Fruits de Mer has fancy new loot boxes for its players, and Moriko can’t wait to get her hands on the cute-looking gear. It’s all a gamble, though. In some games, you can open a hundred loot boxes and still won’t find what you’re looking for. I think China is forcing developers to disclose the odds for this very reason? Basically, expect to set yourself back financially if you want to e-brag about your hot new MMO gear. Lilac casually mentions that she burned 10000 yen to get the fairy tunic and butterfly effect. 88 dollars, my dudes. 88 dollars just to look pretty. And the best part is, she ends up not wearing any of it in the end. All because Kanbe prefers her regular look. Damn, online relationships have got these characters in a tizzy. I guess those two are destined to couple up at some point, but we still don’t know who any of them really are. We finally see the person behind Lilac, and it’s actually another female character, but other than that, we know little else.
88 bucks, though. Even Moriko admits that playing the loot box game will put a dent in her savings. Obviously, she’s living off her savings. Just how much she has left is the big question. Well, I’m apparently the only person who cares about it. But moving along, Moriko reasons that life has been pretty good to her lately, so it wouldn’t hurt to “[splurge] here and there.” No, girl, that’s a trap! That sort of logic is a quick way for life to suddenly look down. We do this all the time, though. We’re such silly creatures. “Oh, I jogged for twenty minutes today. I can indulge a bit on some candy.” “Oh, I studied for a bit today. I can play some video games.” “Oh, I had a good day at work. Let’s go to the bar and spend tons of money on shots.” Then before you know it, you’re in a tight spot again. Fortunately for Moriko, Recovery of an MMO Addict is a very cheerful, happy-go-lucky anime, so I’m sure she’ll be fine.
Thankfully, I quit playing online games right before loot boxes became a requirement for every single game. Oh, I still log into League of Legends once in a while to zone out on ARAM matches, but I no longer really care about champion skins. But don’t get me wrong. Unlike the vast majority of gamers out there, loot boxes honestly don’t bother me. I get it, I get it. When loot boxes give certain players a distinct advantage, that sucks. Here’s what I suggest: stop playing that game. When extras that you expect to be included in the base game are shoved into a loot box instead, that sucks too. Here’s what I suggest: stop playing that game. When you need to open a bajillion loot boxes to get the skin or voice line you want, that… well, I don’t give a shit about that. Just get over it? MMOs used to have a bigger problem than loot boxes, anyway. In Final Fantasy XI, functional equipment cost so goddamn much that people resorted to buying gil from Chinese gold farmers. This ended up created a feedback loop: buying gil led to inflation of the economy which meant you had to buy even more gil to keep up.
Why do I know so much about this? Ahem, it’s not like I ever bought gil or anything…. Developers eventually caught on, though. Hey, why are we letting players pay other people to better enjoy our service? Why don’t we just sell stuff directly to players? Not every game lets you buy in-game currency from its e-shop, but you can find most everything else. Pretty dresses, sex-changing potions, fancy haircuts, so on and so forth. It all costs way too much. Even in competitive games like LoL, I can’t wrap my mind around the practice anymore. “I have to pay how much for particle effects? Sheesh.” But LoL wouldn’t be where it is today without those skins. It’s not like the LCS, a.k.a. Riot’s shoddy attempt at e-sports, is a money-maker. Games need these online transactions in order to subsidize the rest of the ecosystem. And this is even true for games like Fruits de Mer. Let’s face it. It’s not much of an MMO.
Developing a fresh and ambitious MMO is insanely difficult. It’s also prohibitively expensive. In addition, you have to factor in the cost of simply maintaining the service. That’s why big budget MMOs have pretty much gone by the wayside. You never hear about the next World of Warcraft killer anymore. People have given up on that front. So instead, every year, we get a bunch of half-assed MMOs. A few of them will catch fire for whatever odd reason and carve out a niche for themselves. But by and large, these games have little going for them. At this point, Fruits de Mer looks like nothing but a glorified chat client. We sometimes see these characters go on quests, but very little of the gameplay is even important or remarkable enough to be shown. And as I’ve said in previous weeks, I’m fine with that. I prefer the anime to focus on the characters anyway. But in order for a game like Fruits de Mer to make any sort of profit, it needs whales like Lily.
Yep, whales. You’ve probably heard of the term. It’s used everywhere to describe a certain subset of online consumers. Even my company’s product managers use it. I still remember the exact wording too: “We keep track of our whales. We also keep track of mini-whales, people who have whale-like tendencies. We’re trying to determine what we can leverage in order to convert our mini-whales into full-fledged whales.” Yeah, it’s obnoxious, but hey, what product managers aren’t? The vast majority of online consumers do not spend a whole lot of money. In fact, they’re pretty scrupulous. It’s the whales who spend a disproportionate amount of money, so it’s the whales who really help keep the ship afloat. Lily would’ve just kept buying loot boxes until she found what she wanted. For generic Asian MMOs like Fruits de Mer, players like Lily are a godsend. And the PMs might want to take a closer look at players like Moriko. She’s logged in everyday. Sometimes, she’s logged in overnight. Sounds like a mini-whale to me.
Moriko might be a NEET, and we can reason all we want that NEETs are looked down upon by the general public, but the anime certainly doesn’t treat her that way. In fact, our girl is becoming a bit of a Mary Sue. All the guys want her. Yuta’s already obsessed, and he’s only met her twice. For a young man who appears to have a steady job and his own place, it’s weird to me that he’s so worked up about some homey-looking woman. But maybe she’s not as homey as she looks. Moriko now catches Homare’s eyes. Well, more like her breasts (clearly, he’s not a man of culture). I don’t think Homare is a legitimate rival for Yuta or anything, but still, our 30-year-old shut-in continues to exceed expectations. Speaking of rivals, Yuta should worry less about his friend, and more about this convenience store kid who also has a crush on our heroine. And what a coincidence! He also plays Fruits de Mer! On the one hand, she’s not going to go for someone who works at a goddamn combini. But on the other hand, he’s about to graduate and get a full time job, but so time’s running out for Yuta.
Moriko is such a pushover, though. I bet she was also a pushover at her company, so she ended up working too many hours and burning herself out. In this week’s episode, she gets roped into meeting Homare for drinks. Just say no. “No” is a complete sentence. But in these cultures, they don’t want to be rude. Also, they used to be colleagues somewhat, and Moriko even admits he has helped her out in the past. Still, if you don’t want to do something, say so. And likewise, if you do want something, say so. Homare can at least be assertive, and as a result, he gets the girl to agree to his plans, a fact which he quickly uses to tease his best friend. On the other hand, Yuta’s problem isn’t that he’s too nice. His problem is that he’s being a pathetic sad sack with no confidence. He’s all “Uguu, I need a good reason to talk to her again.” Dude, you like her. That’s a good enough reason. Just ask her out like an adult. Ask her out with confidence.
Instead, Yuta does all the things we’ve come to expect from sad sacks. He’ll check his phone a billion times everyday, hoping to get a message from Moriko when he could, y’know… just message her himself. He buys his dinner from the combini more often than usual, because he hopes to have yet another fateful encounter when he could, y’know… just create his own encounter by asking her out. But hey, we’ve all been there… when we were kids. It’s kinda sad to see this from a grown adult, man or woman. Luckily for him, he seems to have stumbled onto the truth. Out of guilt, Moriko confides in Lily about her real life problems. How could she turn down Yuta just to accept Homare’s invitation? In fact, how could she accept this invitation when she’s got an MMO partner! This feels like the first time Moriko has ever opened up to Lily about her personal life to such a degree, and it’s weird to me how private these characters are with each other. I can’t speak for everyone, but MMOs were special in that you could log in and shoot the shit for hours with friends. Nobody talked about the game all day. Instead, we talked about our lives: work, college, love, family, etc. I would never get this close to a “Lily” and not know anything about them.
Anyway, even though Moriko tries to flip the genders around, it isn’t enough. There are too many coincidences for Lily to ignore. And through the least surprising reveal ever, we finally see for ourselves that Lily is controlled by none other than Yuta. The girl he’s been wanting to talk to all this time is actually the guy whom he’s actually been talking to all this time. What is he going to do now? But before we even get to that, I really have to wonder what Hayashi even means to Yuta. Isn’t there a genuine connection between the two of them? We know he’s obsessed with Moriko in real life. Since that’s going nowhere, he comes home and logs into Fruits de Mer to spend every online moment with Hayashi. What if Hayashi had not been Moriko? What, then, did he intend for Hayashi? Would he have ditched the guy altogether if things suddenly worked out between him and Moriko? I wouldn’t be able to do that. I know lots of players have online relationships just for fun or whatever, but I guess I’m the sort of person who takes these things too seriously. I’d never marry someone in an MMO for the hell of it. I guess I could be wrong, but it feels like he never took Hayashi too seriously.