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Reader Comments (11)

Posted: Aug 1st 2008 10:47AM Rollins said

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The reason people are upset about this, as opposed to a name change service such as Blizzard's, is that this service allows the player to spend real money on something that affects his or her character's performance.

A name change doesn't affect a character's abilities, where a real money respec does. Also, by paying real money for a respec, the player avoids having to perform some task or pay some amount of in-game money to accomplish the same thing (I'm not familiar with CoH, so I'm not sure what this is allowing the player to avoid doing). No quest in any game with a name change service allows you to change your name.

That's where the line is between an expected service and the roots of a microtransaction one. I'll admit that this service doesn't create a terrible imbalance between those who pay and those who do not, but I can see why some players are scared of where things appear to be heading.

Posted: Aug 1st 2008 11:24AM (Unverified) said

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You're right, Rollins, this is where the debate is stemming from.

It's my personal opinion that this avenue doesn't change anything about the game, or allow people with cash to buy power for their characters that is inaccessible without. What it does allow is NCSoft to money-grub on power players who feel the need to chronically and compulsively respec their characters. Which, as I'm not in that demographic, I don't really mind.

Respecs, for the uninitiated, can be obtained either by completing up to three quests (each made available at certain levels, 25, 35 and 45), by veteran rewards, by recipe drops (which can be traded and crafted via the consignment houses), and lastly, given out freely by the developers, generally whenever a new game update or issue is released. This is so changes to powersets are not met without at least the option to change them.

So while there are plenty of avenues to obtain respecs in-game, there is still an artificial ceiling that some players hit. There is a limited number of respecs earned by doing trials (3), and the recipe availability is a victim of supply and demand. And especially for newer players who do not have a cache of veteran rewards or freespecs, or players that have been around long enough to exhaust these resources, this is an option.

I think WoW takes the approach more pragmatically by having an NPC doll out respecs for in-game money. This would have been a more culturally accepted solution. But considering that NCSoft has time-and-again stated that all of these new micro-transactions put the money right into the development of additional content for the game, I personally applaud these fringe benefits as long as they materialize as more stuff in-game for the rest of us.

Lastly, I think this will give a small surge for the PvP community (which already languishes in obscurity in CoX) by allowing them to respec on demand, a mechanic that PvP players generally rely on.
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Posted: Aug 1st 2008 11:26AM (Unverified) said

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You're right, Rollins, this is where the debate is stemming from.

It's my personal opinion that this avenue doesn't change anything about the game, or allow people with cash to buy power for their characters that is inaccessible without. What it does allow is NCSoft to money-grub on power players who feel the need to chronically and compulsively respec their characters. Which, as I'm not in that demographic, I don't really mind.

Respecs, for the uninitiated, can be obtained either by completing up to three quests (each made available at certain levels, 25, 35 and 45), by veteran rewards, by recipe drops (which can be traded and crafted via the consignment houses), and lastly, given out freely by the developers, generally whenever a new game update or issue is released. This is so changes to powersets are not met without at least the option to change them.

So while there are plenty of avenues to obtain respecs in-game, there is still an artificial ceiling that some players hit. There is a limited number of respecs earned by doing trials (3), and the recipe availability is a victim of supply and demand. And especially for newer players who do not have a cache of veteran rewards or freespecs, or players that have been around long enough to exhaust these resources, this is an option.

I think WoW takes the approach more pragmatically by having an NPC doll out respecs for in-game money. This would have been a more culturally accepted solution. But considering that NCSoft has time-and-again stated that all of these new micro-transactions put the money right into the development of additional content for the game, I personally applaud these fringe benefits as long as they materialize as more stuff in-game for the rest of us.

Lastly, I think this will give a small surge for the PvP community (which already languishes in obscurity in CoX) by allowing them to respec on demand, a mechanic that PvP players generally rely on.
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Posted: Aug 1st 2008 11:27AM (Unverified) said

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Shoot. Sorry for the double-post.
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Posted: Aug 1st 2008 11:22AM (Unverified) said

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Rollins is right. It's just another step in the direction of microtransactions. CoH is slowly but surely offering more and more 'additional cost' content. While none of it is game breaking or changes the playing field, they're on the way there. Tred carefully NCsoft. This is your North American flagship. If you burn your player base now, you can't expect them to follow for the expanded IP. Especially when there's a lot of compitition for comic MMOGs and MMOGs in general now.

Posted: Aug 1st 2008 11:20AM Haggs said

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I don't think this is the type of thing to get upset about. All my CoH characters have a bunch of free respecs, from veteran rewards and all the other free respecs. And you can buy respecs with influence/infamy at the market and I don't remember it being that expensive. And that doesn't even include the respec trials. I actually see this new respec program as a waste of real money because there are so many better ways to get a respec in the game.

And if you don't want to do the trial or spend influence/infamy, then just wait for a new Issue to come out. The devs usually hand out free respecs at the same time.

Posted: Aug 1st 2008 11:38AM (Unverified) said

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Activating flame-proof aura in 3... 2... 1...

NCSoft has taken a fair bit of flack recently over the Wedding Pack, which is a microtransaction item that allows you a set of wedding themed costume pieces and emotes. Though the costume pieces are not just limited to being in a wedding, and quite nice. They still recived a lot of anger over people who felt that they were being nickle and dimed to death by NCSoft. Ironically, those people also stated they had no interest in the wedding pack...

Not long ago NCSoft also offered a new service that allows people to buy more slots on a server of their choice, something that's been asked by much of the player base. And in fact, something that people have eagerly offered to pay a little more money for. This has been generally well received, though of course, some people cried doom and foul.

However, I see this subject being even more hotly complained about, because there are already numerous in game ways to gain character respecs. There are three task forces that characters can do that offer respecs, but you can only claim the respec once per character, making a total of 3 'earnable' respecs. Respecs are also offered as part of the Veteran Rewards program, and frequently given out when a new free content issue is released, so people can take advantage of or make changes to their characters because of major changes to some power sets. They also added rare invention system drops that you could get as a drop or buy off the auction house.

All of the previous things offered by way of microtransaction for the game have been optional extras. Nothing that was required to play the game, but also nothing that you could get any other way than to buy them, and they have always remained with your character from that day forward.

However, respecs are already available in game through a number of ways. So this is putting a real world monetary value on an in game item. And a one-use item at that. Certainly it's not needed to play, but it is starting to teeter on the edge of a very slippery slope of people with money buying in game advantages formerly only available to those who played the game and earned them through play. I also think the price is a bit high, but that doesn't bother me as much, since I doubt I'll be using this service.

Posted: Aug 1st 2008 6:53PM Sente said

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The problem I have with this new service is that the current respec mechnisms are a bit flawed.
As have been mentioned, there are 3 respec trials, but each only available from certain levels reasonably far into gameplay.

There are some earned through veteran rewards also, but there are fairly long intervals between those, not something relatively new players can rely on.

And with longtime players having most of their respec needs covered by vet rewards and perhaps buying one from the market there are less people who are inclined to do the respec trials - which may be a problem for those without other options.
The longtime players may also be the ones who needs the respecs the least - they probably have a better understanding of what they want in many cases.

For a game with a lot of customisation options for the characters, respec:s should be more accessible, giving people more incentive to experiment with their characters.

The current respec set-up is a design flaw IMHO and I do not think that they should charge for bypassing design flaws.

Posted: Aug 1st 2008 12:36PM Kamokazi said

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EverQuest has been charging for name changes far longer than World of Warcraft.

Posted: Aug 1st 2008 7:38PM starka1 said

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**Yawn**

Posted: Aug 1st 2008 9:18PM Jeromai said

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Not an issue for me personally.

It's about having options. Paying for a respec is just one more possible way of getting one.

The critical yardstick is whether payment of real life cash is the only conceivable means to get that in-game advantage.

(If you had to spend a month nonstop farming for 5 hours to earn enough in-game gold or run through similar hoops to buy the same advantage, then it becomes a ludicrous concept to obtain in-game. And the slippery slope where people are 'encouraged' to pay through the nose just to keep up becomes reality.)

In this case, the easiest way to get a respec is just wait. Freespecs are offered nearly every issue or the nearest celebration/holiday to a new issue. There are also veteran respecs offered for time subscribed.

There's 3 respecs for completing in-game trials. My newer characters haven't even eaten into these since I tend to consume just 1-2 vetspecs and a freespec now and then.

More chronic respec-users who have gone through all these methods would then have to search for an in-game respec recipe drop, and likely pay in-game gold for it. If someone wanted to shortcut the time involved, I wouldn't blame them.

Not to mention, if they were willing to put down RL cash to shortcut the process, it might have gone to a third-party farmer anyhow. Better the fee feeds back to NCsoft and development costs.

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