My thought on the agent system, monetization, and gambling


#1

So I want to preface this by saying this was going to be a reply to another post, but I kind of went on a huge tangent so I decided to just make a new topic instead. The reason I have not put this in Agent system feedback topic, as its more than just about the agent system I think. I hope that this doesn’t come across as me attacking the devs or anything, as I have some maybe harsh/critical things to say. The topic I was going to reply to was this one for context: Not a single agent dossier dropping from missions

At this point the damage has already been done and they probably won’t up the drop rate, because then it would devalue the rarity of agents, which is good for some players, but then others, who lose around 10-30K marks of favor on the AH from the nonrefundable listing price, wouldn’t be too happy. :angry: However, most people will go for only a few agents that will give them the bonuses they are looking for and the rest they would only want to get for an achievement. Its a very tricky situation, and the devs are going to have to be careful in what they do. :adnyplz:

Most I think expected to do 75-100 missions in order for an agent to drop, but some of them have done well over that, that they think “oh it must be an error” :thisisfine:, if it is an error, then ok thats understandable, if not, then its inadvertently become a way to piss players off. Of which we already have too many! hahaha! But I do think there is a disconnect between what players expect, what the devs can deliver, and what Funcom :badge: needs to do in order to be a functioning company and keep the game running.

Overall, despite what I have pointed out I think the benefits of increasing the drop rate far outweigh the cons of doing so. As I’m sure many people are feeling cheated :grimacing: putting so much time into grinding missions and not getting what they expected. Though it may be more complicated as we don’t actually know the calculation that is done for giving out dossiers. In games though, I do think there is such a thing as fair and “unfriendly” RNG :game_die:, and the agent systems RNG isn’t being very friendly to some players. Which naturally means that players will wonder if the system is being “fair”.

Which brings players to question whether the monetization attached is predatory/anti-consumer. Which isn’t clear cut answer since this is a free-to-play game :aurum:, but brings up the current issue within gaming as to where does a game end and gambling begin. With the booster packs apparently having abysmal drop rates as well. :hexcoin: (I spent a bunch of money so you don’t have to! (Agent Booster Packs)) With the various definitions of gambling being “betting money on a game of chance”, or “taking risky action in the hope of a desired result”. I think we can see why people might be concerned here. A good video to watch on the subject would be this one by Rags: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JsMArLinFk :dog2:

The lootbox controversy of late however is mostly to do with gambling and being pay to win. I think that I’m fine with the monetization of the game in general as it is mostly just pay to not grind and for cosmetics. I can’t think of any pay to win elements to the game unless one of the pvp modes doesn’t have equal footing. And hey, we probably wouldn’t be getting a season 2 if it wasn’t being monetized this way. :smile:

There’s alot of different ways to take all this and I’m probably only scratching the surface. But I do think that in general gaming as a whole has gone a little too far in the gambling arena.

Goodness didn’t expect for me to say so much junk, feel free to call me out or whatever if you think I got something wrong or I am missing information. I think I will end my rambling here! :dragon:


#2

I agree that having seen many people do over 150 missions/chests with no drop, that the rate is a bit low. Most guesstimates are in the 0.5-1% range. That being said, even those drop rates mean that within a month, most people will have 2-3 agents and the AH price will have dropped.

The AH price is already at the point where you can buy an agent with approx. 10 days worth of your MoF income.

I disagree that the booster packs have abysmal drop rates, as the numbers people have been showing tend to be around 17-20% agent drops. Frankly even in a generous setup I wouldn’t expect more than a 25% drop rate so they aren’t that far behind. Now getting the coolest agents, that drop rate is considerably lower.

As is usual however, FunCom is not doing well with the ‘relative value’ of their pricing. The Agent Incapacitation is just annoying, not an incentive to get more agents, especially with a 1% drop rate. The MoF to restore is set poorly, since it takes an entire days MoF to restore a single agent for an unknown/RNG amount of missions. It isn’t an ‘MoF sink’ since almost no one is paying it.

FunCom seems to have an idea that players are willing to grind endlessly for small benefits, to hand over large amounts of game currency for things of small consequence, and to pay significant amounts of real $$ to acquire items of minor benefit.

I like FunComs’ games, I wish them success - but I suspect the above sentence is why their games have always remained little-known niche markets.


#3

Oh as an addendum I would also like to say that there are MUCH worse ways to monetize your game than the current system for Secret World, and my post is mostly just to voice my reservations at what I see as potentially a bad practice in gaming as a whole.


#4

I really didn’t expect 75-100 missions per agent. This is not a mission-grind game, it’s a “do a couple interesting missions and feel satisfied” game.

Of course I expected there to be an array of easier/harder to get agents, not “get everything after 40 missions” but more like “some 100%, some 10%, some 1%, some rarer”. And stuff you could progress towards, like “beat Carter’s mission flawlessly”


#5

yeah, that seems insanely low to me, and I agree with you on that the prices will drop the more agents are put into the system.

Ah, yes, see this is why I made the topic, so that people could bring me this kind of info. :grinning: much appreciated! Makes sense I suppose, though I think most players would think it would be higher since you are presumably paying money for booster packs.

Here I wholeheartedly agree! Though there are definitely people out there who do so, otherwise they wouldn’t be thinking that way.

That is a very apt description of the game and that is exactly how I thought it was going to be too


#6

In this thread: People who don’t understand the definition of the word gambling.


#7

it’s 2-2.5% really. Based on really many mission, around 11 drops for myself and similar chances across my cabal.

So let’s assume 2%. What does it mean in probability math? That you have 71% 63% chance you get at least one in 50 missions (71% is for 2.5% chance). 86% you get at least 1 in 100 missions. And 95% you get at least one in 150 missions.

Might not be clear to see but that means every 8th person won’t see an agent in first 100 missions. We are still at 2% drop rate, right?

That’s about math.

Now how human mentality works. People are doing missions for 2 hours, in purple/yellow gear. That feels like they did a lot. At least 40 or 50 that had to be. Wrong, they barely did 25-30 in that time.

But at least they had a drop within those 30 missions, yay! (45% of people got such drop) They need to tell on the forum, right? Wrong again. They are “reasonably happy” and simply do more missions.

So let’s see about those 55% who had no drop in their 30, I meant 40-50 - maybe more - missions. They actually go to forum to see what’s happening, if it’s bugged, rigged, or the chance is really so abysmal. And they find a topic with people who are on the same boat, it’s even more then one topic, so it’s confirmed, they have to be all right (see “confirmation bias”).

And then the funny thing. People who mostly have no real statistical data or experience by themselves (AKA “done that, still no drop”) “guesstimate” the chance. Based mostly on claims from people who were annoyed enough by the drop chance they came to forum to tell about it.

Just take that into advisement

PS. Still assuming 2% drop chance… for every unlucky person who actually did 150 missions without a drop there is one who got drop in their 3 missions. Guess how unlucky must be the counterpart for every guy who gets an agent the very first mission.


#8

I would also add to look at the drop rate from a profitability perspective. In which case they would have calculated drop rate not to optimise player buy-in; but to optimise how long or how Funcom could best use the Agent feature as a money-making scheme for the “average” player behaviour. Personally, I don’t believe in this business model, but Funcom’s monetization tactics history with SWL indicates this is the business model they’re using.

An interesting exercise would be figure out how much money they could assume to get from people buying booster packs for X amount of time and relate that to a non-paying drop rate. Then you figure a (really cheap) developer costs $100k per year in salary…


#9

If you’re assuming a 2% chance, it’d be a 63.58% chance you will get at least one Agent Dossier in 50 missions:

1 - (1 - 0.02)^50 = 0.6358

On your greater point of people’s perception of probability, I agree. It’s in human nature to find patterns in the chaos. But the kind of sample size you’d need to come to an accurate estimate of the probability something is to occur is greater than most people would either attempt to compile or have patience to do so.


#10

Well I did give a definition of gambling actually.

But lets go ahead and make the definition more focused

“betting money on a game of chance in the hope of a desired result with a chance of getting nothing in return

Under this definition the booster packs wouldn’t be considered gambling since you always get something out of them that you can sell on the AH. Which got me thinking about what it is more like, and what comes to mind is that its similar to going to the arcade and winning tickets to get a prize. But then that got me to think about something else, does that mean that things like the crane game be considered gambling according to the definition above? or all those cheap rigged carnival games?

Regardless, it gave me a new appreciation for SWL monetezation, as there are games out there where you pay money to get loot boxes or whatever and you can’t turn it into in-game currency the things you don’t want.

Your mildly derisive comment actually did some good! :+1:


#11

except you cannot sell booster pack items in the AH, they are bound


#12

Yea, if you don’t want one, they can only be fed back into the HexCoin system.


#13

Ah ok, didn’t know that, but regardless at least you can get hexcoins. Rather than your only choice is to delete because you already have one of X or whatever.


#14

I think you hit on a really good point, the duality of needing to get money to pay your employees so they can keep running the game and making new content and using monetization tactics that are generally frowned upon that may end up only driving possible customers away. :cry:

One thing is that it’s really easy to just say, “oh they are being greedy and malicious on purpose!” but in reality they are probably running on a very slim profit margin once you account for paying employees, running the game, paying investors, dealing with unforeseen problems that pop up, etc etc…

I guess the main reason I started this topic was to voice my concerns for companies in gaming and in the economy in general that are using methods that seem anti-consumer, which in the long run only harms the company.

Funcom, for all its flaws, has at least kept the game running, for which I am truly grateful, as more and more games today that aren’t even multiplayer, but do require internet to play, are being lost forever as companies shut them down. I never played TSW, so playing SWL has been a real treat for me. :smile:


#15

Kinda turns it back into gambling though, cause if you get all dupes and buy bags with hexcoins and get more dupes your supply dwindles until you have nothing.


#16

I meant legal definitions. This is does not fit the legal definition.


#17

Would you like to gather all the legal definitions and link them here? Also we have to think of how those definitions have changed over time. As well as the public’s perception and understanding of gambling is pretty important here.


#18

I can see you point on some of this. Personally I don’t like lootboxes - I’d rather flat buy whatever than to ‘hope’ it will appear - but most games do not work that way.

That said, I did buy booster packs as it’s the first $$ I’ve given to FC since they announced the TSW/SWL switcheroo. With Story 2 approaching I’ll go back to giving them $$ regularly - as long as we don’t get ‘sooned’ to death again.

The booster packs were usual RNG, a few agents, and some usable gear, and some that went back to hex coins. I may call loot boxes - gambling, and they do run close, but you don’t have to buy them. Personally I’d like booster packs to be usable across your account, not just hex coin trades, if they don’t want to make them saleable on the AH.

As for the drop rate - I’m fine with it. I don’t think it was meant to be quick, but like the museum - you can do it should you choose, do just the weekly mission on one free agent, or you can skip it and it’s not really effecting the average game play. (High end I can see them saying you have to have agent X at lvl 50… to maximize DPS, etc.), but for most its a fun mini game.

I had my first scenario drop tonight (average 3 a day), so was happy one finally did. Missions have been good on some characters, not on others. It’s RNG, SC missions have returned all agents so far, but then I’m doing those for dailies so running them more than other zone missions.

I was running more missions last week trying to get a drop, now I’m back to playing normal (other than micromanaging agents!), so daily challenges, scenarios and ?? whatever else strikes my fancy. Not actively trying to get agents by grinding - hate that.

Overall though, three characters - one has 13 agents, one has 5 and the other 4. I did do some trading on the AH - sold a $$$ one and bought a few others on the one character, and a few from boosters, the rest were mission/scenario drop. I haven’t tried the lair/dungeons yet, and no joy on the raid.

Overall, I like the agent system. I think it’s like many TSW/SWL things, layers that we haven’t got to yet.


#19

I truly despise this way of thinking and sadly it is almost always correct. There is no way to get something perfect the first time yet in situationis like this if causes developers to pause and really consider if changing it is worthwhile.

Do they lower prices on things like imbuers and catalysts after a year of being insanely overpriced? What of the hundreds of players who bought them? Should their ire be taken into consideration?

I say no. Because no one forces players to buy imbuers, or put agents on the market for 500k. They do so of their own free will. It is their choice. If prices go down 3 weeks (or a year) later, well so be it. They could have waited. They got what they needed at the time and that is what matters.

Will agent drop rates ever be increased? It was mentioned somewhat briefly that they will be looking into that at some point within the next couple of weeks. Probably with the release of Season 2 at this rate. Hopefully alongside a whole plethora of other fixes and changes this game needs, but I digress.

Should Funcom be wary of making such changes solely to appease those who charged in head first and spent a ton of marks to put agents on the market? Nope.

Of course, it could be said that was their plan all along, abysmal drop rates to encourage booster sales then increase drop rates later. Even if that were true, those who spent more right away got precisely what they paid for, first stab at the new content.


#20

Oh absolutely! Devs have a hard time trying to keep everyone happy, any decision they make will come under scrutiny by the playerbase. An example of this last year was when they released the Anima Allocation, when that came out some people weren’t too happy as their builds weren’t based around such so it meant maybe redoing talismans and whatnot, but for a newer player like me it seemed much easier to manage than the old system of getting the right talisman. One class gets nerfed/buffed and then people complain that this other class needed to be nerfed/buffed. The examples in this game and others go on and on. I don’t envy the people who have to face the wrath of us players! Hahaha!