Lifetime subs for new games cost $200, if they want people to pay that for a game that is almost three years old, they have to sweeten the pot.
Lockboxes and C-store are the primary income for the game. Did you think that a f2p game could live only on its limited sub numbers?
The bug ship is back by popular demand, and in doing so, it drops the price for those ships - something that is an enticement for new players.
That is how they make money. That is how you draw new players and new subs. Those are not desperation ploys, those are standard operating procedures. So...yeah, you'll need to go on if you want to convince me that the game is a breath away from folding.
no, they're short-term solutions to immediate crises, from the same mentality that takes items players already HAVE, puts it into a lockbox to extort them into a new resource drain.
You make money short-term, but long term doesn't exist, and that's what we're seeing now with S7.
If LONG TERM thinking had been applied to some of the new features, they'd make money AND draw subs in, instead, they're losing subscribers and blue-chip spenders hand-over-fist, which impacts the RELIABLE income stream you use for long-term planning.
The Rep system-in and of itself, in isolation, isn't that bad a mechanic. The way it was implemented, and the measures taken to "assure participation" however, are another thing entirely. It SHOULD have been linked at a lower-level, to existing content, with New Romulus either featured at, say, Level 30/40 as a divergence from the railroad-track episode progression, or really challenging, intelligent content should have been implemented instead of a rehash of some second-rate fantasy rpg stocked with incompetent peasants, cute animals, and pointless tasks.
TBH the entire "New Romulus" arc belongs somewhere between the end of the Romulan Mystery series, and your first visit to DS9.
The reason is, most F2P's that turn Sub do so before they have finished their first character's progression to Level 50, and people tend to buy things for their new Alt characters if there is something to buy...and a Rep system that offers passives in this case is a MARKETING TOOL.
But that's "Long Term" thinking-get them hooked early-see? The OPTION to do Rep at lower levels would mean newer toons could, at 45 or so, actually compete in STF's without the STF gear-which in turn expands your audience for the end-game content and holds on to your 'challenge' players whom feel the STF's are too 'easy'.
(and really, the old space ones WERE too easy. the new "Hive Onslaught" is actually challenging, but the rewards, as one person last night playing it for the first time, 'suck'. you can get the same rewards with a lot less work doing Infected Space on normal...)
Long term, as in making changes to assure the game's profitability and popularity, would include seriously addressing long-standing bug issues in the graphics and engine, fixing-instead-of-papering-over-with-excuses bugs like the Ensign Flatulence decloaks you bug, and actually addressing those two dirty words nobody in development seems keen to look at: "Game Balance".
and finally, LONG TERM thinking would see seriously addressing the PvP situation. PvP is, essentially, "Free content" in that once you have the maps, the players will do the rest...assuming that 'game balance' issue has been addressed.
and again, PVP'ers BUY STUFF, which PvE'ers and grinders usually do NOT. It's called "Revenue", and it's a lower investment for the return...but the return is, well...time-gated, kind of like your Rep projects are, and dependent on the audience for participation, kind of like your Fleet Projects are...