Pay to Win

Regulator bate

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Disclaimer The writer of this article hates this model and will find it very hard to write an objective review of it.

In Pay to Win you create a Free to Play game but use design mechanisms that hinder non-monetized players from succeeding at the game, e.g. in order to "win" you must pay. This is typically done by letting players buy grind skips giving a time advantage or out right allowing for the purchase of player power.

My Opinion

Buying player power such as seen in Diablo Immortal the poster child for this model gone wrong. Players in that game can spend 100s of thousands USD or more and an amateur powered up will always win over even a pro gamer.

The most common argument from its supporters is that its not "Pay to Win" its simply "Pay to Play at a higher level". The issue however is that in no case we could find is price for player power capped at any reasonable level. The result is that an amateur player can buy the power to allow them to "win" over professional players easily and reliably.

My Opinion This is because your game is no longer a game when its Pay to Win, its simply a tool for alleviating narcissist of their money. Wealthy players can and do stomp professional highly skilled players all the time when the skilled player forgoes buying the power gains.

Setting aside the "fairness" of the game and even avoiding topics around predatory monetization practices such as no spend cap, their are issues from a purely design point of view. Player Motivation is a key component of good game design.

In the study of player motivation we come to understand that applying "real value" to anything in game fundamentally changes how players perceive the game and how the game effects them. Pay to Win always works out to money equates to success devolving the play motivator to an extrinsic motivator in the form of risk vs reward calculation very similar to gambling. In short if your game is Pay to Play its pressing the same "happy buttons" in the users brain as gambling does.

My Opinion

Have I paid enough to win this match or will I be crushed without effort? Should I buy more to insure victory, or to skip the gameplay all together? My motivation is no longer enjoyment of play but rather the avoidance of disappointment.

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