“Everyone hates pay to win games.” It’s not true.
Let me explain.
P2W or Pay to Win refers to a monetization model in video games that allows players who pay money to gain an unfair advantage over F2P or Free to Play gamers.
I was speaking to someone from Asia at a recent blockchain meetup and we were talking about how some Web 3 games can feel like they are pay to win.
I made the case that blockchain games will never hit mass adoption if they primarily cater to a pay to win player base.
He provided a counterpoint that still resonates with me to this day.
“Only people in the west hate pay to win. In Asia, people think its perfectly fine to have P2W elements in video games.”
He elaborated “Many gamers in Asia believe that if you can afford to buy an advantage in a game, you deserve to have that advantage.”
This made me think about the notion of fairness in video games and why its such a valued component of game design in the west.
I personally dislike pay to win games. I would never play a game if I saw that players who pay money have a distinctly unfair advantage.
However, I come to the realization that I look at gaming from a western perspective and this outlook may not be universal.
There are many different ways pay to win elements can be incorporated into game design and peoples interpretation of what makes a game pay to win vary widely.
Paying to Win.
A P2W game can give one player an in game advantage over other players as in the instance of Star Wars Battlefront 2 where Star Cards from loot boxes could give players the ability to heal after a kill or increased movement speed. Thus players who bought more lootboxes had an unfair advantage.
Another instance of pay to win is by paying real world money to avoid the progression grind. Warframe is a free to play game that employs this model with an especially tedious progression loop. Many who become invested in Warframe are incentivized to just pay money to avoid the grind.
A player in Diablo Immortal spent more than $100,000 in the game right at the start to buy all the best gear and dominate in PVP. While other players in the game could grind to attain similar gear, this player traded his time for money.
While implementations of pay to win games can be outright repulsive at times, its important to consider that these games have a market and perhaps some of these games are not being designed with a western market in mind.
The decision to bring Diablo Immortal to mobile was made with Asia in mind with a mobile first audience. While the game struggled to gain traction in the west, you would be surprised to learn that Diablo Immortal has made over $300 million to date with almost $150 million coming from China alone.
Pay to Win has serious issues but at the end of the day its just business. Its ironic that people in the west love capitalism unless its built into our games.
Curious to hear your thoughts on pay to win.
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for reading.
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