Black Desert Online players protest 'pay-to-win' changes with in-game picket signs

Following recent changes that allow players to sell premium items on the in-game marketplace, Black Desert Online players are protesting—and not just on the forums or subreddit, but all over the game's major cities too. This started in response to a forum post made earlier today by one of BDO's community managers detailing how items that could only be obtained through spending real money—like special costumes and pets—would soon be sellable to other players for in-game currency. And judging by the looks of things, players are not happy about it.

Across the game's world, some of the largest guilds have set up protests in major cities while brandishing signs that read "pay 2 win." Other guilds have even gone so far as to edit their insignia, which display over territories they own, with anti-pay-to-win slogans, and there's more trying to rally a 'black out' next week to express their anger.

Since its North American and European launch this spring, Black Desert Online has been under constant scrutiny by players concerned that it is fundamentally 'pay-to-win.' This is largely thanks to an online store (called the Pearl Shop) that featured items that could only be purchased for real money, and while that's hardly something to ruffle feathers these days, many players were upset that the items for sale offered special bonuses that couldn't otherwise be obtained. For example, pets offer advantages like automatic looting of corpses, and could only be purchased through the store or as an add-on to a deluxe version of Black Desert Online.

With the change announced today, those pets and other premium items can now be sold for in-game currency, a move that Black Desert's developers made because "there will always be players who, for whatever reason, do not get to experience all the features Black Desert offers, including Pearl Shop Items. Adding a mechanic that grants access to Pearl Shop items with in game currency will allow more players to enjoy such content." A seemingly large portion of the players don't see it as a benefit, however, with many arguing that this encourages players to spend real money in order to sell items and horde vast sums of silver, which is a crucial resource in Black Desert's economy.

Whatever side of the fence you fall on with this issue, I do love that players are using the game itself as a medium to express their feelings rather than just flocking to the forums. We'll have to wait to see whether or not Pearl Abyss, Black Desert Online's developer, will maintain its position.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.