Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cosmetic Audience - For Yourself Or Others?

" Once a game is clearly massive, like Hearthstone or LOL it's worth paying to differentiate yourself from every random player because a lot of people will be audience for your flashy cosmetic outfit."
- Stabs, commenting on my post

Stabs' comment assumes that displaying cosmetics to other players is a primary motivator for purchasing cosmetic items in a cash store.  I'm sure some people care about this sort of thing, but I guess for me it is a matter of how you define audience. 

I own Cyclops' 90's costume, after deciding to pre-order his founder's pack at the very last minute pre-launch.  If there had been even a small discount available for displaying the mediocre default costume to the audience of complete strangers who see me passing by in Stark Tower, I would have taken it.  The audience that I cared about in making a purchase to snag this costume is precisely one person large - myself.  Playing existing characters from the Marvel universe is a key selling point of this game, and I strongly associate this particular character with the costume he wore during the era when I was actually reading the comics and watching the cartoons.  I see my character on the screen far often than any stranger I run into in-game will, and it is worth having my character look the way I want him to look for my personal benefit. 

Marvel Heroes is not an open world MMORPG, and thinking back I can remember just one time when I ever had anything in an MMO that actually drew significant attention/comment from other players.  I had a horse for my gnome in World of Warcraft back in 2006, before riding skill or easy spill-over rep gain, and I did occasionally get compliments for having pulled it off.  That said, I'd argue there are two key differences - first, earning the horse was an in-game achievement (which took a lot of time back in the day) rather than just a small cash fee, and second, WoW servers in that era had much more of a community feel of days gone past when someone might actually remember the gnome on the horse.  For better or worse, those days aren't around anymore. 

Today, if I do but a cosmetic item, it's going to be primarily for my own enjoyment.  How do you all feel?  Would you pay extra for the sole purpose of showing off to other players? 

A rare sight back in the day (because it was hard to get a horse), and even rarer today (poor Marcus).


Carson 63000 said...

Something of a tangent, but I thought being an open world was Marvel Heroes' unique selling point amongst the Diablo-esque ARPGs?

I know when I checked it out in beta there seemed to be arbitrary crowds of random people running around.

Green Armadillo said...

The world is public but not persistent. There is one server and as many instances of X location as needed. The smaller randomly generated areas like you see in other ARPG's are semi-public, there's a partial open grouping system to add people who zone in at around the same time. You might encounter the same person several times in one evening if you're both in the same general level range but I haven't found that I run into people again if you come back tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

UO dye jobs and colored armor I used consistently in the day. Rift dyes and costumes as well, since you only had 4 classes and the base models were identical. WoW and games with a baseline diversity, I never found the need for external visual cues. Transmog, for all its limitations, is entirely a personal preference.

Anonymous said...

I have always been a fan of customized looks in MMOs. If I am going to spend hours looking at a character, I want him to look the way I want. That was a great feature of SWTOR (I stopped playing WoW before transmogs). I spent hours getting together the "right" look, especially before there were many hood down options for jedi.

Getting the right look is 100% for me, but I always appreciate the occasional whisper from another player that he/she liked my toon's look.

Psychochild said...

There's no single, monolithic explanation for why players do anything in a game. Some might buy a cosmetic skin for their own gratification, because it's a version of the character they recognize best (like a superhero costume), because they want attention from other people, or because they got it for free so why not? This can vary from game to game, person to person, even moment to moment for the same person in the same game.

Anonymous said...

That definitely is true for me as well. It's nice to get a cheer for some outfit, but mostly I have to like it.

I actually did that vanilla grind as well and got a raptor on my Orc Rogue - fun times :)

Kevin Brill said...

I dress my character to suit me. It helps me connect with my character from a visual as well as role playing standpoint. If I like the way they look, I sympathize more with them, and enjoy playing them more. I also like to let random strangers know if they have a cool look, just to encourage diversity in the game world.

I have also reached the point that I get grumpy when games don't give you the option for easily switching out outfits. LOTRO and Rift do a fabulous job of managing wardrobes, and I get a bit cranky when looking at Warcraft. While the concept of transmog is excellent, not having multiple "outfits" is a major bummer for me.

As a side note in Warcraft circa 2005, my brother was a dwarf on a mechano-strider. I remember being uber-impressed, since it was such a rarity to see. I do know that he turned in gobs of runecloth to get there though...