Dungeons And Dragons Players Revolt, Storm Super Rewards Castle

from the spam-survey-broadsword-of-doom dept

We've been covering how Turbine recently changed the business model of their online role-playing game Dungeons And Dragons Online from the fairly typical MMORPG pricing system ($50 for the game and then $15/month to play) to a business model where users can play for free -- but pony up some cash for some additional perks. The decision has been a significant success for a game that was headed downhill in the shadow of larger MMORPG's, like Blizzard's World Of Warcraft, and Turbine saw milions of new players the first few months after the change. However, Nick writes in to direct our attention to the fact that some additional Turbine efforts wound up pushing our free-loving Elven and Dwarven friends a bit too hard.

The company recently implemented a Super Rewards "offer wall." Like in popular Facebook games like Farmville, the offer wall allowed users to fill out surveys and participate in other marketing efforts in exchange for Turbine points, which could be used in game for goods and services. Except judging from posts to the Turbine forums, users weren't pleased to learn that their account name and email were being sent to Super Rewards just for visiting the page -- and some of the early offers wound up being "questionable," even according to a Turbine forum statement. Despite a few changes, customers continued to complain and Turbine wound up tearing down the wall -- "for now":

"Based on your feedback, we're stepping away from the ‘Offer' category for now. We'll keep exploring alternate ways for players who want points to get them. We'll also continue to innovate in pricing and accessibility because that's who we are. As of today, the Offer Wall is coming down. We'll collect all the feedback we've received over the last few days and will use it to guide future decisions."

It's great that Turbine was willing to listen to customer feedback and pull back from (or revise) an offer that was annoying, though it seemed easy enough for users to avoid these kinds of offers if they wanted. The company still seems to be doing quite well by selling a revolving array of specialized in-game loot and additional adventures, though there's also a fine balancing act at play between offering users worthy, compelling content -- and pushing microtransactions to the point where they frustrate and annoy the userbase. That said, many gamers seem perfectly eager to pay a lot of money for relatively little; Blizzard Entertainment recently earned millions in fairly short order by selling users a $25 horse -- which offered players' in-game characters no additional in-game character bonus.



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    paperbag (profile), Apr 19th, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    not horse armor! :)

    As a WoW nerd (who quit back in Aug09) I'll have to say it's not horse armor, but a mount which can be rode. :)

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

      Re: not horse armor! :)

      Yeah, and that mount can be used in flying and in mounted situations. This apparently saves players a bag slot. Of course, players have a lot of bag slots by that point in the game, but an extra slot is worth something.

      There's a WoW-clone called Runes of Magic that's free to play, and has an in game economy working between gold (in game) and diamonds (bought with real-world money). My guess is the producers were doing pretty well. Several of my guildies had bought hundreds of dollars worth of diamonds before I quit.

      It's a decent example of giving stuff away to build a fan base, and sell a few scarce things (artificially in this case) to make money. They also implemented an advertisement option.

       

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        detour, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 1:02pm

        Re: Re: not horse armor! :)

        actually, it doesn't save a bag slot as mounts and pets no longer take up bag space (they are "learned" and can be cast from the character UI). However, it does give this mount to all current and future characters, so in the long run saves you gold.

         

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          Nick Coghlan (profile), Apr 19th, 2010 @ 2:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: not horse armor! :)

          The most important part though is likely just that the mount graphic in-game is very, very pretty.

          There are also a couple of in-game achievements relating to the number of mounts you collect, and this one probably counts as one more for the tally.

           

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      Karl Bode (profile), Apr 19th, 2010 @ 12:29pm

      Re: not horse armor! :)

      Hah, corrected, thank you.

      Was confusing the new offer with that Oblivion Horse armor from a year or two ago.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    karl how many companies get information off of every page view on techdirt? how many set cookies, track ip addresses, and other information to create unique user profiles or to aggregate data? how many of them use that information later? i you would say you need to ask the masnick about it. it would make a good story on techdirt.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    it was not just that it was annoying, the third party marketing company involved is a known gold scammer/account hacker/malware distributor.
    There was absolutely no excuse for getting in to bed with them in the first place, and it was a direct threat to users computer security.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    Maybe so, but at what point does selling items in a game that you already are paying a monthy subscription for get out of hand?

    I know some World of Warcraft players are getting annoyed that the only way to recieve certain items, 3 different vanity pets, and now a useable mount, is to "pony" up even more cash.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 12:43pm

    It was a sparkle pony, not just a horse. Get it right. :P

     

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    Hulser (profile), Apr 19th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    There's just something that I don't like about games which are based on paying cash for in-game items. I feel like it would mean that a kid with his parents' credit card could just buy all of the items that another player would have to earn by in-game activities. Yeah, I know that Turbine are trying out new business models and on one level, I admire them for that, but it just seeme unfair. I suppose there is a way to strike a balance, but in my mind, buying in-game items just seems to much like buying gold from a gold farmer.

     

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      Atkray (profile), Apr 19th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

      Re:

      I feel like it would mean that a kid with his parents' credit card could just buy all of the items that another player would have to earn by in-game activities.


      It is called MapleStory.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 12:55pm

    If a game is selling vanity items in game i can't see the issue with it, if it's game changers, "buy this or don't bother logging in at end game" then its time to find a new game.

     

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    Akj (profile), Apr 19th, 2010 @ 1:10pm

    To clarify

    "This apparently saves players a bag slot."

    No it doesn't. Mounts no longer take up bag space.

    There is really NO in-game benefit to the paid mount, none whatsoever.

    Well, except it looks neat...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Super Rewards is essentially an entire platform devoted to scamming players/users into giving up their personal information or entering into "opt out in 30 days or we'll charge your credit card every month!"

    Any company who uses Super Rewards and then feigns ignorance and shock and surprise about the "questionable offers" is just playing dumb.

     

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    Zac Morris (profile), Apr 19th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Today is my 9th anniversary, thanks for the gift idea TechDirt!

    Today is my 9th anniversary with my partner. Thanks for the gift idea TechDirt. The Celestial Mount is PERFECT!

    ;-)

     

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    Joseph, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 1:26pm

    Re

    ** Blizzard Entertainment recently earned millions in fairly short order by selling users a $25 horse -- which offered players' in-game characters no additional in-game character bonus.**

    This would be incorrect. The mount in question is given to all current and future characters on the account regardless of the server they are on. Also this mount can take the place of four separate mounts that have to be obtained 'normally' in the game. This would be a considerable bonus.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 1:48pm

    "which offered players' in-game characters no additional in-game character bonus."

    Not true, as Joseph pointed out. The mount automatically scales with skill (it gets faster/flies as you get better riding skill).

    They seem immensely popular too - they're all over the place

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2010 @ 3:04pm

    achievements are also vanity crap. Again, not game breaking. It wont help you kill Arthas.

     

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    BearGriz72 (profile), Apr 19th, 2010 @ 8:07pm

    I just bought a $25 imaginary horse

     

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    TechNoFear (profile), Apr 19th, 2010 @ 11:28pm

    It was not 'easy' to avoid....

    Just viewing Turbine's 'Offer Wall' sent your username and email unencrypted to a third party, without your knowledge or consent.

    Note I said 'viewing' not 'actively participating / responding / clicking'.

    http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=242978

     

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    Txknight (profile), Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:55am

    I bought the horse, quite fun and puts me 4 short of my albino drake mount

     

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    Eo Nomine, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 5:35am

    RE: Privacy Policy?

    The issue of what TechDirt may or may not do with "personal information" raises something I've always wondered about: why does TechDirt have no privacy policy? Or terms of use for that matter? Given the amount of space this blog devotes to copyright and privacy (usually railing against them), I've always found it odd that the blog itself sets no rules about these issues.

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Apr 20th, 2010 @ 1:55pm

    BEWARE the malware nd spyware

    nuff said and if you do these thigns your on your own dont complain when weird things start happening to you

     

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