TANSTAAFL, this the saying that Robert Heinlein used in his book The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It is something we have all heard before, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch! This applies to everything in the world. Even the most basic functions of nature require some sort of "payment" even if it is just in the form of plants gathering nutrients from the soil. The human world requires even more obvious payments, we all require payment to live. As such, we also generally require payment to work, especially when it is a job that is high in demand.

Given these facts, I am always befuddled by the attitude that games like CoE which are free to access and play should not try to make money from their operations. One might say, well of course they should make money from their operations. Then again it might be that same person that continuously voices their disapproval when the game only offers certain items in the game for real-world currency. CoE is very special in this respect, this is their ONLY source of income from the game. For other games one might be able to argue that the company receives revenues from advertising (A common misconception that I will address as a later blog), but this is not the case for ohai, the makers of CoE. In my exploration of the online gaming world I have learned of a variety of games that are called free, but are no where close to being as cost free as CoE. Many games that advertise themselves as free in fact are really only offering a demo version of their game. As extensive as this demo may be (some provide the majority of the game for free) they have premium levels, or missions, meaning that payment is required to essentially finish the story line of the game. This is not the case in CoE, every mission in the game can be completed without paying ohai a dime.

There are of course what I like to think of as luxury items in the game. Meaning there are items that one can purchased which are not required for completing any of the missions offered. Do these luxury items make the game more fun, easier, or even less boring? Yes! How else can ohai expect to cover the large overhead expenses of creating and maintaining a complicated gaming system like CoE? Lets take a look at how much it might cost.

Software engineers in the US average $44.44 USD per hour or $92,430 annually. ohai employs 6 senior level Software engineers each of whom could be expected to make something well in excess of the median range given. They employ 8 medium level software engineers each of whom could be expected to warrant pay approximating the median or higher. Additionally they employ 6 executive level employees who could expect pay equal to or above that of the software engineers. These are the only costs I can lay out very well. Most sources I have looked into have placed the infrastructure set-up costs for an MMO in the 3-6 million USD range, so there is no question we are talking serious money. Imagine having that much debt even in the form of a incorporated entity. Oh, and did I mention that they are based in San Fransisco which is one of the most expensive places to live in the US?

So next time you see an item that is only offered for Ohais, just think of where the money goes, and why that really awesome item is only offered for real money.

Lets hear what you think about it!

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