Listening to the latest MMOvoices podcast and their discussion of EverQuest Extended (and its horrible implementation of the ‘free2play’ model) reminded me that EverQuest 2 already has a cash-shop within the regular, $15/month subscription, retail boxed-product. This made me think of Cryptic, who I consider to be the most dirty and unapologetic violators of this heinous act. You could go out on a limb and even say Blizzard does this as well, with their $10 vanity pets, $25 mounts, and handful of account services – but none of that is accessible in-game and most importantly none of that is intrusive and blatantly being commercialized to you while in game. When I think “cash-shop” in an MMO, I think of a big button on the in-game UI that is begging you to click it (read: EQ2 and Cryptic’s games).
I could probably name-drop a few more “subscription & cash-shop” games, but let’s stick to EQ2 and Champions Online (and breifly Star Trek Online). These are the ones that I have personally experienced and felt that the cash-shop was an impediment in my enjoyment of the game and left a very bad taste in my mouth.