Tag item shops

Trust Is Such A Fickle Thing

Sad Orc

Naaaw, the Orc is sad at the state of affairs at gPotato.

It’s only been a week since gPotato answered the storm that the players of Allods Online stirred up on the official forums and blogs across the Internet. Darren Allarde, associate producer for the game at gPotato, even went on Massively Speaking to talk about the controversy. Somehow, it feels like ages ago.

And for the players of Allods, it was an eternity ago. Even though nothing was really said about what was going to be done to the cash shop prices, it seemed like the community gained a bit of trust in the developers again. At the same time, we did expect more to be said. Since there was really no more info than “we’re looking at it and discussing our options”, and nothing changing in the cash shop since last week, gPotato would do well to keep talking – no matter how impressive their communication last week was, especially for a F2P game.

Over the course of the last week, new problems have been brought up by the community. Reports of speed hacking have started to circulate (which is always tricky in a PvP-game, you have to sift through the real reports and the typical “you ganked me, so you must have used a hack-crap), gold spammers have set up shop in the Zone channels (making it even more useless than it was before). There seem to be no active GMs to battle the ongoing problems either. The silence on the forums is deafening.

Gold spam in Zone chat

Is this Aion at launch? No, it's Allods in beta. And the spam kept flowing...

I’m losing hope in Allods and gPotato. I count the hours before the first reports of bots start to appear, how the gold spammers spread out by using the mail system, how speed hacks become more and more common. And despite the game only having two servers, which should be easy to police more or less around the clock, I doubt that gPotato have what it takes to turn this game into what it could truly be.

gPotato, you impressed us all last week. But it’s not enough. Faith in the way you are handling Allods is eroding fast. You need to keep talking, you need to tell us what is happening to the game. You need to communicate more with the Russian devs, give us more information about what is going to happen in the next patch or the patch after that. Where do you want the game to be when you “launch”? You opened your mouth, your current silence seems more like you’re only waiting it out, hoping that the problems will all go away.

I am finishing up my feature about Allods tomorrow, hopefully it will be published in both Swedish and English tomorrow or later this week. It feels odd, but it will end on a rather sad note. My faith that Allods will actually live up to its potential is gone, unless gPotato suddenly turns around and start talking to us again. I will leave my mage in Yasker’s Tower, waiting to see what happens from this point on. I do hope to return soon.

Time passes quickly in the MMO-sphere and trust is such a fickle thing.

Edit: A few minutes after I posted this, gPotato posted on their Allods Twitter about a new announcement. True enough, they have now posted on the official website that they are “making revisions to a majority of the Allods Online item shop” and that these changes will go live sometime during this week. They thank everyone for the feedback and that they’ve “revised pricing so that more people can participate in this feature of the game”. No actual news on what kinds of revisions they are doing, but I guess we will see later this week. Have they learned their lesson?

I knew I should have waited posting this entry until Monday was offically over…

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Champions Store gets retconned

Somewhere, at some point, someone decided that microtransactions and subscription based game could actually go hand in hand. Champions Online is one of the games that have adopted this philosophy, and one of the justifications that people tend to bring up is that World of Warcraft has been doing something similar for a long time. Blizzard began with server transfers, but these days they offer both complete makeovers and even a faction change for your current characters.

Want to look like this? It costs about $3.12.

Want to look like this? It costs about $3.12.

There is a pretty major difference between World of Warcraft and Champions Online, though. Server transfers, faction changes or makeovers are not really needed in a game that only has one shard, one faction and that lets you change your characters whole appearance more or less at will. The major difference is that Champions Online offers the kind of stuff you are used to see in the item shops of free to play games, like Maple Story or Runes of Magic – new costumes, more character slots (which is also something you can buy extra in for example Guild Wars), emblems and action figures (CO’s version of vanity pets).

When I saw the store the first time, I raised an eyebrow since I didn’t think an item shop had a place in a subscription based game. Extra services, fine. Extra items, no. But the same thing can be said for SOE’s item shops in Vanguard or EverQuest II, and since Champions didn’t include things like XP-potions, I didn’t mind much. I would never pay more for costumes in CO (unless it was really, really, really cool – luckily I think CO’s character design is an atrocity towards good taste, so I doubt that would ever be an issue), and I’m fine with few character slots. The stuff in the Champions store had nothing to do with gameplay, so screw it.

Until now, when the store is suddenly offering full retcons for your characters. In more general MMO-terms, it’s a full respecc for your character. That you can buy, for real money, since a full retcon is incredibly expensive using the regular in-game currency.

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