This has just got to be one of the most head-scratchingly bizarre marketing blunders that I’ve seen from a MMO company in a while, so let’s take a second and retrace the steps of how Cryptic is bungling their special promotional offers of Champions Online:
- About a month or so before the launch of the game, they announce two special pricing plans — a $199 lifetime subscription, and a $60 6-month subscription. Which is pretty cool.
- Then they state that the offer for these plans will be yanked on September 1st — Champions’ launch — before most players are able to get in the game and determine if they, indeed, want to play it for six months or longer.
- Yesterday, word came down from Cryptic that, oh, these plans were available in a limited quantity, and had almost sold out.
- Today, six days prior to September 1st, the plans sold out and were not available.
- Players have gone ballistic.
Ardwulf comes to Cryptic’s defense by saying that they were under no obligation to offer an unlimited amount, or to continue the program to any specific date, which is pretty debatable. They certainly put themselves under obligation by stating that they would do X until date Y, and whenever a MMO company makes a definitive statement like that with a date attached, well, people kind of hold them to it.
Plus, there’s the weirdness of this abrupt “Oh, we’re almost out of subscriptions, kthanx, sorry”, which is odd on two fronts. One, that they never mentioned it before, and two, that a company can “run out” of a virtual product like a subscription deal. Maybe there was a limit set by what accounting figured would make or break the game in the long run, but in any case, it smacks of artificially limiting supply for no apparent reason.
Perhaps you read this and are not sympathetic to the Champions community — after all, they had the better part of a month to get in on these deals, right? True, but that’s not including the fact that many players have only recently gotten to participate in the beta (hands-on experience makes a big difference in deciding to purchase something or not), as well as many other potential possibilities why someone may have been holding off until the end of the month to purchase these. After all, making a $200 purchase is not something that most of us take lightly. And you can’t blame them for feeling as though Cryptic was not being honest about this whole process.
On Twitter, Pete from Dragonchasers said they actually lost a customer because of this — “Think I’ll give Champions Online a pass after all.”
Cryptic’s response to the numerous threads created over this has been to say:
- Daeke – “I’m making sure the appropriate people see the thread to know how upset people are about the situation.”
- Stormshade – “I know you’re all frustrated by this and I apologize for that. Sadly, we only ever had allocated a certain number of Lifetime Subs and certain number of discounted 6 month subs. The sad and unfortunate truth here is that we’re actually selling more of these than we thought we would. We messaged the offer would end on September 1 because we didn’t think we were going to sell through this many subscriptions, and we were wrong.”
Yeah, MMO gamers are notorious for getting up in arms about everything, but here is a case that I think a few have a legitimate case for being upset. Cryptic, you need to offer another batch of these and make peace with the players who are about to step into your game in less than a week.