Lieutenant
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 75
# 1 Per-character services suck.
08-03-2012, 02:52 PM
No really, they just suck. They are bad. They serve no purpose other than to drive up the attrition rate of new players. New players look at all of these per character service upgrades (inventory space, duty officer roster expansion, ship slots, bridge officer slots, costume slots, character retrain/rename tokens) and then look at how much extra character slots cost on top of all that, throw up their hands and say "BUT I CAN GO BUY A NEW CHAMPION FOR ABOUT SEVEN DOLLARS!"

We've had this argument before though, so I came prepared to rebut most of the arguments I am expecting.

Quote:
But they have to make money.
It is simple network economics. See, right now a very small minority of players are actually taking advantage of these benefits. If I had to wage you have about 2 % of players maxing out their duty officer capacity on two characters, a smaller percentage buying ship slots, around 4% buying extra inventory on top of what they'd get from a gold expansion, bank space is anybody's guess, and probably 10% of players have purchased retrain/rename tokens. Some plurality of players buy character slots.

Furthermore they are bottlenecking the sales of duty officer packs by limiting account space. The majority of players play on between one to three main characters. If I had to guess the average would be 1.8 characters. So that is the target for the duty officer space, 3 purchases of 100 spaces multiplied by 1.8 multiplied by however many players currently currently indulge in that. So that one is pretty simple, you make the account unlock for 25 spaces cost 490 zen on the account level, and have it only available at that rate and with the 12 unlocks you're suddenly *GASP* making more money off of those same players.

Here is where it gets tricky. You see, because of the implied value of the account wide unlock a LARGER PERCENTAGE OF PLAYERS will be purchasing this. So you just took it from 2% to probably around 9% of players indulging in purchasing that.

The same argument holds true for costume unlocks, inventory unlocks, not sure about bank unlocks (I'd probably buy a month of gold for the bank unlocks. Well played Cryptic, you've taken australia on the Risk board.) At that point, the main cost becomes data warehousing. Data warehousing is... going to cost about the same regardless.

Quote:
But what happens to the old per character unlocks.
Well, there are a few possibilities there, could be any of these:
  • Players that purchased them previously get to keep the ones they've unlocked, and can purchase *gasp* more. Probably be good to pair the farewell to the per character services with a farewell sale of like 10% off or buy two get one free or something like that
  • The account services will cost slightly more, have lower numbers of slots for each micropurchase, and be limited in how many of each you can purchase, and the per character services stay for those that want more on top of that.
  • Cryptic lowers the prices on the per character stuff, releases the account wide stuff, thus providing a nice dichotomy between the two systems of microtransaction

Quote:
But Ozewa, you're a bloody loony.
Not really. I sincerely believe that a change like this would
  • draw back players who had tried the game and did not like how the microtransactions were set up.
  • Lower attrition of new players
  • Probably raise the cost of character slots a bit going forward
  • Generate a higher amount of revenue than the current system
  • Stop whatever nefarious plot the Iconians have up their sleeve.

Quote:
But no, really, I still think you're a loon.
Well, we're all entitled to our opinions. I think you'd probably enjoy this a bit more than a 6th and 7th form of RMT though. (IN GAME PROMOTIONAL ZEN VOUCHERS ANYBODY? available in 100 zen and 500 zen increments?)

Quote:
But really, I think you made all those numbers up.
The nice thing about it is the numbers aren't really the important part. I'm convinced that if you put up these account services and duty officer roster space that you would have more people purchasing them, a lower attrition rate, and draw in more new and returning players. That is because people will look at them, see value in them over the per character unlocks, purchase them and from that point on feel invested in playing the game.

While I would absolutely love to sit down with the data miner at cryptic, get real numbers and examine those critically, I don't see that happening. But the nice thing is that I don't need them, and if I did err then I probably erred on the side of being generous with those numbers.

Last edited by ozewa; 08-03-2012 at 03:03 PM.
Empire Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,251
# 2
08-03-2012, 05:06 PM
I think we all agree they need to make money, after all they are a business. However do they need to rip off their customers to do it? I think not.

It comes down to just being lazy and short sighted on Cryptic's part, or just down right greedy thanks to influence or orders from PWE. Will people buy single character unlocks? Maybe, will they pay 700 Zen for it? Most won't except hard-core Trek fanatics.

I grew up with Trek it was my first non-cartoon series I got into and even I won't fork out prices that in this game could be compared to drug prices to get a fancy suit I can use on only a couple of missions.

I have decided in this game I will never buy something for Zen if it's a single character unlock, except Duty Officers which aren't over the top but still a little over-priced imo, especially when you get white/commons in it. Should all be Green quality and higher.

So yes, they are overpriced and should probably be an account unlock, if you got both KDF and Fed for 700 Zen as an account unlock that you could deck your entire crew out on all your characters then I would probably buy them. But at the current prices and being single unlocks it's not worth the money, not by a long shot. Maybe they should have been added to a new Fed and KDF bundle.
Quote:
Originally Posted by macronius View Post
Cryptic is sloppy. Breaking News at 11. This is what happens when there is no outline or plan and you just make up **** as you go along.
Quote:
Originally Posted by shredder75 View Post
We can tell our great grandchildren, "In my day, our cloaks were so sensitive that even dialogue broke them and we couldn't change our clothes!"
Lieutenant
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 75
# 3
08-03-2012, 07:47 PM
I'd pretty much agree with your sentiment, except that there are plenty of ways to get duty officers without paying zen for them. The duty officer packs are nice, but its basically a digital CCG.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 845
# 4
08-03-2012, 08:37 PM
You covered a lot of great points and I agree with them.

I would like to add in that I have seen in the MMO market that companies see the long term players as costing them money. The longer a player plays the game, the more likely they have everything, and the less money they spend. So games are designed to cause attrition, as the active computer bandwith and data storage, could be better used by a new player. The new player doesn't have all the bells and whistles so they will spend more money to get them, while the player who has been in game a long time will spend less money. So from what I have seen Companies in the MMO market see New players as an asset, and the older players as a liability. In order to get more assets they create a long tedious grind so the Liability will get tired and move on, freeing up the servers for the assets to come in. I have seen this before and will see this again, and again.

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Lieutenant
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 75
# 5
08-03-2012, 09:35 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by admrenlarreck View Post
You covered a lot of great points and I agree with them.

I would like to add in that I have seen in the MMO market that companies see the long term players as costing them money. The longer a player plays the game, the more likely they have everything, and the less money they spend. So games are designed to cause attrition, as the active computer bandwith and data storage, could be better used by a new player. The new player doesn't have all the bells and whistles so they will spend more money to get them, while the player who has been in game a long time will spend less money. So from what I have seen Companies in the MMO market see New players as an asset, and the older players as a liability. In order to get more assets they create a long tedious grind so the Liability will get tired and move on, freeing up the servers for the assets to come in. I have seen this before and will see this again, and again.
The problem with that is that their market is both fickle and finite. Also, the thing about them "Having everything" and "Moving on because they have everything" is a flawed argument. It is equally, if not more, likely that said players moved on due to lack of new content.

For example season 6 marked the first time I can remember that they moved the end game in a little over a year. So... yea.

Furthermore, I touched on that point in my first post in that it would give old players that already bought said things something new to buy. A lot of something new to buy. If it is in fact those whales that you're concerned about then I'd make the argument that going the legacy route and letting them buy an extra 300 roster slots for each character on their account could net a relatively HUGE sum of money.

On another note, the attrition I was speaking of was the new player attrition, not the "I've played this a whole bunch and bought all the stuff and now I am bored" attrition. Many players are quite discerning when it comes to what they spend money on, as they won't spend money on things they can't find value in. Beyond that, per character unlocks are downright offensive to a lot of players.

Bandwidth and data warehousing are relatively cheap. Especially on the scale that Cryptic and PWE have.

**edit**

Somebody moved my thread. That is not a nice thing to do.
Empire Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,251
# 6
08-04-2012, 01:55 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ozewa View Post
I'd pretty much agree with your sentiment, except that there are plenty of ways to get duty officers without paying zen for them. The duty officer packs are nice, but its basically a digital CCG.
I agree, I have rarely bought Duty Officers to be honest, I think the only times I have were to also try a win the reward, ie the Jem'Hadar Attack Ship and once on the Freighter (for selling purposes).
Quote:
Originally Posted by macronius View Post
Cryptic is sloppy. Breaking News at 11. This is what happens when there is no outline or plan and you just make up **** as you go along.
Quote:
Originally Posted by shredder75 View Post
We can tell our great grandchildren, "In my day, our cloaks were so sensitive that even dialogue broke them and we couldn't change our clothes!"
Commander
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 399
# 7
08-04-2012, 02:16 AM
Actually it's some account-wide unlocks I didn' buy (yet), because of their price and their limited use for my toons.
I would have bought me an Intrepid Unlock, but It would have been for my only sci toon, so didn't bother with it (per character for 1/2 price; Fleet Starbase made this decision even easier, since buying Modules from Exchange isn't so hard).

For per Character Unlocks I usually pay one month while leveling, having an abundance of Tokens etc. afterwards.
I increased DOFF Slots on 2 toons so far (by 50 each, bought via Dilithium Conversion), for Fleet Contribution backup.
Bought Character Slots, because once in a while I actually enjoy leveling a toon.
And of course unlocked the EC limit increase.

In the end, I'm fine with the system as it is, because I actually am not required to buy anything to stay competitive, or even survive a mission.
(There are plenty of examples where non-payers have really hard times)
And exactly that makes me pay once in a while, wether it's per character or per account.
Lieutenant
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 77
# 8
08-04-2012, 04:52 AM
I can't speak for the wider implications for multiple users but the new model hasn't advantaged the company financially doing business with me personally. I utilized my eight characters when the mood struck and alternated between them. Sometimes it was a result of boredom sometimes it was motivated by a the desire to try a new product that suited one of my alts. This made money from me.

The grinding I'm now required to do as my primary activity rewards persistent play on fewer characters. When this is coupled with single character unlocks it makes me far more conservative about purchases I'm willing to make. Something has to be, "just right" for the dedicated characters I play or I won't be committing. My alts who used to share play time are now repositories and doff making machines.

While there is only one buyer making purchases for the characters I think that the person who made the marketing decision didn't factor in significant shifts in play style resulting from changing game dynamics. I am one player but my internal market has shifted. I might be buying for two now where before a new product could have been potentially attractive to eight. If those EV suits are establishing a benchmark I think they will have to take the plan back to the drawing board.
Lieutenant
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 75
# 9
08-04-2012, 06:54 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by horridperson View Post
I can't speak for the wider implications for multiple users but the new model hasn't advantaged the company financially doing business with me personally. I utilized my eight characters when the mood struck and alternated between them. Sometimes it was a result of boredom sometimes it was motivated by a the desire to try a new product that suited one of my alts. This made money from me.

The grinding I'm now required to do as my primary activity rewards persistent play on fewer characters. When this is coupled with single character unlocks it makes me far more conservative about purchases I'm willing to make. Something has to be, "just right" for the dedicated characters I play or I won't be committing. My alts who used to share play time are now repositories and doff making machines.

While there is only one buyer making purchases for the characters I think that the person who made the marketing decision didn't factor in significant shifts in play style resulting from changing game dynamics. I am one player but my internal market has shifted. I might be buying for two now where before a new product could have been potentially attractive to eight. If those EV suits are establishing a benchmark I think they will have to take the plan back to the drawing board.
Part of the problem is that many gamers won't buy something unless it advantages the entirety of the account.

So for cosmetics it is easier to buy one or two costumes you know you'll use. I had been begging for a proper C-Store maelstrom since I first got the ship (two years ago) and they have only partially delivered with the fleet blockade escort.

So I usually only purchase things that benefit at the very least one entire faction.

Of course it is all conjecture at this point. PWE has all the related data, and I doubt that any of us would even get to see it if we owned a significant portion of the company. (15% of PWRD would cost $67,232,025 by the way) And even if these changes were made I'm not sure it would affect their P/E ratio by more than a nickel, but possibly a dime.
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