One More Yacht
Aug 04, 2009 15:19:42

lonely island on a boat
“How many yachts can you water ski behind?” - from the movie “Wall Street”
In the movie “Wall Street” Charlie Sheen, disgusted by Michael Douglas' greed, asks him “How many yachts can you water ski behind?” Apparently, in the case of Cryptic Studios, the developers of Champions Online and Star Trek Online, the answer is “Just one more.”

Mind you this article is not about either Champions Online, or Star Trek Online - neither of which have even gone to beta let alone hit the shelves. No this is about article is about the greed of American business; because make no mistake, especially in this economic climate, no matter what else a game developer is, it is first a business. Don't think so? Just ask an investor.
My grad school professor in marketing used to say that there is no bad publicity there is only publicity. Now it may have taken awhile but EA's “Dante's Inferno” team finally proved my old “prof” wrong: there is a point at which creative marketing can get way too creative.

Now it's Cryptic Studios' turn…

Now mind you I have the greatest respect for the talent at Cryptic Studios - however I would not extend that respect to their business acumen. If the Dante's Inferno team stepped in it earlier in the week the marketing team for Champions online must have been walking right behind them; this week they stepped in it. Here is a quote from an earlier interview with Bill Roper, over at Ten Ton Hammer:
“So we came up with these Cryptic Bucks, and you can use those to get anything inside or outside of the game.” - Bill Roper

Perhaps, however, we should turn to a recent post by Jack “Jackelope” Emmert one of the Cryptic Studios developers, when he reiterated Bill Roper, in a recent post on the official Star Trek Online forums:
”Bill and I have both posted over on the Champions boards to respond to questions raised by microtransactions. I'll just reiterate what's already been copied and pasted from Bill's State of the Game address on Champions: The vast majority are aesthetic items, such as costume pieces, action figures, emblems, etc. A very few are account-level management tools, such as being able to rename a character. Micro-transactions should never limit your ability to enjoy the game or reach the level cap. Any micro-transaction that has a game effect can also be earned in the game through play. These principles apply also to Star Trek.” - Jack “Jackelope” Emmert

So it appears (as confirmed by in an article on August 3, 2009) that the “good” folks at Cryptic Studios intend to offer us all the deal of a lifetime - a lifetime subscription to Champions Online. Now it isn't that another one of Bill Roper's projects, Hellgate London, had a very short lifetime. Nor is this about the rife of mmo closures, most recently Tabula Rasa and Matrix Online. No what this is about is corporate greed in the form of a company that wants its cake and eat it too. This is about a company that wants us all to pay a subscription for a game and then heap micro transactions on top of the community as well. In a word, this is about GREED. It is about asking players to pay for the same game twice. I don't have a problem with paying a subscription for a game, and I am not beyond paying for a “free to play” game by paying for my favorite virtual toy. What I do have a very large problem with is a company that asks me to pay both at the same time. So as grandmother used to say:

Defecate or get off the pot - micro transactions or subscriptions but not both.
I hope that Cryptic Studios reconsiders an ill conceived notion before the game goes live. I was looking forward to playing Star Trek Online but if things go the way Cryptic appears to be taking them I wouldn't take the game if you gave it to me, no matter how much I want to play it. Not if you want to…
…see me online.

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Aug 04, 2009 15:19:42 CST (comments: 17)


'Stoke the fire' by Seritaph
Submitted on 2009-08-04 17:25:24 CST
I'm in your camp about this Julie.

'So they're not good because they want your money?' by Beauturkey
Submitted on 2009-08-04 22:11:57 CST

For someone that constantly quotes the wisdom of other people, you should be more realistic. This is nothing new, and is nothing evil or wrong. They are still allowing you to get the same things in game. Even if not, why worry about it? Nothing any of those MT players will have will effect you in any way, shape or form.

Pay the sub, ignore the MT's. It's done in quite a few games and for quite a long time and quite successfully. Or, of course, act as though you are forced to do either. That way, you can blame the developers.

You know what MY Grandma used to say: "Quit whining."

Remember, this argument is several years too late.


'Stirred your pot eh?' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-08-04 22:59:36 CST
Stirred up your pot have I Beau...

The simple fact is that this is about greed and sticking it to the commuinity. Don\'t like what I have to say? Easy solution...

Don\'t read the column. I am not going to stop writing the column because someone doesn't like it. The proposed plan set forth for Champions online is about greed no matter who likes it or not...even you.


'On the other hand' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-08-04 23:08:43 CST
It's always nice to have my own personal troll...

'Ok, ok.' by Beauturkey
Submitted on 2009-08-04 23:31:30 CST
a) How would I know if I don't like it unless I read it? That's what happened here.

b) Where did you get that I was suggesting that you stopped writing a blog? I said "Stop whining" not "Stop writing." Granted, I should have known, being that you are pretty damn good at taking something small and turning it into a HUGE deal. You like the buzz of "controversy" (if that's possible in an industry that manufactures fantasy). That's cool, I like it sometimes too.

c) Right, it's about greed. So, you make your money and buy YOUR things out of necessity only? It's about a company wanting to get your money. Why do you act surprised? Have you not been around the block like myself enough times to know that companies do things like, you know, try and make money?

d) Troll? So, as soon as someone suggests, in the type of language that YOU use all the time, to stop worrying about something like this, I am a troll? Easy solution for you, I guess.

See, you seem to think that I CARE if they are greedy. They aren't going to FORCE you to do anything, but they are going to give you options. Spin it how you want, but it's simply about you making an issue where there is none. Have you not noticed that many games have been doing this for a long time, without much protest? You are about 6 or 7 years late to the party.

If you feel as though this will be forced on you, just say it. Do you or do you not feel as though they are FORCING you to pay for micro-transactions?


'Pimple on a pimple' by Yoh
Submitted on 2009-08-05 00:01:08 CST
Well, after mulling around with this blog post and subsequent comments in the shower for 20mins, this is my conclusion.

I almost completely agree with you Julie, but not completely. While on the face of it, it looks like Cryptic are trying to have their cake and eat it too, it first depends on their implementation of said MT system, and second, this is nothing new. (however, this is not to say it's acceptable behavior)

Micro transaction in my experience can go one of two ways, with some middle ground.
A, They implement everything that you could buy in their online store in game, as to which they are just there so you can get them 'quicker' than normal.
B, They kneecap your options, esp ascetic options, attempting to make the game as dull as possible in order to force your hand to buy something.

Now, in the case of Champions, I would imagen, based off of what they have announced, that they are in the middle somewhere, leaning towards the first option. But even in that case, they seem they want to have their cake, and eat the icing. Also known as greed.

But this is where I have my main point of contention with you Julie. Is if you want to talk about greed, you need not go any further then WoW. I mean they charge you for damn near everything.
They charge for the box.
They charge for subscription.
They charge for expansions. (or at least, they used to. not sure if they did with wrath)
They even seem to charge for micro transactions, which aren't so 'micro'.

So by compression, Cryptic with Champions seems mildly greedy. But still, in this day and age, that shit won't fly far with most people.
And despite what BeauTurkey said, I think it is still a valid criticism worth stating. It's not whining. (abet, maybe a tad overboard)

I found my favorite business models tend to be the ones that try to give the customer as much bang for their buck. In this case, Guild Wars and EVE Online.

Guild Wars did something completely different then the norm, by working like a singleplayer game cost, in which you buy the box and later expansions (which in the case of GW, worked as standalone games as well), and then you could play till you hearts content.
No subscription necessary.
This makes it very flexible for the players, so that they can come and go as they please.
This means even if someone doesn't like it right off the bat, they can still potentially get them in the long run, as there is nothing stopping them from pop in once in awhile to see if they game is better then they remember it was.
Hell, even I go back to it once in awhile. But if I were paying a subscription for the game, there is no way you could get me back in it. It's that simple.

Also, for the longest time, they didn't really even have MT either. You could buy the expansions thru the store, and a few other things that you didn't need to play the game at all, and that's really about it. Although, in recent times they have added a few more MT like things such as character makeovers. But that's probably because their scrounging for cash to make GW2.

Now in EVE's case, it's almost the inverse of GW. They only charge for subscription, and that's it. It's free to download, free to play for two weeks on a new account, and have free expansions, with no MT at all. (i think)

This makes EVE very accessible. And due to their unique expansion means, they can evolve the game out in all directions, and even if you didn't like it at first, it will eventually get there, and you can always check in on its progress without it costing you any.

Now if only Guildwars and EVE were to mate and have babies, I would be interested in that certainly.

Btw, I felt I was your personal troll..... that happened to agree with you most of the time..... yeah......stop talking...... I know.


'When did Cryptic join the PRC?' by Gnova
Submitted on 2009-08-05 02:25:14 CST
Given the massive amounts of money it is taking to develop MMOs that the fickle WoW jaded crowd won't whine about on day three of launch it is only understandable that companies are looking at more ways of getting a return on their investment.

I am all for this business model if it will improve the games I play, or provide me with more varied options of what to play. Hell, let some compulsive shopper pay for a pile of microtransactions that will allow a few more developers to be hired to add and tweak content.

Microtransactions are already evident in WoW, EQ2, and EQ1. The people that play those games did not sign up to play a MT game when they bought the boxes, at least Cryptic is being upfront about it and telling people it will be in the game well before launch.
Now WoW not only has microtransactions (hidden behind a TCG farce), they have officially legalized RMT gold buying. You can but TCG cards with good ol' $$ until you get a mount loot card, bind it to your account, and then sell it legally ingame for gold either in channels or on the broker.

'Let me say this about that...' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-08-05 12:41:32 CST
As business models goes my hat has always been off to ccp. Of all the companies I think they do it best (issues with dev involvement in the game aside) as well as handle the issue of RMT. Where the collectable card game is concerned, while I am not a fan of the WoW collectible card game there was a time I used to spend hour upon hour playing games like magic with friends in my favorite coffee house in Chicago. If you are willing to spend the dollars getting box after box in hopes of getting a mount loot card I would say you almost disserve the mount.

I will certainly agree that Activision/Blizzard has become greedy as well. In fact one of my comments in regard to the marketing campaign at Activision/Blizzard on show 40 was that it left me feeling that they should just leave the money on the dresser and not bother to call me in the morning.

P.S. Yes Virginia there is a world of difference between someone who discuss and comments (see Yohs comments above about how long they were thought out...which he is always welcome to come on the show and express) and simply "stop whining". Stop whining is just a comment by a troll - on the other hand knock yourself out. Thats what the thread is for.


'"Lifetime" membership eh?' by AnkleBiter
Submitted on 2009-08-05 15:05:42 CST
I actually considered going for Champions' offer... I know I've probably spent $200 on EVE, and I've only been playing for a year and a half (iirc my 6mo subs are ~$75 or $80). From day 1 with EVE, I would have jumped at that.

I've been eagerly awaiting Champions (used to pen & paper that one), and the thought of getting a 1 time payment forever was appealling... until I start seeing the MT's getting thrown in the mix, my $200 suddenly doesn't seem to be getting me so much anymore...

'Lifetime offers' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-08-05 15:54:52 CST
As far as lifetime offers are concerned I am not against them. In fact where Lord of the Rings Online was concerned I availed myself of the deal...on the other hand Turbine has a bit of a better track record. But more importantly where the deal itself is concerned I had a chance to try the game rather than be expected to buy the lifetime deal sight unseen.


'Torn' by DragonDawe
Submitted on 2009-08-11 04:00:52 CST
I wish I had gotten on the boat for Turbines LOTRO . . .but I needed a anger vent

So I bought a lifetime of Hellgate and joyously blasted away. Sadly they meant the lifetimepof the company, not my lifetime.

Do I begrudge or complain (well, yeah, a little)

Have we had any word FROM Cryptic vis a vis the RMT and lifetimers? Perhaps there is some middle ground where the Lifers get some of the RMTs as a matter of course? (I doubt it but ya gotta ask these things)

I played and ran Champions campaigns back when PnP was all we had. Loved the game then, loved doing character design . . . looking forward to this a lot.

Which brings me back to Sis Julie. I fear my fanboy anticipation closely resembles a nun who goes Waaaaagh. The game may be good, but will it ever be what I was hoping for? Cryptic does nice work, but can they make my old dreams live again? (On the bright side, I haven't painted armies)

Sis, please do not deny yourself a game based on partial announcements or billing schema that you dislike. To do that means Wow will also go, as they RMT and sub. OF COURSE the companies want to have every opportunity to get into our wallets. I will try to limit their access, but I still want to play the games


ps, Cryptic? Really hard to ask me for two hundred without letting me even see the game. Pig in a poke . . . no

'If you don't want to pay' by Maess
Submitted on 2009-08-17 17:22:39 CST
don't play. It's pretty much that simple. Seems to me you are whining about nothing just to hear yourself yap, but that's pretty much par for the course...

'Interesting...' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-08-17 19:35:44 CST
"It's interesting how many people feel that if you don't agree with their opinion it constitutes "whining"...

Just call me "Billy Goat Gruff"

'Not whining, ranting...' by sleepysam
Submitted on 2009-08-17 19:53:27 CST
Well, I appreciate this topic as a rant rather than a whine. I've listened to several episodes, and read several blog entries - I read and hear very little whining.

I do read and hear some very entertaining commentary, whether I agree or not.

Yall never cease to get me to smile while listening.

All that said, I can't imagine blowing $200 on a game prior to release, regardless of how many other transaction models are involved.

'Timing...' by Julie
Submitted on 2009-08-17 20:09:31 CST

Entertaining is the we will discuss with Total Buscuit on an upcoming show (scheduled for show 43 so far) I may not always agree with him but he is one heck of an entertaining guy.

As far as the $200.00 it is more the timing of the thing than anything else. I had a chance to play Lord of the Rings Online before making the decision to pay $199.00 for a lifetime subscription and I jumped at the chance - and it has more than paid for itself.

If they were duplicate this effort with Star Trek Online but allow the timing of the thing so players could try the game for a bit first, then (assuming it is all that is hoped for) I would probably go for the deal.


'Lifetime Sub' by Gnova
Submitted on 2009-08-17 22:58:36 CST
I paid the $199 for the LOTRO lifetime sub and while I think it was a decent deal, I\\\'m not convinced it will end up saving me money in the long run.
Lotro doesn\\\'t have enough \\\"meat on the bones\\\" to make me play it month after month.
I really like the game and jump back into it for a month every few but it just doesnt have enough to keep me there once the renewed novelty wears off.
It makes a great 2nd MMO for me though. Whenever I need a break from the main one I am playing atm I can jump into it for a few hours or days and not worry about the sub.

If I was to look at it seriously though I would say that I would end up subbing to it for about 3 months per year every year. It will take a long time to pay for itself at that rate.

MMOs are being designed more and more with the casual player in mind and don\\\'t have the ability to be the only thing you play anymore. With that in mind lifetime subs are probably less of a deal for the customer and more of a deal for the company.

'Outrage? What outrage?' by SurfPenguin
Submitted on 2009-08-20 00:12:16 CST
No offense sisters, but I can't disagree with you more about this issue. If you're having a metaphorical bird over Cryptic Studios running their games on both a subscription AND cash shop model, where's the outrage against Paragon Studios, that have pretty much been doing what Roper and Emmert have described for the past year and a half? As a matter of fact, they've set things up so that there are costume options and minor powers that are unavailable UNLESS you use the cash shop? Where's the outrage about that?

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