Reading through blogs, forums and comments on posts, I feel as though we’ve crossed some critical threshold where the vocal public is not willing to give Cryptic a chance about anything, ever again. I might be a critic of some of their actions and agree that changes need to be made to both Champions and STO, but I still see a lot of good in those games, and in the people at the company. It’s unfortunate that some people seem bound and determined to never give them another chance, but instead will spend the rest of their days loudly denouncing the company — which is not what we call “constructive” criticism. It’s called being a “blowhard”.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Cryptic’s approach to both MMOs and their business model. I really don’t think either Champions nor STO are bad games. They might have some glaring flaws and very little depth to them, but they are quite fun when the action gets fierce and the starships get explodey. Some of my friends who have stuck with Champions speak to how the game’s really improved since launch, but you can barely hear those testimonies over the folks who hated it in the first month, quit, and refused to shut up about it ever since.
I think that Cryptic’s maneuvered themselves into an undesirable position by having games that are not worth a $15/month subscription but asking for it anyway, then topping it with microtransaction fees that — right or wrong — give players the feeling of being squeezed for money.
Compare this to how people were really down on DDO a year or two back, but now the game’s getting rave reviews and a huge following. Why? Did the core game itself change? No, not really. The change is that the business model adjusted to something more in line with what the public thought the game was worth to them, and as a result, it didn’t feel like a ripoff (even if they were spending more money per month through the DDO store) — it felt like a bargain. And it freed people to enjoy the game in a way they previously could not.
So, my dear readers, the question I lay before you is this: would Cryptic reverse their trend of bad PR if they simply eschewed the subscription-and-RMT model and became purely RMT-supported? They already have the structure in place to sell content in the game via the C-Store, so this would just be enlarging it greatly. Would you be more willing to play STO and complain about it less if you could do it for free, but you’d only get one model of each starship per tier and would have to pay for the other ones?
I ask this because I totally would go for that and pick STO right back up if that was the case. Business-wise, I don’t know if it would net them more or less money in the long run, but I can’t help but think they’d unload a lot of negative baggage by taking themselves out of the running for a legitimate $15/month big hitter and putting themselves into another category, such as F2P or even a reduced monthly subscription.