I would like to post some feedback concerning Atari Tokens, the cost needed to buy them, and the point values associated with various items.
Let me start by saying that I have purchased from the C-Store previously. Not a lot. I probably would have tried to get more goodies, but frankly it is just not cost-effective.
I did purchase a ship for the 50% off sale. Because, for the first time in the history of STO, the price was right. Or nearly.
I think Atari/Cryptic needs to look at price adjustments (downward) on most of this stuff and possibly adjust the token bundles. I'm not sure the regular prices are all that competitive with other microtransaction systems. The bright spot here is that many of these purchases are account-wide unlocks where many other competitors microtransaction systems only allow you to buy items for one character and there are fewer account-wide options.
First of all, the system always forces you to buy more tokens than you actually need. The current tiers are 500, 1000, 1500, and 2000. Forgetting everything that costs under 400 tokens for the moment, how many items in the C-Store are worth exactly the number of tokens you're able to buy? Not much.
The ships are the most glaring example of this. Most of them are 1200 points. In order to buy a ship under normal circumstances, you'd have to buy the 1500 token bundle which costs more than a whole month's subscription and is 300 points more than you need. There are things you can get with the extra 300 points, but most of those cost over 150 points so you're only going to get one other "in-demand" item at best.
We would be well served if there were one more bundle of 250 Atari Tokens. That would get us closer to being able to buy only the number of tokens actually needed to get one item and probably result in more C-Store purchases in the long run.
My second point is the fact that there are as many C-Store sales as there are points to the strong possibility that the normal prices are indeed higher than they should be. Why would you have a sale unless you need to generate transactions and increase revenue?
This kind of sales tactic probably hurts repeat transactions. People who don't know that there will be a sale if they wait long enough buy something at the inflated cost and then become dissatisfied when that item is on sale a couple of months later. Why are dissatisfied customers okay? Aren't they less likely to make future purchases?
If the normal prices are higher than they should be, and I think that many of them are, wouldn't Cryptic be more likely to be able to generate microtransactions without special sale prices if the items were properly valued in the first place?
Going back to the ship sale again, I bought 1000 tokens for $12.50 USD. At 50% off I was able to buy one ship for 600 tokens. (I would have bought two, but it was frankly more than I wanted to spend.) If the 250 token option had been available and cost-effective I would have bought two ships.
Crunching the numbers, that one ship cost $0.0125 per point or $7.50 at the sale price. I believe that is a very good deal.
At the regular price, I would have had to buy 1500 tokens. Guess what I discovered about the cost per point? No matter which bundle you buy, the per point cost is always $0.0125. I foolishly assumed it was like some other microtransaction systems where you get a price cut when you buy more points. Not Atari.
Anyway, at the regular price the ship costs $15.00 US. Right around the cost of a month's subscription. But since you had to buy more tokens than you needed, you have $3.75 in tokens that might go unspent until the next time you make a purchase and have to buy more tokens. In this economy, I will not be spending double my monthly subscription on anything near a regular basis.
Atari marketing will probably disagree with me, but I believe that:
1. There needs to be a 250 token bundle, valued at somewhere around $3.00 USD.
2. If there were a 250 token bundle, low-value items should be normalized at 125 and 250 points.
3. Higher value items should be adjusted to more cost-effective point values. I don't think most of the current high-value items like ships ought to cost more than 1000 tokens.
4. Create incentive to buy more Atari points than are actually needed by improving the per-point value when buying the larger bundles.
5. Fewer sales, reflecting something closer to the real value of the items. I realize that sales do generate revenue and that there is a psychological benefit to them. I don't think they should go away entirely. But they shouldn't be a source of buyer's remorse, either.
I've been trying to put into words for a couple of weeks almost exactly what you have written. Unfortunately my writings tended to veer towards insulting the intelligence (or lack thereof) of the cryptic marketing department, so I declined to post them. Kudos to you my friend.
Though I will just add that it is my hope that Cryptic will release a good value content pack (i.e. an expansion pack) which encompasses all current account-wide C-Store items.
The token bundles here are: 400, 1000, 2000, and 4000 tokens for $5.00, $12.50, $25.00, and $50.00 respectively.
Purchasing the smallest package 3 times you would get your 1200 tokens for $15.00.
How very interesting! I was not aware that there was a separate set of token bundles available.
Still, it only partially answers some of my observations. And the cost per point doesn't change. If I'm buying $50 in tokens up front for example, I want a cost break of some kind. Otherwise there's no good incentive to do it.
I still believe there should be a 250 token bundle and that the point costs of items should be more cost-effective.
Alternatively, people should vote with their wallets and never, ever buy a C-Store item that isn't on sale. All you have to do is be patient and you'll get the same thing for less. Caveat emptor, but I don't think it's good business.
With the recent Token bundle price increase for Europe I expect that the US prices will also change. The price of 500 Tokens could increase from $6.25 now to $7.25 very soon.(The $7.25 is an estimate based on €5 for 500 Tokens at the current exchange rate of €1 = $1.49)