When it comes to the monetisation of MMOs, one of the more common thoughts I have is around what constitutes a reasonable cost for the items and services. A price that feels reasonable to me based on a personal cost analysis and while the border for me does often get crossed from time to time, it’s only that slight foot over the line. Just testing the boundary as they do of what people will pay for and what they can get away with.
That personal border has not only been crossed by Elder Scrolls Online now, it has been pissed on by a company pricing their digital wares at such ridiculous levels that it’s just insulting. Now Zenimax has been rather bad in recent times with it’s cash shop bullshit, adding lockboxes and many items designed to circumvent system limitations but this housing update has just irritated me far more than anything previously.
One of my own mmo beliefs is that Housing should be one of those systems for everyone. A game mechanic and design that is more equitable with how it is accessed and the customisation available. Sure furniture is part of the cost, and even limited edition items and spaces but decent availability.
It does seem to be something they are doing at first as the initial quest chain for housing gives you your first residence but, unfortunately it is what amounts to a closet with an incredible limited space and item limit. YOu really can’t do much at all within this area and – I believe that was the point. A taste of housing, much like someone peddling crack to first get you hooked and then they jack up the price for anything decent.
Looking past what’s initially available and the price skyrockets. Thirty dollars for something a little better and then, over 50 for one of the mansions. Sure I expected a larger price for the biggest houses available but a price more in line with say, a DLC pack instead of a complete AAA game. When you have a cash shop item, no matter what it is that costs more than the box price of your game, ON RELEASE, then all you are doing is giving your customers the middle finger. It’s more than a slap in the face. It’s more than insulting. It’s dropping their pants and asking you to bend over.
The insulting part though is claiming you are able to purchase these properties with in game gold, yet placing the price of that completely outside of the average player. Yep, they ask you to bend over but HEY, at least there’s a bow on it – that’s nice right? We are looking at hundreds of thousands for something reasonably nice and then going int the millions for the larger properties.
This isn’t the only thing they’ve priced out of reach of the average consumer. There are armour sets too that run more than $50 and yeh, they contain 3 outfits but I still don’t consider that price worth it – not in the slightest. I’m sure they are just testing the boundaries of what sells, and these armour sets are probably why they did use this as the upper price for the housing. As long as people buy stupidly priced shit, the more they will make of course.
And, even now I’m guessing they are manipulating the prices around the housing items, which on their strike the boundaries of ridiculousness with their pricing on certain pieces, to ascertain how much they can get away with. It’s a wonderful money-making scheme they’ve employed that is only going to get worse – which is a shame considering I admired many of the things they did beforehand.
Overall the housing system is kind of nice. I enjoy working towards the goals I make regarding housing and they have many systems around finding, crafting, and achievement hunting in order to furnish your home – but when much of the designed systems will remain out of reach it tempers my excitement quite a bit.