming and it is going to be a race to the finish for some teams as this new meta seems to be a difficult one for some of our stronger competitors. NYXL has already clinched the top spot in the post-season, which comes as no surprise to anyone. This is a brief look at this week in the Overwatch League.

There are currently 4 teams that are winless in this stage: Seoul Dynasty, Boston Uprising, Shanghai Dragons, and the Florida Mayhem. Surprisingly though, Shanghai isn’t in dead last thanks to the win differentials in this stage, but they have yet to get a win overall this season. This is a bit surprising, especially since Geguri finally has the opportunity this stage to show off her amazing Zarya skills. However, this is proof that one person can’t win an Overwatch match. The team still has a lot of issues to work out, which I hope they do because I want to see Geguri succeed in the league.

Seoul is still struggling this stage, unable to get a win so far. This mighty team has certainly fallen since the early estimates of being a top contender for the championship prior to the league starting. This is a group of solid players that doesn’t seem to be holding up as well as their skill should be. Unrelated note, Fleta for Uprising?

Speaking of my favorite team, this stage is not going well for these underdogs. Despite shocking everyone by coming in 2nd place in Stage 3, they are struggling hard this stage. Last week was their most impressive showing, forcing LA Valiant into a tiebreaker. What happened to this team? Crusty being gone definitely hurt them, but there’s more to it than that. This is their weakest map pool and they still haven’t figured out how to beat Brigitte. I don’t take any of these as excuses though. A good coach would have helped them figure it out by now, rather than watching the team drown. We need a new coach badly. So badly. It’s hard watching this team that works so hard and puts everything out there just to watch them crash and burn. It’s especially demoralizing when the experts talk about how last stage was a fluke or at least now the team is where they expected them to be. They can still pull this out and hopefully get themselves a spot in the post-season.

Overwatch League- Stage 4, Week 1

The final stage before the playoffs and grand finals is here. With a new character introduced, things were bound to be shaken up a little. And it definitely did. With Brigitte comes a new meta that people need to learn how to deal with: she will destroy anything in her path and she doesn’t care who you are. Another new map pool, here is a look at this week in the Overwatch League.

Will Brigitte be a viable option in Competitive? Everyone certainly got their answer with this first week. Many strategies did involve the new character, with even SBB getting into the Brigitte action. (In case you’re wondering, he’s just as deadly at Brigitte as he is at Tracer.) The teams that dominated this week knew how to keep the Brigitte at bay. It was the teams that didn’t have an answer for her that really suffered this week. With less Tracer in the lineup, it was easy to worry about stars like SBB and Striker, but it turns out they adjusted just fine to their new roles on their team. With more Zarya, it was great to see Geguri really in her element which is something that fans have been looking forward to.

One of the teams that really suffered from this? The Boston Uprising. Was it the fact that Crusty left that made this week so hard for them? Did they just not master Brigitte enough? There was not a lot of Brigitte playtime on this team and that certainly hurt them. What probably hurt them the most is the fact that they could do nothing about Brigitte. The strategy of trying to ignore her didn’t work for the team. She destroyed Striker’s Tracer, which is one reason that you are going to see a lot less of her if Brigitte becomes more popular. Nothing worked for them. The teams that they played against had a very solid Brigitte (/cough Jake), and Uprising just never stood a chance.

The team looked very different from the one that went undefeated last stage and came in 2nd in the finals. They were disjointed. Maybe it has to do with this being their worst map pool in the game, but you would think that they would have worked extra hard to master these maps. I think this all comes down to bad coaching. Crusty leaving really hurt and it seems that the team they have in place just can’t even hold a candle to the former coach.

I hope that they straighten this out. The team has solid talent but that means nothing if the coaching staff behind them can’t take them to the next level. Also, Mistakes learn Brigitte. I have faith that you could be awesome at it. A final note: RIP D.va in this stage. I don’t want to miss my main main in competitive now.