Mighty Quest For Epic Loot Reins In Pay-To-Win

By Nathan Grayson on July 30th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot is an interesting idea – build up a fortress, invade other people’s increasingly luxurious castles in the sky, and so on – but it’s never been shy about putting microtransactions front-and-center. It was only recently, however, that players rather definitively decided that Ubisoft had taken its mighty quest for players’ loot too far. In a nutshell, the dev/pub powerhouse added the ability to purchase anything regardless of level (so long as it could also be snatched up with in-game currency), and players immediately took to burning pay-to-win banners and mounting the heads of piggy banks on stakes. Ubisoft, to its credit, has admitted that it made a boo-boo.

The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot team waved the white flag in a blog post, noting that it plans to roll back some (but certainly not all) monetization options:

“As many of you have noticed, we recently made some changes on how and where we let players spend the game’s premium currency, Blings. The reaction has been rather major and instantaneous: many of you have said that this change has affected the game to a point of causing it major harm – a lot of you feel that the game has become Pay to Win or unbalanced and this is not something that we think is acceptable.”

“We’re here today to let you know that we’ve heard your concerns and are acting on them immediately. We realize that letting players purchase machinery upgrades went too far in what we think feels fair to monetize. We are hereby rolling back the major premium currency mechanic changes, which will arrive in game in an upcoming maintenance.”

Admittedly, there were complaints about too much monetization before the most recent update, but opinions varied pretty widely. But even if machinery upgrades were just the straw that broke the camel’s back, Ubisoft is clearly listening. One would hope, at least, that more wailing and gnashing sparkly white cartoon teeth might prompt more sweeping changes. The game’s still in beta for a reason, so we’ll see.

Where does the gargling, opinionated gut of RPS fall on this, though? Yay or nay to Mighty Quest For Epic Loot’s microtransactions? (Neigh is also an option, if you prefer to express yourself in horse emotions. Remember, RPS is an inclusive environment.)

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50 Comments »

  1. naetharu says:

    I started playing this beta a few weeks back. I loved the idea, the humour was pretty good, and the gameplay seemed quite good. But the micro-transactions put me right off. I got about four hours into the beta before just loosing heart. There is so much in the way of outright cash grabbing that it sucks the fun out of the game. Granted, not an issue for the beta as such but this is not the kind of game I could play once it comes out.

    Perhaps I’ll have another look now once they make the changes but I fear that it is still going to be a game that tries to rob you every time you play.

  2. distantlurker says:

    “Too little, too late” – Bill Hicks

    • blisf says:

      How is making a change to a game during a beta is “Too Late”?

      • lowprices says:

        It is for Bill Hicks. He’s been dead for years.

      • distantlurker says:

        If you introduce a 100% P2W system into a publicly available game (let’s not debate what ‘beta’ means in this day and age) that’s instantly a game breaker for a lot of players. It’s arguably the #1 gripe against F2P systems.

        If you then row back on that, frankly, it’s too late. The word is out, the game forever tarnished.

        If you only row back on *some* of it, it’s most certainly too little.

        So in short: too little, too late.

        And FWIW, the Hick’s quote references a fictional, ‘demon’ President refusing to change course in the event of the oppositions complete capitulation (this is a fictionalized version, and does not represent real events). Which is a comedic, esoteric analogy of how I see the communities response.

        Does that answer your question?

        • FF56 says:

          Well allow me to disagree with you.
          I do not like to play games while they’re still in alpha/beta and I believe the majority of people would agree with me. Even if technically it’s not really a beta, it’s still not fully released either.

          I’m pretty sure the average joe who goes on Steam doesn’t usually bother with early access games and doesn’t even know about a certain game that is only available if you go to their direct website. So whenever this game pops out on Steam, I and many others will check it out.

          Basically what I’m saying is that all that matters is how the game is like when it’s publicly available to anyone and any changes that occurr up to that point don’t really matter to most people.

          • distantlurker says:

            I completely understand where you’re coming from, I just feel that the most ‘isolationist buyer’ cannot remain so. Even if these potential buyers are completely oblivious of a games existence until it hits their digital platform of choice, when it does it is not fresh and unknown.

            Any amount of research before purchasing will show “It’s P2W!” threads, comments in youtube vids, total biscuit’s FTW is… fears etc. etc. *regardless* of whether or not that is still the case (which currently, it is).

            What I’m saying is, making such a drastic error as 100% PTW cannot be rewritten. The ripples will overtake anyone emerging, blinking, into the bright sphere of a new titles digital presence, and with fear of labouring the point, the reversions, such as they are; too little, too late.

          • The Random One says:

            What if the amount if research they perform is zero and they base their opinion solely on the game they play, in which these issues have been solved?

          • Flopper says:

            They’ll never remove P2W. The game is built on it. All the hardest bosses in the game are easily bought at low level with the P2W gems or whatever they’re called. Basically you can play the game for less than a day, drop some money, put some of the hardest hitting bosses in your castle, rake in money and rewards as it completely destroys all the poor newbs that try to enter your castle.

            The P2W system completely goes against the leveling system. You’ll see a castle your level and assume it should be an average difficulty. Enter it only to realize he has monsters of a way higher difficulty level available to him because he bought them with real money. It would take weeks/months to grind out the money to buy 1 boss that someone can buy their first day playing with real money.

  3. Prolar Bear says:

    Snort, Sputter; Neigh!

  4. Seafort says:

    I stopped playing once they introduced the “real money for everything” crap and I doubt I’ll be going back. Just can’t be bothered with P2W games like this.

    This F2P phase we are going through now is going to burn so many devs and publishers when it does come to an end. I just don’t think it’s sustainable in the long run.

    • Flopper says:

      It’s working out well for GW2. Which is IMO one of the only non league of legends persistent world games to have a good system for their store items.

      I love that I can play GW2 whenever the hell I want. Take however long of a break I want. Come back and have tons of new crap to do and the only money ANet wants from me is for some optional Barbie and Ken dress up items.

      • wererogue says:

        Unless something drastic has changed, GW2 isn’t Free-To-Play. Your point still stands about the microtransactions in the game, though.

  5. Beernut says:

    I’d like them to leave the gameplay alone. Instead, they could offer a bunch of customization and cosmetic items, maybe with different themes so that you could create an individual look for your castle. One advantage of this approach would be, that new items and skins could be added without having to think of gameplay-consequences and the impact the new stuff would have balance-wise.

    • naetharu says:

      That’s what I would like to see too. I think a game like this would have loads of places for cosmetic items of that kind, and I would happily spend a few pounds here and there making my stuff look cool. Alas, however, this game is far too focused around sucking money out of your pockets to be worth playing.

    • RedViv says:

      That. Shiny awesome castle and mob themes. Decorative statues. Character skins. So many possibilities.

      • The Random One says:

        …for hats!

      • Baines says:

        I’m sure people would pay for a steampunk castle, or walls/floors made of black stone, or reflective marble, or pink bubblegum clouds or whatever. And to make their own hero look different. (Also remembering that people can see your hero when they watch replays of your runs.)

        Ubisoft just went for the easiest path, which was to sell what they already had rather than make new stuff to sell.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      I haven’t played the game, but I did see Total Biscuit’s video about the in-game transactions, and he raised this exact point. Which I totally agree with. Skins and cosmetic items are a no-brainer. It makes your castles (dungeons? whatever they are) highly personable and it adds an immense amount of variety. The best part is that it does absolutely nothing to unbalance the actual gameplay.

      • ViktorBerg says:

        He called it a focus on opulence. Not many games do that, which is sad. I can only come up with Runescape’s player owned houses, which were all about opulence at higher levels.

  6. acu says:

    It’s nice that they actually listened to the feedback and removed it completely instead of just changing it slightly, but the damage has already been done I suppose. I didn’t think Ubisoft could monetize this game in a fair way anyway. Pretty sure they will come up with more crap like in the future though, so I won’t even bother with it.

  7. GoliathBro says:

    What’s that thing called where you make an extraordinary claim to much outrage, and then dial it back to appear to be on the people’s side, while having had the intention of making the dialed back claim the whole time?

    Yeah, that thing.

    • jonahcutter says:

      A stalwart of healthy and lasting relationships: It’s easier to be forgiven than to be given permission.

      Not exactly the same thing, but similar in concept.

      • solidsquid says:

        There’s a difference between compromising and manipulating someone into agreeing to what you wanted by making them think it was a compromise

    • solidsquid says:

      Don’t know if there’s a technical name, but generally I think of it as pulling a facebook

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Sounds a bit like the Overton Window?

  8. Heliocentric says:

    Ubisoft make fun games, Ubisoft to include overlong tutorials, Ubisoft wreck every multiplayer game by including pay for advantages, Ubisoft are probably the only ‘AAA’ developer who’s games I’d buy above my £5 ‘lower limit’.

    I am not buying any more Ubisoft games where you can pay cash to remove grind, this means you Blacklist, Assassins Creed and other Ubisoft stuff.

  9. bstard says:

    Scaphism still has its charms. Major premium currency mechanics do not.

  10. ViktorBerg says:

    Why can’t they just make a decent one-time purchase game? I would have bought this for $30-40 no problem. Instead, they decide to play good-hearted by being “free-to-play”, and then nefariously introduce annoying microtransactions.

    This is the thing that has put me off every F2P game with in-game purchases that I’ve ever tried.

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  12. Khalan says:

    I’d much rather just buy a full game upfront, even if it costs as much as someone might spend in the cash shop to begin with. I prefer a single upfront cost rather than little pieces here and there.

    • adwodon says:

      While that’s certainly a suitable model it does have its limitations as well.

      With a game that can consistently generate revenue from players developer support can continue beyond simple bug fixes. Path of Exile is a good example, the developers claim to have a 10 year plan to continually add new content.

      This model works if done correctly simply because I can continue to support the developers and they can continue to provide me with content, it’s still in its infancy and many large development houses haven’t quite figured it out but there’s no reason to completely abandon it.

      This game needs to sort itself out a bit though, there needs to be less focus on items and upgrades being purchased and more on cosmetic items, this game is genuinely perfect for that, all the cosmetic ways you could improve your castle to make it more fun and more interesting, without affecting balance would be wonderful and in my opinion is a good way to persuade people to part with their money as they don’t feel they are being forced to do so, they are just doing so because they enjoy the game and want to support the developers whilst getting some cool cosmetic changes to make their experience more enjoyable.

      • Khalan says:

        “With a game that can consistently generate revenue from players developer support can continue beyond simple bug fixes.”
        That’s a good point.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        What about Minecraft?
        What about new purchases?
        What about additional content (thus not P2W) or a sequel?

      • Baines says:

        Path of Exile has a 10 year plan to continually add content? I guess I can see that, if what they really mean is “10 year beta”.

  13. Rivalus says:

    I’ve played this since the first batch beta. I love the concept. But the ability to buy the next significant upgrade made the pit between free player and customer grow distance. Hopefully they will address this soon.

  14. pupsikaso says:

    Neighthan Greighson

  15. Jenks says:

    I don’t bother with f2p games, whether or not someone else decides they are “p2w” – because they are.

  16. mxxcon says:

    I still do not understand what all the uproar was about.
    Pay2Win assumes that in order to be competitive one HAS TO buy items that are available ONLY FOR REAL $.
    With this change you could buy everything with in-game money, so there was no distinct advantage in spending $ other than to skip some of the grinding (perhaps more boring aspects to some players).
    I would call that change to be more like “Pay2Skip”, and I don’t mind it as much.

    Somebody explain to me why this is wrong…

    • TechnicalBen says:

      When the incentive is to extend the grind to make the purchase more desirable, do you trust them to sit on their gold plated hands and not extend the grind? Really? :P

    • Baines says:

      Pay-to-win has both meanings. Thanks to edge cases, it is a bit of a fuzzy concept.

      Pay-to-win means you can buy an advantage over other players. But what does buying an advantage mean?

      If you can pay money to buy a better version of a weapon, and that better version is only available by paying real money, then it is pay-to-win. But what if you can sell or trade that weapon to another player for in-game currency or items? What if the weapon can be bought/found in-game, but the requirements to do so are extremely high? Where do you draw the line between what is too extreme and what is acceptable?

      Is “buying an advantage” only buying something that otherwise cannot be obtained or achieved? Or is simply saving enough time/resources/gameplay buying an advantage? Take a theoretical version of Call of Duty or Halo or something else that uses weapon unlocks. Ignore microtransactions and pay-to-win for the moment. If one player starts with everything except the basic weapons locked and another player starts with everything unlocked, then few would disagree that the second player has been given an advantage over the first player, and very likely a game balance affecting advantage. If you accept that as an unfair advantage, then what does that mean for the same situation when you introduce buying those unlocks with real money? Player one might have to play 20 hours to get the stuff that player two paid real money to be able to start with. Has player 2 bought an advantage or just saved time? Should it be called pay-to-win or not?

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        Personally I think the term pay-to-win only makes sense when placed in a competitive situation where paying increases your odds of beating the other players more than grinding a reasonable amount of time would’ve done.

        Even if some overpowered weapons in a given game are only available for real money, it doesn’t automatically make the game pay-to-win. Say the game has a matchmaking system based on the power of your weapons, it would mean that you’d basically be paying to play in a separate league of pay-only players. But you wouldn’t be paying to pwn the freeloaders.

        It seems that some people scream PAY TO WIN to the top of their voice only to conceal their jealousy that someone has more money than them. What they don’t realize is that they probably have much more free time on their hands than the people they’re jealous of, and that’s an equally valid cause for jealousy. In the end if I meet a powerful castle in Mighty Quest, I don’t know if the person build that by grinding in-game currency or grinding real-life currency on his dayjob. And why should I care? Besides the perverse psychological desire to force other people to play the game a certain way, there’s no reason to since it doesn’t change my experience of the game.

  17. FriendlyFire says:

    I think Ubisoft will think twice before releasing another real beta to people. I find it absolutely fucking absurd how people complain “waah waah it’s not a beta it’s a glorified demo” when presented with most AAA betas, but when actual betas come about, they go “waah waah it’s broken they’re changing stuff all the time the balance is shit”.

    GET A GRIP. Betas are for testing stuff out. Do you seriously believe games don’t go through these iterative tests all the damn time? Games like Planetside 2, which seems to be a RPS darling, almost assuredly went through many phases of “what is acceptable for monetization” internally. The difference is that Ubisoft did it publicly, which people are seemingly unable to accept.

    So as I’ve said, stop whining that game betas aren’t real betas when you lambast the real ones for being what they are.

    • The Random One says:

      Yeah, take that, Internet! Stop acting like you’re many different people who have different opinions and each complain when their personal expectations aren’t met! It’s super weird!

    • lomaxgnome says:

      If it’s truly in Beta, and the system in place was just being tested and didn’t take any real money, I absolutely agree with you. But the very minute any of these perpetual mmo style games take real money and have a “we won’t wipe any content from here out” policy, they cease being in Beta. The Google form of calling things Beta just because you know they are buggy and changing is BS. And the f2p games that exploit that moniker for goodwill are the worst of the lot.

      Now, I’m glad they are willing to change and adapt bad policies, and they deserve credit for that. And the game in a month or six months or a year shouldn’t be lambasted because they may have once had a bad policy. But that has nothing to do with Beta or not.

  18. Torn says:

    TotalBiscuit had a great video on this: The Pricey Quest For Awful Loot

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Great? That’s actually an awful rage video. Don’t go there expecting an in-depth analysis of the game’s new business model or the meaning(s) of pay-to-win, that’s for sure.

  19. DanMan says:

    TRWTF being that they charge you money for a beta software.

    Erm, sorry, wrong website.

  20. jgthespy says:

    The “humor” in this game is what happens when stupid people think they know how to be witty. I’ll buy Blings if they use the money to hire a writer or delete all of the attempted jokes.