Level Gifting: An Alternative To Selling Out

As many already know, last week WoW and LotRO announced plans to just auto-level players to the point where they can pay for the next expansion. Some players are disappointed, crying foul at Blizzard for such a cheap move, but this is poised to become a new standard.

Justin wrote an epic opposition to auto-leveling today. I hoped for an awesome argument against it, but that kitchen sink won’t hold the greasy-dirty sea of selling everything that matters if people are willing to pay.

Honestly, levels matter to me in the vanilla game and past the first or second expansion. After the third or fourth expansion, everyone who matters to you is at or near max level.

I hate the idea on principle, but it really does matter less then, especially if it means 50% more revenue and players to group with. There are other ways to feel special: titles, achievements, unique non-sold-out mounts and cosmetics, etc.

The irony is that Blizzard already has a good compromise idea going with its temporary Refer-A-Friend perk, and that’s level gifting.

Gifting should be the standard instead of selling levels because it solves a lot of the reasons why people want auto-leveling in the first place, and at the same time it makes real leveling more valued, not less. Here is how it works:

For every level you gain on a character, you gain the ability to donate a half level to another character. The main restriction is that you can’t donate to anyone who is equal or higher level than your character. For examples:

Scenario 1: You want an alt. So you level one character to cap, level your alt halfway to cap and donate her the rest of the way.

Scenario 2: You have a friend coming to the game. Save your mentor levels. Give them to help your friend catch up.

Scenario 3: You’re a duo with a friend or family member, and one of you can’t play as much. By donating, the other person can keep up.

Scenario 4: You’re in a guild. You’ve got a new recruit who is a tank. You need this person for the raid/dungeon runs. Everyone in the guild pitches in to get them up to speed.

There is a lot of profit incentive here for the devs, but maybe it isn’t enough. WoW is an in almost unique position as a AAA subscription-only game. An F2P game on the other hand can sell this as a perk for patron/subscription status.


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6 responses to “Level Gifting: An Alternative To Selling Out

  • tsuhelm

    Looks great…but still requires someone to grind where as Mr. Billy No Mates buys LOTRO HD and wants to get cracking with warhorses but, on his 1st day, has no chance to befriend a friend , especially one willing to gift him the levels…now Billy has no mates cos he works a lot and has money in the bank so he whips out his fancy piece of plastic that he keeps in his pocket…and after admiring that for a minute, he gets his credit card out of his wallet and buys level cap..whoopy do…now he is running around at max level…day 1 in game…time to make friends and probably lots of enemies as he fails to park his warhorse well when popping into the local for a quick pint of HD ale (head destroying…it’s strong!) and when eventually invited to a small group fails miserably to target anything as he has yet to get to the bottom of the HUD and the settings let alone the skills…

    But this market of Billies surely does exist and after a few days/weeks of play depending on abilities these wily goats will have found their niche within the game…or rambled off to buy some other game…or indeed may be sitting, alone admiring that fancy piece of plastic…mysteriously it really does make your face glow all golden like!

  • Jackie

    Yes, that plastic is apparently the modern day version of magic. Plastic magic. Everyone with a good credit rating can be a level capped wizard. Thanks for the morning chuckle, Tsuhelm. 😀

  • Wilhelm Arcturus

    I forgot about the level gifting thing. I wish I had remembered that when Syp was going off on his own blog about Blizzard being “lazy” and having gone for the cheapest out without exploring any alternatives.

  • commenter formerly called wumpus

    The scary thing is that Turbine has already tried this. Back during DDO’s first expansion (2002, the Menace of the Underdark) they included a “stone of leveling” and handed out several to anyone who pre-bought the expansion. The kicker was that you could only use the stone on one character per account (per server) [note, this no longer applies to overpriced bundles around the stone that still exist].

    So players passed extra stones around to players for lowbie alts. And since groups tended run with others who had bought everything, started handing out stones to random lowbies. This had two problems:

    1. Players who wanted to play one character in the stone’s zone (levels 7-15 or so) had to carefully hit “no” every time someone tried to blindly level them with a stone (and a bug sometime didn’t give you the chance to refuse). Players would have to avoid playing plenty of characters until they leveled the right character up to level 7 (note: DDO characters tend to start over back at level 1 through a process called True Reincarnation. So high level players could easily have a bunch of alts (and main) at various levels below cap.) Note that you almost certainly want to stone a TR2 (xp are expensive) over a non-TR (xp are much cheaper) character.

    2. Even working as intended this dumped plenty of players only familiar with 1/3 cap play into 3/4 cap play with 1/3 cap equipment. Since DDO is more an action game, this worked even worse than your typical MMO.

    I can only hope that this doesn’t infect LOTRO.

  • commenter formerly called wumpus

    Gift of the Valar (insta-level to 50), confirmed in LOTRO by Sapience.


    Note that this is 5kTP. Turbine sells a bundle of all the quest packs <50 (I think that is how they decide what is in the Eriador bundle) for 4kTP. I think it is a good sign not to play a game (at all) when you are spending money to not play large chunks of it.

  • Jackie

    5k TP. WoW. To level 50. Of course, that’s about the most financially beneficial scenario for them. They aren’t even trying to get people to cap for the good of the game and to play with friends like with WoW going to 90. I am high on cough syrup right now, and I’m also suddenly reminded that there is no place better than LotRO for high drama. Luckily I have all classes well above 50 so this is not an issue for me. Otherwise, not coughing up anything more intelligent to say. Thanks so much for the heads-up, wonderful dearest former wumpus.

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