Syp is concerned that Cryptic's various issues may have done irreparable damage to the studio's reputation among some gamers. This particular blogger pleads guilty as charged.
I'm very protective of my time and money against substandard games that would waste either. Fair or unfair, the appearance is that Cryptic charged the full price for its games, followed by the full price monthly subscription, and then piled on additional fees to cover things like respecs, races that were ready on launch day, and new content within four months of release (a decision that had to be reversed due to uproar). All of these things feel like they should have been included with the game.
The result leaves the cynically inclined wondering whether Cryptic concluded that they couldn't afford to develop STO properly, but that people would buy a sub-standard version on the strength of the Trek name alone and they could make up the revenue gap by selling tribbles or whatnot in the item shop. (Ironically, to the best of my knowledge, Tribbles are one of the few things that they AREN'T planning on charging extra for yet.)
Financing The Next Great MMO
The problem, as Tobold points out today, is that many of the costs of making and maintaining an MMORPG do not scale down based on the number of subscribers who sign up. (The two of us have actually been kicking this particular idea football back and forth for a few months now.)
This puts developers in a bind because they're competing against what's already on the market. You can't compromise on quality, or players won't play your game. You can't compromise on quantity, or half the players will rage!cancel when they run out of stuff to do, the other half will declare plans to wait a year for you to finish the game, and the revenue you were counting on to finish development will never materialize.
The next thing you know, you're just over a month post-launch and Amazon has your game at 40% off just to clear inventory. (I see no reason to pounce on that deal, since prices will only drop further before I actually have time to play the thing, but at some point STO might be worth a one-month-and-done novelty purchase.)
What the market will bear
The new Star Wars game is supposedly the most expensive production EA has ever financed, but even that budget is sounding like it will produce a Dragon Age style series of disconnected maps rather than an open world like Azeroth, Norrath, or Middle Earth. There's always Blizzard's mystery fourth project somewhere on the horizon (2012?), but will even that be ready on day one to compete with year 8 of WoW?
For all the talk of how a small minority of players will spend ruinous amounts of money if offered an item shop, it appears that the subscription MMORPG market literally will not tolerate fees higher than $15/month, whether that comes via a hard increase (which no one has even dared to try) or a soft increase (i.e. $15 + some number in item store purchases). But what's the alternative? If the market won't pay what it costs to develop a comparable game, and won't tolerate anything less, that sounds like a recipe for WoW to still be the top MMORPG in 2020. I like WoW as well as the next guy, but that would be a pretty sad outcome.