Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cheating? Or Paying Your Way?

Freebooter - Another name for a Pirate and a posh font
I find myself considering the rights and wrongs of the various boosters, memberships and charges available for purchase in Pirate Galaxy. Is it right to pay for an item that will give you an advantage in the game, or is that cheating? On the other hand is it fair to keep playing the game without paying, effectively free loading off SplitScreen's hard work and the financial contributions of others?

PG is a game created by a private company in order to generate profit, not a charity. If no one paid for gold to acquire the various items than there would be no PG for us to play. Playing for free while trying the game out only makes sense, and if you’re an occasional player why pay £34.99/month for just 2 hours at weekends?

So is it fair to be a hard-core player putting in 20+ hours a week without contributing financially? Yes. PG claims to be, and is, free to play. Their aim is to reel you in with a quality gaming experience so you are prepared to pay, to get an edge over the game or other players. If they haven’t convinced you to put your hand in your pocket then that’s their failure. It’s not like you’re pirating or hacking the game.

If you are prepared to pay, how do you feel about boosters for Firepower or Blue Prints for example? These give you an undeniable advantage in the game, along with Cryonite Protectors, Clan Size boosters and of course the Ueber Hack Pack. You can’t call these cheating because SplitScreen creates and encourages their use. You may argue that the game is balanced to make non-payers find it frustratingly hard, designed to be played with a little boost here and there generating honest profit for the company.

If you like, the freebooters are playing the game on the ‘Hard’ setting, while those who use boosters are playing in the ‘Standard’ mode. Perhaps those who get the Ueber Hack Pack are on ‘Easy’ and those who are shepherded through the systems by a clan are in cheat mode.

What if you want to contribute financially in order to secure the future of PG but still want to play in ‘Hard’ mode? Simple, there are items you can buy that don’t give you an in-game advantage. Fancy having a ship that glows blue? Buy an Ion skin. Maybe you wish you’d named your pilot Steve Zodiac rather than Nigel_1987, if so buy a Rename Pack.

One final question. Do Energy Boosters and Memberships give you a playing advantage? I admit to having used Energy Boosters to get me over the line in a couple of particularly tough Story Missions, so in those cases yes. If however you use Energy Boosters and Memberships to avoid the tedious collection of E, then you’re doing it to spend more of your game time having fun. Very occasionally your E runs out in a mission but that’s rare. In a PVP fight someone usually wins before the E is gone. Maybe in Conquests it is more of an advantage, but who cares about Conquests anyway?

At the moment you can buy 105,000 gold for £86.07, and you can get Ultimate Membership for 66,000 gold. This means that for £54.10 you can use all of your items, Hyperjump across the systems, and repair your ships for Zero Energy. That sounds very tempting now I’ve worked it out. You’ll be helping to make sure that PG keeps going by making it worth SplitScreen's while, and best of all you won’t be cheating.

1 comment:

  1. "it fair to keep playing the game without paying, effectively free loading off SplitScreen's hard work and the financial contributions of others?"

    No, it's not. But at least they shouldn't call it free MMO if it require spending money to get items that let you enjoy the game such as membership to solve the energy usage problem