Please read the whole thing to find out my reasoning before responding. I'll even add a TL;DR summary at the end if you just can't manage it.. scroll down to the Yellow Text
Just got done watching the interview that the guys at Stoked did with Dan Stahl, and it really just reinforced a feeling that has been bugging me since we've found out more details of what is happening in the last half of this year.
I have you say, you really owe your subscribers an apology. All of them, lifetimers and monthly subbers, Feds and KDF.
There's no secret that the game has survived thus far on a core of loyal players who put up with a lot of delays and things that needed "work" - the polishing of the game has been constant since launch. Not only that, but we've been asked to keep paying money to the C-Store to support you guys - in order to get content and pay for cool things, we had to add this extra cash into the stream. And we did. We've paid a lot of money out over these 18 months.
The last 6 months have been harsh. Harsh on the dev team and harsh on people paying for the game. We all know about and we all know the reasons. There have been some great releases, like the new KDF city and the Academy, and some big disappointment, like a pretty "meh" reaction to the ground revamp, huge delays in the 'crew revamp' that morphed into Duty Officers, and the absolute dearth of new mission content since the Romulan series in February.
Nonetheless, we've paid month by month and on the C-Store, and it looks like the game will come through intact, with some positive changes.
Things are not exactly sunny, though, and I have some issues with your plans over the next few months. Free-To-Play is the new big thing, and it seems to have been the focus of dev time for a while now.
From the info we have, the basic plans are like this: Tribble is being converted into a Free-to-play test shard that will firs be Customers-only and might slowly let in free players as the test progresses.
New features will be going to the Test shard only for the foreseeable future to make sure they will work under the free-to-play model and systems. This incudes the long-overdue DOFF system, the PVP updates and most importantly, the next featured series.
And therein is the major problem here. The result is thus: Holodeck is basically going into "limbo" and we're being asked to go back to being Beta testers and work on a test shard that won't be permanent, it will involve COPIES of holodeck characters, but what we do there is temporary, and we'll have to redo it on Holodeck.
Yet, we're still going to be paying for the game during this time. So from now until the end of the year (when the content will finally be on Holdeck with the launch of the F2P changeover) we'll be paying yet not being able to "proceed" with things on Holodeck.
The second issue is related to the Free-to-play matrix and what Subscribers "get" for their dollar.
In the Stoked interview, Dan said something interesting: Their goal isn't really to convince people to convert to subscription; they think that C-Store income is where the money is. He wants to make sure that those that do subscribe get good value for their money, but subscription is not the "Carrot"
however, although the prices are going to be adjusted, he doesn't anticipate in them going up; this means that the prices we have been paying on the C-store WHILE SUBBING will be good enough to make money in the F2P model. This only magnifies how much we have "supported" the game by using the C-Store in its current model.
he also said that F2P games are the type that you "leave installed" on your computer and play when new things come out. This is of course at odds with the subscription model as well. Now, I have no doubt that they hope to increase content rates to keep it flowing as well as they can, but certainly, the game seems to be headed in a direction that is... awkward for subscribers.
So.. I think some "love" is in store for ALL of us who have supported the game thus far; Read on for some suggestions.
In an ideal world, you could stop taking our money while we Beta-test F2P for you, but that doesn't seem very feasible.
Instead: Start giving out the C-Store stipend IMMEDIATELY. Starting October 1st, deliver those C-Store points to people who have subscribed in the previous month or are Lifers.
That way we'll be getting some value for our subs, and we will be free to go Beta test these new things to our hearts content.
You should also perhaps consider taking a little more cost out of the game for subscribers, since they won't be the focus any longer. We'll already be paying C-Store points (or Di-lithium) for the Premium ships, costumes, consoles, etc. however we're also still paying a lot of extra money for Costume slots, ship slots, character slots, Boff slots, respecs, and the like. Service items which should come with a subscription within reason. Only people who want an "excessive" amount of slots should be paying for them.
We'll still have plenty of premium items to spend our stipends and real life money on - I know Capnlogan has a long line of things on his plate, and I have 2 threads full of requests for canon ships and costumes to keep you busy for years.
Show a little love to your hardcore supports, and take some of the burden off of them.
Give us additional "Free" Character, ship, costume, Foundry and BOFF slots, either as baseline or EVERY 100 DAYS.
Someone paying the sub is loyal enough, its perfectly reasonable to give them ONE OF EACH every 100 additional days - AT LEAST for the 1st 10 increments
The baseline stipend is nice, but its really the BASELINE requirement for us to get ANY value out of subscribing. We could use a little more.
And now for the TL;DR summary:
Subscribers have supported the game well for almost 2 years. We've spent a ton of money in the C-Store at a premium, and we've helped keep this game going through tough times.
Over the next couple of months, the focus is going to be on the F2P Beta going onto the Tribble server; Since the new content and systems will be going there first, and likely won't be available on Holdeck until Free-To-Play launches at the end of the year, then it makes sense to do a little extra to those of us who have supported you, and will be entering a period of Beta-test on a separate realm and not be able to do these things on our main characters.
So, please take a little burden off of your loyalest customers by doing the following:
Start the monthly stipend NOW; On October 1st. Let it start rolling in. Think of it as an early Christmas present, or a little "money back" on what we invested in the game to help it along in the early years.
Reduce the recurring costs to long time players to keep playing; Give us 1 addition Character, Ship, Costume, BOFF and Foundry slot EVERY 100 days as part of the Veteran rewards. Reward loyalty with the ability to do more things in your game without having to buy the right to do so off of the C-Store.
We love your game or we wouldn't be here, and we'll exciting to see what new things come from the big changes just head of us.
Show us some love back, and it will ease a lot of the tension we've experienced through the hard times.
I disagree. Some people who are subscribers will be switching to free accounts once F2P is released. Why should they get a stipend? Sure you can argue "lifers should start getting the stipend" but then that's not fair to people who are paying and will continue to pay. The F2P model needs to be put in place for any features of it to take affect.
I play for my own personal enjoyment, as a hobby. I'm not looking to be rewarded. Asking to be rewarded with a tangible asset (the ability to buy things for free that you would normally have to spend cash on) is not likely to happen. Cryptic is a business, not a charity.
If people who subscribe feel they aren't getting their sub's worth without the stipend starting now, then they should unsubscribe and wait for F2P.
One thing I would like to see for monthly subscribers: A way to freeze their subs. If they have paid for 60 days in advance and don't want to use them during the F2P beta period, they should be able to freeze their sub days until the F2P launch.
If there is a mechanism for this in the account section, then Yay Cryptic. If not, they should consider adding it.