Friday, February 8, 2008

Real-Money Transactions in a Star Trek MMORPG +

Originally Posted by BLZBUB: is reporting on the pairing of Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) and Live Gamer Service (LG) to bring Real Money Transactions (RMT) into the EverQuest2 Station Exchange (SE) service, formerly provided alone by SOE.
Before we get too bummed out by this, it might be worth noting that (other than the two EQ2 servers within Station Exchange), SOE and the other developers -- Acclaim, Funcom, GoPets, Pingo, and 10tacle Studios -- are all dedicated these days to making games based on the microtransaction model. (SOE is getting into the business with their console-driven MMOG The Agency.)

In that kind of game, a "secondary market" might make sense; in fact, because RMT is really a requirement for those games, a third-party provider might actually help those games.

The problem would come if LG or similar entities were trying to sell gold/items/characters for the more self-contained gameworlds typically built (in the West, anyway) on the subscription model. In those games, breaking the "magic circle" by going outside the game world to make transactions about things inside the game world is badly disruptive. Any moves by SOE to approve LG or other resellers to do outside sales of in-game assets of these games would, IMO, be the real harbinger of doom for immersive fun.

Legitimizing RMT for microtransaction games is one thing. Legitimizing it for subscription games would be something else, but so far (again, other than the two existing Station Exchange EQ2 servers) that doesn't seem to be the case.

Those of us who care about immersiveness in our online persistent-world games should hope this line isn't crossed.

This far, and no further!

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