Cash Shop – My personal choice

Yesterday I ran into a FFXIV Reddit post about people’s reaction to the announcement of a Cash Shop coming in 2.4 and the only conclusion that can come of it is that there isn’t, and there will never be, a consensus – people will take sides. This is a constant of MMO life.

I’ll say it upfront: I don’t mind.

Warning: I’m not here to convince you to think like me, I’m just here to share my thoughts – thanks for reading!

As a World of Warcraft player I was there when Blizzard’s Cash Shop was introduced. I was there for the same deluge of opinions on both sides of the argument. And I was also there when it eventually transcended that, despite the unsub threats and complaints, WoW’s cash shop is still a thing today and it’s pretty much working out for them – even if lately we’re seeing stuff for sale that’s unexpected from a service like it. I was also there when TERA started selling stuff in their own Cash Shop, though their game went a different way all together (and I suspect that was planned from the start). After these experiences, when FFXIV players get into the same discussion I’ve seen happen before, I’m not surprised.

It’s my opinion, of course, but as long as a Pay to Play (P2P) game has a Cash Shop that offers items that in no way alter the functionality of the game I’ll have no issues with it. Vanity items, pets, mounts, silly stuff that the game can live without – the game lives thanks to the subscription money. The gray line is crossed when items that are important or crucial for the game start to appear, and worse are those that give a player a competitive edge. It’s at this moment that the game becomes a Pay to Win (P2W) game which is, in most gamer’s eyes, undesirable. Free to Play (F2P) games usually sell the same stuff but add boosts to character growth and items that will in different ways open (or accelerate) your character’s gearing process – but this is the way the game survives. It’s a different system.

My first MMO was Silkroad Online and that F2P game had a cash shop that sold all sorts of player advantages. At first I was a bit frustrated that other players had advantages that I did not (faster leveling, easier income of crucial upgrade items) but that’s exactly what the system wants you to feel… the need to be on par, the need to have what others have. And then: paywall. For some it’s easy to ignore it and go on with their games. Others? Not so much… they need to “catch ’em all” and they want all pets, mounts and vanity items to be attainable no matter what.

And this is fine. Both are fine. In the end, we game out of choice. I chose to play FFXIV instead of WoW. I chose to play Destiny instead of doing my dailies. I chose a PS4 over an X1. I chose to ignore the Cash Shop instead of buying from it. Somewhere in the world, millions of other players chose differently: they’re doing their dailies in WoW atop their premium mount while they wait for their friends to get home so they can play Call of Duty on their X1s.

Back to FFXIV, so far the cash shop is going to sell pets, a mount and the usual Fantasia. I can live without those (dat Fantasia though… NGH). This is all fine, and surely someone else argues that since they’re paying a sub, they’re entitled to everything the game has to offer. It’s their opinion and we should respect it, even if we don’t share it. They must find ways to face this point of view: unsub, accept, complaint – all valid. I choose not to buy from the Cash Shop. Therefore, and as long as it doesn’t sell stuff that could be considered P2W, it won’t really impact me too much in the game.

Sure, I’ll someday see someone atop Sleipnir and say “Wow, that’s one cool mount!” but it’s not like I’m going to die – I’ll just be wiping endlessly to Turn 9 waiting for a chance to enter the Final Coil hoping that XIV never adds a Cash Shop item that will let me roflstomp over current content.

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