I play a lot of free to play (F2P) MMOs, probably more than would be considered sane by many MMO gamers. One of the criticisms lobbed against many of these games is that they have predatory cash shops whose only goal is to part a player from their hard-earned cash. While it may be true that some shops are better than others (and a select few are just truly awful), what about the elephant in the room?
World of Warcraft is one of the largest MMOs on the planet in terms of player population. It is a subscription-based MMO, which means you are charged a premium just to access the game (never mind the fact that you’ve already purchased the box). Its supporters like to argue that, since it is a subscription-based game, they are free from the annoyances of a cash shop spamming them whenever they log in. This is true, but is it really a valid point? Yes, there are no pop up screens informing them what’s on sale in game, but their patcher is plastered with ads. These are ads that they’re going to see every time they log into the game anyway.
Look at the prices that World of Warcraft is charging for a mount. They are all set to a seemingly flat rate of $25.00. At first glance, you might think that this is a reasonable price. Several years ago, I purchased one of these mounts without thinking much about it.
Now, let’s take a look at RIFT, which I’m using since it’s the only MMO I’m playing that sells mounts in their shop. A penny in RIFT gets you 1.5 credits (this will vary depending on how many bonus credits you receive). The cheapest mounts in RIFT cost around 13 credits. Mind you, they aren’t the fastest or the prettiest, but that comes out to only about $0.09. Looking at the most expensive mounts offers a better picture. These are the cream of the crop when it comes to RIFT mounts, the most expensive of which is 1575 credits. What does that conservatively equal out to?
Just under $11, less than half the price of World of Warcraft’s cheapest mount.
There’s a urban legend being propagated that World of Warcraft somehow doesn’t have one of these lecherous cash shops, but that just isn’t true. It has a cash shop and it’s a bad one.