Bonus post today because there’s news and I am an opinionated space zombie!
On Wednesday the “Cosmic Rewards” or loyalty program for WildStar’s F2P conversion was explained in detail. Overall I’m very excited. I’ve played a little on the PTR and seen some of the cosmetic rewards, and they are glorious. That house that they had a preview of in that announcement? Amazing!
Down below all the lists of cool shiny rewards, they explain the details of how exactly you earn these cosmic reward points. For the most part it seems pretty generous. It looks like you get might get points for purchasing NCoin, and for spending NCoin in the shop. That’s great! It also rewards folks who have purchased the game, paid account services, or a subscription in the past. That’s why my bags were so full of cool stuff when I copied my character to the PTR.
How else can you get these rewards? You earn 3000 points per month for having a subscription to “signature service.” You also earn 4000 points for purchasing a CREDD with real money. Hey that’s great! It may encourage people to spend the $20 to get in-game cash, and keep the CREDD market supplied. Now we get to the part where I start to have some issues with this system.
Here’s where I tell you that I’ve been subbed continuously since launch. Via CREDD. I have a 3 month subscription plan on my account, and it has never been billed. Everybody wins from this setup. I get my subscription for “free”. The cool folks who bought CREDD with real money have gotten a large amount of platinum to spend in-game on whatever their hearts desire. Finally Carbine has gotten extra cash, about $75 so far. Since CREDD is more expensive than a month’s subscription, every time I pay with CREDD they’re getting an extra $5. Yes, someone other than me gave them that money. I’m not “directly contributing” to the bottom line. But if I and folks like me stopped buying CREDD in-game then there would be no market for it, and nobody would pay $20 real money to get a pittance of in-game currency. The system works in everyone’s favor because all the pieces are necessary and interdependent.
Now let’s look at the loyalty reward system. It gives 4000 points to someone who buys a CREDD with real money, 3000 to a credit card subscriber, and only 1000 points to someone like me who uses CREDD to pay for their subscription. Ouch that stings. I understand incentivizing multi-month subscriptions. I have no issues with those bonuses. Carbine wants people on a long-term recurring plan so that they have financial stability. But one month of subscription is worth the same credit whether you pay via one-use time card or recurring credit card. Just not CREDD.
One of the great things about the CREDD system was that, other than the loud noises it makes when you redeem it, nobody can tell whether you’re using it or real money to play the game. I was 100% equal to anyone else playing. Or I thought I was. Turns out I was being less “loyal” that whole time. While I was playing extra hours to earn plat so I could pay for my subscription. While I was blogging, podcasting, and singing the game’s praises on social media. While I was contributing to a system that earned Carbine more than a regular month’s subscription fee. That’s all worth less than someone who subbed for 4 months and then got bored and wandered away. Ouch.
Maybe I need to relax a bit, and like Syp just be happy to be getting a pile of free stuff when F2P happens. But I wonder if this might undermine the CREDD market in the long run. It suddenly seems a lot less appealing to me to spend tons of time earning plat to subscribe with CREDD. I could just buy game time cards when I’m playing a lot, and let my sub lapse (and still play for free!) when I’m not. The rewards for me are way better that way, and I get to spend the extra plat on cool stuff for myself. I wonder how many others might feel the same way? How many will it take to make the CREDD market unstable? I love this game and I dearly want it to succeed in the long term. I don’t even want this post come across as overly harsh because overall I think WildStar’s F2P system is incredibly generous and fair compared with other F2P MMOs. I want to keep playing this game until, hopefully many years from now, they shut down the servers and chase me out. I just wish I got the same credit for that as everyone else.