Opinion – An Imperfect World
I’ve played MMOs since 2007 when I started with World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Then… at the writing of this article, I booted up something from Perfect World: Star Trek Online (STO). Anyone who knows me from my days before coming to GamerLiving, also knows that I have been playing and reviewing STO since launch day. I loved this MMO at one point in time. Then the China-based Free to Play goliath Perfect World bought out Cryptic, and everything changed.
Star Trek Online was a finished and running MMO when Perfect World took over. It was a hybrid of both third-person MMO gameplay (think Rift or World of Warcraft), with starship-based exploration and combat. It was gaining popularity and subscribers in its first year, thanks to the hard work and talent from the developers at Cryptic. As demonstrated by not just its climbing subscriber base, but even having its own fan-operated Internet-based radio station, Sub-Space Radio, it was a functional, running model as it stood. Much like Yoko messing with the Beatles, Perfect World’s first change was to play with the basic structure of the game, making it Free to Play. It’s a solid model, right? Everything points to it being a great way to get even more players—except for one small detail. Prior to its launch, STO had already offered players the opportunity to buy in at $300.00 (speaking in terms of U.S. dollars), and get several unlocks and special privileges (such as a playable character just for Lifetime members and a restricted instance), plus these elite members would never have to pay the monthly fee of $15.00.
The powers that be simply saw options that they could make more money on and – you guessed it – all of it was put up for sale in their Store, turning these exclusive privileges into just another money grab, and putting these elite members on the same level as everyone else. So that $300.00 was paid for nothing! The worst part was, the game wasn’t even subscription based long enough (20 months if you purchased on launch day, longer if you bought in any time after) to make the $300.00 cover the months of subscription payments. Adding injury to insult, all the members of legitimate press sites expounding on what an amazing MMO STO had become lost their status as well. Perfect World revoked all Press Access privileges to the game and turned them into standard subscriptions. So, in order for someone to tell you what ships were worth your money, or what races made the game more fun, Perfect World now insisted that the journalists or websites spend their money on the items themselves if they wish to provide STO with free advertising via their articles. I still spent money in the game, yes, but my reviews began to suffer because I was not able to afford the new prices of nearly $25.00 a ship (even $50.00 in some cases), for 3-4 ships per season. The game had become a perversion of what Cryptic had created, and Gene Roddenberry’s dream, for that matter. STO had turned into nothing more than a method to fleece its players for as much money as possible every month. And now the biggest insult of all… Legacy of Romulus.
The price tag on this new expansion is $159.00. Yes, you read that right. It costs one hundred and fifty-nine dollars for an expansion that allows you to play with other Free to Play gamers. All I can see in my mind’s eye is Justin Hammer dancing on stage, preparing to tell the world how awesome he is because he took something that wasn’t his and screwed with it. Congratulations to Perfect World, you have turned a Free to Play model into an intro to the most expensive expansion in MMO history. World of Warcraft expansions cost $79.00 for the collectors editions! These expansions come with tons of stuff both in game and out, but Perfect World believes that you, the consumer, should pay $159.00 for access to content in a Free to Play game.
I am disgusted.
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