People like to pretend that all that matters is power in video games, it doesn't at all.
Cool armor and mounts were/are a driving force that gets people to do content in older games, and acted like a golden shiny medal for achieving things. It was a foundation of rpg/mmorpg design that the best looking armor and mounts would come from the hardest content in the game. This gave endgame players status in the communities and pushed them to beat the hardest battles and obtain world firsts, everyone knew they worked to get this gear that made them look cool and they knew if they wanted to look like that they would have to do the same. It not only was a great reward for the players who obtained them but also inspiration to other players to make progression and join endgame guilds.
Looking cool was the domain of the best of the best raiders, people put hundreds of hours into getting this amazing looking gear because that made you stand out in-front of everyone else and made you feel good wearing it. Developers would spend the most time on this gear and mounts, because they understood the most dedicated players should obtain status for their efforts.
Now looking cool is the domain of the person that is prepared to spend the most on new outfits and mounts with their $$ credit card $$, being a dedicated and good player means next to nothing and nobody outside of your guild cares when you get new gear. Cause you still look like a chump next to credit card warriors in your subscription based game.
This is also part of the reason why content is now being made easier and easier in modern mmorpgs, because barely anyone cares about doing it anymore since the rewards look crap. The rewards pale in comparison to working an extra hour at work and buying that new cash shop mount / outfit and getting it before everyone else. Modern MMORPGs are fashion shows where you all stand around town showing off the outfits/mounts you paid real money for. The real endgame is buying the new cash shop item before too many others get it so you can have a few hours of looking unique.
The developers main objective changed from rewarding dedication to rewarding the best consumers in their virtual shopping malls. In free to play games you would begrudgingly accept it since the games were free, then Blizzard and other companies wanted to get greedy too and added them to subscription based mmorpgs. The problems is it directly impacts everyone's experience and has massive ripple effects on everything else, the developers that would spend tens of hours making great armor now spend a few hours on them because that cash shop set has to have priority to spend $30 on them. The drive to do content as I said is also diminished and so far fewer want to do harder content, which leads to dumbing down.
The entire point of paying a subscription was to do away with this money grabbing tactics and keep the games pure experiences, that has now gone and f2p and p2p are effectively the same. Even down to the goofy mickey mouse outfits you're forced to look at becasue that person paid $20 for it and they paid $20 to make you look at it.
When I played Skyrim long ago I worked really hard to get my Daedric Armor and Ebony armor and it was a massive driving force to keep playing, it felt so good to finally put those armors on and wander around looking like a demon! If Skyrim was made today they would be "optional items" you could buy at level 1. MMORPGs are the same.
It's really sad how many people defend this garbage, in subscription based games.. This money does not even go back into the game, they just tell you it does to keep you spending and defending.
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