I have no idea where to post this, since apparently the sections I considered are "questions only".
This was originally a reply to a post on the Nexon Forums, but as I typed it up I gradually made it less and less
appropriatesafe to actually submit there.
So I'm putting it here.
The problem here, though, is that the TS didn't know.
What we have here is a very carefully constructed system of abstractions, layers of intermediary objects that displace the connection from the purchase and the gamble. The brain cannot accurately assess the situation.
We have, somehow, recently reached the point where we are no longer the ones playing the game. Nexon is playing us. MapleStory has mostly stopped being a skill game (as evidenced through many gameplay changes, including the redesign of many maps away from their original "platformer" style, and the introduction of many mobility moves such as double-jumps to virtually every class) and has transformed into a multiplayer money game. At this point, players enter a sequence of competitively spending money, upping the ante. There is no skill in an ante game; it's an endurance match. Players buy the win, and fight over it by outspending each other.
There's a diverse spread of outcomes regarding how the players react, but let's focus on the most simple. As the ante game progresses, and the cost increases, an increasing number of players decide they cannot afford to match, and drop out of the race: either just the money game, or the whole game entirely. Some players just never realize they are in an ante game, or are somehow mysteriously wealthily profligate enough to continue participating enjoyably. And lastly, there are the gamers who quickly or even immediately detect the money game and become non-participants.
The success of this monetization tactic is entirely dependent on the target consumers being unaware of the money game. Since gamers who drop out do not just silently vanish, they become an additional, exponentially growing contributor to shattering the illusion, and their influence reaches not only those still are playing the money game, but also those who haven't yet started. Ergo, players are leaving and fewer and fewer players are replacing them. Eventually this comes to a toppling point, and it's all over from there.
This is an exhaustive business model; consumers are harvested until they are destroyed; there is no renew-ability. There is no sustainability.