Champions Online expands team, focuses on endgame

    
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Perfect World and Cryptic Studios are actually expanding Champions Online’s team.

The companies announced new hire Kaiserin in a state-of-the-game post last night, telling players that she’s a long-time community member.

Recent updates, the studios report, have focused on a more streamlined user experience, a revised event system, and onslaught supervillain gameplay. And lockboxes. They actually list lockboxes. Cryptic says it’s working on even more lockbox types, quality-of-life improvements, and even new endgame content.

“You’ve got multiple top-end heroes and the best gear in the game: what do you do now? Well, we want to throw some epic new challenges your way! Get ready to save the world again!”

Source: Champs SOTG. H/T The Grand Nagus.
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SpacePirateMira
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SpacePirateMira

I assume most people in the comment section just read the news post above and didn’t actually read the SotG. They do mention lockboxes, but if you were to read the two bullets that mention lockboxes and have been following the devs post on the forum, you’d get what they are saying in their “Corporate friendly” way: They know people hate lockboxes, they know the lockboxes were getting unpopular even with those who buy keys for them because it is always contains a new vehicle, a new costume set, new aura, and the usual fair. 

They already improved lockboxes by adding cooler things like Ultimate powers – and before you think this is “gating” powers know that the items dropped from the lockboxes that unlock these ultimate powers have a relatviely high drop rate. Right now, you can pick up these Ultimate power unlocks from the Auction house for under 20Gs, which can be earned in the course of an evening for any player. 

The main thing to take away from this SotG however was that unlike Cryptic North, the LA studio is very self-aware of the state of Champions. PWE is going to do Lockboxes. That is not changing. But the devs are going to make those lockboxes the best they can be, and they know that Champions has good enough bones with amazing freeform building and costume creation that it is worth hiring someone and investing in because despite the YEARS of neglect, CO is still kicking around because people love it that much.

syberghost
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syberghost

wjowski syberghost hard to argue with cogent logic like that.

wjowski
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wjowski

syberghost 
 Oh fuck off.  You can be solvent without being shit.

ZenDadaist
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ZenDadaist

Well yes, they actually list lockboxes because that’s all the real “content” CO got for a while. Depressing thought. The game was probably paid for by the few people who actually like Lockboxes and maybe this is how they signal to those players that there’s more of what they like on the way?

Uh, that’s not any sort of defence of lockboxes by the way. Those damn things have chased me out of too many games already and I despise them with the burning passion of a thousand suns. It’s just that when trying to big up what the dev team of CO has been doing lately, it’s nearly all they have to talk about…

vulpisfoxfire
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vulpisfoxfire

Neo_Wolf syberghost And here’s another thing to thing about it. Even presuming they *are* selling like hotcakes, how are those sales distributed across the player base? Is it a widespread majority, or is a relatively few whales that are buying mass amounts of them, demonstrating the same ‘ability’ to manage money that they’ve been trying to pull in for the Star Citizen players (the people who pay hundreds for a picture of a ship that hasn’t even been modeled yet in what passes for a ‘game’).

syberghost
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syberghost

Neo_Wolf syberghost Hi, nice to meet you. I’m syberghost. I’m one of the people who operates the Coldfront IRC network, which caters to MMO developers and players, and among other things hosts the official IRC channels for CCP. I operated Cryptic Studio’s official IRC channel for Star Trek Online, when it was official, and other official IRC channels of theirs when that was a thing for them. I moderated the STO forums for a long time, too. I’ve been playing MMOs since City of Heroes launch, and I spend about 20 hours per week playing MMOs, which is on the low side of average for “core” gamers. I’m Social Media Manager for All Out Assault, a gaming clan which was started by developers from several game studios, and which is frequently invited into early guild testing on AAA MMOs, although we’re long past our heyday. I have lifetime subs to games from Cryptic, Funcom, and Daybreak, and play them regularly. I have Founders packs in many other MMORPGs, and play several in addition to those in which I’m subbed. CO is not my first MMO; it wasn’t even my first MMO beta, although it was the first one where I was on the developers’ “Friends and Family” list to get in before beta.

Is it your thesis, then, that their internal numbers show them that nobody buys lockboxes, and that advertising new lockboxes is counterproductive and reduces their sales, but that they continue to do these things because reasons, and their owners, Perfect World Entertainment, continue to let them do these things because reasons?

They make new lockboxes because those things sell well. They advertise them because this increases their sales. PWE lets them because it works.
There’s a reason the entire industry is doing this. It’s not “because we can’t think of anything else”. These folks are professional imaginers; they can think of anything that can be thought of. They’re ALL doing this, because it works.

It sucks and it changes your development process in annoying ways, and damages your player experience in annoying ways, but it’s a clearly-demonstrated financial net positive that is keeping a lot of games alive that otherwise would have shut down long ago. Champions Online is one of the best examples of this.

Now, I’m on record that I think the best thing that can happen to CO is for it to die, freeing up Cryptic to make a new superhero MMORPG that is designed from the ground up around the Champions IP instead of having it shoved in rapidly in a few months after Marvel pulled their IP out at a point too late in the design process to avoid nearly destroying Cryptic (it was a VERY near thing, you should ask some of the devs who were there in those days about it in person. I have.), but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pretend they’re making financially indefensible decisions about it today.

Neo_Wolf
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Neo_Wolf

syberghost Neo_Wolf Is CO your first MMO syberghost?  I assume it must be if your thinking is that if an auction house has a lot of a particular item at a high price that that is because it means they are selling for that price lol.  In any MMO you will find “most” things at a high price but I assure you “most” of them aren’t selling.

I’m really if that is your only reasoning for thinking lockboxes are responsible for most of CO’s income your pretty much firing a damp squib.  Look at there forums, look at the comments section every time cryptic announces a new lockbox for ANY of their games, look at peoples reaction whenever their lockboxes are mentioned.. none of it is coincidental, people hate them.  Their lockboxes are the worst.

As for cryptic saying they are selling well.. well theres a shocker, has any MMO company ever said anything they have isn’t doing well? lol not to my knowledge.  Why would they it would be totally counterproductive.  No I think if I want a truer indication I’ll look to the customer base for facts, not the company on what people are and are not buying and liking.

As for why they make them thats because they are cheap and there are always those who fall for the notion they may get that super rare and waste money on them, but they are by no means the majority.  And anything that makes ANY money even if it isn’t much they’re going to do because its business.

Let me throw a question back to you, if they are making all this money from lockboxes YOU think they are then where has the content been?  content is guarunteed to bring people who may spend money, so where has the constant stream of all this money lockboxes are making them been put into game?  Answer is.. it hasn’t because there isn’t and hasn’t been for a long time, its been in stationkeeping mode for a long long time.  the game has clearly not been making money in fact I would wager its barely been keeping its head above water.

Just look at the store in game the last things added were quite some time ago and look at the quality of them in comparison to earlier things.

syberghost
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syberghost

Neo_Wolf syberghost here’s an experiment I’d like you to perform. Go look in the auction house for each Cryptic game, for two things:

How many lockbox keys are there.
How much they cost.

If there aren’t many of them and they have a trivial cost, this tells you they’re not popular. If there’s a lot of them and they have a non-trivial cost, this tells you they’re quite popular.

Cryptic employees, and those at other companies with similar lockbox strategies, have stated time and again that lockboxes are huge sellers. It’s very fashionable to complain about them, but they sell like hotcakes. Don’t take my word for it, look at the auction house; it’s an excellent indicator of supply and demand. The people who hate them are very vocal, but the people who love them keep the game open.

Ask yourself this; if they don’t make a lot of money, and they generate a lot of forum hate, why do they keep making them? Why do they think it’s a good idea to advertise them? They have the numbers on how well they sell, they have the numbers on how well they sell when advertised on the forums, and their conclusion from those numbers has been to make more and advertise them. How does that fit into your belief that they are unpopular items that don’t sell?

GoJammit
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GoJammit

syberghost Point is that the way you reinvigorate your player base or even the way you pull new players in, isn’t to advertise the fun newways you  are going to charge them for what all can safely assume is more bland content.

Neo_Wolf
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Neo_Wolf

syberghost Direct purchases from the game store are FAR more likely to have paid for those things than lockboxes.
And to clarify people don’t hate craptic lockboxes because they’re lockboxes.. they hate them because they have nothing but junk in them despite being advertised around having that one very appealing/desireable thing but the chances of getting it are so infinitesimally small it just not going to happen.. and yet they will spam you in game every couple of minutes anyway to list off a bunch of made up people who supposedly did get that super rare thing.

Lockboxes themselves are not a bad thing depending on how they are done.  Craptics way of doing them is poor.  Hence why the mass hate for them and its not just limited to CO people hate them across ALL their games NWN, STO etc..where they do the exact same thing.