It was over one year ago when I saw a video from Extra Credit where they discuss the wrongdoings of most F2P business models. I keep stumbling upon and thinking about it, because you can’t help but still draw comparison to Neverwinter. It’s the epitome of what’s wrong with parts of the monetization strategy of the game. In times where Hearthstone or League of Legends set a precedent of how many cash is widely accepted to be spend on a game, 20$ for a single-item purchase is already a major investment.
In Neverwinter you virtually get nothing for 20$. Mounts are more than that, Companions are less, but need to be upgraded, you need Wards worth 100$ (current PC prices) for one character and the list goes on. The rarest prizes are reserved for those that spend hundreds and thousands on keys. To add insult to injury, some of the stuff can’t be dodged or adds so much convenience to the game that it’s hard to ignore. Can you play the game without spending a single penny? Yes. Can you advance in a reasonable time without spending anything? No. We’ve discussed this pay-to-accelerate model before. Twice.
We might however now have to say you didn’t use to get something, because the recent change item appearance cost reduction is another indication somebody might have gotten the memo in PWE HQ that microtransactions can fuel F2P games. I’ve already said that it looks like the devs have vastly overestimated the willingness of the players to invest major money into looks. Mounts, Fashion, Transmutation: You name it. I generally think most items on the ZEN market are still overpriced, especially bag and bank space. For those costs to work Neverwinter might have been released one or two years too late. In the early days players were throwing crazy money at the f2p model, but not any longer.
The devs already released adjustments with the Trade Bar Store rework and more importantly the VIP system. Both combine to give the players more progress than ever for as low as 10$ a month (or less if you buy into three or six months). I would go as far as saying that this is the only investment you need to make currently to be able to compete on the highest PVE level (not PVP though) eventually. It’s even self-sustainable and the ability to buy Enchantments, Dyes and Wards for as low as the Trade Bar equivalent of one lockbox is exactly what this game needed.
But there are still some areas of concern, which next to Mounts, Companions and Artifact Gear also included transmutation. They definitely have to do something about RP for Artifact gear. Our tool currently lists the price for one item at slightly under 5M AD (~125$) and you need four of them. That’s simply too much, especially compared to the amount needed to get BIS in other areas. The Mount system however is getting a rework, companion tokens are included in the Fortification Kits to help drop the enormous costs of upgrading them and transmutation has now been changed. It was necessary because transmutation has been a pain and I doubt players were really engaging in the system. Most of us don’t have one, but two or three armor sets that might or might not change with every module. Throwing around 100s of thousands of AD every three to four months to be able to retain the look has been incredibly annoying, especially on multiple chars.
So I’m glad we’re slowly but steadily moving away from the mess that Elemental Evil has created towards to a more favorable system that seems to include more and more microtransactions.
What are your thoughts on the transmuting changes and the game’s monetization strategy? Share it in the comments below or post to our forums.