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.
This post doesn't really merit a reply. Just wanted to be first.
I always find it amusing when people like you post frivolous nonsense like this about post counts to up their own riculous post counts. I am not sure this post was aimed at you nor should it concern a myopic gamer such as yourself.
The concerns raised by the OP are all valid.
When talking to friends about STO I bring up the issue of it's "pay double to play" concept as well, although I do not outright tell people it wouldn't be worth playing.
Personally I am still enjoying myself reasonably well with what can be done ingame. What there is is quite nice, I love flying into battles with my defiant retrofit firing pulse phasers (well, 3x DCs for that matter) and quantum torpedos. It is beautiful to watch (STO does have great gfx after all) and it sure reminds me of the shows.
That however does not last very long and reveals STO's other main shortcoming: it is essentially a single player game with a monthly fee granting people access to an online store. Granted, when looked at what it is: a single player game with some limited multiplayer options, it is a pretty good game.
But yeah, couple the single player focus with the utter lack of massive multiplayer/raid-style content with the c-store mentality- and concept, and you have a game that won't hold people for all that long.
Unfortunately both of these huge downsides will remain and most likely even intensify in the future. Cryptic is dead set on neither increasing group sizes in any way form or shape nor getting rid of STO's extreme-instancing (the entire game and engine is designed around it and they are not willing to change it).
The one thing about STO that will ever be truly massive is the C-Store.
As unpleasant and maybe even dispisable it may be, the c-store focus will remain. The reason is simple: it is a business model that works because way too many (and here I disagree with the OP's assessment of there only being a few) people are forking out cash for anything they find remotely interesting or potentially offering an advantage, without thinking about the value/price ratio they are getting.
This behavior is called (not exactly sure if the translation is 100% correct) price indifference of demand.
For STO and the c-store that means the Star Trek (-Online) fans/gamers don't care what something costs, or what the thing is actually worth, as long as the price is not above a certain threshold. That threshold is roughly at 15$. So these people (and believe me there are a hell of a lot of them) just shell out their cash no matter what.
That is how microtransactions work, and they do work. Cryptic is making a load of money off the people that do not make any value/price comparisons/analyses. The ("sane", or let's better say "the more aware") people may call the whole "pay double to play" concept unacceptable, outrageous or even unethical, but fact is it is legal, it is making money and no sane and competitive company would give up on it as long as people are willing (or should we say "dumb enough") to fall- and pay for it.
One may blame Cryptic for the c-store, in a way I do too, but in the end it is the customer's mentality and resulting buying behavior that is at fault.
Of course the company could decide to "go the right way" by focusing more on accquiring more subscription customers by providing a true Massive MOG with true endgame content, but the c-store version is much less risky for them as it requires a whole lot less development resources.
I completely agree with your OP.
I have turned away all my friends and family from this game as the "double pay" features in this game bother me a lot.
I would really like to see a sense of achievement from STO.. give me something that shows I worked hard in this game not opened my wallet and bought it.
The biggest turn off, I believe, for a new comer to this game is loading it up for the first time and seeing over 200 dollars worth of items in the C-Store... ridiculous.
the only thing the C-Store should sell is account features, respecs, and the occasional cosmetic item.
I also agree with the OP and was one of the most vocal opponents to the store since it was announced for this very reason. There is much I could say on this but I wont waste my time with a long post so suffice it to state the following:
I have purchased nearly everything in the store to support Cryptic with its development of the game given the massive loss of players and I'm not alone in that thinking from what I can tell but truth be told, my patience and open wallet was wearing extremely thin prior to the change in leadership with STO.
Now with that said, I think making everything in the store available in game, as was promised (not counting the blatant lie of the type of things) when it was announced should be a top priority for the dev team now; if not yesterday! I for one would be far more willing to buy more stuff since I can easily afford it if other players not so fortunate have the chance to earn them.
I completely support the sentiment, intent, and the location of BluYak's OP.
I often find myself at odds with that same question. I actually have a minor dread of being asked that question. Though I like STO I cannot in good conscious recommend it to another person because it does not fulfill the basic expectations of a subscription based MMORPG. This is , in part, due to the C-store vs. in game acquisition issue you have pointed out.
STO is not set up in such a way to become a F2P and probably never will. I do understand the actual need for some kind of c-store income given the rise in economic demands and the static nature of sub fees. However, the decision to include items in the C-store beyond the cosmetic or frivolous is a bad decision. In doing this you have violated the "verbal ToS" us lifers purchased that lifetime sub under. This is where I bring up the phrase "bad faith business practices" again...
As bad as the C-Store is, I dont think it is the biggest issue with the game. How do you recommend a game with such a terrible crafting system? Why do you have to keep track of 8 or more forms of currency? Why are the skills so poorly documented? Why does PVP and fleet actions get so little participation? Why is there so little participation playing Klingons?
There are core issues with the game but instead of addressing them, Cryptic continues to release C-Store items and add an episode or two. None of that helps with the problems listed above.