Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gambling Chuck E Cheese Style (Hasta La Vista Wishing Wells)

If you hadn’t heard, there was a controversial feature for the upcoming patch. For more information you can head to Joe’s blog, and from there you can find links to the thread on Central and another on the Spiral Free Press.

The Wishing Well feature has now been put on hold because of all the concerns being listed. Yes, it has gone the way of the dodo bird and gold wagering. The following official statement came down yesterday:
“Thank you everyone for your feedback and concerns regarding the Wishing Well system.

We are reconsidering how these Wishing Wells function, and they will not be going to the Live Realm with the other updates. We may choose to revisit the Wishing Well in the future, but with a dynamic that is more favorable to all our players.

It's players like all of you that help make Wizard101 safe and fun for everyone.”

So one may ask what exactly the new “dynamic” could possibly be? I’m not sure exactly. Most of the time when a gambling-like function was put into an online game, it was so that the huge amount of the gold-bloated, economy-choking surplus of virtual money in an MMO could be removed through the gambling system. (not really possible in Wizard101 since there's a cap on the amount of gold you can earn, but I digress)

We know how gambling works . . . the house wins . . . even when they lose, they win because the odds are in their favor. Most people lose and then one or two lucky suckers get the jackpot. Any way you slice it, KI would win in this situation.

Back tracking my gaming history here, I think Everquest is an example of a true gambling system in MMOs. They didn't try to hide it one bit: it was labeled as "gambling" and you did it in the "casino." I remember buying a few EQ gambling tickets and trying my hand at win a staff that allowed you to cast a spell on your character to regenerate life at an astronomical rate. It was basically a power leveling dream for low level characters who typically had to spend a lot of time on their kiester waiting for their hit points to regenerate (it was a very slow process to heal up after combat back in the day). All I ever ended up with were a few pieces of stat food (yup, food in EQ gives you stats like gear does . . . that’s a whole other misty thicket picnic that we won’t get into now though).

I actually proposed something along the lines of a wishing well back in this post here . . . and I quote myself here, "I hope I'll be able to throw a few coins in and get something good in return. That would be a great way to get some of the virtual money out of the game and out of people's backpacks."

Pardon me while I break out the Chuck E. Cheese metaphor again for you all. (Oh sure, use the Chuck E. Cheese metaphor again, Friendly . . . go ahead, let's hear it.)

I mean, really, at Chuck E. Cheese you put a token (which you paid real money for) in a game there and through random chance (or skill) you receive tickets and then you go spend those tickets on little toys over in the redeem center. EVERYBODY knows that you can get those little toys for much much cheaper at the store, but a trip to Chuck E. Cheese is all about getting those tickets and having fun for an hour or two earning them with your kids. You get to see that big wheel spin, and you dump tokens into those machines like mad even. Maybe even more furiously than at a gambling establishment, but no one seems to be raising a big fuss about that, are they? Nope . . . because it's all in good fun.

I agree 100% that I want to see Kingsisle be more charitable (as Spiral Press asks), and I would like them to try harder than how the wishing wells were presented to us . . . mainly because the wishing well feature was not anywhere near as fun as a one of the games at Chuck E. Cheese and could have been!

If KI does fix the “dynamic,” then I think it should be something along the lines of improved mini-games and perhaps locking the games behind a password protected door to their own mini-game world where teleports are disallowed. You know? If a kid wants to go spend their crowns playing exclusive games for exclusive prizes, then mom and dad have to ok it, and THEN it actually would be at that point like a virtual trip to Chuck E Cheese within the world of Wizard101, which would be awesome.

What do you think?

Happy Dueling!


smvb said...

KI has made a good decision. I didn't think it was such a bad thing at first, because I thought it was simply a way to exchange crowns for gold at a better rate than usual (5 crowns->20 gold) with an extra treasure card thrown in from time to time. What I had obviously MISSED was that the amount you tossed in kept increasing with each throw.

I agree that the gaming aspect of it should be fun. Then you are getting some value for your money above whatever "prize" you get. As a grown up, I don't object to gambling, on a moral basis really. (Although for those addicted, it is wrong.) I think it is just a more direct way of spending money for entertainment. But it still helps in adult gambling if the game is more fun.

I must admit, though, that I have some reservations about any type of "gambling" in a kids game. Children don't really yet have a good idea of the value of money, although perhaps creating some direct parental control as you suggest would help.

Jessica said...

I think a 'Grant a Wish Wishing Well' would be a lot better, like Spiral Free Press says. I don't think gambling for that is fun, since, first of all, I don't like gambling. It's very dependent on odds. So hey, getting your malastaire robe without farming for it might be 7,000 to 1. Secondly, it really wouldn't be good in a ids game, like smvb said. I completely disagree at this feature, and unless they change it into that 'Grant a Wish Wishing Well', I would never use it if Kingsisle decides it should go live again. Period.