DC Universe and singing vineyard workers

Recently I purchased DC Universe Online, maybe in June or so. At the start of November, it went free to play. Free to play after I’d just payed for the game plus game-time.

And that didn’t bother me. In fact, I was thrilled that  finally my wife could have her own separate account and we could play together. I was ecstatic that there would be enough players to finally do some raids and alerts and pvp. I was elated that my friends could try out the game I’d been going on and on about. But some didn’t see it the same way.

A friend of mine, who happens to be my brother, asked me if I was upset that it had gone free to play after I’d already payed for it. “No,” I told him. “I payed for the game because I felt it was worth the cost … I still have access to the same game that I paid for … Now other people just have access to it too.”

That’s how I really feel about it. You may have heard the story about the workers in the vineyard. The owner goes to town and recruits some workers early in the morning and offers to pay them $50 for the day’s work. “That sounds fair,” they sing in unison, and they go out to his vineyard to work. Later in the morning, the owner goes out to recruit more workers. He offers to pay them $50 for their 2/3 day of work as well. “That sounds fair,” they also sing in unison, and they go out to work for the day. Later in the afternoon the owner goes and does the same thing, including this time a stipulation that there is to be no singing, as well as offering $50 again. “Ok, that seems reasonable,” the workers mis-matchedly state.  At the end of the day, the workers who came in early get upset that the afternoon-ers get just as much money for less work. “You agreed that this price was fair for you,” the owner says. “Just like they agreed it was fair for them.”

I hear and read all the time about subscribers and game purchasers feeling like they got cheated once a game goes free-to-play, and I wonder how they can think that. Sometimes the quality of a game may suffer when it goes free-to-play, and that’s an understandable concern (With DCUO, we players are having to endure some growing pains, but these will pass). Sometimes a player may be worried that the player-base will become less mature, and they may have good cause for serious concern (although certainly with as few players as DCUO had, I can’t see anyone being too worried about this).

But to argue that you’ve been cheated simply because you paid for something that others got for free has no merit. You paid a price that you agreed was fair. They paid a price they felt was fair. You’re both getting what you paid for. And to me (sing me off boys) “That sounds fair.”

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