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I luckily grew up in the time of BBS text games (TradeWars, Legend of the Red Dragon) and never got into the MMORPGs...but from my reading of articles about UO, WoW, and the like, I thought the average casual player could not stomach PvP? And yet in the OP, it sounds like a key mechanic in the game is to prey on players who don't log in as frequently. So while that's fun for the hardcore players, I would've thought that would drive off a large part of the target audience (i.e. casual gamers with iPhones).

That's the beauty of the setup: since things are cheap on the lower levels, raids aren't really a problem, you can earn enough anyway. It's only when you reach the higher levels that they start to become a major pain.

And so by then, the habit is strong enough to get the casual player to start forking over money? I wonder what the balance there is...I would've guessed that users who were used to playing consistently without paying would have a strong psychological reaction toward having to pay...but I guess if you warm the water in the cooking pot slowly enough....

Again, the psychology is clever: you're not being asked to pay to complete one specific thing, you're given the option of using gems for a huge range of things. So it's not "I need to pay $6.98 to upgrade my Wizard Tower" (which would make most people balk), but "if I let them charge my iTunes account a bit, I get this pack of 1400 gems, which lets me skip some tedious grinding and get all sorts of cool stuff quickly".

Also, a lot of people get a single Builder early on for 500 gems ($4.99), and when you've done that once, the barrier to doing it again is lowered.

Yep, that first builder is hard to avoid.

"I'll never pay for anything in this game. What, 50% increase in output? Well, I can reward the devs a bit I suppose..."

And thus begins the gemming.

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