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Reader Comments (76)

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 12:24AM Seraphina Brennan said

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It's not that it didn't cross our minds that it might be the case, but we can't really say anything like that unless it's an opinion column...

... and this isn't an opinion column.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 12:32AM Laephis said

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Doesn't this game also have a micro-transaction item mall? So you get your lifetime sub and still have to pay for new stuff? Gonna have to call shenanigans on that one and pass.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 12:35AM (Unverified) said

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This is tantamount to Trade Practices Act breaches (which, let's face it, most MMO's borderline upon anyhow).

Specifically: Unfair Practices, Misleading or Deceptive Conduct, and Bait Advertising.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_Practices_Act_1974#Part_V:_Consumer_protection

To put it in layman's terms; Imagine ST:O is a car. A new car. Model XX123.
You're in the showroom, and you've been shown the vehicle and even allowed to take it for a test drive. It's bright red, has tan leather seats (only 2 of them because its a sports car!) and a V6 3L engine.
You are informed by the dealer that it will be made available to drive away on Feb 2nd, but you can purchase it now by paying for it ahead of time, plus you can pre-pay for 12 months of petrol.

Given that you like what you see, you buy that car.

Come Feb 2nd, you awake to a knock at your door. It's the delivery guy with your car! exciting!
You race out into the driveway to see a car with a cover on it. You pull away the cover to reveal a.... oh wait.. what?

This is the the right model number XX123, but the car's green? And it has black vinyl seats - *four* of them? And wait a sec - the engine's now a 1.5L LPG motor? What the?

"Oh, yes, sorry.. the manufacturer changed the specs at the last moment." "Did you not get the memo?" "Oh wait we didn't post a memo - well the memo outlining the changes will be posted on our forum sometime soon!"

Yah.. I don't think so.
Any organisational practice that sells you a product and then changes that product, after purchase but prior to delivery, is illegal.

Personally? I'm hoping that Cryptic *do* make huge sweeping announcements and changes right on launch day, so that somebody can finally take this ongoing malpractice by MMO companies to court, and win.
I would also love it if more legal inquiry was made regarding the selling of 'lifetime' subscriptions that actually carry zero guarantees.

Am I down on Cryptic? You bet.
Their pricing and practices are borderline theft. With a game given so little developments time and clearly rushed out the door with little longevity / ongoing content, I'm stupefied at the brashness displayed by Emmet, Roper and Co when setting pricing.
Cash grab? Check. Rely on hype to move inital box units, and on lifetime subs to generate more up-front cash.
Then? Sit back. The bottom line has been more than met, and there's no need to do anything but put the game on maintenance.

Emmet? You're a liar: http://www.dridthau.com/startrek/index.php?topic=8.0

Posted: Jan 16th 2010 12:35AM ChromeBallz said

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Most MMO's are always in development and change over time. Most buyers will also accept and embrace it, as otherwise the game grows stale and boring and they will leave it. The subscription fee does imply that the game will always be expanded and improved upon aswell as just being there for the user to use.

EVE is a good example. It started out as a rather... shallow game in many ways, with not many options to do what people wanted to do. It grew over the years and many promised features have been implemented, with many more in development right now that were only hinted at or just wishful thinking of the players. Walking in stations, planetary interaction and Dust 514 to name some examples...

WoW is much of the same. Over time it expanded and refined the game rather than not change it at all and let it grow stale and old. However much the 'hardcore community' whines about it, at least Blizzard is moving forward and letting the game evolve.

In the example you gave, imagine that most MMO companies are the salesman, but rather than just giving you the car and being done with it, every 6 months or so they come around and tweak it a bit to make it go faster or add some creature comforts like a satnav, massage seats, dvd players...

However, there are companies that do mess up... Have to think of Farlan and Limitless Horizons, who did very much try to take advantage of their customers. They are the exception though, and not the rule. I do admit that Cryptic seems to be rather borderline... I guess Bill Roper really was only good when he worked on Diablo.
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Posted: Jan 15th 2010 1:16AM (Unverified) said

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Sorry - to explain what I meant about 'cash grab' / 'maintenance':
It's more of a 'buyer beware' caution against those thinking of purchasing a lifetime sub.

You pay $50-60USD to purchase the product, then you purchase a 'lifetime' sub.
You've just effectively paid Cryptic two years of subs ($120 annual sub x2 = $249 = lifetime fee).

When I say they can then opt to cut development costs and put the game on maintenance mode, I mean at this point they can decide to slash costs and do precious little dev work on the game.

Would players be pissed off? Sure they would. But it *doesn't matter to Cryptic*.
If you get annoyed that the game gets no more content love, sure you can decide not to play anymore, but you've already paid them 2 years worth of sub fees, so they don't care.
If you throw a tanty and stop playing - who cares! We (Cryptic) have 2 years of your bucks anyhow.

You've commuted to 2 years worth of revenue, plus with you leaving that's one less user to have to support (cost), so it's sitting pretty for Cryptic.

You've already handed over a huge wad of cold hard cash - upfront. Thank you! Better off in our (Cryptic's) bank account than yours.

And even if word of development becoming stagnant gets around, it wont affect new players who, for them, find everything new and exciting anyhow.
Plus, through their clever instancing scheme they can get away with low populations not affecting the core experience for most users.

It's just a hideous thought, smacking of greed and misintent.
They're grabbing cash up-front, and sadly there will be thousands of users who fall prey to it who, at some stage in the near future I'm guessing will, realise that the game is shallow and leave.. not without having emptied their own pockets and lined Cryptic's.

Wow I sound like a ranting anti-Cryptic nutcase.. but in this case it's just so blatantly obvious that an organisation is front loading a package with zero assurance that any major future development needs to take place.

tl;dr
If you pay up front, Cryptic can take your money and conceivably not add another single thing to the game (or in fact negatively change it completely just prior to launch) and it doesn't matter. If you get pissed off and leave, they already have your money (two years worth); thanks.
Think long and hard before buying a lifetime sub, in my opinion.

I'll stop now.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 1:34AM Tizmah said

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I think you need some Ice Cream after all that!
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Posted: Jan 15th 2010 1:38AM (Unverified) said

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Haha - yup I think you're right ;p
I guess I'm just trying to get folks to be a little wary, in that by purchasing a lifetime sub you're effectively giving up the right to vote with your wallet.

If you pay by month you can, at least, cancel that monthly sub if things start going 'Flagship-shape' in the game and thus send a very clear message.
By paying 2 years worth up front, you can stop playing but that message is lost in dollar signs..

..mmm icecream
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Posted: Jan 15th 2010 8:55AM dudemanjac said

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tl;but still read :)
The only problem I have is does anyone ever give a guarantee of any kind when you sign up for a lifetime sub? Would LOTRO be in trouble if they closed up shop right now? Why are we assuming that STO is not going to add anything just because they got a bunch of money up front?

I'm on board wit hthe game, but I'm not getting a lifetime sub. It'll take me a while to get to the end, but whe nI get there and have the strange desire to lvl another toon, it's just gonna tick me off that I can only do one more. Besides that, I don't know how much time I will be dedicating to this with all the games (mmos included) coming out next year.

They better have some AWESOME end game content planned to make ppl forget about not having lots of alts.
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Posted: Jan 15th 2010 1:54AM Saker said

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People should know by now that pre-ordering these games is insanity, the history is so clear there's no excuse.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 2:20AM (Unverified) said

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Once again, the famous money grab. Worked out so well with Hellgate: London (which Roper was involved in) and we know how amazing Champions Online is and how it's worth it's lifetime subscription. Lord of the Rings Online is probably the only one who has had a subscription for a game that is worth it, and I do believe it is, or was, much cheaper than this.

I really hate shady stuff like this, and the "limited quantities" thing is just a BS marketing ploy to create a false market of a limited tangible good of something that is unlimited and intangible.

I hate Cryptic almost as much as I hate NCSoft. No surprise they were together before.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 4:48AM dudes said

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Er buggar that. I'd rather sub to EVE when WiS / Ambulation patch is announced and released.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 5:01AM (Unverified) said

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Champions online is now for sale for £7... I think I might wait to try this till STO is the same.

I thought I got a bargin with CO for £20 a month ago...

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 5:00AM eggmanjr said

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odd it was telling me 274.99 cad

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 7:17AM (Unverified) said

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Um, my "collector's edition" bought through Amazon.com ALSO is supposed to give me a Borg bridge officer. The wording here is a bit vague; does this mean I can create a character that is a liberated Borg?

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 7:38AM (Unverified) said

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Yes. If you buy the lifetime sub, you can play as a liberated borg character.
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Posted: Jan 15th 2010 7:52AM (Unverified) said

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I want to make a convincing post about how no one should fall for this gamble... But what's the point? If you can't see the writing on the wall... well, hopefully this will teach you a lesson for the future.

And don't worry! Cryptic will put your $300(approx. cost of the game + lifetime sub) to good use in pushing their next shovelware MMO out the door.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 8:16AM Damn Dirty Ape said

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I'm not really a negative person but after playing the open beta for the past two days I think I would warn anyone to stay away from the lifetime subscription offer. I think the base is there for a great game but that Cryptic is shoving it out the door way too soon. I realize that they have no desire to compete against WOW:cataclysm or SW:TOR, but the game just is NOT ready at all.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 8:53AM (Unverified) said

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A few things I've learned about playing mmo's for many years.

1. Never play the month of release
2. Don't play on patch days
3. Beta is not a free trial
4. Lifetime subs don't pay out.

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 8:55AM (Unverified) said

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Wow. This sort of this just gives me a sick feeling in my stomach :(

Posted: Jan 15th 2010 9:36AM (Unverified) said

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dudemanjac said:

The only problem I have is does anyone ever give a guarantee of any kind when you sign up for a lifetime sub? Would LOTRO be in trouble if they closed up shop right now? Why are we assuming that STO is not going to add anything just because they got a bunch of money up front?

Absolutely, dudemanjac. I know what you're saying, and by a company putting a disclaimer on their marketing and TOS copy, anyone who 'buys in' is technically acknowledging that there's absolutely zero guarantee that you will get anything at all for your purchase.

The thing is, when it comes to law, cases dealing with commercial trade are more often than not based upon common sense and precedence, and these disclaimers can be deemed unreasonable (even if agreed upon by a consumer).

But yes, to use your example, if LOTRO closed up shop right now it could easily be argued in court that lifetime subscribers got their 'moneys worth' based upon how long the service has been online. Therefore a case against Turbine would be hard to validate because services were rendered for a length of time in excess of the lifetime purchase fee equivalent.

And you're correct by saying there's no way of knowing whether Cryptic will add more content or otherwise. My point is that with a large injection of cash up front, it could easily be an *option* for them to sit back and keep the bottom line low alongside high revenues. In a situation like that, customer retention is almost irrelevant because you're creaming the numbers.

In all honesty? I hope they do add more content and features! There's lots I actually like about STO believe it or not, but that list is a lot shorter than the one containing the gripes and cautions I have.. ;p

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