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Virtual pubs and virtual casinos

June 11, 2009

Melf_Himself made a good post about reward gameplay. Playing an MMO is a bit like going to a pub in my view. You go there to relax and enjoy yourself, socialise and chat with friends, perhaps play some dart or pool – and most likely drink something.

Spending time in the pub is not something I expect to get some particular reward from. And if it is not particularly enjoyable I might just head off to a different place or do something different. There is not really much pressure from the pub that I should do otherwise. They will of course want me as a customer, but they are very much just providing the facilities for people to enjoy themselves in some way, as long as they do not harass other customers too much.

A casino is a slighty different entertainment facility. There is a more focused set of activities you can do, much centered around the prospect of winning money. Also, the casino will gladly try to condition you to stay within the premises in various ways, in order to keep you gambling. The casino will happily keep you there to just sit by the slot machines all day if needed, doing the same thing over and over.

I would really like for the MMOs to be my virtual pubs, but some are putting in slot machines in the facilities and try to keep people around, enticing them with the prospect of loot.  Some seem more like virtual casinos, some are somewhere in between. And many are successful in getting people to the casino-like parts. I think this is unfortunate, but who’s fault is it? The virtual casino-like facilities, or the people that buy into that entertainment en masse (not just the occasional gamble)?

In either case I do hope that the attitude could be more pub-like. There can always be more pubs, but there can certainly be too many casinos.

Categories: MMO Games
  1. June 11, 2009 at 21:49

    IMO raiding is an egregious example of the virtual casino theory of MMO design. You run a multi hour instance over and over again for the chance to roll for a piece of gear that itself has a tiny chance of dropping. LoTRO recently added a gift box system for solo players that’s just about as bad. Hoard up tons of rare items from quests and trade them for a box that has a tiny chance to contain a 2nd or 1st age legendary item.

    Not remotely on topic (but pubs and casinos made me thing of it), but I wish pubs in MMOs more frequently had mini games. For example, leading up to the launch of MoM, LoTRO launched a website with four mini-games. It would be absolutely awesome if you could launch those from taverns within LoTRO, they are perfect pub games. One is even dwarves drinking beer and throwing axes. What could be more perfect?

  2. June 12, 2009 at 06:38

    That’s a really good analogy. I’m in for the virtual pub experience too, MMOs are something to do as an alternative to TV for me, when I want to just hang out of an evening.

  3. June 12, 2009 at 15:30

    Interesting concept.

    Too bad it is all about the money.

    DDO, Vanguard and EQ2 are all going to prove something to us though..

    Is it more profitable to be RMT than monthly.

    Guess that is why they call it a “gamble”

  4. June 12, 2009 at 22:52

    I’m absolutely with you there, I too want a more pub-like experience. I’m so over the idea that I have to be “worthy” of doing content. What a crock. I want to relax and enjoy myself in a game not start my second job. I don’t mind challenge but the whole pre-requisite crap, especially associated with raiding, needs to DIE already! 🙂 Or at least have something less treadmill at max level for the non-raiding types to do. I don’t so social games so that’s not what I’m looking for either.

  5. June 13, 2009 at 14:27


    I don’t think payment models and pub/casino views are much correlated, either type of game could work with multiple payment models.

    Diversifying the payment models will allow more games to be viable economically, I believe.

  6. June 18, 2009 at 18:22

    Great analogy. Monthly subscriptions to socialize online are similar to feeling obligated to buy a couple beers while you chat in a pub (MMOs are cheaper).

    It makes me think virtual bars are a possibility — very small virtual worlds with a few free activities but lots of temporary purchases.

  1. June 13, 2009 at 08:14
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