Mitigating Price Discrimination In DDO?
Here are the new prices, effective when Update 7 hits later this month:
The Favored Soul got a smaller price increase because it is a relative pain for VIP subscribers to unlock, and the others went up by 200 TP across the board. This increase might be as much motivated by covering the 500 TP jump from what races and classes cost now to what the Half-Orc costs if you pay full price as with any strong desire to pocket an additional 200 TP.
Name Old Price New Price Other Notes Warforged Race 595 TP 795 TP VIP Rental Drow Race 795 TP 995 TP Easily unlocked on a per-server basis Favored Soul Class 795 TP 895 TP Difficult unlock on a per server basis Monk Class 795 TP 995 TP VIP Rental NEW Half-Elf Race N/A 1195 TP VIP Rental NEW Half-Orc Race N/A 1295 TP VIP Rental BOTH NEW Races N/A 1995 TP VIP Rental
More to the point, all of the existing races and classes have been discounted by 50% as part of sales in both July and September, and are routinely discounted by 20-25% in regular weekly sales. These sales have been very successful - the producers stated that the first day of the PAX sale in September was the game's best sales day ever - but also mean that players are flat out paying 50% of what the store designers originally intended. With the new model, it looks like they're expecting to make the bundled price, so a player who picks up one of the races (at a premium for just buying the one) on sale for 20% off is paying closer to the what they were expecting anyway.
No Impulse Purchases On Races?
My guess is that players don't make impulse purchases of character options, such as races and classes, the way they do with content or consumables.
DDO's complicated and unforgiving character system strongly encourages players to put a lot of thought into any new characters they roll up. If you're putting that much preparation and attention into it anyway, waiting for a month or two to start that new alt is a relatively small inconvenience in exchange for 50% off. By contrast, you usually determine that you need to buy more adventure packs when you hit a certain level and find that you need more content. This is a more immediate need and therefore more likely to convince the player to go ahead and pay full price (or at least a less-impressive sale discount price).
The other quirk to this increased use of sale pricing is that it really hits players who aren't willing to plan ahead. The half-orc race alone, if bought individually at the worst Turbine Point exchange rate, costs nearly $20. The same race, purchased for 50% off using points obtained at the best rate (6900 TP/$50, offered about once a month, including this week), costs under $5. Though I maintain that the free to play version of the DDO model is the better deal for attentive players, the all-inclusive VIP rental/subscription will start to become more attractive for players who don't want to be bothered with watching for all these sales.
At any rate, this is a straight up price hike to previously created content, which is not costing the developers any more than it did before the increase. Turbine is also apparently willing to charge inattentive players as much as a full expansion costs in other games for the two new races alone. I'm generally a big fan of the DDO business model, but there's no sugar coating this announcement. Whether taking our medicine - higher list prices - results in better health (more content in the future) remains to be seen.
Two LOTRO Addenda
If there are any concerned LOTRO players reading this, I think you're pretty safe for now. There's no room in the lore for new player races, and it would be hard to justify increasing prices on existing classes that are included in the Moria expansion (which frankly shouldn't be sold separately to begin with, since such purchases are wasted when you are forced to upgrade at level 50). If Turbine does add new classes to LOTRO, though, expect prices in the 1200-1500 TP range.
Also, Doc Holiday linked an article on Joystiq containing some news about LOTRO's first month of free to play.