The System – Article about ZT Online, a Money-Centric, Chinese MMORPG

By day, 27-year-old Lu Yang is a sonogram technician at a hospital in Chengdu.

At night, she was a monarch, the ruler of the “kingdom of Chu”–game players like to respectfully put “queen” before the name of her character. In this virtual kingdom, the “queen” commanded several thousand subjects, her fervent warriors.

In the less than a year since the breakout of ZT Online, Lu Yang was confident of one truth: even though the game’s own model is the traditional background of ancient knights-errant, money is actually the most critical element for wandering the wilds of this virtual world […]

Though she has invested tens of thousands of yuan in the game, she has suffered defeat after defeat due to the fact that others are more willing to spend, and to spend much more money than she is.

I spent a good deal of time reading a fascinating translated article about ZT Online, a Chinese MMORPG similar to World of Warcraft.

The one spin that ZT Online has is that it’s free to play, but you level up only after throwing money at the game – purchasing materials and/or equipment, and playing a sort of slot-machine game by buying keys that open chests containing an assortment of “prizes.”

Reading over the article, I’m amazed both by the structure of the gameplay itself… and by the willingness of all the players to keep throwing money at the game. Amazing stuff – I’m totally in the wrong business. [via]

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