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May 30, 2013

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1.

The rest of non-paying players in a F2P MMO still help keep the game healthy feeling, busy and relevant. The Whales don't stick around unless the game as a whole and the community participating in it remains vibrant and passionate, and so your opinions as a non-paying player still count! Given that you are not the primary focus for marketing means that you are, essentially, discounted from some considerations on what to sell and how and at what price point, but in terms of the overall direction and life of the game, your opinion is still valid, and valuable :)

I say this as a member of an MTX team of a F2P MMO (sorry to not be more specific, but I am posting this from my own perspective, not under the authorization of the company). We tend to be quite clear, internally, about who we're developing a feature for. Sometimes it's really with a focus on the whales, but for the most part we develop for the community as a whole, and try to make sure that there are good-feeling (we hope) ways for those who are able and choose to monetize to do so.

2.

Your voice doesn't count, Ted. Then again, neither do the voices of the whales. MMOs aren't run as democracies. That said, you have rights as a player to express opinions. So do non-players. So do whales. They just don't have to be listened to by developers.

In Vegas, 100,000 regular people spending an average of $200 a day will generate $20m. One oil-rich sheikh or oligarch will spend that in a single sitting. The thing is, they wouldn't do that if it weren't for the presence of the other 100,000 people. If you want to be a high roller, there has to be someone higher than whom you can roll.

With MMOs, many of the 1% who are paying are doing so to be better than the 99% who aren't paying. Without that 99%, there would be no-one for them to feel better than.

I'm surprised at the figure of 1% spending money, though; I thought that for MMOs it was higher, especially for cosmetic items.

3.

So, I'm a whale now is it? LOL

4.

If only 1% of players monetized at all, then all the money would be coming from that 1%, not most of the money coming from 10% of players. )You can't actually calculate this from what they reported, because the "less than 1%" of players who monetize just looked at brand new players.) Still, just from guessing what the real numbers might be, it looks to me like a lot less than 10% of players are putting in most of the money.

5.

If you take Lastowka/Hunter's example of the dispute over the goose that laid the virtual golden egg and assume the matter is to be settled within the game (online dispute resolution), should a 99%-er stand on the same legal footing as the 1%-er? That is, if you're drafting the game's Terms of Use, do you favor in any way the paying member? Or, do we assume all players 'mix' their labor with the environment equally and completely disregard the nature of an investment even if the outcome of the dispute resolution process might threaten the value of the paying member's cash investment?

I'm not sure but I think framing the issue as a "right to speak" is troublesome because a paying member's participation will tend to look like it has better influence (as Anon notes above) on what would amount to 'public policy.' Am I wrong in thinking that there's a real difference between a paying member's cash contribution and a high-roller's tax liability? In my mind, the difference between a Whale and a High-Roller is that the High-Roller occupies the same position as any other player within the justice system - at least in principle.

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