Friday, 28 November 2014

MMOs: Cosmetic "Tax" Gold Sinks

[Added to my MMO Design Folder.]

Getting gold out of the game is always a challenge for MMOs, given the amount generated by often times simply killing critters. Or killing critters and then selling their junk to NPCs who never run out of gold to hand out (outside of some early shards of Ultima Online from personal experience). While I put aside the "gold denial" topic for another time, you are probably familiar with the usual gold sinks already present such as fast travel, goods only purchasable from NPCs (often consumables), and maybe even death tax (which seems to be phasing out).

Well, while playing Vindictus I struck upon a silly notion. Cosmetic gold sinks! "That's not new," I hear you say. Yes you can already buy haircuts or name changes or dye to color your clothes, but all of those are one off purchases, at least until you decide to change your look, name, or attire which isn't all that often in MMOs.

Gear that eventually goes *poof* or simply deteriorates to being worthless stat-wise has never been popular when I've brought it up here before but what about gear that frays, rusts, discolors, tears and chips? Even if it is the same powerful item it once was, would you still be ok wearing it if there were growing splotches of flashing pink and green? Or if all your armor slowly turned into a turd brown color with sploches of yellow, full of scratches, ding marks and holes?

Hair is a good one too. Just let it grow every x days spent in-game and the longer you don't tidy it up via NPC barber then the longer and more unkempt it goes. Male characters would have facial hair growing as well. I suppose you could opt to be bald at the start though. Leave it long enough and maybe flies even start buzzing around.

Would this simply lead to a world of bald and/or shaggily bearded hobos running around with rusty looking weapons or do you think people would pay to keep their character looking "good" (keeping in mind that regardless of looks, no stats/usability changes for players)? What do you think?

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