ArenaNet's studio president Mike O'Brien has revealed the decision process behind upcoming MMO Guild Wars 2's microtransaction system, citing unauthorised real money trader as a major factor.
"Perhaps some players don't realise at first how damaging RMT companies can be, but experienced MMO players certainly know," O'Brien told GamesBeat.
"Do you think MMO players hate all the in-game spamming of advertisements? That exists because of RMT companies. Do you think MMO players hate all the botting going on in their games? That exists because of RMT companies. Do you think MMO players hate all the malware? The keyloggers? All the widespread attempts to hack their accounts and loot all the gold off their characters?"
Guild Wars 2 allows players to trade directly with each other, swapping gold and items but not real cash. It's an attempt to keep those bots and gold farmers away.
"A player can trade gold to another player to get something he wants from the microtransaction store, but he can't trade gold to earn pure cash, so there's no business incentive to trade gold," he explained.
"It's all because, in most MMOs, there is a real-world profit incentive to trading gold and items in the game. And where there's a real profit incentive, someone out there in the world will lie, cheat, and steal to make that profit. And then the rest of us have to clean up the mess."
O'Brien also made the promise that micro-transactions were for non-essential items and services, recognising the fact that players would already have forked out $60 for the game, and so had a right to a full game. He also name checked Eve's PLEX system as an example of microtransactions done right.
He added that rare items would be recognisable because of their appearance, not by having crazy stats, to keep balance and reduce grind, "we leave the grind to other MMOs."
"I think that a Guild Wars 2 player who comes home late from work every night and can't spend as much time playing as his friends do should also have the ability to collect those really unique in-game items. Letting players trade with each other empowers them to use whatever they have to make up for whatever they don't have."
Guild Wars 2 is due for release this year, with pre-purchase editions now available.