The great VIP debate of 2011

spanked

I didn't have interwebs for days after Hurricane Irene.  Broken and twisted trees covered the city.  Trucks swarmed in and for days I was serenaded by chainsaws and the pops of electric power sporadically turning on and off. While I denigrate my blackberry on an almost daily basis, I was grateful to have my smart phone and it's access to the world outside.

I particularly enjoyed my twitter feed.

Monday turned out to be especially entertaining.  Fernando Paiz had expounded excitedly about all things U11 for DDO over the PAX weekend, and in his unfiltered enthusiam, created the worst PR blip to hit Stormreach since the free to play announcement two years ago.

I sat in the house waiting for the next round of chainsaws to start crunching the big tree out front and cradled my phone.  Tweet after tweet exploded and within hours the DDO community was on fire.

Everyone was chattering back and forth about Artificer's being a store only option.

****Important Correction made at bottom of article!****

Things went from bad to worse throughout the morning while I wished for someone over at Turbine to draw the short straw and make an official announcement.  There is nothing like the vacuum of information to cook up a good helping of nerd rage.

Jerry draws the short straw
Jerry draws the short straw

By the time Turbine got around to confirming the rumor, the community was frothing at the mouth.

VIP players vocally expressed their anger on the forums, in podcasts, blogs, facebook, google+ and twitter. There wasn't a social platform I belong to that didn't have a rant somewhere about the Artificer debacle.

I knew what they were angry about. Artificers would only be a store option for U11. While there would be an opportunity to earn the Artificer class via House Cannith favor later in the year when U12 launched, for next few months if you wanted to play the new shiny class, you were going to need to pony up Turbine Points.

What I found especially offensive personally, was the bonus points we received this summer prior to Fernando's verbal diarrhea. Anyone who says Turbine doesn't know what they are doing, isn't paying attention. A well thought out plan is/was/will be in motion. You can gripe all you want about Artificer's not being free in U11, but honestly Turbine has already given you the points to buy Artificer's for free. They just didn't tell you.

To further shaft the VIP community, TR players will be able to open quests on hard regardless of their account type, and able to open quests on elite on the second TR.

Once I read the above announcement and coupled it with the Artificer mess, I sort of threw my hands up in the air.

membershipDDO
membershipDDO

Here is a chart from the DDO Compendium illustrating the account types.

I am not in the habit of defending Turbine. If anything, I am usually waving my fist in the air to punctuate my ire. However, in looking over this chart, I think there are still some really good things I receive for my 10 bucks a months.

  • I don't have to buy adventure packs. If I want to run a quest, I don't worry about whether I own it or not.
  • I can sit still in the marketplace for 60 minutes before I am auto logged off. When am I going to stand around for an hour?
  • My buyback option has 40 slots. While I don't think I ever needed that many, it's a nice thing I guess.
  • I get the shared bank for free.
  • I have 10 character slots.
  • I get 500 tp's every month

It's not a bad list.  Alright, it's not really a great list either.   In essence, I only pay 5 bucks a month to play DDO because I get 5 bucks worth of TP  every month.

Am I upset about the changes?

Yes I am.  I think there has been a slow attrition of perks for the VIP community.  We have been bent over, and quite frankly my bum is sore.

Just throwing this in the mix.  Were VIP's getting early access this time?  Not that I know of.  *sigh*

Personally I haven't made my decision yet on whether or not I will purchase Arificer.  When Favored Soul came out, I had the 2500 favor to purchase it on my home server.  I  liked earning it.  It felt like a great accomplishment even if it drove my guild nuts.   A year later I wanted to roll one up on another server and purchased it from the store.

I would have liked for DDO to line up everything for the community like they have done in the past.  I know Turbine is a business and from that perspective alone, it's mercenary, but sound.  You want to merchandise a new product for the maximum return.

They missed the trick though.  They've positioned themselves to potentially make less then they would have had they made this announcement with a little more grace.  DDO is famous for having a vocal minority on the forums.  I used to think that's all it was.  A minority.  However, this time around, it's hit all the airwaves.  People who were looking forward to this update feel it's been soured by a companies bottom line.  Gamer's are fickle.  Turbine may have overstepped.

Many of the complaints mention Artificers being a core class to Eberron.  The perceived fleecing of the VIP community in asking them to wait to earn what should have been free in the first place rankles.

About mid week on the forums, the goodbye posts started.  Geekdom wasn't pacified as of yet.  I have never felt quitting was the way to improve something I felt passionately about, but I have to say, the double hit made me wonder exactly what goodie I get from DDO's subscription.  If I continue to feel I play DDO enough to justify the cost, which come on is seriously what I spend at the coffee shop a few mornings a week, I will keep paying.

What do VIP's want?  They want to feel like VIP's.  The entire structure needs an overhaul.  We aren't getting the goodie out of our subscription.  In all honesty, we could all quit tomorrow and use our banked points to replace what we would lose being a subscriber.  It's hard to hang onto a customer when you aren't giving them the value of their purchase.

@Zefflon thinks I have not been near harsh enough in this article. He had already canceled his subscription at the beginning of the summer, and doesn't want to give DDO another dollar of his hard earned money. He wanted the title of this article to be "DDO can kiss my ass!"

It's an interesting conundrum.  We can speak with our wallets and not buy the product, but are there enough people willing to wait? Probably not.  We are society with a short attention span.  We want what we want now not later.

Perspective is the great equalizer.  I've been on a job hunt out in the real world, weathered a  Hurricane, bounced through an earthquake, and the general business of life has had me busier than a one armed wall paper hanger.  I don't feel the great well of angst when I've watched the Stormreach core player base ostracized after they spent years paying for a game we weren't sure would be there in the future.  We hung on by the skin of our teeth only to have them kicked out by the people we were loyal to.

I stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago. Even in a MMO life isn't fair.

So how do you feel about it? Are you excited for a new class? Are you going to buy it? Wait to earn it via favor? What are your thoughts?

Game on!!!

****Important Correction****

During discussions on the above article, it was pointed out to me that Turbine made an official comment on the Artificer favor situation early on Saturday morning.  I apologize for missing this in my research for the article. Thank you everyone for keeping things honest!

cordsearlierpost
cordsearlierpost