Thursday, October 22, 2009

C(ash cow)-Store

Sorry for the delay folks. Blame The SCP Foundation for my absence lately. I just can’t get enough of it.

Anyway as I am sure almost everyone knows, the Champions Online C-Store is now live. In it you can get such things as a complete Character Retcon (1000pts), Four additional Character slots (1200pts), Additional costume slots (400pts per two slots), Character Rename (280pts) then various emblems, outfits, vanity pets and so on.

Now those Cryptic points are roughly similar to Turbine Points. We’ll come back to that. The current exchange rate (as though to imply it can be changed later) Cryptic Points stands as shown here. It is at this point that I must point out quite clearly to one and all that City Of Heroes also has micro transactions.

City of Heroes lets you buy

  • Character slots for a server up to a maximum of 36 slots on one server (1, 2 or 5 at iirc $5, $10 and $20)
  • Server Transfers
  • Respecs
  • Character Rename
  • Super Boosters

The Super Boosters are $10 each and you have such varied ones as the Good Vs Evil item pack (from the GvE edition of the game), Wedding Pack, Mac Item Pack, Cyborg Booster, Magic Booster and Super Science booster. Of all of them, only the Wedding pack is entirely cosmetic, with new outfits and emotes. The last three bring outfit pieces, emotes and powers. Good Vs Evil and Mac Pack have costumes and a new power.

Basically $10 buys you a fair bit of kit in CoH. Shannon wants me to get the Magic pack when I can because she adores one of the coats in it and I have to admit, the Fortune power is very handy to have but by no means game breaking. I personally have been eyeing up the Mac Pack, not for the mission teleporter power but the Valkyrie armour which looks gorgeous. Despite there being costume sets to buy and emotes only available to those who have shelled out cash the booster packs are perfectly acceptable to me for two reasons. Firstly (and I wish I had the time to ferret out a link to source the assertion) the Wedding pack sales directly accelerated work on the issue that followed it thanks to the cash injection. Hey, they give us fun stuff that we may want but don’t need and if it gives them a leg up? What’s not to love? Secondly, there are new pieces added to the game constantly. There are more temp powers than I’ve ever had knocking around the game. I may not be able to juggle electricity or drink a super serum for a costume change, but I eventually got my own costume change emotes.

$10 in CO doesn’t buy you anything. You have to purchase in increments. So the nearest band is $12.50 which gets you 1000 points and that’s just enough for a full RetCon in Champions. $12.50 to rebuild your character. City of Heroes also has Respecs for sale. Respecs in City of Heroes let you repick every power from your primary and secondary from the first level, entirely changing the pools you may have had and also are a handy way to sell off or remove enhancements and slotting that you may want elsewhere. You cannot, unlike the RetCon, change your primary and secondary. However as I write this I have 51 months worth of Veteran badges and Issue 16 recently launched. I personally tend not to respec and five years on from launch massive sudden nerfs to powers in CoH are rare. As a result I have Four veteran respecs (9 months, 21, 33 and 45 months), one new issue “freespec” and on most of my characters I have my three possible reward respecs from the trial. The trial takes about two hours and at the end, wahey respec and badge. If for some reason I managed to burn through those 8, I still do not have to shell out cash, there are Respec recipes on the in game market (though they cost a pretty penny).

Slots are also an issue. Four more character slots in Champions (to bring you to a total of 12) costs $18.75 (1500 pts) if you buy the two smaller instalments or $25 (2000pts) if you want to buy a few more things. Five slots in City of Heroes is $20 and you get a new character slot for every 12 months you’ve played the game, on top of the 12 you already had from City of Heroes (originally it launched with 8 but 12 became the standard after CoV) and the two they gave out if you were around for the launch of slots. You can on a single server in City of Heroes have 36 slots. Sure Champions is brand new and sure it doesn’t have servers, relying instead on the instances system but … it’s not like Cryptic didn’t know that hero games breed altwhores. It’s not like they didn’t give out Freespecs in CoH or didn’t have an easy and enjoyable respec system. Sure I suppose the ability to have a full retcon, rebuilding your character from the ground up and having entirely different powers, shouldn’t be cheap or easy. There’s a difference though between “not cheap and easy” and “screw the customer for cash”.

As people will continue to compare the two games (me especially) keep in mind that Cryptic did make them both. Champions should have been City of Heroes Mk 2.Awesome. They had the time and experience with CoH to show them what did and did not work, what does and does not piss off the fan base and finally how to have fans hand over cash with a grin. I’ve never heard anyone bemoan “having” to buy a super booster. Heck if you decide to play City of Heroes, buy the Architect edition, you get a free super booster with it. Right now Champions is punishing its players and the pricing is insulting in some cases and idiotic in others. Really though, it’s just retail. You’ll almost always have points left over and they’ll tease you with more bits and pieces. You’ll always need to buy just a few more to fit everything if you don’t shell out more than you need initially.

Though for the close we’ll go back to the Turbine Points like I promised. I played some DDO with Sareini over the weekend and I earned my first Turbine points which when I have enough I can use instead of cash to buy anything in the DDO store. Now obviously I know it’ll be a grind if I want anything in particular. The cash option is just the faster, easier but ultimately costly option. If I want it NAO I pay money. Champions to my recollection is supposed to have the same system. However Sareini tells me that there are to her knowledge at the moment no missions in the game that reward C-Points because well… it’s broken. Also Cryptics Daeke had this to say.

I agree with Syp in that CO really shouldn’t be charging for costumes and such when they haven’t yet surpassed their only competitor. If nothing else, charging money for Halloween outfits before Halloween? Whose bright idea was that?

Two notes I'm adding after the fact. First I will put in ParagonWiki links for people soon. Second, while I want clarification on the extra costume slot item in the C-store, it is the one thing Shannon would kill for in CoH


Shannon said...

I would kill to buy costume slots! Argh. They just don't give enough. On the other hand I'm cheap. So don't make them too expensive! *Fistshake*

Zoso said...

Swings and roundabouts, though, isn't it? CoH charges for server transfers that aren't necessary with Champions' shardless setup; OK so there's a couple of emotes and a (comedy) power with the Cyborg Booster as well as the costume, but $10 compared to $3 for the Cyborg Beast costume in Champions looks a bit steep. It's true that CoH has added plenty of costume options and powers over time, but it's a bit early to say Champions won't do the same, or give veteran retcons, a couple of months after launch.

The whole "points" system, though, like Microsoft points and Nintendo points and Turbino points is a pretty blatant way of first obfuscating costs, and second giving you awkward leftover points that you feel obliged to either spend on stuff or top up further.

Kammorremae said...

I think that CO is still in it's infancy. Looking at CoH at the same relative time in it's history, and it pales in comparison to what CO is currently.

That being said, they did go into it with years of experience and knowledge, yet seemingly failed to use most of it. From that perspective, CO fails. At the rate that CoH changes and expands, I'm not sure that CO will catch up anytime soon, if at all. Even though I'm postive that CO will "mature" over time, I'm not convinced it will ever truly escape the "shadow" of CoH.

Also, money for points is a Carnie trick. I hate Carnies.

Jayedub said...

I'm not a fan of buying costume pieces really, same with purchasing retcons. Now more character slots, that is something worth buying.

Jayedub said...

I forgot to mention that I whole hardedly agree with you on the points system. I hate it with Xbox and Windows Live.

Terry said...

It may look like apples and apples, because they use the same basic terminology, but it's not. CoX and CO are in two very different places, financially.

For CoX at this point, every penny over the costs to keep the power running and people showing up for work is profit. This gives them the advantage of being able to set the market value, and the ability to set it low. They're the market leader, so they control the board at the moment.

CO is new. It still has a heap of development costs to pay for, and these days, the faster the better. So they offer a variety of revenue streams, without the flexibility to set costs that is inherent in CoX's "already paid for" status.

They can set close, to be as competitive as possible, but they can't undercut. So they get as low as they can, and then differentiate. They're pretty much doing the only economically feasable thing they can do in today's increasingly microtransaction driven MMO market.