Private Server Monetisation Policy

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lolbash

Master Knight
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You can just email Taleworlds. If you care so much an email would not hurt right?

 

domipoppe

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Rainbow Dash said:
You can just email Taleworlds. If you care so much an email would not hurt right?
Well, in my opinion: If you make such major and immersive changes you should also provide explanation & support on its thread.  :party:
 

Callum

Community Manager
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We have decided to extend the grace period until the 20/06/18 to give us a chance to go over all of your feedback. If our stance on any part of the policy changes we will let you all know as soon as possible. If you have any questions or concerns it would be much better to contact us directly at the email provided.

It would also be really helpful if any server hosts contacted me directly either here on the forums through a PM, or at the provided email so that we can establish a line of direct communication to resolve any issues that might arise after the policy is in place.

Callum_TaleWorlds said:
 

Emil

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I really don't see the difference between the allowed ''Offer in-game custom titles as a reward'' and a ''Offer in-game NW skins as rewards'' so I'd appreciate an explanation why this was decided and by whom as these skins are purely cosmetic and gives no advantages game play wise and probably require the same amount of work behind the scenes to implement. It's rather annoying to watch skins be next to items as if it's giving an unfair advantage when in reality it does not in the NW DLC.

:???:
 

Duh

Duke
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Ewoksson said:
I really don't see the difference between the allowed ''Offer in-game custom titles as a reward'' and a ''Offer in-game NW skins as rewards'' so I'd appreciate an explanation why this was decided and by whom as these skins are purely cosmetic and gives no advantages game play wise and probably require the same amount of work behind the scenes to implement. It's rather annoying to watch skins be next to items as if it's giving an unfair advantage when in reality it does not in the NW DLC.

:???:
Skins might be less/more visible and, ultimately, affect game experience - even if only by enjoyment. That is something that TW has currently decided against. Not to mention that it would be inefficient to have varying rulesets for varying DLC/Games (seeing that you stressed that your complaint is about NW).

For a TW answer, try the email above :razz:
 

lolbash

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Its not like skins will give you faster attack speeds or wall hacks This decision baffles me.
 

TommyBristol

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In email TW said to someone, "we have seen that servers are selling our own game assets to players which is unacceptable. Also, we think that if we were to allow the sale of cosmetics then this would have a negative impact on the modding scene as a whole".


I do not understand their reasoning to the latter, but there you go.
 

Emil

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TommyBristol said:
In email TW said to someone, "we have seen that servers are selling our own game assets to players which is unacceptable. Also, we think that if we were to allow the sale of cosmetics then this would have a negative impact on the modding scene as a whole".


I do not understand their reasoning to the latter, but there you go.
It would've been truly hurtful for Mount & Blades modding scene if rules like these were implemented years ago way before the game gained any reputation.
The rules which are now allowed are also the ones most hurtful to the modding scene and threatens to split the community as a whole with a paywall.
No reasonable person would even think of making a comparison like that and try to advocate that purely cosmetic stuff are the worst thing ever.
I'd say it's quite a delusional statement from whomever responded to your e-mail.

Rainbow Dash said:
Its not like skins will give you faster attack speeds or wall hacks This decision baffles me.
All of this just reeks of hypocrisy;

''You are not allowed to restrict access to gameplay features.''
''You are not allowed to sell any form of in-game content.''


yet

''You are allowed to charge players a flat fee to access your server.''
''Offer reserved slots for donators.''
''Offer in-game custom titles as a reward.''


If this isn't to restrict access to gameplay features  :ohdear: ..maybe I need an education in authoritarian values.

I've heard of Mojang changing their EULA involving Minecraft servers in a similar fashion. However, they clearly stated that ''You are allowed to sell in-game items so long as they don’t affect gameplay.'' which is overall a much better way of clearly stating the rules. I suspect that the changes to their EULA had to do with private servers being owned by people not affiliated with the game developers which meant that the server owners were required to tax declare unless it was deemed as an illegal act. This should however be stated as some game servers might actually be established as non-profit organizations and so on, who then could be given an exception for the rule. Another reason could be that donations are a grey zone and no-one would like to be blamed when a reckless kid donates 200$ to a server for access to the full experience which disappears the next day. I've yet to come across this though.
 

TheGG

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Seems like a terrible idea.

I'll start by saying that this debate, as with most internet discussions, has been framed poorly.

Yes, I'm sure that TW has every right to do whatever it wants with the servers, including blacklisting servers that don't comply with whatever arbitrary demands it makes of them. These could be the server owner preferring cereal over croissants in the morning. Actually, I suspect that such a policy would be more legitimate than the current. I'm sure that they've had some boilerplate chucked in by the cheapest lawyer that they could find that says that they can modify their EULA and that they can take action against anyone who engages in 'unauthorised use' of their assets (which probably includes splitting them through a donation tier model).

However, having a property right doesn't make all of one's actions with that property right valid or justified. I have a right to my own sexual health and pleasure, but running around having unprotected buttsex with gay men in Earls Court in London is a pretty damn risky strategy whose risks outweigh its benefits. Likewise, banning what TW calls 'monetisation' (no doubt because of the negative connotations of the word) is a silly policy that is destructive at best or an unnecessary risk at worst.

How is it silly? I'll explain under the following headers:



Arbitrary distinctions
Server managers are allowed to monetise the server itself, but not its assets. The reasoning, I'm guessing, is that the latter is a pay-wall for 'content already paid for by the players'. This is a fairly terrible excuse:

1) The script that walls off certain items is not something the player entitled themselves to by buying the core, unmodded game. The same goes for weapon buffs and misc perks, all of which have been coded into the game by someone other than TW. It's hard to see how the novice 'buys' themselves an entitlement to these perks.

2) With regard to skins, the creation of special skins (which is very common on NW) is something done by the manager or the donating player. These skins may use existing assets, but their recombination makes them unique. This 'special skin' is not something a regular paying Warband player can access when they buy the vanilla game.

3) In the current state of the game, which is deeply monopolistic, making certain servers 'private-only' effectively excludes a player from being able to play a certain type of gamemode entirely. For instance, in NW, Minisiege has a near-monopoly of Siege activity, Tropical Paradise and Hell have a monopoly on Deathmatch, and so on. PW (the mod) is dominated by two servers. Allowing the off some of the most mature and well-administered servers to non-paying players (which is permitted under the policy) seems to defeat the expectation that the buyer will gain access an active community.

At this point, one may say that no one seriously expects a popular server to put up a paywall. But a rule that is enacted yet never expected to be enforced is a terrible rule.

Do note that, if a popular server does go private and lose its populations, the replacement public servers will likely be worse. They won't have the same scripts, the same (experienced) admins, the same maps, the same rules. They'll have to build up all of these from scratch.

4) Players are routinely cut off from items for gameplay purposes. I've only ever been able to buy all the top tier armour in a Siege match a handful of times in my life. Why? Because this initial exclusion is a gameplay mechanic. There's nothing inherently wrong with walling off skins or special weapons to paying customers, as long as you do so reasonably and limit the sort of benefits you give to donators. This makes me think that part of the reasoning behind the ban isn't monetisation per se, but rather TW trying to barge in on how, substantively, the game should be played.

In which case I wonder why TW is suddenly so keen about this very specific aspect of gameplay fairness, when it has been letting its server scripters play around with class attributes and custom weapons for ages. The inconsistency is astonishing. I can do whatever I want with the class attributes on my server, but, the second I do this for cash (as opposed to, say, wanting to privilege my veteran friends or wanting to f*ck with newbies), TW gives me the red card.

This policy is probably a way to set the ground for an items/weapons store in Bannerlord.



Pointless upstream pressure

Server hosts play no role in the day-to-day running of a server. As noted already in this thread, a host running a three figure number of servers doesn't know of, or care about, what these servers are doing. They don't have the, interest, or time to regulate these servers, not least because a 'money for skins' policy can be implemented or withdrawn by those running the server at will. So you're punishing with the threat of an IP blacklist for something that they can't control.



The issues with enforcement

While TW has taken quite a few steps to make sure that communication channels are open, I suspect that you'll have enforcement issues.

1) There has been, time-wise, a wide spread of responses to this very thread, and comparatively few people posting in it (I counted less than 20 individual posters, a minority of which are actual server managers). This makes me fear that the owners of smaller servers, who participate less in the wider community, will remain ignorant of the new policy. This will, when TW comes knocking on their door, give them less time than the managers of larger servers to adjust to a change in policy (probably a week or two vs a month and a half for those who became aware of this thread the day it was posted).

2) The policy disadvantages large servers. Highly visible servers with diffuse communities will be the first to be reported (or even monitored) by one of their players. They'll have to get rid of exclusive-access items quickly. Smaller servers with tight knit communities will be able to do more or less whatever they like. They don't attract attention by being at the top of the leaderboard. They don't need to advertise a donation system in-game - most of the players know of its existence anyway. Their website may advertise all sorts of elaborate schemes, and yet will not be found in the first place unless someone high up in TW community management has been involved with it in the past (unlikely given how out of touch you ****heads seem to be).

3) There are a billion ways to continue a donation scheme without it being advertised explicitly. Don't forget that we're a late-stage community. The number of old players who know who to contact and how the system works vastly exceeds the number of new players who need to advertised to. A perk/exclusivity system doesn't need to be open, with fancy website pages and scripts. It can run in the background and yet still confer the right amount of extra benefits to the right people.

(3.1) I can think of at least four ways in which system can be circumvented. Removing donation advertisements while keeping the skin/weapon/perk scripts is one such method.

(3.2) None of these circumventions can be combatted. Server logs (and scripts) can be faked (not that server managers would be willing to hand them over in the first place). Entrapment (asking a member of the admin team on how you can donate in exchange for walled-off skins) is insanely time-intensive and will likely result in certain key entrapment accounts being shared between members of the community or banned from the servers. Do note that this policy needs to be sustainable in the long run - any active enforcement needs to be viable over the space of five or six years (or for however long the server teams continue to make money through donations).

This is not to mention the fact that a passive enforcement policy relies on the players being aware of the ban on selling scripts in the first place. Chances are that the majority of the public community won't be.

Mini summary: passive reporting is inconsistent, active monitoring is time consuming and expensive

(3.3) A server that violates the no donation policy can easily 'lie quietly' for a while, and then continue a donation scheme through another approach. There's more than one.

(3.4) Your 'we have to right to take action against any server that goes against the spirit etc" point is redundant - you won't have a clue about any of these bypass methods in the first place unless you get lucky. There won't be a server for you to suspect in the first place, because, on the surface, everything will seem to be going as normal.




The policy serves no purpose other than petty vindication

TW does not have an alternative to the current system of discretionary donations. This is not a zero sum game. The money that would have otherwise been kept by the players is being spent on the community (mostly server hosts and scripters). Whatever is left goes to the server owners who put in the hours into making their server a platform worth donating to.

It has been said that this policy is a 'practice run' for Bannerlord. However, there's no indication that Bannerlord will have, say, a skin or weapon market for players. Even if it did, then a) well done TW, you **** up, donations are the least of your problem, and b) this would add a new, powerful justification to the policy that is currently lacking.

However, no matter which way you spin it, there's no items market on Warband, and TW seems to be more keen on dragging down successful servers for the sake of 'muh property rights' than because of lost revenue.




No, paid-for-assets are not interfering with modding

Currently, the pay-for-skins system incentives the community to create *new* combinations of skins and new scripts to implement them. How? By giving an incentive for scripters to code them, knowing that they will likely be paid for their work by script owners, who in turn know that they can likely sell these exclusive items.

Modders want to create something entirely new. I see no link between mods (which are always delivered for free) and the donations policy of a bunch of servers that the modder isn't planning to compete with. I'd be very happy to see someone try to develop upon this point further.




Miscellaneous

A couple of the the comments in this thread are clearly vindictive ("hur hur f*ck the owners"), so I'll assume that there's no actual argument behind them.

It's notable that there has been no strong 'for' argument by the developers themselves. Their justification runs to about three sentences. No dev has posted here in nearly a month. The two most senior people on this forum (Callum and Duh) are only willing to refer us to an email address, instead of addressing any of the criticism (or at least letting us know that it has been forwarded on to the devs). This seems to be the sign of a company that's hiding behind its finger. Which is unsurprising, given that TW has always been terrible at community management.

Don't forget the animosity that this will inevitably bring as you turn your community into an 'us vs TW' affair. TW didn't gain anything out of this policy. The only thing it has created is a more toxic and distrustful community, with the inevitable preemptive bans, mutual reporting by rival servers, and all the other cancer that will likely ensue.




Summary
TW has the right to do this.
The normative arguments on whether TW ought to be able to ban monetisation aren't conclusive either way.
The policy itself will be enforced inconsistently, and possibly against the wrong people (hosts instead of managers).
 

MaHuD

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TheGG said:
4) Players are routinely cut off from items for gameplay purposes. I've only ever been able to buy all the top tier armour in a Siege match a handful of times in my life. Why? Because this initial exclusion is a gameplay mechanic. There's nothing inherently wrong with walling off skins or special weapons to paying customers. This makes me think that part of the reasoning behind the ban isn't monetisation per se, but rather TW trying to barge in on how, substantively, the game should be played.

In which case I wonder why TW is suddenly so keen about this very specific aspect of gameplay fairness, when it has been letting its server scripters play around with class attributes and custom weapons for ages (take a look at ZHG Siege for an example - if they're still around). The inconsistency is astonishing. Covering a crude, vindictive move with a 'we care about the players' fig leaf.
ZHG Server is sadly no longer around, but as far as I know they have never put any of their content behind a paywall. In fact you can freely download the mod since at least 2011:
https://forums.taleworlds.com/index.php/topic,141607.msg3400621.html#msg3400621

Additionally, those without the mod installed could still get the same weapons/equipment (With the exception maybe of the torch? - I at least don't recall spawning with one :razz: -), as a player would get random equipment if he or she bought no equipment. (Which could be a high tier armour as well)
 

EmielRegis

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MaHuD said:
Additionally, those without the mod installed could still get the same weapons/equipment
In regular game I can't get swadia items when swadia is not faction. Therefore gameplay mechanic blocking my acess to items in game I paid for, and my day is ruined.

Very often player cannot get acess to plenty of items included in game, becouse of server not using certain factions/server gamemode requiring specific factions (banned khergits) or simply becouse said items are single player only, and not avaible for multiplayer person other way than by getting cosmetic. Meh...
 

Dimitree

Banned
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No. This is both an idiotic move from a community and business perspective

Do you know what has kept your game alive for so many years? The community. It's an old, glitchy mess with a barely functional melee system and has been horribly outdated without the devs caring to do anything with it. This game would have been long dead if the private servers weren't there to carry all it's problems. And your response to them? Cutting all their revenue.

I don't have a problem with blacklisting servers who exploit their playerbase for money by giving out ridiculous bonuses or priviledges. I do have a problem when you choose to ban ALL transactions including skins and custom intro messages who have NO effect on gameplay.
Duh said:
Skins might be less/more visible and, ultimately, affect game experience - even if only by enjoyment. That is something that TW has currently decided against. Not to mention that it would be inefficient to have varying rulesets for varying DLC/Games (seeing that you stressed that your complaint is about NW).
''Even if only by enjoyment''. Not to be rude, but what are you on? If that was the case why do different factions in NW different skins? I might want to have a cool French Cuirasseir skin, but I cant because Im stuck on another faction. I no longer enjoy the game as much, so is my solution to ask the developers to make all the skins the same ? No. I just carry on and actually enjoy the core gameplay not a bunch of pixels on my screen.

Let me make it clear that no one will donate for a server that doesn't offer something in return. A skin or a welcome message is a friendly tap on the back from the owner of the server.

Aside from the near impossibility of anyone besides site regulars (everyone but developers basically) encountering this thread and the impossibility of enforcing these rules and the ease with which servers can circumvent them, paired with the fact that this decision fixes nothing and destroys everything, this is the worst idea TW could have. I, as a consumer, like many others, have lost any respect for your team, your game your community and any future products you might publish.
 

TheGG

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MaHuD said:
TheGG said:
4) Players are routinely cut off from items for gameplay purposes. I've only ever been able to buy all the top tier armour in a Siege match a handful of times in my life. Why? Because this initial exclusion is a gameplay mechanic. There's nothing inherently wrong with walling off skins or special weapons to paying customers. This makes me think that part of the reasoning behind the ban isn't monetisation per se, but rather TW trying to barge in on how, substantively, the game should be played.

In which case I wonder why TW is suddenly so keen about this very specific aspect of gameplay fairness, when it has been letting its server scripters play around with class attributes and custom weapons for ages (take a look at ZHG Siege for an example - if they're still around). The inconsistency is astonishing. Covering a crude, vindictive move with a 'we care about the players' fig leaf.
ZHG Server is sadly no longer around, but as far as I know they have never put any of their content behind a paywall. In fact you can freely download the mod since at least 2011:
https://forums.taleworlds.com/index.php/topic,141607.msg3400621.html#msg3400621

Additionally, those without the mod installed could still get the same weapons/equipment (With the exception maybe of the torch? - I at least don't recall spawning with one :razz: -), as a player would get random equipment if he or she bought no equipment. (Which could be a high tier armour as well)
Hey

I expressed that point poorly. ZHG wasn't the best example for me to use.

What I meant is that there is an in-game progression system that limits your access to better skins etc. until you prove yourself 'worthy' (through in-game money gained through kills).

The progressive de-restriction of game content, in itself, is common to games. What seems to be at issue here is the substantive reason for which you should gain access to these new items or perks. Is it because you're a good player, or because you have spent money on them?

This is a matter of game balance and design. However, my issue is that of hypocrisy. TW doesn't bother interfering with 99.9% of balancing decisions taken by server teams that may or may not disadvantage new players. If I mess around with the stats of a certain troop class on my server to the point that it is rendered useless, TW won't care. If one of the PW servers starts making large gifts of PW money to tincans, TW won't care. However, if I sell a skin to a player, or give them paid access to a walled-off weapon, then TW does start to care. This inconsistency can only be explained by the fact that TW doesn't give much of a **** about the players - they just want to reserve themselves the rights to sell items. I anticipate that this is the first step towards some sort of skins or perks store in Bannerlord.

Even if I'm wrong on this, and TW has, for some reason, genuinely started caring about the gameplay on private, moddable servers 8 years after launch (:facepalm:), then Scandypandy's point applies. You can warn/blacklist the few exploitative servers that give large, tangible benefits to donors, while allowing servers that only give cosmetic stuff like skins. This is what I suspect the outcome will be. The servers currently offering massive bonuses will stop doing so, while 'cash-for-skins' practices will keep on going, albeit under the guise of 'rewarding active players' or some other bs.

I've gone off on a bit of a tangent but I hope that the point is clear :smile: TW has never bothered looking at how the game is played on private servers (including who gets access to which items), and the fact that it has started doing so now is highly suspect.
 

Vissy

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:lol: people here are massively overstating the importance of community-run servers with paywalled features. The vast majority of people who still play Warband do so in a single-player format. And the regulars on any of your paywalled servers couldn't give a single damn about how your servers get penalized - the only people who might suffer are the ones who stand to profit from those servers.
 

Dimitree

Banned
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H E R O O F T H E I M P E R I U M said:
:lol: people here are massively overstating the importance of community-run servers with paywalled features. The vast majority of people who still play Warband do so in a single-player format. And the regulars on any of your paywalled servers couldn't give a single damn about how your servers get penalized - the only people who might suffer are the ones who stand to profit from those servers.
I have been a member of a certain community revolving around a server in NW for about 2 years, 1 and a half of which I have been helping with problems of managerial and administrative nature. I have sunk, as many others above me who have the same opinion as me, hundreds of hours into that particular server only for some idiots to cry about their lost money on servers and some others making a rule which renders all these hours useless.

Hell, we haven't implemented anything on our server which is a paywall. We simply sell skins and introduction messages, which means the players can progress and play the game without the need to invest a single pound.
If selling skins is considered a paywall then Overwatch, Fortnite, Pubg and basically any Paradox game are P2W.

I will repeat myself, this rule has no reason to exist, it just destroys hundreds of servers for a problem which could be solved in a case by case investigation.
 

TheGG

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H E R O O F T H E I M P E R I U M said:
:lol: people here are massively overstating the importance of community-run servers with paywalled features. The vast majority of people who still play Warband do so in a single-player format. And the regulars on any of your paywalled servers couldn't give a single damn about how your servers get penalized - the only people who might suffer are the ones who stand to profit from those servers.
And yet no one here has claimed that the community will collapse or that Warband will stop making money because of this policy... The issues with this aren't necessarily consequential.

You (and TW) seem to be making the convenient assumption that people are actually *profiting* from their servers as opposed to covering unavoidable costs like server rent and scripts. If you have any figures on whether this is true for the entirety of the community across all mods, do feel free to provide them. In practice, you don't, and I anticipate some crude calculation based on the server that is the most convenient to your case.

I can think of plenty of regulars would mind if this policy got put into place:
- Their favourite server gets blacklisted if it doesn't stop donations
- Those who have already paid for weapons/skins/etc lose them (and these people tend to be the most committed of the regulars... oops)
- Those who played on servers where purely cosmetic things were sold lose a bit of aesthetic variety in the game and the prospect of ever getting these special skins if they wished to (let's be honest, £10 or £20 isn't the biggest of investments for someone who is willing to spend hundreds of hours on a single server)


Before you return with some predictably childish attack on me, I say this as someone who has never paid a dime in either Native, PW or NW, and isn't active on public servers anymore. And no, I haven't run a server since 2016. I have very little skin in the game.
 

Duh

Duke
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Ewoksson said:
yet

''You are allowed to charge players a flat fee to access your server.''
''Offer reserved slots for donators.''
''Offer in-game custom titles as a reward.''


If this isn't to restrict access to gameplay features  :ohdear: ..maybe I need an education in authoritarian values.
Be careful for what you are arguing there. Those may well be concessions that were made in your favor.

Dimitree said:
Duh said:
Skins might be less/more visible and, ultimately, affect game experience - even if only by enjoyment. That is something that TW has currently decided against. Not to mention that it would be inefficient to have varying rulesets for varying DLC/Games (seeing that you stressed that your complaint is about NW).
''Even if only by enjoyment''. Not to be rude, but what are you on? If that was the case why do different factions in NW different skins? I might want to have a cool French Cuirasseir skin, but I cant because Im stuck on another faction. I no longer enjoy the game as much, so is my solution to ask the developers to make all the skins the same ? No. I just carry on and actually enjoy the core gameplay not a bunch of pixels on my screen.
I don't think you quite understood the post. The standpoint of TaleWorlds (as I perceive it atm) is that they are generally opposed to the sale of anything that may affect gameplay experience.
 

Dimitree

Banned
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Duh said:
I don't think you quite understood the post. The standpoint of TaleWorlds (as I perceive it atm) is that they are generally opposed to the sale of anything that may affect gameplay experience.
My point was that sold skins can't affect game experience more than being forced to choose between factions, and the different skins they use for each unit. Yes,it might seem unfair for people to have more cool skins than others because they paid for them but this doesn't affect how they will enjoy the experience.

The servers I have been involved in have made sure to put strict regulations on what skins can look like: They can't be naked, invisible or resemble the other teams skins. Why should TW not follow this simple kind of rules et instead of an outright ban of cosmetics?
 

Duh

Duke
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Personally, I am not opposed to a white-list of cosmetics. I don't think your faction argument makes sense in this context, though. And you have already laid out why. All factions are an available choice to the player that incur no further costs. Paid-For cosmetics are not. Your remarks also seem to imply that this choice matters - both for the base game as well as external cosmetics.

I believe it would be a better argument to note that a little exclusive content (such as well regulated cosmetics) shouldn't be considered as a negative, if it facilitates access to content that would otherwise not be available to players(well managed servers, new gameplay content, etc.).