03/12/2015

Subscriber Rewards

There's been a bit of a kerfuffle about subscriber rewards and upcoming content this week. Bioware had been hyping up their livestream for the first of December in their usual silly manner:
BIG news in ALL CAPS! This was then followed up by another tweet in which they said that they were "breaking all precedents with their new subscriber rewards". Hype! Except of course I didn't buy into it - and I really think that any veteran player should know better at this point than to expect Bioware's marketing to make any sense. As expected it didn't turn out to be all that.

Basically, chapter ten will come in February, subscribers will get HK-55 as a companion, and if you're subbed all the way until the end of the current storyline in August, you'll get access to an extra special story chapter in which you get to play as HK-55 (wonder how that's going to work).

I'm a little concerned that chapter ten is already coming out later than originally intended (it was supposed to be released in January), and I can't help but worry that this means that they are falling behind schedule already. I seriously hope that I'm wrong about that, but it wouldn't surprise me.

A return of HK-55 will be neat, though I kind of agree with those that say that Bioware is getting close to milking people's affection for HK droids past the breaking point by now.

The whole "sub until August for an extra special reward" scheme feels a bit desperate, like they can already see subs dropping and just want people to buy in for the long run already. It sort of reminds me of World of Warcraft's annual pass offer from 2011/12, though it's not an entirely fair comparison as that was about getting people to stay subbed while no new content was being added to the game, while Bioware has all those new story chapters coming out during the time they want you to sub for.

But, you know... all in all, it's good stuff. I'd rather have all these things than not have them! Still, positive reactions like Njessi's seem to be in the minority from what I've seen (if people are happy, they are quiet about it). Instead there's lots of moaning about how the hype was undeserved, and anyway, where's the announcement of more of my personal favourite type of content? I thought this Reddit comment was a pretty good summary of how it's impossible to make MMO players happy.

I mean, I kind of get the comments about how the hype was undeserved, but at the same time people should really be able to parse these sorts of announcements more realistically by now unless they literally started playing only yesterday. It's annoying that you can't take the devs by their word, but that's marketing for you. At the end of the day, I'd rather play a fun game that's poorly marketed than have awesome marketing getting people genuinely hyped up for something that turns out to be a turd.

And as for the question of whether these are worthwhile subscriber rewards... I don't know, I feel that's kind of missing the point. I always tell people that they shouldn't focus on SWTOR as a free-to-play game, but treat it as an MMO that's still a sub game at heart but has a generous free trial. And I stand by that, which means that I sub simply because I want unlimited access to the game. And as long as I enjoy that game, which I still do, that's enough for me to feel that I'm getting my money's worth out of the subscription. I don't need any extra bells and whistles, though I won't say no to an extra goodie here or there (specifically I liked this guy's suggestions for a loyalty programme). But it's not needed.

It seems that SWTOR desperately wants to be a free-to-play game and have lots of subscriptions at the same time, but I'm not sure how compatible these things are. Party Business noted only yesterday that Bioware seems to be confused about how it wants to monetise the game. I like subs being at the centre because it's my preferred payment model, but I can't help but be reminded of a recent comment by a Planetside 2 dev on this subject, in which he noted that some people just didn't want to buy into this kind of thing no matter the benefits and that it's a waste of time to "keep trying to lead horses to water that do not want to drink".

In other words: Less worrying about "incentives" please - on both sides! Nothing's more attractive to players of all kinds than lots of content and engaging gameplay.

5 comments :

  1. I actually bought the hype.I was so excited. Now I just feel silly. I think it's cool you'll get to play as HK-55, but I think you're spot on with not being able to take their marketing seriously anymore. Which is sad because I like to get all of my 'news' straight from the source. No misquotes or opinions or misinterpretations. Guess i'll just need to adjust to the new age of (mis)information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just don't think that this is new or exclusive to Bioware. When you buy anything at all, do you always believe all the manufacturer's claims that their product is the best ever? Do you feel cheated that they aren't more honest about the fact that their product is only mediocre and that their competitors are better in some areas? I pretty much take it for granted that companies will always try to make themselves and their product look good and that you have to take everything they say with a grain of salt.

      Delete
    2. I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling the reaction to the "over-hype" is a little overblown. I'm starting to see why people describe the community as being toxic ... there's just so much negativity, it's a wonder the developers have any will left to continue working on the game.

      Delete
    3. I don't think that the community is toxic as a whole or even in its majority. MMO forums in general tend to be like that, unfortunately, though not all are equally bad. SWTOR at the moment also has the issue that its most outspoken customers don't feel well catered to, which creates a lot of noise.

      Delete
  2. As much as I do love HK, the hype was way overblown and downright irritating. I was annoyed before they even MADE the announcement. Of COURSE nothing could live up to that hype. And doing a livestream to announce yet another livestream is ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete