The Daily Grind: What do you think about Cryptic’s MMO business models?

    
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Mirror match!

As a fan of Cryptic Studios and its games, here is something that I have pondered for a while now: Is the studio generous or greedy when it comes to the business models that we see in Champions Online, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter?

Here’s the thing. I hear wildly diverse opinions on this subject whenever people talk about these games. Some folks praise Cryptic for a great free-to-play model that gives away a lot of goodies and allows players to earn even more in-game through events and currency exchange. Yet others slam Cryptic, saying that the studio pushes the lockboxes far too much and keeps the best stuff behind paywalls.

Generous, greedy, neither, or (weirdly) both? What do you think about how Cryptic monetizes its MMORPGs?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

You mean ‘Perfect World Entertainment’? Because that’s who bought Cryptic up…and owns those games. I won’t even play STO anymore even though I’m a lifer because of how bad their shenanigans are, and I tried to give Neverwinter a few plays, but it never stuck either because it looks like the stuff I enjoy skinned onto a piece of #!*@ business model that had absolutely nothing to do with what it was based off of. It’s like they figured out how to give you just another ‘Ooo, piece of candy!’ and people follow the trail for ages while throwing cash at them…but I won’t anymore. (Wouldn’t have even thrown as much as I did if I’d known back when I did the lifer sub…but I literally played for a week and enjoyed{at first} it/threw money at it…)

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Ken from Chicago

What bad shenanigans has STAR TREK ONLINE done/

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vgees

As others have said, yeah, Cryptic has to make money to keep running the games. I just wish it didn’t have to be so immersion breaking! I just hate that in STO, those boxes pop up everywhere and totally take me out of being able to pretend I’m actually in that universe.

I know, many don’t care, and it’s just a game, yadda. But for me that’s the main thing. I wish I could turn the appearance of the boxes off. Maybe just have them in a dialog list or something.

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Ken from Chicago

There’s a way in settings to turn off those notifications that someone has won something from a lockbox. Other than those announcements, I don’t see the problem with STAR TREK ONLINE. it has the best business model, IMHO.

Trelfar
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Trelfar

When I first started playing STO it struck me as very generous, since none of the playable content is paywalled, and there’s a huge amount of it. Then lockboxes took over as the primary way of introducing the most desirable items and the (unpublished) chances of getting the top rewards are so astronomically slim, combined with the lower rewards being not worth the price of opening the box, that it can’t be classed as anything but outrageously greedy.

But recently I played Back Desert Online for a week and discovered that the cash shop there is asking $30 for purely cosmetic per-character outfits. Not even per account. Meanwhile the items at that price point in STO’s cash store (typically ships) have functional benefits and are account unlocks.

In summary: lockboxes are a scam, but overall STO is much better value than some other major F2P games.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Pretty much the only way any of it is valuable is if it’s account-wide unlocks, and they are permanent if you pay for anything. Otherwise, it’s all ripoffs…

For example : ESO has a wonderful system they built to make your housing account-wide…then they put in a system that makes you pay in-game gold every 20 hours for mounts to unlock a tick in either speed/survive-ability/inventory space (60 each/1 tick per day in only 1.)…but then they…made that character specific…so each character you make…has to do that all over again. That’s stupid as heck.

It’s the same type of mentality that is so pervasive in many of these games…’Well, we’ve got to pry some money out of these people…Oh, I know, lets sell them dye packs that are consumed!’ – GW2

I mean, we’re usually willing to pay for access to things but paying for a digital 1 time use item? Hell no.

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Jeremy Zharkov

I’m only familiar with STO.

For the most part it’s very generous, you can earn the best tier of ships in events at least 3 times during the year, and you can convert dilithium to zen (the store currency) pretty easily, at least if you have alts.

It’s also very easy to gear up your characters. Stuff will upgrade eventually.

However, if you want one of the prestige ships, like the TOS Constitution (or even the Discovery one) or a TOS Klingon ship, etc, then you’ll have to spend a lot of money due to them being in lockboxes. The percentage is less than 1%, generally it’s estimated it costs about $300 to acquire one.

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Ken from Chicago

STAR TREK ONLINE *gives* away a TOS Constitution class ship before you even reach max level.

At least they did. I know they changed it so you can play with one ship and have it level up with you instead of using one ship for ten levels before getting an upgrade.

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Johnny Quantum

Overall, given the amount of stuff you can do for free, would have to say generous.

But the games are also different. For a game you like, the lifetime sub options in STO and CO are good value. NW doesn’t have this option, and the VIP option there isn’t the same.

STO events give away top level gear (T6 ships, tech upgrades etc.) – and are doable with any character. The equivalent has not been available in NW. The hell pit event just introduced in NW is gated by gear level and difficulty. My highest level character just qualified, got through one week and that was it, so no free mount there! And as mentioned in other posts, the need for coalescent wards for upgrades is a big negative for NW. The inability to hide lock box notifications also puts NW in a less favorable light compared to STO.

I hate lockboxes, just put everything in the cash shop!

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Ken from Chicago

What does STAR TREK ONLINE lifetime subs get over free2play?

I’ve heard it’s very little and it takes years for the stuff you do get to outweigh the cost of being f2p and buying the stuff they give lifers monthly.

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NeoWolf

1 Additional Character Slot.
30 Bonus Inventory Slots (added as you level)
60 Bonus Bank Slots (added as you level)
20 Bonus Account Shared Bank Slots.
2 Additional Bridge Officer Slots (added as you level)
500 ZEN stipend each month (insignificant sum that buys practically nothing, handing for turning into dilithium though).
Access to the Captains Table in Sol/Quo’nos space, (this is the weird anomoly in earth space and Quo’nos space but this is a space they have done nothing with for very many years).

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

They spend way to much of their time on lock boxes and the items that go in them. I steer clear of any game they and PWE are involved in.

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Castagere Shaikura

Torchlight Frontiers will suck because of PWE.

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Castagere Shaikura

Shouldn’t the question be PWE ‘s business model?

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Sorenthaz

Champions Online is the only one I really bothered playing long enough to see the stupidity of the business model. In general I veer away from F2P models longterm because it’s hard to really feel good about any of them.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

In the free to play gaming world, Cryptic *is* generous. It’s just that there are many people who hate the free to play model completely in any sense so they complain about it and go off.

They don’t keep the best stuff behind paywalls. For one, they let people trade currencies you can earn in game for the IAP currency. So there isn’t a single thing in their games that a free player can’t grind out to earn and buy. Next, they let pretty much every Cash Shop item be sold in their player markets.

So there are basically two ways for free players to get everything, one by grinding and trading for IAP currency to buy things themselves, and two by saving up money to buy things from other people.

In games that have been out a while like Neverwinter, the prices for all of the Cash Shop stuff have really sunk in the player markets. You can get all sorts of mounts and partners and things for fairly cheap.

When STO came out with Tier 6 ships there was much raging. Then they have given away Tier 6 ships left and right in-game since then. I bought some amazing Tier 6 lockbox ships off other people in the player market for normal in-game credits too. Most all of the best weapons that have the biggest mark on your damage numbers are earned in missions or created in crafting in STO too.

Maybe you can’t easily get 30 different ships right off in STO as a freebie, but if there is one you want and you set your sights on it, it won’t be that long until you can buy it as a free player.

Free players can do everything in their games and have access to just about everything the games have to offer. Even if you don’t buy Cash Shop stuff from other people (which in playing any moderate amount of time you’ll be able to), you can still go through the entirety of their games with just the free stuff earned as a free player.

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NeoWolf

We all know businesses exist to make money, I don’t think anyone would dispute this or take offence to it. It is the fundamental driving purpose of all commercial endeavours whatever their form.

However, there are ways of making money that are offensive and non-offensive or to put it a more succinct way as the old saying goes you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar and sadly Cryptic/PWE’s way is all about the vinegar.

Overpricing, lack of content and fixes in favour of time and effort spent on making more things to sell, majority of new anything being released only in RNG lottery-style lockboxes or lobi store, countless grinds and currencies designed to force bums on seats in attendance and therefore give what is essentially a false view of a games real success and health as a means to earn something or a chance of something. Fake sales (although anyone who has ever worked in retail or stock control/ordering knows just what BS a sale of any sort actually is anyway).

It is the soulless business model version that just leaves you feeling drained and dirty for having exposed yourself to it, and indeed were it not for the associated much-loved I.p I would certainly have gone elsewhere LOOOOOOOONG ago.

I’ve said it before here in other topics but I would and will take a monthly subscription over a free to play business model of ANY sort frankly, any day of the week but in terms of the offensiveness and unpalatable nature of certain F2P business models, Craptics (or more accurately PWE’s) is certainly up there in my books among the most offensive for me personally and that is in large part not just because of the things I mentioned but also because you cannot for the most part just buy what you want there is always some associated to gimmick or repetitive grind or necessary repeat purchases to getting anything that will bleed you dry in the attempt.

And I know there will be a handful who say but NeoWolf you don’t actually HAVE to spend anything.. and to a point that is indeed true. But the quality of the experience you will have if you do not is FAR from good and that makes a world of difference.

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MolleaFauss

I don’t know. I played Neverwinter up to a certain point. I think I never spent a dime and it was ok for a casual player like I am.
I did quit after a very short time (3 months? cant remember) more for the lack of interest and that sensation of “cheap plastic” (if you can get me) than for the business model (but yea, the awful cash shop beckoning you at every point is offensive).
I found Champions way more squalid in its blatant “pay me outrageous prices to get a full experience”, and in fact I can’t stand it for more than a couple hours a year. Never played STO.
I believe it all depends on expectations: if what you expect is cheap plastic, which is Cryptic trademark, then it’s … ok-ish.
If you want more, then you better look some other place.

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NeoWolf

Well it’s slightly different for me I guess as I knew STO pre F2P when it was a sub game and I could literally earn or buy ouutright anything I wanted, there were no RNG lotteries, or currency grinds or any of that BS (and my preference always leans towards subs anyway as I noted).

F2P games only ever benefit those who have no intention of spending anything, for everyone else however they are way more expensive in the long run than a subscription each month.. And even that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the rest of us do not necessarily object to spending money it just depends on what, how often and how much and it is on these three issues Cryptics model frequently falls short.

Also STO and Champions were non F2P games that converted whereas Neverwinter was built for F2P from the ground up but even then especially around your companions and gear upgrading there are certain costs involved that are necessary even if not technically required otherwise your experience will be much much worse than if you do not.

There are FAR better F2P models than Cryptics although Cryptic’s business model isn’t technically Cryptics its PWE’s and they have a well-established reputation for being overpriced and lockbox heavy.

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Ken from Chicago

Does that apply to STAR TREK ONLINE?

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NeoWolf

it applies to all their games as they all use the same business model with relatively few and minor differences only.

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Ken from Chicago

So it should be dirt simple to cite 3 explicit examples of STAR TREK ONLINE overpricing, lack of content and is “offensive” about STO’s business.

I’ll wait over here while you with ease list those examples showing that you are NOT making a broad, negative accusation and generalization of STO without any substantive evidence to back it up.

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NeoWolf

LOL sad thing is, is that you think its actually hard to do. As I said before I’ve been in STO since its first Beta I’ve seen it all with that game. Lets see off the top of my head..and this is just either the most offensive stuff or the most recent stuff.
1. Ship pricing almost doubled once PWE took over. In some instances significantly MORe than doubled. Or how about for a recent we look at Mudds store with a non fixed randomly rotating discount that they forgot to mention lol You can literally see something and buy it one day come back a few days later and its 50% off.. do you think they care about the folks who bought things undiscounted before? lol of course not.. its shady as hell. And lets not mention the 14,000 zen ordinary single T6 ship they have there which even at the max possible 90% discount only actually turns about to be a norm T6 ship at a 30% discount or thereabouts but Shhh don’t tell the sheep were onto them orthe fact you ould buy an ENTIRE faction bundle for the price they are selling that one ship lol
2. Last Expansion accounted for a SINGLE mission and 4 dailies…
3. The fact there are literally hundreds of issues STILL in the game unfixed that have been there since release all of which have been reported by many, many people, many, many times but go ignored.

I mean can go on, but the list would fill more than these 10k character comments would allow, as I have almost a decade of history with this game and even longer with cryptic.

Your a fanbois, I get it, and you think im just hating on the game and the company without cause.. honestly I get it. But you’re wrong. I love the I.P and I “was” a HUGE cryptic fan. And there are still significant chunks of STO I love and play to this day but there are also huge issues, not only with the game, its business model and the company and just because you “like” something doesn;t mean you turn a blind eye or make excuses for those.

So you hate on me all you like for telling it how it is that doesn’t bother me in the least. But the truth is the truth is the truth and I’ve done the time with this game to as I say seen and heard it all first hand enough so that my blinkers are well and truly off where they are their business model and their poor handling of the game.

And let me just finish by saying, I hope you continue to enjoy your time in Star Trek Online boldly going where noone has gone before… oh wait, thats right you can’t do that either because it isn’t included (another promise they broke I might add, one of very many) lol

Like I said it doesnt mean I hate the game, indeed I love the space game.. I just see their BS and call it when I do and don’t let my liking of something become the excuse to allow them to keep Bs’ing me.

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Ken from Chicago

1) Price increased on ships totally unnecessary to play the game. Some of the ships maybe give you a 1 to 10 percent bonus, but you can still play for free from start to max level–even if it takes slightly more time to do so.

Great, someone else got the same item at a discount–but had to wait to get it. You got to use the same item earlier. Do you stop going to the grocery store because the item you bought last week is on sale this week? If you think offering a sale on an item is “shady” then just about every retail, department, grocery, pharmacy store in existence is “shady”–not to mention digital stores like Amazon, Steam, GOG, Humble Bundle, etc.

2) And how much did you pay for the last expansion? Zero. They sell bundles of ships and costumes themed for expansions–but the expansions themselves are free.

3) Yes, there are bugs in the game that you can play for free. Of course to fix said bugs, costs time, labor, money, for which they sell OPTIONAL items in a cash shop while still letting play the game that overwhelmingly stable, doesn’t require the most expensive computer to run and that millions seem to enjoy somehow without going into bankruptcy.

But if free isn’t a low enough price for you, then that’s okay. I’m sure you’ll find another game that’s free from start to max level, that doesn’t cripple the game to force you to buy stuff from the cash shop, that relies on totally optional items in a cash shop. So, yeah, live long and prosper, since you’re not being “fooled” by the “tricksy” game devs behind STAR TREK ONLINE.

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NeoWolf

Wow..where to even start lol
1. Saying ships are unnecessary in STO to play the game is ENTIRELY missing the point. It’s like saying you need no other armour set in a Fantasy game except the one you start in. Can you play the game SURE… does it miss the point and stifle customisation and theme HELL yes.. You think the price of choice doubling for no other reason than new ownership is acceptable? Wow you are their ideal customer, you just open your wallet let them take what they want, then say thanks ;)

And you don’t see how a randomly rotating discount could cause them or us problems? really? I’m not sure how old you are Ken but I’d like to think your not that Naieve.

2. So because an expansion is free its okay if it adds practically nothing? So content doesn’t matter then? So long as there are new things in the store to throw money at like lockboxes eh? lol you do understand what purpose expansions serve right? because i’m not convinced you do.

3. Oh so because its free bugs are acceptable as well? you put a lot of stock in the word “free” even though there is no such thing. Free to play games are not FREE for everyone, indeed they rely on the spending habits of the few like me so the rest of you can play for gratis. (your welcome btw). I also PAID for sto as I said I have owned and played it since day dot LONG before it went f2p, and my lifetime sub wasn’t free either. Free is a myth, just because you are contributing nothing to the running of the game doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t. (again, your welcome).
I mean I kind of get the feeling im talking to someone who has practically no concept of a great many life and game related things here and you seem strangely grateful to them for taking advantage and letting them provide very little beyond new things to buy. You think them leaving things broken in game because they are considered less of a priority than throwing new lockboxes and purchaseable at us whales for a DECADE is acceptable because you can play what there is for free??? wow that is some next level fanbois stuff, you deserve a plaque or something lol