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Pricing

Ravenlute
When a game comes into the public spotlight a few questions surface right away. What kind of game is it? What system does it run on? How many people can play it? How much does it cost?

For Pathfinder Online it starts out pretty good. It's an MMO in a fantasy setting. It not only runs on PC but has Mac and Linux options. Being an MMO, a ton of people can play at the same time in the same world.

Then PFO seemingly shoots itself in the foot. It's a subscription model (fast becoming outdated) with an item shop and even a box price for a time. To the casual passerby, that screams "greed" for any game, but when you find out the game hasn't even released yet you have to wonder if the marketing department was a smoke free zone.

Pafthinder Online got its first players from a Kickstarter campaign. The sales pitch was good and sold possibility backed by an impassioned development team. The people that backed the Kickstarter weren't concerned with a box price, it didn't affect them. The same money they were putting up to fund the project would be used toward their subscriptions and kickstarter backer rewards.

When the game went into the beta-like Early Enrollment period new players that weren't part of the Kickstarter were frustrated by the idea of having to not only pay a box price for a game that had no physical product to ship or sell but for having to pay a subscription for an unfinished game on top of that.

Eventually the box price was removed and free trials replaced the buddy key offer. That left income to the subscription and item store.

The item store is an opportunity wasted. The few items there are ridiculously overpriced. $50 for a building you can't enter, that only acts as a storage box and Power regen station? This is what the Engineer camps should have been! Or $200 for one that does the same thing but doesn't go away after a time? For that price you could purchase at least 3 newly released AAA games. Obviously a storage box is a much better use of your money, or not. Time and again other games have shown that cosmetic items like clothing, hair colors, and even dance emotes are big sellers if reasonably priced. Putting a little effort into having some of those available near the start would have been a consistent source of income for Goblinworks.

The subscription is the real elephant in the room. Due to the link between game time/xp gain/subscription fee there hasn't seemed like a good way to let players participate in the early enrollment period without forcing them to pay each month which enhances the "greed" image. This restricts Goblinworks from making a change to a F2P format if they wanted or box price/item store combo like GW2. They spin this by saying you will have the ability to reach higher tiers before everyone else if you jump in now.

So what do you really get for your monthly subscription?

For $15 you will receive 30 days worth of xp (72,000xp) over time and the ability to log in to the server and play the game.

This is vastly different from other games. Most gain xp through defeat of mobs or completion of missions/quests. Others accumulate xp in the form of improved skills through the use of those skills over time or by simply selecting the skill they want to improve and letting it slowly rise in real time. Regardless, your advancement is not based around the amount of money spent on the game, but on the time you put into it.

In Pathfinder Online what is the difference between Player A who subs at the start of the month, plays a few days a week and ends the month with 72k xp vs Player B who also subs at the start of the month but doesn't log in until the end of the month with 72k xp? Not a damn thing. Player A has a better idea of how the game works, has met other players and started wracking up achievements. Player B has done none of these things but has the same amount of xp.

Can you tell where I'm going with this?

The price and gain of xp has nothing at all to do with the amount of time a person actually plays the game.

This is already apparent to many of us but really let that idea sink in. If xp is not tied to game time then that means the two can be separated. There is no in-game benefit or effect of having xp trickle in at 100/hour vs getting it all at once. The idea that a high level character is one that has invested a lot of time into the game is an appealing illusion. The only thing it shows is that they have spent more money on the game than someone of lower level. As the game progresses this only becomes more noticeable. The 'achievement gates' that were touted as barriers against rapid advancement for Player B types are just another part of the grand illusion. A combat character can grind out kill achievements at a good pace but what about crafters? I asked that recently and found it to be the same.

So what does this mean?

XP does not have to be sold via subscription. Instead Advancement Packs could be sold in the item shop, $15 for 72,000xp. Buy it, use it, instant xp gain. *cleans brain matter off the computer screen* I know, blows your mind doesn't it? Among those screaming "blasphemy" and "pay 2 win" you obviously didn't let what I said above sink in like I told you to. It won't change anything except that your friend who wants to play can drop $150 bucks for the same xp that you have now instead of buying an account from someone who paid for a sub but hasn't played. Either way, in a short amount of time they'll be standing right next to you on your quest to dominate the world. Or hammer rocks. Whatever it is you do.

People will eat this up. Having that available will cause more income to flow into Goblinworks coffers. How many times have you been itching for more xp but instead have to wait so you just log out? If you could have just bought that xp you probably would have and kept on playing with your new gains. Does this make xp trivial? Not any more than it already is. In PFO it is nothing more than a type of currency, purchased from Goblinworks. Saying that, it has the added benefit of making it more difficult for certain internet 'leveling' businesses to gain a foothold. Goblinworks would already be offering the same service, legitimately.

More importantly this opens up the possibility of a F2P format and more players running around the world. More players lead to more activity and desires to advance their characters. It also releases a little of the flack for having to pay for 'beta' to play at all.

While it might seem like cutting out the subscription would make room for a box price, you have to ask yourself what they would be buying with no way to advance their character on just that sale alone. It would be a bad idea.

Oh, there will be hell raised when people come in to play a free game and find out they can't advance without paying money, but it beats a subscription game where you can't even get in the game without paying. At the end of the day, this will bring in more funds for Goblinworks without changing gameplay.

New pricing model: F2P with Item Shop selling XP Advancement Packs and cosmetic items.

tldr: If you didn't bother reading it, don't bother commenting.
Myl - Herald of Stone Bear Clan (Tavernhold)
"You can walk into Tavernhold but a horse will have to carry you out."
Caldeathe Baequiannia
Only a few comments at the moment, though I read it all.

The existing camps and smallholdings are not worth the price, but they are (like so many other things) not the finished product. They should have interiors and should bind points among other features.

A number of us have suggesting buy-back for XP. As long as it isn't cheaper than having been subscribed, and never gets you any more than a person who started the first day, it still gives the long-time subscriber the advantage of having been able to play if they want, and accumulate assets for those months. It's still a hard sell with both the P2W crowd and the people who believe the day-one players are entitled to an advantage.

On the subject of XP from doing stuff, a great deal has been made about the game being friendly for casual players, who won't fall behind because they aren't logged in every day. Changing that would be a fundamental shift in philosophy, and would not go over well with a yet-to-be-determined sub-group of players.
To reach me, email d20rpg@gmail.com
Ravenlute
Thanks for taking the time Cal.

Caldeathe Baequiannia
The existing camps and smallholdings are not worth the price, but they are (like so many other things) not the finished product. They should have interiors and should bind points among other features.

From the descriptions given, the smallholding would have things like the bind point you mentioned but the base camp doesn't have anything else to add. Just going off the base camp you're still comparing a $50 purchase that gives you a temp storage and power regen vs a new game. Even with a jacked up price for being reusable it's too much.

————————–
Base Camp $50
* Digital premium item
* First availability scheduled for Month 2 of Early Enrollment (eta February 2015)
* Enables characters to regain Power
* Provides local storage
* Max of 2 deployable per eligible Hex (first come, first deployed)

Smallholding $200
* Digital premium item
* First availability scheduled for Month 2 of Early Enrollment (eta February 2015)
* Enables characters to regain Power
* Provides local storage
* Can be used as a soulbinding point
* Private chat channel for characters accessing the Smallholding
* Access storage of Settlements in same hex as Smallholding
* Limited space available for Smallholding deployment (first come, first deployed)
————————–

Caldeathe Baequiannia
A number of us have suggesting buy-back for XP. As long as it isn't cheaper than having been subscribed, and never gets you any more than a person who started the first day, it still gives the long-time subscriber the advantage of having been able to play if they want, and accumulate assets for those months. It's still a hard sell with both the P2W crowd and the people who believe the day-one players are entitled to an advantage.

Players who actually play the game will always have an advantage because they have been accumulating assets as you said, regardless of how much xp they have. The unique nature of this game already allows long time and new players to potentially have the same xp pool, this idea just makes it more apparent and puts it in the hands of Goblinworks.

Caldeathe Baequiannia
On the subject of XP from doing stuff, a great deal has been made about the game being friendly for casual players, who won't fall behind because they aren't logged in every day. Changing that would be a fundamental shift in philosophy, and would not go over well with a yet-to-be-determined sub-group of players.

This wouldn't change anything for the casual gamer, or the hardcore gamer for that matter. They'd still be buying their xp and having to clear gates for advancement just like before. They wouldn't be getting xp from doing stuff.
Myl - Herald of Stone Bear Clan (Tavernhold)
"You can walk into Tavernhold but a horse will have to carry you out."
Bringslite
@ Ravenlute

My you are a busy Raven! smile I am in the camp (if there is one) that could care less if new players could buy exp packs and catch up to day 1 characters as long as it led to increased revenue overall and more players.

Ravenlute
"How many times have you been itching for more xp but instead have to wait so you just log out? If you could have just bought that xp you probably would have and kept on playing with your new gains."
This looks like you are suggesting that I could buy MORE exp than I can gain as a day 1 character on the sub + time=exp model. That would not be a very good thing. While I don't mind the idea of someone scaling up fast for the good of the game's coffers, I would not be happy to watch them buy their way past my day 1 characters. I had to do it the slow and hard way.

Another problem: There is a real lack of T3 content right now. I am not sure that another 10,000 players expecting T3 content (when they get to T3) and not finding any would be a good idea. We playing now are pretty understanding though you have probably seen that we are starting to grumble about it.

Finale Thought: GW can't keep this game going without a steady reliable income. Your idea would be a huge gamble. The kind that a company might risk when it's income is double or triple it's operating costs, not wise as an all or nothing hail Mary.
Virtute et Armis
-Unknown
Ravenlute
You have a point that it may be a gamble, even if it wouldn't really change the gameplay. It's certainly not something players are used to. At this point in development though the company should not be relying on the payment of customers. That's a big problem and they are going to have to get past that if we expect to see any real progress. The lack of T3 is an issue as well. With similar planning to a themepark, they put the higher end stuff off until later because they figured players would get to it later. This is a common problem with developers even when they don't have an early beta enrollment period. To do it though they would have had to not do something else.

Bringslite
While I don't mind the idea of someone scaling up fast for the good of the game's coffers, I would not be happy to watch them buy their way past my day 1 characters. I had to do it the slow and hard way.

Sometimes the stubborn folk, myself included, need to step back and ask what it would really mean. We didn't earn that xp, all we did was throw money at the game and wait. It was slow, yes, but you spent that time experiencing the game. The perk for starting on day one is not that you got a head start on the xp but that you got to be in at the ground floor of the games development and be a part of what has happened over the last 10 months. No one can take that away from you and it isn't something they can offer to new players. You earned that, you lived that, you played that.

If you like the game you will continue to play regardless of where others stand and this idea puts the rate of advancement more directly in your hands, allowing you to pay based on your financial ability without the pressure of a subscription.
Myl - Herald of Stone Bear Clan (Tavernhold)
"You can walk into Tavernhold but a horse will have to carry you out."
Bringslite
You really are suggesting that GW move to a buy exp and apply at the rate that you like? Even past what is earned at the rate of 100/hour from day one?
Virtute et Armis
-Unknown
Ravenlute
Buy xp and apply at the rate you like, yes. Past the 100/hour, no. The Advancement Packs would cost the same amount as a current monthly sub and give the same amount of xp.

It may be possible to put an increasing cap on the number of Advancement Packs that can be used per character so that it equals that of the current limits. For example, now that we've entered the month of November a character could use as many as 11 Advancement Packs to increase one of their characters xp pool. Every 30 days Goblinworks could increase the cap by 1. This would keep the Advancement Pack gain in line with the current limit.

Current subs could be transferred to the Advancement Packs and set to the players account. The program and transfer would want to start at the beginning of a month. So say this went into effect starting December and I still have 5 months of subscription paid. Starting on Dec 1st my xp would stop accumulating over time. I'd receive 5 Advancement Packs on my account and I'd be able to use up to 1 of them on my main character to gain that months xp. I'd have 4 Advancement Packs left over which I could save for the following months or use on an alt.

Would that put you a little more at ease?
Myl - Herald of Stone Bear Clan (Tavernhold)
"You can walk into Tavernhold but a horse will have to carry you out."
Bringslite
It seems like a better way to go than what I thought you were suggesting. GW would have to use a powerful Mass Charm to get most of the folks around here feeling ok about it without starting to talk about letting new players buy exp PAST what we have (or will by then) accumulated.

There was a tickle of a thought about unbalancing the game if players just buy a month of exp and put them on a character, skill it up, and then just play for free. You can get to a fairly useful level of skill with 72,000 exp. Then I think: "Who cares if it brings in bodies to make the world LIVE and some revenue for GW."

There was a plan, at the beginning, that exp packs (AKA Goblin Balls) would be a trade item bought from the store.

In general, I like it. I am sure that I haven't thought of all the possible downsides.

Edit: There is a consideration: These FTP characters would have absolutely no worries about Reputation. They aren't training higher unless they buy more exp. They could get pretty far along (like we are) with cash and then play for free ever after. Hell, 2.5 years of exp only costs $448.50. Then you are free to rampage at will if there is a cesspool that will let you live with them.
Virtute et Armis
-Unknown
Ravenlute
Bringslite
Edit: There is a consideration: These FTP characters would have absolutely no worries about Reputation. They aren't training higher unless they buy more exp. They could get pretty far along (like we are) with cash and then play for free ever after. Hell, 2.5 years of exp only costs $448.50. Then you are free to rampage at will if there is a cesspool that will let you live with them.

Subbing characters don't have to concern themselves with Reputation currently either. If ganking is all someone cares about doing then they don't need to have the most xp, they can more than get by with a very focused build and a desire to cause trouble. I don't believe Reputation stops them from trading with alts who act as bank mules and you can happily spend your time as a ganker without advancing beyond T2.

The F2P aspect just allows someone to play the game. That's what we all want. If they enjoy what's available and are content with their level of advancement then why keep them from playing with their friends? It only adds to the game world having them there and the longer they play the more likely something will catch their eye that will make them want more xp. You can bet there would be a flurry of purchases every time a new role is released.

The FAQ did mention another type of pricing but this is all it said:
We are planning a hybrid subscription/microtransaction model. Players will have the option to pay a flat monthly fee for complete access to all standard game features, or to use microtransactions to access desired features and content on an a la carte basis. Pricing details have not yet been finalized.

During Early Enrollment only subscriptions will be available. Subscriptions will be priced at $15/month.

Personally I like my idea better, but I may be biased.
Myl - Herald of Stone Bear Clan (Tavernhold)
"You can walk into Tavernhold but a horse will have to carry you out."
Schedim
Many good thought here.

One thought about the "reputation problem" of F2P, if there will be one, there is several other ways to add cosequences to reputation (actually some I think are very appropiate anyway) like always ressurect in Rotters Hole, Alignment changes (these should be way more difficult to reset than reputation) and "negative achivements" that would bar certain chocies, skills roles whatever….

In general this is a reason for the "blandness" of current PFO, nothing has consequences, there is no real choices that wont go away over time, I mean, I had a ranger style rogue going, but now I want to be a cleric instead, no problem, just wait and let the XP flow fix it….

Last time I voiced ideas like this, it was much sreaming and squealing about it would just make it difficult to play and scare people off and no one wanted to make the game less attarctive ydda yadda.. I think people want challanges and hard decisions, to live the consequences beyond which mob to massmurder today…
Schedim: Peddler and dealer in stuff easily transported, restless wandering the land of the River. Trying to find out how to reawaken the cult of Hanspur. To realise this ambition I created the company named Rats of Hanspur.
You can reach me on: pfo.schedim@gmail.com
 
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