Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 1 Is Microtransaction the future
04-01-2010, 02:25 AM
I was discussing microtransactions with Commander Reed yesterday in a different thread. In said thread I mentioned that MTs (Microtransactions) would pretty much be the wave of the future. This got me to thinking about Microtransactions in general so I decided to see what is up with them overall.

This thread is for the discussions of MTs in general and how they relate to STO.

Personally, I am neither for nor against microtransactions. I see the benefit of each type of model. (Sub, F2P, MTs and combinations of all.) My purpose in giving this thread life is to discuss how the MTs help Cryptic in making STO a better game. I realize not everyone sees this the same as me and I have no intention of arguing that. I will debate my point but lets try to limit any frustrations.

Ok, lets establish a few things right off the bat. At the moment MTs are not massively in use at present in a lot of MMOs. However, I think this is going to change. I think we are going to start seeing more MMOs and game in general slowly add MTs. In fact this change has already started. For the moment, some MMOs use the MTs in small amounts, Blizzard pets etc. It is starting to be used in single player PC titles as well, such as Dragon Age (Return to Ostgar DLC) There was even talk by EA in putting in MTs for Battlefield Bad Company. (I don't know if they went through with it yet or will).

MTs are also slowly creeping up on the console world too. XBox live uses them and so does the Playstation Network. Games such as Wipeout HD and Rockband and Guitar hero all use MTs and the list goes on. So what does this mean right now? It means that MTs are starting to slowly enter into mainstream gaming. Need proof? How about the fact that Steam is now adding support for MTs. (http://www.geek.com/articles/games/v...rage-20100322/) Also there companies that do nothing but work with MTs. (Example: TrueFish http://www.livegamer.com/)

The debate on MTs goes beyond this forum. Even at the Games Developers Conference there was a heated discussion on MTs verses traditional models such as using subs. (There was no clear winner). So why is this such a hot topic? Here is part of the problem. Take SWG, came out in 2003 with a sub price of 14.99. Adjusted for inflation to today's dollars (2009) it becomes 17.44. Yet the standard sub price is still 15.00 dollars. It has not gone up with inflation but remained the same price for six years. What hasn't remained the same is the demand for better games. Better graphics, better gameplay the works. As each game is developed using a subscription model the price of the subs don't change but the development costs do.

In an earlier thread I used the Department of Labor statistics for the median income of a computer programmer in California as a base. (2006 then adjusted for inflation) The median income was 80k+. If we were to assume that there are 30 developers on the STO team you are looking at a sizable chunk of change every month. (In the other thread that 80K includes estimates on standard health care and insurance packages.) Does the currently estimates number of subs cover that cost. Sure it does. Yet, there other things to add into it. The energy consumption of the server farm, cooling for said server farm. Bandwidth costs, normal misc overhead costs. Salaries for sales reps, executives, marketing and all the things that go into that such as graphic printing etc. There is also rent and other things that have to come out of that monthly sub price. With 100K subs you are looking at approximately 1.5 million dollars a month. (Not counting lifers etc etc). That puts the margin on a per sub basis, very small.

So how does a company make up the difference? This is where the MTs come into play. Microtransactions allow the company to make money but provide a value only to the players who wants it. Let me use an example to help explain. Say a Art Dev is currently rendering a new project to go into an update. Rendering can take a long time depending on what is being rendered. During this time he can sit idle and wait or he can put that time to productive use for the company. While waiting for the other project to finish rendering he creates a new uniform. Over the next couple of days while haveing to endure downtime on the other project he tweeks it and finally it is done. What does he do with it? He could put it in the update but the interesting fact is not everyone is going to want or like it. So the company puts it on the MT store to let only the people who want it, purchase it.

The company would have to pay that developer for the down time anyway so why not let the developer work on something small that can give the players some value and the company make money off that previously unused downtime. Yet, this only addresses those with concerns that the company is just out for greed. It doesn't address the issue that some have that ALL content should be included in the sub price. That part is a little more complicated that it seems.

Regardless, you can't justify large ongoing development costs only on a subscription basis. Most companies no longer have the luxury of long development times and endless buckets of shareholder money to take the large risk on a new MMO. Lets face it, MMOs are risky. Many folks will no doubt point at Blizzard for part of this. Well take into account Blizzard owns and did own its own IP. ******** was theirs. There was no license fees, no approval processes outside the company. The didn't have to content with 40 years of background from various sources either. Even Bioware that now has the ST license can spend more money because they have the backing of the license holder. (LucasArts) Believe it or not SWG showed (Pre CU and NGE) that a Star Wars MMO was a viable investment. When you look back at the previous Star Trek games from Activision and Interplay you won't see that level of success in even the single player arena.

Where does that leave us. It leaves us with the fact that in order for Cryptic to maintain a healthy margin and improve STO they need the C-Store and the Microtransactions. Is it an absolute must? I don't know, I can't answer that. What I can say from what research I have done is that we will see more future content because of the C-store and not just for the C-Store. Also there are many companies that are looking at adding MTs in the future. Global Agenda is just one that is exploring the possibility. EA has already given serious thought to adding MTs. You are going to see more and more MTs as time goes on.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
04-01-2010, 02:33 AM
It's all good what you are saying, but really from what I see the stuff in the C-store isn't even worth paying for.

If this is the future....it's not very good. At least make the C-store tempting. As it stands I have not needed to buy any cryptic points as the only things I could see of value were the extra slots. Perfect. I used the free points I got with my initial game purchase.

Personally though I think the Atair/Cryptic Business model sucks and I won't pay for content while I am paying for my subs AND any expansions. PERHAPS if this game gave as much value for money as most if not all other Sub based MMO's out there then maybe if they had worthwhile stuff in the C-store then maybe....just maybe I would.

As it stands no point whatsoever.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
04-01-2010, 02:44 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brucebleo
It's all good what you are saying, but really from what I see the stuff in the C-store isn't even worth paying for.

If this is the future....it's not very good. At least make the C-store tempting. As it stands I have not needed to buy any cryptic points as the only things I could see of value were the extra slots. Perfect. I used the free points I got with my initial game purchase.

Personally though I think the Atair/Cryptic Business model sucks and I won't pay for content while I am paying for my subs AND any expansions. PERHAPS if this game gave as much value for money as most if not all other Sub based MMO's out there then maybe if they had worthwhile stuff in the C-store then maybe....just maybe I would.

As it stands no point whatsoever.
Certainly what you say has some validity to it. I think that is the reason why you will see more races like the Packleds and Caitians on the C-Store. Some people don't want to play those but for others they would have value. I wouldn't buy a Packled but I will buy a Caitian. I may not buy any escort skins (Unless they are super cool) but I might more cruiser skins and maybe science skins.

The point is that the C-Store like the rest of the game needs time to get fully up to speed.

Now, I would be concerned and understandably upset if they were to, say put the new upcoming Klingon content on the C-Store. Or to release the Romulan faction as a C-Store addition. Those should come free.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
04-01-2010, 02:45 AM

For Star Trek Online... I'd say going the MT route wouldn't be such a bad idea. If I weren't a lifer, I would feel very hard pressed to justify spending 15 bucks a month on this game.

As it is, there are other F2P games that launched with more depth, and better polish than STO (ROM, DDO, even Free Realms is more entertaining, Allods, etc). So being that STO is in some ways, below the standards of some free to play games, I can't see any reason for STO to not adopt the F2P model.

If this game were the same game without the Star Trek IP, would anyone of us still be here? Ouch.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
04-01-2010, 02:50 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by JacobFlowers View Post

For Star Trek Online... I'd say going the MT route wouldn't be such a bad idea. If I weren't a lifer, I would feel very hard pressed to justify spending 15 bucks a month on this game.

As it is, there are other F2P games that launched with more depth, and better polish than STO (ROM, DDO, even Free Realms is more entertaining, Allods, etc). So being that STO is in some ways, below the standards of some free to play games, I can't see any reason for STO to not adopt the F2P model.

If this game were the same game without the Star Trek IP, would anyone of us still be here? Ouch.
I was just looking at Face Of Mankind......it's a new MMO not long out of Beta just like STO.......it is free to play BUT you can go VIP and have more inv space, customizable living quarters and quite frankly it puts STO to shame. On just the initial observations it has unbelievably more depth than STO.

I just don't see how MT's can be that needed when you get some little indy game pop up that is quite frankly leagues ahead of anything Cryptic has done and can be played for free.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
04-01-2010, 02:59 AM
Quote:
It's all good what you are saying, but really from what I see the stuff in the C-store isn't even worth paying for.

If this is the future....it's not very good. At least make the C-store tempting. As it stands I have not needed to buy any cryptic points as the only things I could see of value were the extra slots. Perfect. I used the free points I got with my initial game purchase.

Personally though I think the Atair/Cryptic Business model sucks and I won't pay for content while I am paying for my subs AND any expansions. PERHAPS if this game gave as much value for money as most if not all other Sub based MMO's out there then maybe if they had worthwhile stuff in the C-store then maybe....just maybe I would.
Spot on

Complete the game first then I will consider paying extra. Right now these things only remind how shallow this experience really is. If it was not for my fleet I would have moved on already. Its funny how Cryptic is apt enough to vision this marketing model but has never considered the term "competition". This IP will only push you so far before you give up on this highway robbery model. The game lacks content. Charging at this point for stuff is absurd.

I never minded utility things on the C store like the slots, respecs and renames. Blizzard has also used this (and it took them a long time to get there) but did you see them start charging for armor set skins or capital city interior design? No. Only character pets (like the shuttles).

Subscription OR microtransactions you decide. But you cant have your pie and eat it too.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
04-01-2010, 02:59 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomicFB
Certainly what you say has some validity to it. I think that is the reason why you will see more races like the Packleds and Caitians on the C-Store. Some people don't want to play those but for others they would have value. I wouldn't buy a Packled but I will buy a Caitian. I may not buy any escort skins (Unless they are super cool) but I might more cruiser skins and maybe science skins.

The point is that the C-Store like the rest of the game needs time to get fully up to speed.

Now, I would be concerned and understandably upset if they were to, say put the new upcoming Klingon content on the C-Store. Or to release the Romulan faction as a C-Store addition. Those should come free.
Oh and as for the skins......please.....if they insist on designing their own weird ships then it seals the fate of MT's in this game for me. Why oh why would I pay for what can only be described as Trek ships that have just plainly gone wrong when they COULD put some canon ships in that are just beyowtiful to behold?

Do I want to buy a sci skin of a dev designed ship when all the dev designed sci ships I have so far are just as pugly? No......just to cruise around in I would rather roll in any of the other canon trek ships.

My Intrepid......if only I could make that t5 I would never want for a diff skin again.
My Galaxy.......mmmmmmmm
My Connie.......mmmmmmmm

etc etc

The devs that are designing the new ships need to switch off whatever techno/Acidhouse/jungle music they are listening to......put away whatever non prescribed medication it is they are taking and start cranking out any number of AWESOME canon ships that they can draw from instead.

If they wanted a fed dreadnaught.....man they could have gone for a TNG version of the old Dreadnaughts they had in Mr Scotts guide to the Enterprise. Jupiter? looks like it ate one too many BOPs for dinner.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
04-01-2010, 03:13 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brucebleo
Oh and as for the skins......please.....if they insist on designing their own weird ships then it seals the fate of MT's in this game for me. Why oh why would I pay for what can only be described as Trek ships that have just plainly gone wrong when they COULD put some canon ships in that are just beyowtiful to behold?

Do I want to buy a sci skin of a dev designed ship when all the dev designed sci ships I have so far are just as pugly? No......just to cruise around in I would rather roll in any of the other canon trek ships.

My Intrepid......if only I could make that t5 I would never want for a diff skin again.
My Galaxy.......mmmmmmmm
My Connie.......mmmmmmmm

etc etc

The devs that are designing the new ships need to switch off whatever techno/Acidhouse/jungle music they are listening to......put away whatever non prescribed medication it is they are taking and start cranking out any number of AWESOME canon ships that they can draw from instead.

If they wanted a fed dreadnaught.....man they could have gone for a TNG version of the old Dreadnaughts they had in Mr Scotts guide to the Enterprise. Jupiter? looks like it ate one too many BOPs for dinner.
From what I understand, the reason there isn't any more canon ships in game is they have to be approved by CBS. I would have thought that all the ships would come with the license but apparently not. I too want more canon ships in game. Cryptic has never been real clear on why they aren't.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
04-01-2010, 03:14 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomicFB
From what I understand, the reason there isn't any more canon ships in game is they have to be approved by CBS. I would have thought that all the ships would come with the license but apparently not. I too want more canon ships in game. Cryptic has never been real clear on why they aren't.
LOL oh dear.....that does not bode well.

No canon ships.....no happy brucie.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
04-01-2010, 03:16 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tychus_Findley
Spot on

Complete the game first then I will consider paying extra. Right now these things only remind how shallow this experience really is. If it was not for my fleet I would have moved on already. Its funny how Cryptic is apt enough to vision this marketing model but has never considered the term "competition". This IP will only push you so far before you give up on this highway robbery model. The game lacks content. Charging at this point for stuff is absurd.

I never minded utility things on the C store like the slots, respecs and renames. Blizzard has also used this (and it took them a long time to get there) but did you see them start charging for armor set skins or capital city interior design? No. Only character pets (like the shuttles).

Subscription OR microtransactions you decide. But you cant have your pie and eat it too.
The funny thing is , you can have your cake and eat it too. (I would have made a cake is a lie joke but Portal 2 is coming out so maybe the cake wasn't a lie after all.)

I think they should have stuck with just the slots and respecs etc for now till more content was out. However by the same token it goes to what I said in the OP. They can take the downtime that hey ordinarily have and make this fluff and put it on the C-Store to pad the bottom line. It is only if the C-Store stuff takes precedence over them making content is where I would be upset.
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