Currencies, Tokens, Commendations…Enough

In the real world we all use a single currency system, ok, maybe two for some of the EU countries that still accept their old currency, but for most of us there’s only one. If you travel to another country you’ll have to exchange your money for whatever currency that country uses, but you remain in a one currency system.

When MMORPGs first started showing up in the gaming world, they followed basically the same logic, one basic currency that players can use to buy and sell their items to other players or vendors. However over the last decade, this system has ballooned into a complicated multi-currency system where it seems everything you do provides you with another type of currency. Call it what you like, tokens, commendations, points, it’s all basically the same.

Today MMORPGs are more about collecting tokens than they are about role-playing or even just playing. They have become a sort of achievement list for players to brag that they played 1000 PvP matches and now have enough tokens to get that awesome weapon everyone wants. To me that’s not a reason to play a MMO.

An overload in currency systems was the reason I quit LotRO some years ago and I have no doubt they’ve crammed even more collecting systems into the game since. However it’s not just a few games that are at fault, nearly every game today follows the same multi-currency system, including RIFT and SWTOR.

The issue has become so bad today that the simple removal of a token makes entire portions of a game pointless and irrelevant. Developers use these token systems to etice players to participate in activities they normally wouldn’t want to. For instance if you want more people playing mini-game X, simply create some epic gear and a token system specifically for that activity. ¬†Boom, you’ll have people flocking to that mini-game in order to obtain those items, but the questions is, should they?

As a developer wouldn’t you want players to participate in certain activities because they’re fun and not because they get rewarded every time they do? If players are avoiding some areas of the game maybe those activities should be removed or reworked until players will actually want to participate.

I personally believe all MMORPGs should stick to a single currency system and allow mini-games or game features to fail if they’re not fun. If mini-game X is boring and I can get the same rewards elsewhere, I will. ¬†That should give developers incentive to make mini-game X better, but instead they take the forceful route and create high rated gear and hide it behind a secondary currency.