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Grinding vs Pay To Win (CT #4)




Grinding vs Pay To Win
Discussion on Game Design
Creative Tutorial #4


Let's start this tutorial / discussion with two rather obvious
questions which will take the scope of this thread:
1. What is grinding?
2. What is pay to win?


I'm sure most of you already know the meaning of the word "grinding"
in games, but just to make sure everyone is on the same page I'll give
a rather wikipedia definition of it:

Grinding is a term used in video gaming to describe the process of engaging in repetitive tasks.

Of course, this doesn't even touch the tip of the iceberg considering
the massive amounts of articles regarding grinding. But it will do for
the starting sentence.

So what is grinding and why do people enjoy doing it? Well for one,
grinding is a way to compete with paying customers. Its a way to
balance out the whole Time vs Money equilibrium where
one person has money but doesn't have time to spend so he/she
throws money at the game in order to enjoy it while the other
person has time but doesn't have money and spends his/her time
doing repetitive tasks gathering loot, gear or what not.

I for one, enjoy grinding as a concept. I've been a conquer online
player for about 6-8 years I've grinded for all of my gear. The real
"reward" of grinding is the feeling of satisfaction when you put so
much work into something and you see the progression. But does
that make grinding "good"?


Well if done right, it will be a motivation to acquire something and
have its value greatly increased by the fact of how long it took to
acquire. Like, imagine grinding for a legendary item with drop chance
of 0.01%. Those odds suck, but it does bring out an incentive for
players that want to be "above the fray". It does involve repetitive
killing of monsters for hours, days, weeks if not months.

The point is not to make it the only way to acquire gear or whatever.
If a player HAS TO grind to get the good stuff and you can't get any
other "less good, but still decent" gear through other means, then that
game flies into the "grind to win" category. The point of grinding is to
include it solely for the players that want the "edge" over other players
and to make it separate from the main way.

But too many game companies use grinding as a way to make the
game last longer without actually putting in content. Most of the "bad"
grinding games involve you vs terrible odds with the choice: grind or
pay to win. Those games don't really deserve neither your money or
your time, since they have no real content besides clicking a button
for X amounts of time or throwing money at the game to pass a wall
that was NEAR impossible or just plain impossible without it.

Pay To Win

Pay to win is a gamer's term for describing games whose mechanics
are solely built to be strictly passed with giving money to the game.
Of course, it doesn't have to be money though money are a
universal source of exchange. Most companies disguise their pay
to win by telling you to buy "premium currency" such as gems, points
or whatever the game is calling it. And sometimes the game literally
stops you from enjoying some content of the game by locking it behind
a pay wall. This is referred to as DLC or downloadable content.


However pay to win isn't inherently bad or wrong. Its game companies
who use or abuse it in this way by making their games strictly "easier,
better" for its paying audience. A game company has to make money
to extent its life cycle. No amount of denial can circumvent that. However
game companies are often driven by strong fear that consumers
will rip them off, scam them or steal from them and that's 90% of the
reasons why such shady business models are born within games.



Its not the point to completely rid a game of its paying or its grinding.
The point is to balance them, so both types of players will enjoy the game.
People that wish to pay will pay for easy access to content while people
that spent time will acquire the content later on or through some sort of
challenge. Both types of players have an incentive to stay in the game if
the game is FAIR to them and doesn't punish them for choosing
one or the other way.

The point is a subtle one. Games are meant to be enjoyed and its the
player's choice in which way they will enjoy them. If you as a player
enjoy the challenge and wish to see that progression through grinding,
then its nobody's business to tell you otherwise. Nobody's.

Same applies for paying. Its only when games are designed to punish
or harshly convert some of its playerbase into paying customers by
causing unfair PvP, unfair drops, unfair mechanics.

Design your games to be fair to everyone. That way you won't have to
skip on your audiences, because while game genres are diverse and not
everyone will enjoy every game, make games welcoming to each that
decides to try and don't bludgeon your players by enforcing some game
breaking rules like "grind / pay to win" because of your own fears.

Thank you for reading. Hopefully it was a fun read for you.
If not, cry me an ocean. See you next time ;)

Further References



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Definitely a popular article with today's games' business models. I feel like someone should've mailed this to EA's headquarters after the battlefront fiasco.

Approved! You should consider writing these as medium articles. :)

Its been a year since your post, but I still feel like replying :D

Being voted as worst company in US years in gotta count for something!
Too bad their innovations are based on psychological manipulation of younger audiences
or gambling addicts. As toxic as EA, Ubisoft and as of late, Bethesda and sadly, Blizzard-Activision
its only through not buying or playing their shit pay to win, lootbox driven madness will their CEO's
and "investors" have to learn the lesson.

But I digress, lots of people don't give a flying fuck about spending too much money on shit games.
And until such customers exist, so will EA and other's greedy tactics.