On Cash Points and Video Game Money

I rarely harbor feelings of hate when I play video games. But when I do, I do it with audacity and intensity. So when the concept of incorporating Cash Points in modern gaming came into existence, I was furious. Why, you ask? Because the existence of Cash Points is the most horrific thing to happen in the video game industry.

To know why it’s bad, one must know how it works. Basically, you purchase the points using real world cash, which you can use to unlock rare and powerful items in the game, hence the term. Feeling underpowered with the cheap Longbow you mugged from some random monster? Become a god of archery with this Cash Point-only Super Bow. Fifty inventory slots not enough for you? Purchase fifty more slots using Cash Points. Want to stand out from your guildmates? Get the limited edition Gold Ring.

Now that you know how it works, back to why it’s bad. And it’s bad on a number of reasons:

Cash Points Break the Game

Items that are available in Cash Points throw a lot of game semantics out of the window. Now that you have the Super Bow, grinding would always be a breeze. You can have all the items you can get your hands on because you have a hundred inventory slots. And nobody will mistake you for another player now that you wear the Gold Ring. In exchange for convenience and uniqueness, players would simply buy these items. This in turn defeats the purpose of working to get the common but trusty items.

Use of Cash Points is Intensely Exclusive

Rarely will you see a game that will let you sell Cash Point items for ingame currency. Why is that? Simple: If anyone can purchase said Cash Point item using ingame currency, then it defeats the purpose of the item being exclusive to Cash Points. Therefore, to make sure that they can earn a lot of money from players purchasing Cash Points, they make sure that the item stays exclusive. They “lock” or “bind” the items to those who purchased them, you can’t trade them to other players, you can’t sell them, you can’t drop them so other players can pick them up, etc.

Cash Point Items have Time Limits

To keep you purchasing Cash Points, they time the items you purchase. The Super Bow will only last in your inventory slot for a week. After that, you’ll have to purchase it again for another week to be able to use it again. The extra fifty inventory slots you purchased using Cash Points will only last for a month, after which the items in those extra slots will be unusable until you purchase the extra inventory slots for another month. And while some players think of it as one of the ways game designers implement ingame balance (putting you back in the same level as common players), the majority thinks of it as one of the ways game developers make you waste a lot of money (making you purchase more Cash Points to stay on top of the game). I can’t agree on the latter any better.

Constant Obsolescence on Cash Point Items

A lot of online games are constantly updated. The same goes for the plethora of items that you can acquire in the game. Of course, that only means one thing for Cash Point items: What can break the game now won’t break the game later. This is specially painful for those who spend their ten dollar weekly allowance on Cash Points. You should’ve saved the ten dollars you used to purchase the Gold Ring last month. Now you can’t purchase the Platinum Ring that came out this month because it’s worth twenty dollars. Oh, woe.

Cash Point Gambling

This is a recurring trend to a lot of Japanese MMOGs, and is probably the most evil of the marketing strategies they employ. They put the Cash Point items in a lottery box, and you use Cash Points to roll the box. The more rare the prize item is, the lesser the chance you get it. Alas, the frustration can only escalate to uncontrollable heights as players with the capacity to buy Cash Points rage at the fact that they are wasting a lot of money on something they can only get by chance, while those who can’t buy Cash Points gripe and whine at the fact that people who get the items would literally break the game into inconceivable pieces. And oh, did I mention that the game developers can rig the lottery box?

Now we’re on to why I hate it. As an oldschool gamer (I’m from the cartridge/chiptune/8-bit era, and thank heavens most of the guys here are the same as me), I’ve always believed that a gamer’s toil in the game must be well rewarded. I’ve always believed that in order to be overpowered and badass, you need to slave yourself grinding all night like a sleepless insomniac just to get the high levels and cool items the game has to offer. I’ve always believed that a friend or two can make even the most powerful enemy fall. Modern gaming changed all that. Today, rewards are bought by Cash Points, so the need to toil is virtually nonexistent. High levels and cool items can easily be achievable through Cash Points, so you don’t need to go through sleepless nights and grinding marathons. You can’t share Cash Point items to your friends, because Cash Point items can’t be traded or sold. And considering the gullible concept of needs-versus-wants (in this case, real life necessities versus the Cash Point items), it’s a constant battle for your money. Take note that we’re haven’t even talked about promotions and ingame freebies that tempt you into purchasing a great deal of Cash Points. Yet.

Now, I don’t mean to sound like a pretentious idiot, or someone who whines a lot on something that can be merely dismissed as an unimportant feature of any game. If I were to find a purpose as to why I wrote this post, it w0uld be to raise a questionable point in the current era of gaming: Why would game developers make virtual money, and why would they incorporate it to the point that it drastically changes the role and behavior of a player? There are number of reasons that answer to this, like easy access to game consumers and the implementation of content that is relevant to gamers’ interests, but one thing is for sure: They want your money, and they want more. It doesn’t matter if you bought the game since without Cash Points, it’s considered incomplete, obsolete even.

What of the non-Cash Point players, then? What of those who still stick to the tried and tested methods in enjoying the game? They get the common, underpowered items. They aren’t as powerful as those who buy Cash Point items. And yet they can still play and enjoy the game nonetheless. At the most, they possess the most powerful sentiment: They will never have any regrets on playing the game, for they have never spent a single nickel on it. And if the game dies due to bad game developers and management? They’ll wear a smile that goes from ear to ear, tap a Cash Point player and say “Problem, mate?”

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7 Comments

  1. I guess when this really becomes a problem is when you are playing against other players and they’re using these gadgets on you. right now in warcraft i couldn’t care less who buys what because i play against the environment.

    Reply
    • There are cases where these things become a problem in Player-Versus-Environment (PVE), especially if said items and gadgets are meant to be used in PVE. There’s the usual player harassment, mob hogging (kiting and killing all the surrounding enemies at once while not leaving any to other players), and worse (if you incurred their ire for no apparent reason or they just want to), the infamous player killing (or PK for short). As a measure, game developers would implement stricter game rules (for example, PK gives a very bad penalty) and semantics (for example, you can only kite a mob composed of 10 monsters or less), but more so often there rules are overridden and overwhelmed by a player’s desire to simply beat and rule the game regardless of everything else.

      Reply
  2. If anything, this is one of my largest reasons (alongside my lack of time) that I quit playing MMOs, forever.

    As one of the first (literally – I think I was around the 10 thousandth registrant) players of MapleStory, I enjoyed the grinding of levels to become an awesomer character. I enjoyed having to slice at an orange mushroom fifty times before it would die, because if you wanted to be a mage, that’s what you had to do until level eight. I enjoyed the sense of competition everybody had to become higher leveled and tackle on the harder dungeons.

    When the Cash Shop arrived, I wasn’t really unnerved – nothing should change much, right? The problem is, the Cash Shop was only really the tip of the iceberg. Instead of having hard work and toil lead to rewards, items bought in the Cash Shop could make you level up twice as fast (though, to be fair, I don’t think there were any actual equipment to be bought there). The whole thing was part of a greater move from grinding to ‘fun’ – where ‘fun’ is merely breezing through levels, one, two, ten at a time. This really unnerved me, as I played the game primarily to complete the myriad of quests, which the new system basically rejected altogether.

    Eventually, MapleStory became really a game for 10-year-olds (I think they even changed the ToS to let them in without parental permission, somehow violating COPPA), and I raegquit. I know, I sound like some stupid faggot, but that’s what I did. :(

    Reply
  3. Video games have been probably the most liked pastimes of the new generation. Many people coming from all age groups are already hooked on playing video games. We now witness a gaming revolution for large name companies compete to bring out better video games consoles and video games to satisfy the hunger to get more amusement. Because of competition of companies. Companies offers many prize money.

    Reply
    • Errr, I don’t really get your point. It’s not prize money, it’s about *cash shops*.

      And gaming revolution? What revolution? The only revolution that mattered in the aspect of gaming is the Golden Era. And that’s like, more than twenty years ago.

      Reply
  1. On Cash Points and Video Game Money (On Super Fanicom) « Rainbowsphere

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