Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Secret Edition

I'm getting excited about an upcoming MMO release based on what I'm hearing as it's finally open for public testing.  It sounds like they're doing some unique things with characters and story.  There was a bit of controversy about the high price of their collector's edition, but I do have my eye on a special box.  In this box are a number of very exclusive perks which the regular box did not include - an extra 40 days' worth of game time, and access to additional game systems that were not available to regular edition customers on launch day - these include greatly expanded UI customization options and a much touted "legacy" system which will grant your alts perks for each previous character you have leveled on that server.

The game in question is patch 1.2 for SWTOR, which is currently on the public test server and slated for launch next month.  The extra perks aren't exclusive to some special edition - these are just what has been added to the game in patches in the game's first 3-4 months of release.  The extra game time is an estimate based on $60 for a box at launch versus $40 or so online these days if you're watching for a deal.  In short, I can get all of the above for doing what us grizzled MMO vets always threaten to do and fail to follow through on - waiting a few months before jumping on the latest hot game. 

This phenomena is not new, and there are any number of names for it - price discrimination, enthusiasm tax, etc, but it's a problem whatever you call it.  This particular new release managed to sell two million boxes without my business, and therefore has yet to fire the staff needed to develop the features that have just about lured me off the fence about the game.  Meanwhile, with the recurring subscription fee, some of those customers have already been forced to decide whether the game is worth their continuing investment and chosen not to stick around.  I'm sure the win-back campaigns will kick off in the next few months, but it's always a tougher sell to change a player's view of a game.

Every game has to launch sometime, and there's always going to be something that can improve.  It just seems like the incentives for players - wait and see where things settle out - aren't necessarily sustainable for your average new release. 

1 comment:

Bhagpuss said...

At this point I'm not sure I'd play TOR if the lead designer landed in my garden wearing a jetpack and offered to install it for me for free with a lifetime subscription thrown in. Everything I've ever read about it, every screenshot I've seen and video I've watched makes it look so very dull. There are just so very many other more interesting-looking MMOs that I haven't tried yet and still no-one is offering me more than 24 hours in a day.

That said, I spent two hours last night playing Clone Wars. Which at least proves it's not (as I'd thought) the STAR Wars IP that's putting me off. I'm pretty sure now that what's doing that is BioWare.