Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Wrap-up: Resolutions, Expenditures, and Questions

2014 was a year when I moved to a new country, largely (though informally) dropped off from MMO blogging, and spent the majority of my time in a single game for the first time in years. (Perhaps 2008?)  I spent very little of that time in traditional MMO's and sat out the major MMO launch events of the year (which don't seem to have gone that well).  What did I plan to do, what did I actually do, and what did it cost? 

Marvel Heroes: $220

I started the year committed to a $130 pre-purchase of the thirteen hero Advance Pack and then added on $50 in cash store currency and a $40 team-up Advance Pack purchase.  I started the year still working on my first level 60 and something like 8 characters unlocked.  I ended it with 2175/2580 total levels, access to pretty much the entire current roster (all but one unlocked, solely because I haven't had time to play the latest two releases) and 32 out of 43 playable characters at level 60.  I might have been able to push through to cap everyone, but I saw no need to rush, especially with a few characters still waiting for their 52 reworks in the coming months. 

Having spent about as much time on this game as a traditional MMO, the amount I spent is mostly reasonable and the game treated me reasonably well.  The resources I did NOT spend unlocking all those heroes and team-ups sufficed to unlock the entire backlog of playable heroes from launch, and at least the next four new releases besides.  That said, with the current pricing strategy I did not have to think long before declining to "renew" the Advance Pack for 2015.  The discount sounds great on paper but it isn't large enough compared to all the frequent sales that don't require a year up-front commitment to bundles that include stuff you don't want. 

So, it'll be interesting to see where next year goes.  I think I will spend more than $0 and less than $220.  Probably some cash store currency, perhaps a bundle for the Avengers movie, it will depend on what's on offer and how the year is going.

Heroes of the Storm (technically alpha): $43
I was around for the alpha reset and bought up bundles containing a total of 14 heroes, 2 mounts, and a skin at a far greater discount than what Blizzard has offered since.  After trying the remaining characters during free weeks, I unlocked an additional 5 characters with gold.  Collectively, that's over half the roster (with gold remaining to unlock 2-4 more heroes depending on price point), and I have access to characters covering every combination of franchise/role currently implemented in game.  The goal was to get started with a budget around a retail game, and it looks like I'm good to go. 

World of Warcraft: $7.50 (discounted time card)
I used a pre-paid time card to tie up loose ends in Pandaria, including the pre-expansion event and somehow barely grabbing a LFR Garrosh kill before the pre-expansion talent revamp.  I liked Pandaria better when cherry-picking the fun parts at the end instead of trying to grind them them all on a deadline to try and jump the next hurdle.   

I've got some time penciled in for Draenor in a month or two.

Neverwinter: No Cash Spent
I own a level 60 character never paid Cryptic a cent.  Of course, the way this title works, actually gearing out that character would likely churn through a non-trivial amount of money.  Meanwhile, I spent significantly more time leveling and farming currency in the out-of-game portal than in-game, which in principle means that my Astral Diamonds helped encouraged someone to spend real money on Zen to sell me. 

SWTOR: No Cash Spent
I used a double exp weekend to finish up my Sith Warrior's class story.  The expansion presale campaign was a bit wasted on me, as I wasn't willing to clear out that particular month on my calendar to take advantage of it.  At this point I'm likely to leave SWTOR on the back burner for a few more months anyway, and perhaps they'll reduce or eliminate the expansion fee (as they did last round).

Dishonorable Mention: Hex ($20 Kickstarter contribution last year)
I'm not going to list out every game I've previously played and/or spent money on that didn't get my time and money in 2014.  Hex, however, earns special recognition in this category because the defining feature that convinced me to pledge to their Kickstarter in June 2013 remains unimplemented. The game's plans for PVE content were a huge focus of both the Kickstarter campaign and the accompanying website, but have seen repeated delays, most recently a somewhat-obvious late-year statement that PVE would not be added in 2014.

In the interim, they may or may not get wiped out by a lawsuit from Wizards of the Coast (that they may or may not deserve - I've seen completely convinced people on both sides, and doubt that the real legal meat is available to the public at the moment) that certainly wasn't listed as a budget contingency in their Kickstarter. 

I can't say who the dishonor actually falls on (perhaps myself for having decided to offer up $20 and considered paying more), but it's a typical tale for crowd-funded video game projects, and I wish all of you who backed various MMO-hopefuls better luck. 

My relatively modest mop-up project on this front was mixed.  I did complete Uncharted 3, and I also tried Infamous 2 before concluding that I didn't like it and writing the thing off.  I also procured a copy of Batman: Arkham Origins that I'd like to finish someday, but decided not to let that stop me from getting a PS4 for Christmas.

2014 Releases:
I've actually spent a few hours, and zero dollars in the open beta/soft-launch for Infinite Crisis.

That aside, TESO and Wildstar both reached the end of 2014 with subscription business models intact.  Based on the incorrect assumption that the game would launch on consoles in 2014, I had assumed that TESO in particular was unlikely to make it.  Whether either makes it to their respective first anniversaries without replacing their business model is a separate question.  In a possibly related story, Massively reports you can no longer purchase a 6-month subscription to TESO; it would make a ton of sense for the game to rip the band-aid off BEFORE the unspecified console launch. 

I'd also asked if we would see any F2P-relaunched titles get the axe in 2014, and SOE of all people came through by killing several titles, including Vanguard.  I guess that means so long to my former low level Goblin creature, gone off to wherever the inhabitants of Telon have ended up. 

And that's 2014, on to another year. 


Armagon said...

Interesting summary, as usual :)

Thanks for your starting advice on Marvel Heroes, I nearly sunk in 20h and still having fun.

Only mystery that remains is how you generate those tables with the hero overview?

Carson 63000 said...

I feel the same dishonor as you do concerning Hex, only 250% as much.

I came SOOOOO close to requesting a refund of my pledge in the lead-up to them cutting off refunds back in April, and I really, really regret my decision to hang in there.

Total entertainment for my $50 so far would be no more than a couple of hours. Prospect of getting anything more in the next year seems slim.

Green Armadillo said...


I use the following site. He does need to manually add new heroes, team-ups, and costumes as they launch, but generally does so within a day or two. I find the pictures more useful for twitter or blog posts but many people use them as forum signatures.

@Carson: Brilliant, it would never even have occurred to me that you could arbitrarily declare a refund deadline that most people who want refunds will never know about because they aren't following your title and just want a refund. Personally, at this point it's less about needing the $20 back and more that this has become a textbook cautionary tale in crowdfunding and the lack of any obligation to do what you portrayed in your pitch.

Chris said...

I don't really understand why "listening to the community" is supposed to be such an important virtue. From Blizzard's perspective, ignoring the commentary on this issue is almost certainly the best option.

Setting prices at the right level is a difficult issue. Too low, and the game won't be profitable. Too high, and players will quit in disgust. It's a delicate balancing act.

For players, though, the incentives only go one way. Obviously they always want to pay less, and their feedback reflects that. If Blizzard were to actually listen to them, the game would die.

I think Blizzard is doing exactly the right thing by ignoring the talk on this issue.