Just the other day I was asked by a group of friends, which I have been gaming online with for many years now, whether or not STO was worth playing. At that point I had to think about it a few minutes at which point I told them no. A bit concerning as a subscriber.
I asked myself why would I say such a thing. After a bit of self analysis I came to the conclusion that the state of the game is heading in the wrong direction. I cannot consciously recommend an MMO which requires you to dig into your wallet to acquire ingame items beyond vanity. Most successful MMORPGs pride themselves on an online persistant world which gives the gamer a sense of accomplishment for time spent ingame. The C-Store does not fulfill that niche in the slightest bit. My understanding of the C-Store when I purchased my lifetime sub was that it was going to be used to sell non game changing things like cosmetic items and account services etc. As a gamer, with a pretty good understanding of the game, I can safely say this is not so.
Instead of seeing the big picture here, it really seems you (Cryptic) are milking the few gamers, who play and utilize the C-Store, as a viable model for future income as opposed to building that great online persistant world which brings in subscriptions. I hesistate using the word "few" to describe the C-Store purchasers but let's face it, in the grand scheme of MMORPGers they really are a minicule few. I do have to give them credit as they are the vocal majority on the forums from which you get your feedback.
In my opinion as a MMORPGer, what would generate more subscriptions is having a game to log into which lets gamers set a goal, short or longterm, and let the gamer have at it. This is done through rewarding content whether it be through pvp with a reason (crosses fingers for territorial pvp), endgame or just some simple quest to get a new shirt or crazy looking weapon. These sorts of things also spur community between players. "Hey, where'd you get that spiffy hat?", "I did the quest chain starting over there on Starbase One." Instead we don't even have to ask. Instead we know it came from the C-Store which took no ingame time to acquire.
The direction your C-Store is heading makes this impossible. Where is the reward? Where do we spend our time ingame? "Hey look at that guy in the new awesome ship! Did he just do some new STF ingame?" Nope, he bought it on the C-Store. Instead we are rewarded with our real world wallets. This is not the way most MMORPGers work. The ones that utilize the C-Store are what you might call "gold buyers" in other games. Buyers of items ingame which affect gameplay with real money. I am not saying this is wrong. To each his own i say. But please don't cater to that sort of subscriber. It seems on the forums here if the community wants something done in a reasonable amount of time they just say "add it to the C-Store" and it lights a fire under your butts.
Is this really the direction you want to go? Do you want to play with the big boys and make a game which attracts more subscribers? I could spend money on the C-Store but wouldn't you rather have five of my friends or family members subscribing at $15 a month? Who's to say they won't get more new subscribers also? Think of all the content you could provide or ingame hours for the gamer with just the items you have in your C-Store as rewards for STFs, quest chains, token exchanges etc. That is countless hours of time spent ingame to acquire just those items. For those that choose to buy it from the C-Store, let them. For everyone else it would provide the much content and reward we seek from an MMORPG. That adds up to many months of subcriptions and would surely attract new subscribers which in my opinion this game really needs.
Thank you for your time Cryptic. It's still not too late to change direction and build that great sci-fi world set in the Star Trek universe many of us were hoping for.