Black Desert Cash Shop

On the subject of the Black Desert cash shop, I agree that it’s a little steep. Or perhaps I should say that you don’t get enough in-game value for the money you spend. I’ll get to the specifics later.

First I want to highlight something I think is good about the BDO cash shop: They don’t shove it in your face in every window that comes up. There’s no popup window when you login that shows you all the sales and exhorts you to “Go buy stuff now!” If I didn’t know there was a cash shop, I might have totally overlooked that Pearl Store button in settings. That alone is worth the $30 admission.

I’m glad that I didn’t get the higher priced editions (I don’t think I could have even if I’d wanted to, because I was lazy and never pre-ordered). The only thing I saw in them that I might have wanted was the horse (at least, of the things that I understood at the time), and it turns out that it’s not that hard to get a horse in the game, so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything there. Now that I know pets collect loot for you, I kind of wish I’d gotten one, but it’s hard to miss a convenience I’ve never experienced. (I end up leaving half of my loot on the ground. You never get anything good anyway.)

I’ve so far been able to avoid spending any money in the cash shop, but I think it’s only because of my somewhat negative experience with buying from the Neverwinter cash shop soon after that launch. I bought too much stuff there which turned out to be fairly useless in the long term, so I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude in BDO.

Naturally, as with all modern games, inventory and storage space is a big problem so far in BDO. It will undoubtedly be my first purchase. But I’m waiting to see if it’s going to be a persistent problem or another case where I need to shift my thinking away from “the way MMORPGs have always been” to some other BDO style of thinking. Every major town has its own storage area, and they are independent of each other. So if you fill up your storage in one town, you can just go to a different town which has empty storage. So I’m trying a strategy of putting X type of items in town A, and Y type of items in town B, so I’ll know to go to town A to do X activity, and go to town B to do Y activity. (You can ship items from one storage to another using the Transport system at a price.)

Something else that helps is that I’ve adopted the attitude (which was inspired by Matt’s first MassivelyOP column on Black Desert) that if I don’t think I’m going to use an item in the next hour or need it for a specific quest, I’m going to sell it or drop it. Especially if it’s a gathering resource. I’ve modified my typical behavior of “gather every single thing I see” as well. For one thing, you can’t do that because you’ll deplete your Energy fairly quick. (The BDO energy system is more forgiving than ArcheAge, but it’s aggravating at times.) For another thing, you can only have one gathering tool equipped at a time. For yet another thing, in the new BDO world order, you might be able to get your workers to do that gathering work for you.

Still, I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to buy some inventory space. I cannot even count how many times I’ve seen the “you must have 2 free spaces in your inventory” message so far or how many quests have failed to complete for lack of space.

When I was looking around the cash shop, I sat down and tried to figure out an answer to this question: What is a normal amount of money to spend on a buy-to-play MMORPG? It’s an entirely subjective question of course. To me, $30 is a bargain price for entering an MMORPG, while $50 or $60 is the more standard price. (I don’t believe that, even in this day and age, “free” should be the standard price to play a game–“free” is only the standard price for having advertisements shoved in your face, or for giving away your personal data.) So right off the bat I feel like I could easily justify spending $20 or $30 in the cash shop.

To answer my own question I looked for historical data, back at the only other game with a similar business model: Guild Wars 2. I went back through my emails and counted up every dollar I’ve spent on the GW2 gem store, after the initial $50 game purchase (or was it $60? I don’t remember).

It turns out I spent $60 on gems within roughly the first month after GW2 launched. I can’t be sure but I feel like every bit of that went directly into inventory and bank space. I spent $35 more on gems about six months later, but I’m going to say that the $60 I spent immediately after launch was what I needed to spend to avoid being annoyed by limited inventory.

So how much storage will $60 get me in Black Desert’s cash shop? $60 = 6,600 pearls (with bonus pearls going on now), which, at 800 pearls per 8 expansion slots, will buy 64 extra inventory slots, if I’m reading things right. That feels like it would be plenty, but it would only be for one character, and I imagine I would run into weight limitations that would require more cash shop purchases to resolve. So at first look it seems okay, but digging deeper I’m not sure that’s a very good value for the money. Not as good as Guild Wars 2, at least, where I setup multiple characters and banks.

Still, I don’t think the cash shop is exploitive in the way that so many mobile free-to-play games are. It’s similar to what ArenaNet has offered in Guild Wars 2 for years. It’s just more expensive. But they aren’t likely to drop their prices just to be nice. They’re going to charge as much as they can get away with, as all businesses should be expected to do. They’re only going to drop the prices if players don’t buy, and based solely on the number of non-default outfits I’m seeing in the game, I don’t think that will be any time soon. The prices will probably come down eventually, though. Early adopters always have to pay the most.

(Yes, I finished a post about the cash shop before I finished a post about the game itself.)

5 thoughts on “Black Desert Cash Shop”

  1. Haaah yes, there are several ways to expand that inventory actually, 30 more slots are from quests alone (I have a thing upcoming on inventory mgmt in BDO!) – so maybe dont spend that cash just yet! :D great points!

  2. “They don’t shove it in your face in every window that comes up.”

    Yet. Give it some time.

    Yes, the cynicism is strong with this one, but we’ve been down this road before too.

  3. I think that $60 for 64 inventory slots on a single character is insanely expensive. Accepting pricing like that effectively re-calibrates the entire hobby away from low-cost, widely-accessible popular entertainment towards high-cost, hard-to-access entertainment designed for wealthy people.

    There’s also a huge difference between BDO’s cash shop and GW2’s. I’ve bought a lot of inventory space in GW2 but I haven’t paid a penny for any of it. I bought it all by converting in-game gold to cash shop Gems. If there’s a mechanism for that in BDO I haven’t heard anyone mention it yet.

    Of course, the argument then is that SOMEONE paid money for those gems, but the difference is that the end product (eg inventory slots) was available with equal facility to both players with a lot of time and players with a lot of money. That’s a system I have no issues with.

    In the end, it depends on how feasible it is to play BDO enjoyably without paying the high prices in the cash shop. I suspect that there will be ways to offset time spent against money spent – perhaps by traveling between many towns to use multiple storage locations, for example. If so, that will be fine. If, on the other hand, it becomes apparent that, after a few weeks, only large payments in real-world money will enable a player to continue to progress, then that will be something I wouldn’t want to encourage.

    I think it’s too early to tell yet but I have yet to see any MMO that didn’t progress towards wanting more money per player from the inevitable dwindling audience in order to stay afloat, so if prices start off high I feel they are unlikely to fall, and if restrictions are harsh I feel they are unlikely to become more lenient.

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