I have two long rants to type tonight, and neither of them are particularly pleasant.
The first concerns something that Cuddleslave has been keeping an eye on for me since my expulsion from FFXI:
RMT has won.
There is no polite way to say it other than this: RMT will dictate the future of online gaming, in that whatever future online gaming has, RMT will either control it or be on board with it.
I point to three very disparate sources to indicate how far this has gone in the last several years (the first two sent to me by Cuddleslave), and to indicate the level of disgust I have with online gaming in general.
First, a recent survey (crossposted to RMT-friendly FFXIAH.com) indicates that about a third of all gamers have spent real money on virtual content from another gamer or from a third-party site. About half of the same survey bought virtual currency as well, though this might include currencies for supposedly “free-to-play” games that you will suck at until you pay (and through the nose!!) for any real content (such as Farmville, Pangya, etc. and so forth and so on!).
In most cases other than the F2P's, this appears to be blatantly illegal conduct on both parties (since FFXI has supposedly banned the practice, I even have called for criminal actions on both buyer and seller on the charges of theft, under California laws). The problem has become that such a significant number of people have decided that buying currency, items, or characters is the only way to go that gaming companies are left to effectively subjugate whatever ownership rights they would otherwise claim to their content – since many of these are foreign entities (and, it appears, at least several appear to have ties to the Chinese government!!) or actually enforcing their rules would mean the end of their game.
(Evidence for the latter: Square-Enix never revealed the number of characters in Final Fantasy XI on the 2011 Vana'diel Census. If the number of servers being cut to about 1/3 of what they were the last Census is any indication, my guess is probably somewhere in the 500-750K range, rather than the 2M+ they claimed (*cough*halfofwhichwasRMT*cough*) in the last Census.)
But, as one person (Hevans from Ragnarok) put it in the FFXIAH.com forum:
“think you kind of answered your own question. the "pay to play" format is changing to "pay to play well".”
Basically, you pay for the product, then you (in subscription models) pay your subscription.
Then you abjectly HAVE TO pay to stay up to date (Great example: You are not even playing FFXI anymore if you do not play Abyssea. Whatever you are playing, it's not FFXI.).
And now, legally or otherwise, to the game company or to some illegal shady piece-of-shit operation in China, you basically have to pay to advance your character to a reasonable pace, especially if the concept of low-level play is essentially obsolete (which see: FFXI!).
So you cannot afford to play FFXI without being up to date on the expansions, security token for the satchel, and then probably more money to illegal outfits to ensure that you can get your character to where the game even begins (which is level 90 and about to be 95 the next major update!).
That makes me sick.
Why? Because basically it becomes about to the ilk of professional/high-level Magic the Gathering. Without a network of players or a lot of money, you – are – FUCKED. No polite way to put it.
(So much so that one person actually responded on the official forums to a player considering returning that he should only return if he has people to play with. A solo player has no business returning to FFXI.)
And this plays right into the little thuglets like BG and God knows what else. They know they have you by the balls, because they know that if you try to play fairly, then the social impact of the playerbase will effectively exclude you from any meaningful play, because you will never reach the point where they will accept you. So then, you either have to accept being inferior and suck dick for everything you can get (pay for ??? opportunities, etc. and so forth), or not be a part of the game at all!
I don't trust these fuckers. I'll get more into that in the second rant. But how am I supposed to play with a bunch of shitheads who basically walk around like they own the place? (Small spoiler of the second rant: … because it's that they effectively DO own the place!!!)
And how am I expected to uphold the rules if it's clear that the rules only have meaning to allow the players who are such arrogant little fucks to do this? It's almost as if Square-Enix themselves sponsors BG and it's players!
But back to RMT: What this has done is it legalizes it AND abrogates the black-letter law of the land in Vana'diel: That Square-Enix would own everything and you would have no rights to subvert that ownership.
If you're playing under the concept that Square-Enix owns everything and that the rules mean something, you are being defrauded and you have no recourse against Square-Enix whatsoever. (See the Spygate lawsuit and the Leong lawsuit, mentioned earlier in this blog.)
RMT buys you gil, some think it buys you time, but it buys you probably the most important thing that you can have in a social MMO: Status. Because you can basically build a character that people are going to want to play with a lot faster through these manipulations rather than doing the work for yourself. And an increasing part of the game does not give two rat's asses about actually knowing how to play: Which see the number of characters who either have every job at level 90 or every job they could conceptually ever need as such (thanks to Abyssea).
And hence, it impacts every player in the game – whether or not they take advantage of this!
The second thing Cuddleslave showed me was a thread on the Japanese official FFXI forums where some people have finally summarily had enough and are going to (if I read the rough Google translations correctly) out RMT players.
Understanding that the greater number of prevalent players use illegal content and RMT, they decided to go vigilante on them and begin to report them.
I hate to state this this openly: You're about five fucking years too late, Japan!!
If I heard it once while I was playing, I heard it a thousand times: Without illegal content and RMT, there is no FFXI. And it appears as if Square-Enix has seen fit to agree with this stance, saying one thing publicly and then doing quite another!
One of the classic moments of Vanafest 2009 was when Sage Sundi, in his Japanese Special Task Force report, did a “Star Wars” style scroll of literally hundreds and thousands of names of accounts who were banned.
Though “naming shame” is one of the greatest penalties Japanese culture can give, it hasn't slowed the RMT processes, which makes me wonder why vigilante justice like this wasn't implemented five years ago!
Some comments, from the rough translations:
“There, the words "incompetent management is unable to satisfy even the collective enforcement of contract violations". Hence, "there are many in the game that the offender has been left unchecked and without disposition" means what? This "authorized" but many users are very much a travesty, and this "has been allowed by a tacit" It is quite irresponsible and attitudes and conventions that.”
What I think he was trying to say is that, through the repeat offenders and complete lack of enforcement of illegal content to “gain advantage and annoy players in doing so” was the result of incompetent management which cannot enforce the rules of any kind. This leaves many players able to commit these acts without penalty, effectively nullifying the ToS.
If that's what is saying, he's right and that's what I've been saying for years. The problem is, there are enough people who do this that, if they were successfully banned, the standing opinion is that FFXI would be forced to shut down.
Well, it is quite irresponsible, then, in both attitude and convention, for Square-Enix to continue FFXI under those conditions!
In a later post, Micktlll continues, in rough translation:
“If you're going out of the question. Meaning if it were not for the user to provide the terms and conditions.”
And this is where the concept of fraud enters play, because the playerbase has subjugated that, and stated openly that there would be no FFXI otherwise!! In their eyes, they believe they have the right to not only dictate what the laws are for their play, but also who gets to play what, where, and under what conditions.
Frankly, they own your FFXI experience.
Basically, Micktlll claims that the situation has been made a double-contract: One set of rules for one set of players, another for another. Almost like the World of Warcraft situation where players sponsored by gaming websites are subject to no rules whatsoever as long as Blizzard is being paid by said sites.
Probability that is going on in FFXI: 99+%.
Zetsurin of Bismarck apparently has told Micktlll the same argument we've heard on the English side a bazillion times. That Square-Enix made such a flawed game that the players have the right to shit all over the rules:
“Hey, it'll Antalya, is set like a trick to the game, I had not been made out in the manual it?
After those operations that can not be perceived by the terms such violations, even in the game affect the way I heard no. There is no responsibility in the operation. This game does not even claim to have sold a healthy item is absent at all the user tools. So you brought the law does not apply. Was sorry (laughs).”
Basically, this person (I'll reserve calling him a shithead until I am clear that this is what he has said, but if he has said it, he's a cheating shithead who needs a beatdown!) says that the game cannot be feasibly played without Windower and illegal tools.
If that is what you said: Fuck you. You disgrace your family.
If it's not, then ignore what I just said.
Part Three: Diablo III and the RMT Auction House
But, as I said at the first of this long rant, it appears that not only has RMT won the day, but that it appears that RMT will control the future of online gaming.
This is true not only through the prevalence of purchased materials, but now has gone in to the creation of one of the new online mega-games: The Diablo III Auction House, which is going to have not only an in-game currency side, but an RMT side as well.
Also, as part of “quality control” (*cough**hack* PLEASE!!!!), the game can only be played as an online entity.
I'll tell you right now. I'll give it three months, and one of two things is going to happen to Diablo III:
The entire RMT model will completely fail, and might well take Diablo III with it!!
or anyone who basically plays Diablo III with any degree of seriousness will be forced to take part in RMT, and probably be playing the game with the sole purpose of making real-life money from it!
Basically, RMT will determine the success or failure of Diablo III. Even as long-awaited as Diablo III has been, Blizzard has come to the conclusion (and they will pay for it badly, at some point, probably through some degree of legal liability due to hackers and account compromisation!) that the number of people buying the game is not enough. They will need a constant revenue stream to keep the game going, and the only real way to do that? R – M – T.
You are going to have a bunch of little thuglet shitheads basically running all over the place to ruin everyone else's experience – and get paid to do so!!
It's bad enough when the money to do it (like some of the BG RMT shitheads) is illegal and under-the-table. It's a thousand times worse when not only is it brought above table, but it may well be the means by which Blizzard survives doing Diablo III into the long term!
This is a horrific idea, and yet you know that there are going to be people, in this real-life economy, with fewer and fewer options but to get into this kind of stuff.
And that's going to cost Blizzard dearly. Will I at least get Diablo III? Am I going to be around that long for when Blizzard finally releases the game?? Hell, I'm not sure I'm going to make Final Fantasy XIII-2 next January!
And part of that is the next long rant I'm going to do: The whole concept of what we've become as a culture, especially online: What's Yours is Mine!