Albion Online is a new free to play sandbox MMO with a rather odd business model. Here’s some copy from their website:
Imagine the following situation:
- Someone is spending real money to get in-game currency.
- Next, he buys a crafted sword from another player with the in-game currency.
- Afterwards, the guy who bought the sword gets ambushed, killed and looted. New sword gone …
- The seller of the item was rewarded for crafting, finding or conquering the valuable sword.
- The buyer (who initially spent some real money) got a great sword – but no unique advantage.
- The player who ambushed the buyer was rewarded for his skill and victory.
Not only did someone else get all the currency (and probably made a profit out of it), also someone else ganked the guy with the new armor and got the new armor set (for free!).
I think they mean sword instead of armor, but whatever you get the idea.
I know it’s all the rage to play down any “pay to win” elements in your free to play title these days, but “spend real money on stuff and have it stolen right after” doesn’t seem like it’ll have many people reaching for their wallets either.
The interesting thing here (apart from the casual way they flip off paying customers) is that they are proposing to sell in game currency for real money.
One of the Albion Online team posted more details on Massively:
At first glance,you might think: if a guild spends a lot of real money to buy virtual currency and then use the currency to buy items in the open market, they will be able to buy a lot of items in the open market (assuming always that *other players* have put them up for sale, though)
On second glance however, given that the entire game economy is player driven, they will also subsidize and indirectly support every player who does not want to spend any real money in the game – somebody else in the game will earn the virtual money that the other guild spent.
As a result of that, it is likely that the market rate for mineable resources (i.e. all resources in the game) goes up, allowing non-paying players to earn their money much easier and faster than before while at the same time indirectly “nerfing” real money transactions as the equivalent real money cost for items increases.
Most games only allow players to exchange in game currency for real money through an intermediate virtual currency (eg. IRE’s credits or EVE Online’s PLEX). This allows the developers to better control both the creation of new currency in game and also the real world value of whatever it is they are selling.
Unfortunately in Albion Online not only have they created a currency faucet they can’t control, but they’ve also pegged the value of their real money transactions directly to the in game currency so as the game gets flooded with more and more currency it becomes worth less and less which makes buying it with real money more and more expensive.
It almost feels like some weird virtual economy thought experiment; players can pay to print their own virtual currency but the more they print the less it is worth.
I’m not sure how successful a business model that will be but at least it’s not “pay to win” and that’s all that matters, right?