Reading the news about CCP charging $70 for a purely aesthetic monocle in EvE Online seems quite ridiculous to me. A more recent article seems to suggest that CCP are quite happy to charge much more for other premium visual changes such as  a gold-plated space ship which is jokingly priced at around $10,000….at least I hope it was a joke.

I have never been a fan of micro transactions, whether it comes in the form of unlockable content, a new hat or cloak or a unique mount. I feel they cheapen the game in some way by stopping it being a game and simply turning it into a virtual fashion show. When you saw someone with a flaming thingy in old mmos it was more than just a look, it was a symbol of dedication, something to aspire to, a point of respect. You couldn’t just do an extra shift at work and not play the game then show up in something cool you had to earn it with knowledge of the game and the effort to achieve it, also probably a little luck.

For the most part micro transactions have stayed cosmetic which for many people is acceptable but I feel appearance is as much a feature of gameplay as any other aspect. If I buy a game and plan on spending months existing with a persona in that world I care about my digital self. I want to look good and I want to be able to achieve that goal by playing through the game’s content. The fact someone can buy a better look than me with money, having not needed to play the game at all is still offensive to me.

Granted, it’s not as offensive as someone buying a weapon,  armour or potion of  “I’m more powerful than you” but its close enough to make me disappointed. If I am paying a monthly fee I should be entitled to all of the content in the game via that monthly fee, it is not a game to sit in a city showing off your latest shiny that you bought with real money.  I know when I pay a subscription I am paying in part, to fund future developments, it only makes that knowledge more painful to know I’m paying to be shut out of those future developments.

 For some reason this doesn’t apply to expansion packs, I am aware this seems hypocritical. Why is premium DLC offensive but an Expansion pack not? I believe it has something to do with how and when it is talked about. They may well have a team working on DLC alongside a game that isn’t available to buy yet, they are already planning on separating content that could be shipped with the game as  a separate purchase. It shows a pre meditated effort to demand more money for something that should not be available within the first 8 months of the game’s launch as far as I’m concerned, expansions or DLC should be content that is added after the players have paid for the game and experience the maximum amount of content the developers could fit into the game, releasing DLC they worked on during game development just makes me think they held it back to make more money rather than added it on because the game was deemed successful.

So why would it bother me if some fool wants to spend $10,000 on a gold-plated space ship? (or other vanity item). It is clearly overpriced on epic proportions. Vanity items at best have about a weeks worth of development time, Blizzard charged $25 for a special horse which I guarantee they spent a week or less working on and they made about $3,000,000 in the first few days of it going on sale. That kind of business is impossible to argue with, it makes perfect sense if you can spend such a small amount of time and money on something so many people are happy to pay a large sum of money for than you do it and laugh at them behind their backs…it’s a meal ticket to get fat on and there are clearly enough stupid people who believe a digital horse is worth it even on top of their subscription charges.

It bothers me because it prices me out of the games market, I could never afford something like that. I want to have fun playing the game, I want to have a chance to discover something that special by earning it through the game’s world. If I can never do that you start losing the “game” part of the experience. We play games to advance and acquire, to level up, to achieve new objectives and to loot new, better stuff. Remove the reward of neat stuff and you remove part of the reason people play games. If you can buy neat stuff you may aswell get rid of the game and just have a room people stand around in emoting and showing off because they would rather spend their spare time working in real life to earn that reward in-game instead of just playing the game.

As a player of games I am unsympathetic to people who have no time to earn their rewards by playing games. If you have no time to play a game you do not deserve it, get out of my hobby and find a hobby you care enough about to actually spend time on.