[MUD-Dev] SOC: Will company sanctioned cheating hurttheMMOcommunity?

ghovs ghovs at plex.nl
Thu May 12 23:55:29 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

Sean Marshall wrote:

> Whenever this topic comes up I usually point out that the same
> situation exists in RL. Take golf, the very rich can afford the
> best equiptment, the best green fees, the best caddies, and
> trainers. They can attend camps. They are edges, huge ones, but
> those edges can be overcome and often are.

This analogy more or less works for equipment in MMO settings. There
are certain areas (not necessarily zones, but specific parts of
zones as well) where only one of my aging computers can handle the
load of EQ well enough that swift action can be performed on a large
scale (ie raids or improbable death-defying necromancer
stunts). Someone with several equivalent or superior machines will
be enabled to multibox in places where I can only operate with a
single character.

This has advantages when trying to advance one's own characters and
when attempting to attain better items. The same goes for living in
an area with decent low-latency internet connection and the budget
to pay for it (cheap dialup just doesn't deliver). Even such silly
things as properly organized furniture to accomodate a setup of
multiple computers cost money, and there are secondary IT equipment
costs such as a hub/router and possibly a kvm switch. As well, in
the case of EQ, there is a premium server which has a much lower
populace, thus enabling someone with a bigger budget to buy having
less competition.

I have no knowledge of professional EQ training coaches, though if
anyone wants to hire one, I'm quite available for the position.

To put your metaphor in a bit of perspective, how would you feel
about golf if some dude who hasn't the foggiest idea of how to play
golf, couldn't even tell you what a birdie is and doesn't wear
regulation shoes just walks in, takes the tour trophy and the
officials declare him the winner?

Compare this to an MMO where some guild goes and raids the top-end
zones repeatedly after working for years to attain the minimum
required gear level across the guild, and then again months to
unravel the winning strategy to gain access to the top level zone
and then a few weeks to figure out how to beat the boss mob. Now, if
someone could just plain buy all the stuff they earned with years of
cooperative play and then proceed to display their monumental
ignorance of the skills required to attain what they have, wouldn't
that entirely invalidate what was achieved by the rest?

I'm personally more ambivalent about it, but a lot of people aren't,
and they don't trust that RMT will be reduced in their own
environment through segregated RMT servers. RMT is anathema to their
sense of achievement, and they loathe it. Allowing it anywhere is
scary. The business sense of catering to people who give money is
irrelevant to them. It's a matter of principle. Admitting to RMT is
akin to volunteering for social stigma.

I'm not convinced that officially sanctioned RMT would not expand
beyond its initial segregated state, given how lightly offers are
made for several hundreds of dollars for in-game items I possess. It
suggests that there is a market, however unwanted and forbidden, and
not a small one of only mildly interested people.

It's a culture clash, where I see the people against RMT being on
the losing side. The hard truth is that people who are against RMT
don't offer the promise of transaction fees, and if a publisher can
retain about half of the people who at this time proclaim to be
against RMT, they can probably turn a bigger profit by sanctioning
it and taking in those fees than by prohibiting it
altogether. Ofcourse, there's also the drastic reduction in support
costs cited by any publisher who decided to turn to the Dark Side of
allowing RMT.

Even if the customer support budget remains an equal proportion of
total expenses as it takes now, the effort spent on resolving RMT
scamming (or more likely failing to resolve it since not all data
can be verified) can instead go to resolving other issues much more
quickly which in turn result in a happier player base, which in turn
results in more player retention.

I don't see a pretty financial picture coming from the anti-RMT
people, who instead prefer things stay as they are. The only
persuasive (ie money-related) argument they have is that they'll
quit if RMT comes to their server, or game as a whole, or sanctioned
by the game publisher in another game. I have heard many, many
people proclaim they were quitting over a variety of issues, but
they rarely stayed quit, and I expect that's what SOE's betting
on. It's hard to argue that it isn't just dramatics when most of the
time, it's just dramatics.

Peter de Freitas
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MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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