Monday, February 23, 2009

Character swapping

In two - no, three - different, unrelated discussions, I'm reading about people I don't know very well trying to sell off WoW accounts and characters. About other people who "control multiple accounts not in their name" becuase they bought a bunch and play them.

I just wanted to mention here that while I'm not a big fan of any online services' TOS/TOU, including Blizzard's, I'm just against that sort of behaviour. I think that characters have personalities, no matter how much you try to avoid role-playing it IS an RP game. And part of that personality is in the player's head, and does not survive a transfer. (I've also noticed part of it doesn't survive a server transfer either, becuase the "personality" of the character is part of its interactions "growing up" and interacting with the server social context surrounding it.)

Just wanted to mention that.

Considering how often it's coming up, I think it's a symptom of Blizzard messing up the game content. People are hitting the "I have finished the game" sense of completion and now want to move on. Bad move, Blizzard.


tanthalas said...

There are so many good reasons why account buying or inheritance is so popular though.

Part of the blame is the fact that Blizzard doesn't allow people who have already spent an inordinate amount of time leveling different classes to try a new class at a low cost. That's why leveling services are so popular to begin with, right?

A lot of people don't really enjoy the leveling process. The game even doesn't start for them until they hit level cap (see: people who Arena, people who raid). The argument that leveling allows you to slowly learn how to play your class only holds true for people who are relatively new to the game.

So if you hate leveling, buying an account from someone you trust is both cheaper and safer than using a leveling service, which is why it's so much more attractive. Also, a lot of times people who have multiple accounts may simply have inherited them from someone else who's decided to move on from the game. So at the very minimal cost of one more subscription fee, you have instant access to potentially multiple max-level classes that you always wanted to play but didn't have the motivation to level/re-gear/re-grind for.

Last but not least, there's a significant portion of the WoW population that doesn't think of this game as an roleplaying game at all. They are fully detached from their characters that are only a means to an end. To put it in a not-so-nice way, this is just Quake with gear progression.

draNgNon said...

That last really sort of sucks.

But as for the rest of it: all video games are like this, where you progress and there is more interesting content at some points in the progression than there are at others. Nobody seems to question the need to start there, and are usually pretty grateful if the game designers let you jump levels once you win the game or if you put more quarters in or whatever is the context.

When such designers are missing, then generally people look for exploits - there are plenty of websites that describe them - and use them if they decide they want it badly enough. But we all decide those really are exploits.

Here in Wow, the players don't consider them exploits, but rather an entitlement that they don't understand why they don't receive. That is also in part Blizzard's fault. In the first couple years Wow was out, Blizzard did pay attention to content at all levels and there was no sympathy for people who were bored at level cap. Go roll an alt. But now with all the content so focused on "the end game" people feel like they are entitled to start there, instead of end there.

Anyhow you can think of it as a game or as an online account. I don't think you'd sell your username/facebook/etc account, would you? And if it's a game, why are you attaching money to the value of your playtime?

tanthalas said...

The difference between WoW and a username/facebook/gmail/etc. is that WoW allows you to completely redo the identity of your character. You can transfer servers. You can rename your character or change their hairstyle and facial decorations. Hell, for a small fee, you can now even give your characters plastic surgery or a sex change, so that nobody will even have a clue who that character you bought used to be. OTOH, your facebook account contains so much real life and personal info about yourself and those around you, whereas the things on your WoW character/account are completely constrained inside the game's construct. So in many respects, especially compared to a lot of other account-related services, WoW *is* just a game.

In fairness, not all of the above things were available before people started trading accounts. But that only matters if you're someone who actually cares about the name of your character and what s/he looks like. At the end of the day, there still remains a large population of players who simply want a level-capped character so they can do what they enjoy in the game.

I don't understand the money question. What do you mean by that?