By now, you may have already heard of the… unusual… payment model that is being implemented in the Chinese version of Snail Games’ Black Gold Online. If you can’t understand what’s being spoken in the video, the main concepts (courtesy of MMOCulture) are:

  1. The system, Black Gold Time, will automatically (every hour) or manually “lock” the loot players get within a time frame.
  2. After a few hours, some items will be “locked,” while others will enter player’s inventory.
  3. The basic items and less valuable one will be spared from this “lock” system.
  4. Players will then purchase gold using cash, and selecting which time slots items to claim. Time slots can be deleted manually.
  5. There is a dice roll option, and if successful, players may get a discount to claim the items. There is a chance all items in the time slot can be claimed for free as well.
  6. Snail Games claims that this is to minimize the number of “useless drops” players need to handle.

Well, that’s… huh?

If I’m interpreting this correctly, it boils down to this: You get some loot. Within the next hour (or couple of hours?), some of the more valuable loot will be “locked.” You can “unlock” loot by paying real money or possibly via a (presumably free) dice roll. And it’s all for your own good! Really, trust us!

Before your head explodes from reading this, let me play a little devil’s advocate. Is this fundamentally any different from a number of games, particularly arena-style PvP games like World of Tanks and League of Legends, that offer you more XP if you pay? If you want to advance faster, you pay money; this is the same concept, only with regards to loot.

Even if you look at it that way, it’s still pretty clear that this approach won’t go over well in the West, and it reeks of manipulation. It’s well known among psychologists that people react more strongly to loss of something they have than they do to the ability to gain that same thing. In other words, you’re sadder if you lose $100 than you are happy if you gain $100.

That’s how some of the most exploitative “free” titles get people to pony up. “You just completed level 10! Here’s a swell hat you’ve earned, but only if you pay $5!” Your feeling is that you worked hard for that hat, it’s yours, and now they’re going to take it away from you if you don’t pay. It hits a stronger nerve than if there was a $5 hat in the cash shop you could buy once you hit level 10. It’s not altogether unlike how lockboxes work, but we’ve been over that already.

If Black Gold Online comes to North American shores, will this system come with it? If I had to bet money (or my level 10 hat) on it, I’d say “yes.” Snail Games doesn’t strike me as a company that’s particularly interested in adapting its games – or its English – for a Western audience. The only reason Age of Wushu got any attention was because a segment of the MMO audience was absolutely starved for anything sandbox-y. BGO might appeal similarly to a niche audience but this approach is likely to scare off even the most hardcore potential player.

By Jason Winter

38 Readers Commented

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  1. Tryhard on July 17, 2014

    I played this game and it did not seem pay to win to me! I was given plenty of in game credit to unlock loads of gear that was restricted. In fact all the way to lvl 40 I did not spend a dime yet unlocked all gear using only in game credit which is earned by participating in the games many micro mechanics which make it fun and rewarding!

  2. Joey on August 7, 2013

    It’s 1:40am, I’ve never commented before, but after reading this, I decided to spend a few more seconds of my night awake, which I will regret before going to work in the morning to do this:

    Ha, ha, ha

  3. Bic Boi on July 30, 2013

    Wait, wait, wait..who the hell are Snail Games, again?

    Seriously I don’t even know who these guys are..so they must be nobodies in the MMO industry. This loot ransom “gib reel moni plos” nonsense just gives me more of a reason to continue with the notion that they are absolute nobodies; shmucks of the highest order. Balls to you, Snail Games.

    • yeah on August 9, 2013

      Just because YOU havnt heard of Snail Games doesn’t mean they are nobodies.

      Perfect World was virtually unknown in the western market even though its game is huge in China.

  4. Reavermyst on July 29, 2013

    uhhhh…. Uhm, is it bad that playing the devils advocate on this doesn’t even yield understandable logic? SWTOR at the very least allowed you to PICK UP loot you couldn’t use without paying, so when you find something AWESOME you can hold onto it until you can pay to access it! With this system, they’re holding that rare drop for ransom! When a game makes SWTOR’s system look good, THAT IS NOT GOOD PEOPLE!

    I can agree that all F2P titles need money to survive and if they gotta monetize, so be it. But this is a highly anti-consumer move and there is no good to be seen out of something like this. All this is going to do is damage the game, the company behind it, and in a way the way gamers view F2P as a whole. I really hope to see a change of heart with this decision.

  5. OMJesus on July 29, 2013

    Holy shit!I though Aeria Games was bad but this just takes the second place trophy(Gpotato gets 1st)

    >.>

  6. chefmadness on July 29, 2013

    I was looking forward to this game. Wanted to drive a Mec in an mmorpg. Now this game seems like it is going to suck ass, this is a joke of a system & this game will die if they keep this crap up. I guess I will wait till Titan Fall to come out to drive my mmorpg Mec.

  7. kimono on July 29, 2013

    Hoping that the game servers will be empty on release cause of this. If they think this is ok and that people will be fine with this they are horribly mistaken. The idiots should have made the game b2p instead of this garbage.

  8. Jellopy on July 29, 2013

    Yeah, I pretty much called this one in the first article you posted about this game when they announced it. Well sort of, I said it would be extremely restrictive to free players after seeing what they did with wushu. But this is beyond greedy. This one will be doa or never even reach here. I don’t think this model will last long overseas either, even if micro transactions are commonplace and effective I really don’t see too many people who are tool enough to throw money at a free game for such a basic feature. Sure there are those idiots who will buy a $200 bobble head at the notion that it rested upon Jennifer Lopez’s breasts at some point in time but this sort of shitty approach wouldn’t even appeal to them.

  9. Digitalifeless on July 29, 2013

    WTF is this? PAY TO LOOT??? New MMO money sucking invention??
    Game publishers these days………….. sigh…

  10. Rebelkilla on July 29, 2013

    Another fail game by Snail.

  11. Narroc Matahari on July 28, 2013

    This bring new meaning to the term “Ninja Looter”

    I can hear it now…. “Dam them Rich Ninja Looters”

  12. Eon on July 28, 2013

    LOL thats what snailgames like to do, plus they are china production.
    China mentatlity is to give you a free to play game and make it purely pay to win.
    Age of Wushu/Wulin has certain elements which is pay to win but people just deny that. Black Gold will be heading in the same path looking at it.
    Enjoy the OPness for those people who likes a pay to win game and enjoy the suffering for all those who likes to play a pay to win game but does not wants to come out real money.

  13. yep on July 27, 2013

    this reminds me of the Xbox-1 regulations when it first came out.

  14. ya mama on July 27, 2013

    The graphics blow, its not in NA, why u kids so mad haha, noone is gonna play this pos… move on

  15. ugurano on July 27, 2013

    all games from snaill games, pay to win

  16. herflik on July 27, 2013

    If you do something good, there will be always asian who do it better. In this case, screwing the game.

  17. asdasda on July 27, 2013

    I’ll pass on this piee of crap system.

  18. Treeman De Unmountable on July 27, 2013

    One word: C-H-I-N-E-S-E

    They love controlling their people.

    • Blue on July 27, 2013

      Same for the Americans. NSA and other American Spying Agency? ;D

      • Tio_Z on July 27, 2013

        Touche

        Don’t forget Prism salivating at Kinect 2

  19. Milos on July 27, 2013

    I have a solution. Don’t play the game.

  20. Ex on July 27, 2013

    This systems actually kinda make sense, sadly.
    The Pros:

    The first purchase, which is important in any free to play, is easy because of the gamble system: 2 awesome gears for 80% discount($1?), sure!

    The gambling sensation makes you want to play more – gear drop + drop roll = more endorphin. esp if you roll good for both, you feel like you got a steal when in reality you play into their mind games. Cough cough casinos =)

    Easy to become a “whale”, because it offers tiered spending by giving you 20% discount, 40% discount, etc…

    The penalty clause: Loss of loot, etc, covered above.

    Appearance of more loot: you feel so much more accomplished when you get 3x as much loot as you normally would (imagine d3 having that system, and each mob dropped 3x as much loot) -it’d certainly look like a better game with all dat bling flashing on the ground.

    FARMER CONTROL: it makes Chinese farmers in Chinese games pay up to the devs. Doesn’t solve the farmer problem, but at least the publisher makes money out of it.

    Cons:
    Blatant – The model is the same thing as almost all the android, iphone, facebook games – targeting large population of casual player and paying to make the game easy mode, esp with purchase of $199.99 gem/bundle/gold packs. But it’s really blunt and is definitely not western market ready. At least the way the announcer put it…

  21. Razer on July 26, 2013

    Anything goes when it’s in China.

  22. golgo28 on July 26, 2013

    to minimize the number of “useless drops” players need to handle or how to kill your game before it launches

    • M-16 on July 27, 2013

      It might kill the game here in the west, but you’ll never know how it’ll work in china.

  23. removalmitt on July 26, 2013

    although obviously not ideal, are they at least arguing that it’s to stop gold making bots taking advantage? (I’d personally just not allow currency to be passed to other players…..)

    there’s enough games popping out so often if something as horrible as this is implemented I’ll just pass and check out something else

  24. Tio_Z on July 26, 2013

    Sorry but I think your “devil’s advocate” approach seems to be a bit oblivious to this games. “TheGamer” up there already corrected you on LoL and if I may, I shall on World of Tanks.

    This money locked XP you point out from WoT differs from this model as it works like this:
    – Your tank has modules that need be researched as well as the next tank before you progress in tier. Once you have everything researched in said tank you’ll get an alert that blocks you from doing anything else until you read it and it states that now the tank is “elited”.
    That means from now on you can toggle that all XP that tank earns goes to the crew (this ain’t a monetized option) so they level faster or you can let the XP carry on pooling in the tank and then use gold (cash) to convert that to Free XP which can be used in any tank.
    Catch is, you can’t convert the XP from any tank until it is elited. So you’ll always have those free, always available options to use your XP earned in a positive and constructive way regardless if you want to invest money in the game or not.

    What Snail Games is doing would be like locking your XP in the tank and not allowing you to use it to research modules in the tank until you use cash to unlock this XP back, thus hindering your progression demanding money from you, making it a modular/episodic game instead of a F2P title.

  25. Peter on July 26, 2013

    Well,guess I’m not going to play this pile of disastrous shit then….

    “You want your loot? U want it? U want teh loot? TOO DAMN BAD! NOW PERFORM ORAL SEX ON US AND PAY US FOR THAT LOOT!”

    That’s what you sound like,oh dear idiots @ Snail Games.

    • spunkify Author on July 26, 2013

      To be fair this isnt Snail Games doing this. This is just how it is currently in Asia. Snail Games may choose not to go ahead with this.

      • Thasc on July 26, 2013

        I know the microtransactions in Asian MMOs is a bit intense, but come on. This is far worse than a 7-day costume. This is actually denying people high-tier drops at certain times of the day. This is forcing people to pay cash to keep the items that’s already been dropped for them.
        I know how money grubbing these companies are. But this is the worst scheme I’ve seen in ages.

  26. TheGamer on July 26, 2013

    WHAT??
    Is this some kind of joke?
    From what i could understand, its like:
    “Hey dude!Awesome gear you got there!You grinded as a freaking monkey to get that rare loot.NOW PAY ME SOME MONEY OR YOU CAN’T USE THAT SH1T!!”
    Is that it or am i wrong?
    Also, i don’t get what you said about EXP bonus.In LoL for example, you can still level to max, get all the champions and runes.This system is more like you can level up to max, but you can’t use some champions and runes unless you pay us some money.

    I was looking forward to this game, not anymore.

    • Adrian87 on July 26, 2013

      Very well said. I agree.

    • Thasc on July 26, 2013

      You’re a bit wrong on that one. You’re not grinding for gear and not being able to wear it. You’re grinding for gear that you can’t even loot. Because the drops have been locked, if you don’t pay out you can’t even pick it up. So there’s no showing it off, there’s no selling it to someone who can wear it, there’s nothing of the sort. There’s only bitterness and resentment as you whip out your credit card to be able to pick up that piece of epic gear.
      It’s bullshit.

    • Kemil on July 27, 2013

      actualy, in ArcheBlade, you can unlock champions only with real money xD and not with in game money bought by real money, but with $, it says “you want this champ? 5$”

      • Xaelse on July 28, 2013

        They are planning on making in-game currency later, of course.

    • dirtyzerg on July 28, 2013

      controversial? more like suicidal..

    • Foolie on July 30, 2013

      Hmm.. from what I think, the dice roll either reduces the payment / makes the items free to have but I don’t know if the dice roll will be free. However, I think the chances of getting a dice roll to make it free is like 1 in 30 or worse.

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