Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Latte Factor

Xak, forgive me. Please. I have no business dealing with the money stuff. Hell, I can't even handle the funny stuff.

But--this got me to thinking (and when I start thinking, it usually results in someone crying, me apologizing, and the sound of a wolf howling off in the distance...)

How does a business model like Blizzard's begin to meet everyone's desires and still make a tidy profit? How do they balance the controlled time spent in-game when it's an "unwinnable" game? Well, it's obvious: create other things to do that are gold-and-time sinks, such as pet or mount collection.  And make those things seem fun, frivolous, and just ever-so-out-of-reach.

That yak is going to be 60K in game. Sixty. Effing. Kay. I have never had that much coin together on all my characters combined. I have looted over 100K over time, if I go back and check the stats, but it's never spawned in one place at one time, or even in a short time. And as one commenter said on another blog (damn, why didn't I bookmark it!) very few players have that kind of gold in game. Maybe 1%. (Sound familiar? I can see the bumper sticker now: Occupy Stormwind! It was an inside job, I am sure. And there is not a single goblin or troll in the stockades.)The financial budgeting of the gold is annoying as a pile of puppy poo--yes, it must be cleaned up, and it was an accident, but it still stinks. Don't look at me like that, with those big puppy eyes, Blizzard! No! Bad dog! Oh, okay! There's a good boy! Yes, yes you are!

The expression "the latte factor" is one of those that gets tossed out like an emotional hand grenade when well meaning but highly unimaginative financial planners inform you the obvious: those little expenses are what eat away at the big savings. "If you would only cut back your daily latte, you'd save...well, let's do the math: Latte* and Scone, with my area's sales tax rate, $5.33 x 5 days of week = 26.55 x 52 weeks/year = $1,385.80. (Sh*T!!) But I don't buy a latte and scone every week day, every week of the year. Some days I buy five. And some days none. Most of my time and money is spent on others--I have a job, but the huge percentage of my income goes towards others. That's the happy life I have created, love, and am blessed with. No regrets at all, in fact, the opposite. What those well-meaning financial planners do not take into account is that perhaps that $1300 and change is a 'happy life factor.' Meaning, it can be rationalized away, with a hickory and oak wand with a unicorn tear-shaped diamond on its tip, ta-da!

*Not a latte, but grande Americano, with two inches of extra-foamy steamed breve, no sweetener--cheaper than a latte.

But these little things do add up, and they are the opiates of the masses. As with any small "I'll just get myself this one little treat," there is a hefty amount of guilt tax to pay. Just like eating only 100 calories over what you burn off over time adds up to many stones. (One the more charming of British expressions, "stones." Sounds like what one weighs in fairy-circle mass versus being hit over the head by a hammer.)

I had Xak look over a previous post, and he created this chart for in-game addictive behaviors:

You ↓\ Yourself →
Learn things
Hate Yourself
Play again

From Xak:
I don't know if your mail reading program will let you see that or not but I built the Xak Intertemporal Model of Addiction to Prisoner Dilemma Yourself.  The model has an increasing discount rate for the strategy (Play again, Learn things) and a inverse and increase discount rate for the strategy (Stop, Learn things).  The results of this model are to value both self esteem and moderation.

So, how I read this is in 'diminishing returns.' The more time I spend in Azeroth, and the less I feel "accomplished," like I am getting somewhere or doing something cool, the less fulfilling it becomes. I feel like time-wise I have painted my tail in a big-time corner. Let's review, shall we?

The 85s:

Mataoka: recently joined a large guild with the, promise is not the right word, "expectation?" of raiding. She (yes, going in third person schizophrenia mode) is restless as a rogue drone bee. Currently on a probationary period,  I haven't (see what I did there? Channeled her back to myself) studied the fights, or even gotten a 397 agility chest piece for her. I have no idea why: maybe because I do just fine/adequate DPS in her LFR tier gear, but there has been no more progression in terms of gear, weapons, achievements, etc. This character feels very, very stalled, and kind of lost. Have been enjoying healing with her, but again, have not reconfigured any add-ons such as Healbot. Just feels kind of pointless when doing 5-mans and LFRs. Click. Sploosh. Make it rain, baby!

Luperci: Dios mio. Let's skip her.

Haanta: This could be my money-maker. I could go get dragon scales and sell them for a hefty pop each, even more than a latte. Why she just sits languishing I have no clue. Hunters are going to get a mighty boost, meaning they can shoot from where they stand, no range necessary.

Don't get me started.

Ceniza: I really love playing her character, but again, is kind of lost in Azeroth right now as far as increasing gear, skills, and other factors.

Zeptepi: Ditto. Love playing this beautiful priest, but until I manage to sit down and study the fights, the ones everyone seems and has been doing for weeks, she is benched.

Momokawa: starting to get boring, but really fun to dress-up
Kélda: fun, but confusing, also fun to dress-up and great for solo play. So far haven't had any complaints since this pretty lock is always last place in damage/dps, but she gets the job done.
Dornaa: storyline character

I think I see what the problem is: trying to have too many characters be at a high level of play.


Back to Tree's post. The guilt. The creeping, black-rot of guilt. Guilt over not doing other things, the guilt over having/trying two accounts, the guilt over tranferring characters back to one account and those resulting incurring fees, the guilt of deleting some characters, too, though they are pixels. There is absolutely that "it" factor when it comes to deleting characters, like sending them off on an ice floe to fend for themelves. And yes I know we can start characters on other servers, but damn, Whisperwind is where my money is!! Kind of like going off to college but not getting too far away from mom's washer and dryer. These are the game factors where to me, I have Bear's reaction and want to say, "I'm OUT." It's my gold, and why can't I transfer gold and goods across servers to MY characters? Yesterday I needed to get back a gem that Ceniza put on the AH for Zep, so I just went to the AH to buy it, and of course couldn't. My choices were to log off, cancel the auction, or buy a slightly cheaper one from another seller, which is what I did. I could have also logged off, and had my JC, Matty, buy the raw materials, cut it, and then mail it. All of this would only take a few minutes, but dammit, it's those "few minutes" that EFFING ADD UP AND MAKE ME INSANE. (Hear that wolf howling? Told you.)

This displeases me.

But what does bring us happiness? And yes, money may not buy happiness, but life without it isn't pleasant either. We can't all go off to a small keep somewhere like our lovable hermit, Abercrombie:

Maybe he's the one who cooks up those questionable Abercrombie & Fitch ad campaigns?
Should have included him in this, too.

Bottom line, when asked if I feel any guilt over not playing or trying other MMOs? No. No I don't. Like hard-earned gold, I'm going to spend my guilt coin wisely, over things that I can do something about so I can alleviate that nagging, biting little personified bastard. The advice any intelligent, sane person would offer would be to: 1. Take a break 2. Set time limits 3. Don't care so much. All good things, and really, what I do feel. Blizzard's going to get their subscription fees out of my budget for some time now, I'm not quitting any time soon, and still receive the undefinable satisfaction over hanging out with friends, looking at beautiful scenary, and yes --still love writing those little silly stories. For the most part, worth the price of admission (unlike Snow White and the Huntsman. FOR GOD'S SAKE WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE BUY THAT GIRL SOME ACTING LESSONS?!?!)

End of Rant. Amen.

Theme Song: The Who/Behind Blue Eyes


  1. I kind of hate that I'm forced to be frugal in WoW as well as real life, it doesn't seem fair. I want an Orb of Deception but my bank alt refuses as letting this kind of stuff get out of hand would be my WoW latte factor. Sigh, that's why she handles the money and not me.

    Yeah, I'm sure some people can play exceedingly well on multiple classes but I find two is about all I can manage to keep up with. I logged into my hunter after a long while and had to run screaming from a pack of mobs as I couldn't remember what the hell it was I was supposed to do. Didn't even remember to play dead.

    On reflection I think what they should have given us for the year's subscription is about 50,000 gold or so. Then I wouldn't have to be frugal and have my bank alt boss me around.

    1. Here is how it works:
      Big tree knocked DirecTV satellite dish off-course.
      Been a customer since 1996.
      Now every so often a program doesn't record.
      Call them to send someone out.
      They tell me no until I do a list of trouble-shooting.
      I tell them to send someone out.
      They send me an email with trouble-shooting directions, which the stipulation that I must do them before they will send someone out.
      They then send me an email asking how their customer service was.

  2. I end up spending gold on professions I could have spent time levelling. Why spend so much time levelling a profession when I could be playing the game? I tell myself this, but my bank alt isn't buying it and the gold farmers I buy my herbs and leather from are laughing all the way to the bank. I do have the guilt complex on occasion, mostly over professions which I am rubbish at.

    (Btw schizophrenia is an illness when you are delusional and hallucinate, and has nothing to do with multiple personalities whose clinical diagnosis is Dissociative Identity Disorder, realllly common mistake but it's a mission of mine to debunk the myth haha)

    1. Thank you for the clarification --I am embarrassed because at one point in my life I did know the difference, and should not be tossing around Diagnostic and Statistical Manual verbage like I have good sense. The amount of fear and misunderstandings associated with mental illness is a serious issue, and one I did not intend to be irreverent about.

      As far as gold, Guarf reminded me again that yes, anyone can get gold. But it's boring. So that new car, er, Yak, may have to stay at the shop a bit. And I'm thinking even if I do amass 60K, this may be my moment to vote with my consumer dollar, write Blizzard, tell them I have the gold, but they can go kiss a troll's butt. (I'm a big talker, so we shall see.) At least in Animcal Crossing I got a house! Hey - there's a thought- let characters buy real estate, too! Their own inns and manses where all the characters can stay and get rested XP!


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