I think there are decent incentives to subscribe, and auto-refining is a good one.
But I think the OP is operating from a false premise - PW does not necessarily want/expect people to convert from Silver to Gold. (Unlike the F2P model used by ***, where it is clearly just an extended trial.)
Instead, I think the objective is to maximise the number of potential C-Store users, silver or gold. And that is a perfectly reasonable model.
I agree that gold doesn't feel right. Why sub at all? Pay 15 bucks a month for extra slots or bag space for as long as you pay the 15, or pay that 15 bucks one time and get those things permanent by buying them.
Every game I have played, and I have played nearly every MMO on the planet, F2P games give a strong and justifiable reason to sub (if they have subs/premium). Even CO has one of the best reasons in the business to go gold.
I don't agree the auto-refine is a "good reason to go gold". It's not. You still have to wait each day to refine that ore, you still have to gather that ore. If I miss a day logging in, sure it will refine it for me, but the day I didn't log in is a day i didn't gain ore to refine either.
If the current prices are expected to be what they are going to be at live....I may be done with the game. 120k RD for a ship? That means I have to wait 15 days to get that ship, assuming I gain 8k Ore a day to refine. That isn't counting gear for that ship. At an average of 30k RD per piece, you are looking at 4 days per piece. By the time you fuilly equip a ship, you are looking at month or more, just to refine what you need to make the purchase.
Sure, I have fully decked out ships already on Holodeck, but I was actually looking to start a new one for F2P to run with new players and help introduce them to the game. I can't really find how this will be fun.
Yes, I get a free ship token each rank, even VA now since the Vet Rewards changed, but what does this do for F2P players? Even with the ship token I still have to gather RD to get gear.
The idea behind this was to "make the end game gear feel more valuable, like you really earned something".
To me it doesn't. It makes me hate end game. It doesn't feel more valuable to me, just annoying. It's like a friggin endurance test now. Hey, a shiny new torpedo launcher! Oh, 38k RD....Guess the Borg can wait 5 days foe me to get it. They can assimilate the Beta Quadrant now, but in 5 days! Oh, in 5 days I will send them a dirty message and tell them I am coming in 5 more days, because I really need 2 of them.
Gaining Ore may not be the issue, the refinement is.
I know they want to limit what people can do for the C-Points, but I don't see how this system isn't going to hurt everyone. Even if you log in and grind away on ore, you can't do anything with it except 8k a day. Auto-refine might help me out if I made 100k ore in a day and didnt' get to log in the next. I still have to wait the 1 month to get all my ore refined so I can deck out my ship.
Or buy the RD.
The problem with that is, I already pay a monthly sub, so now I have to spend more to get points to get the RD I need to play? Um no.
Gold subs should get double or triple refinement a day. Or maybe a weekly bonus to the amount they refine. Or, a 25% bonus return on refining. Leave the 8k in place, but Gold players get a 25% bonus refinement on what they refine. So if I refine my 8k ore, it becomes 10000 RD when I refinre. Or maybe allow Gold players to have certain missions they run that reward RD instead of Ore. Maybe tie it to Class. A science officer could do a few science missions each day and those reward RD instead of Ore.
There are a lot of ways they can boost gold players to the point it feel like paying 15 a month is worthy or something. I have two accounts. One is mine, left by my husband when he died in Iraq. It is a lifetime that he paid for. The other is mine, which my son plays, but it's a monthly sub. At this point I can't see paying for it anymore. There just isnt' enough value there to warrant the 15 bucks.
The vet rewards? Nah. Nothing that great coming out of there either.
There needs to be something that makes the 15 bucks worth it. I mean, obviously we still have to buy C-Points if we want to do anything with RD in game. What is our 15 bucks paying for?
Cryptic should give us something. I play Champions Online, more than STO these days, and you can feel that difference in gold and silver. The freeform character system is worth the 15 a month, on it's own. The rest is just gravy.
It's strange that both game are Cryptic...one is worth the price, one isn't. This is something that I hope changes before F2P launches. This is something that SHOULD change.
seriously. As a CO player myself, Champions definitely has way better perks for subscribing over the free to play model. For example the free costume pieces as well as free adventure packs, stippend that actually matters, and again, the freeform system is priceless. If this game implemented something like that, i think the gold subscription would be well worth it.
As a side note, perhaps they could make all costume slots universal for gold yet leave things like off duty/fleet slots for silvers as well as make more pieces universal as well. I.e. Merc belts on normal uniforms or Borg gear, Seven's Borg pieces on males, various things like this would add better value to gold with out making game changing difference advantages to silver.
The biggest thing golds seem to get is a free respec every rank. Much more of a perk for new subscribers than existing ones though, who've already used their free respecs before the new skill system goes in.