Saturday, August 28, 2010

How Much Money Makes You A Customer

As many of you know, I quite like professional wrestling and on occassion I have been known to 'e-fed' - a sort of wrestling based group fanfic. I have also been playing a browser game called 'The Wrestling Game' for over two years now and nestle quite nicely in amongst the top 200 or so players in the game. Its fun, mindless and costs nothing apart from time and a little attention.

Years ago, I started playing a facebook game called 'Wrestler' which, with a little more interactivity, attempted the same thing. It was OK, but like many of these games it really only rewarded time-sinkable players and I grew a little bored and abandoned it. Cut to a couple of years later and I stumbled across 'Wrestler:Unstoppable' (essentially Wrestler 2.0) and started playing it. Its quite good, I enjoy it - mindless, free fun etc.

However, for some people it isn't free. As with most FB games nowadays, an area of the game has been monetised to generate income. By taking part in matches you earn coins, which can be spent on new costumes, training slots etc. However the really cool stuff costs Wrestler BUCKS which can be got in two ways: buying them direct or signing up to survey companies, installing (and deleting!) FB apps etc.

Its not hard to do the second method, carefully, and generate a few bucks. However its far easier to just push a few buttons and grab them using paypal, should you want to. Well, why would you? Aha! The roleplaying side of the game - the federations - costs bucks to set up. Thirty, I believe. In real money that constitutes almost £2.50 worth of investment. To get a few special items, a fancy nameplate for your character and a nice background - cosmetic things - will cost you around 120 bucks, or a wallet tearing £8.

Seriously, you would think people were mortgaging their homes!

"We cannot afford this!"
"You are forcing us to spend REAL money!"
"I cannot believe that all the cool stuff costs bucks!"

Its the same refrain that comes from the Zynga stable of games as well.

The fly in the Wrestler ointment however, appears to be that the player base quite liked v1.0 and were mighty miffed when it was closed and 2.0 was opened. All that time and effort into developing their characters has been wasted. Now they are 'investing' in this new game, they have a voice, some ownership, a 'right' as 'consumers' to have their words listened to.

And of course, because it is the internet, their 'word' means telling the owner - a guy called Jon - exactly what he should be doing to 'save' his game. His dying game. The game he is killing before them by his stupid decisions and moreover, the game they HAVE PAID REAL MONEY (£3) to take part in!!! That makes them PAYING CUSTOMERS (I don't know the mark-up for a trumpet volley, but it should accompany that phrase) and therefore they have RIGHTS and if you ignore their rantings you are BAD BUSINESS and you are KILLING THE GAME.

You know, his game. The one he has invested his real money - and probably a damned sight more than £3 into. And he should listen to all of you, the vast majority who are still, eight months on, demanding a rollback to v1.0....

I often wonder about the mob mentality of the internet. I often wonder what turns a rational human being into an entitled wanker just because they have a keyboard in front of them. If you bought a pint and some crisps for £3 would you then think that you had the divine right to bellow at the directors of the pub chain about their choice of juke box tracks? No, not really.

But you can on the internet. Bless it.

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