As a few of you may have heard, the Clan Collection has been announced for pre-order. “The Clans?” you ask. “Now? Before Community Warfare? Before we even have the new UI?” Yes, indeed, and people are not happy.
It’s here, it wants $240 of your hard-earned money for the top-tier package, and you can even spend a mind-blowing $500 on a single, gold-encrusted ‘mech of your choosing. Jesus. H. Christ.
But let’s be honest: it’s not the price tag that everyone’s pissed off about; it’s the lack of progress. For over a year, UI 2.0 has been two months away, and Community Warfare is perpetually just around the corner. Beyond the interface improvements, all sorts of fun goodies like tonnage limits and private lobbies are bottle-necked by the new UI, which makes its release all the more pressing. Word on the street is that there’s a “strong chance” of it dropping in January, but it’s tough to believe given a track record littered with missed deadlines and broken promises.
So why now? How could they, having just missed their latest self-imposed deadline for UI 2.0, have the balls to come ask us for more money? Project Phoenix was only a couple months ago; how can they feel justified doing another sale so soon?
Let’s get this out of the way first and foremost: they’re not doing this sale just to fuck with you. A lot of people seem to take personal offense, but it’s really just a calculated business decision:
It’s the holiday season – Christmas bonuses mean consumers have money. Everyone else is doing sales, so why would the flagship sale of MWO miss the shopping season?
Project Phoenix was a smashing success based on the number of those ‘mechs I’ve seen running around. Regardless of the size of the player base, a large percentage grabbed it.
Remember that stagnation and lack of progress? This early tease is meant, in part, to counter that sentiment and give us something to be excited about. Let’s be honest: a lot of us want (see: need) Clan ‘mechs badly. The concept art is beautiful, and the ‘mech choices could hardly have been any better.
The sooner IGP gets money, the sooner it can be re-invested into the project. Tinfoil hatting aside, at least some of this money is going to show back up in the development budget, and the quicker that happens, the quicker more resources are on the job and moving the project forward.
It’s been about six months since the last big sale. Though the Phoenix ‘mechs were delivered in October, pre-orders began in early summer. While many consider it “too soon,” they seem to be confident enough with that end date that it simply makes sense.
Disillusionment will pass. They were well aware of the backlash this would cause. They’re fine with that, and they’re confident that as they start hitting deadlines, more people will buy in. In the meantime, there’s no sense leaving the early-comers to spend their money on other holiday bargains.
Notice that there’s no end date on the sale yet. That’s not a mysterious coincidence – it’s more than likely because they want flexibility to extend the sale if things get pushed back (as they almost inevitably will). They will try to win the disillusioned over before the end of the sale with whatever they can get out the door.
And the big one: it costs money to keep a business running. As a game developer, I can tell you it takes an obscene amount of money (think anywhere from $10,000 to upwards of $100,000 per day) to keep a smallish-sized studio open. Rent, electricity, payroll, licenses, constant equipment replacements, software out the kazoo, and the list goes on – there’s never a good time to be cutting it close.
I’m truthfully not a fan of all this, either. As a consumer, it feels like a shameless betrayal. Another missed deadline followed immediately by another cash grab. I simply can’t help how I feel.
It’s a year’s worth of disappointment. It’s realizing collision won’t be coming back soon. It’s seeing backspace stay broken for three months. It’s that TAG is still not a toggle. It’s the inconsistent communication, poor decisions, broken promises, and constant inaction. They won’t be getting any of my money until they deliver on something I care about. Period.
Having said that, there’s also no point in taking offense to what is purely a logical business decision. I’m sure they largely expected this backlash – it happened to an extent with Project Phoenix, and I’m sure they anticipated even more anger considering it’s been another six months of missed deadlines.
But there’s no bad time to be making money. If you, like me, are not satisfied with the state of the game, then speak with your wallet and pass for now. But some people will buy it. Hell, it’s tempting to just do it now. As I sit here knowing I’ll probably be blowing that money at a strip club in Vegas in less than 72 hours, I can’t help but feel like I’d get more lasting value out of the Clan Collection. Many are weaker than I am, and they’ve already started buying.
Where are they, then? Why aren’t they out on the forums and reddit defending their purchases? Because who would, given the general sentiment is so hostile? It’s a guilty pleasure, and I’m sure a fair number have already indulged.
And that’s not a bad thing. If everyone stopped buying, the game might go under. While I don’t want to see that happen, I’m also a Darwinist when it comes to products and services: if you can’t deliver, I’m not going to pay you. My hope is not that everyone boycotts – it’s that PGI makes me want to spend money.
Even if you don’t intend to throw in any more money, there’s no reason to hold this against them. The vast majority of the disgruntled members of the community have been around a while. In fact, I’d wager that the longer you’ve been around, the more unhappy you are about this. We aren’t the target audience for the initial wave of this sale. The target audience is newer players, the most faithful of the old guard, and the people that absolutely have to have Clan ‘mechs right now.
They’re hoping they’ll be able to get important features out and working correctly to win people like you and me over. Too often, the community forgets that PGI is just a bunch people. They’re game developers trying to do their job and deliver you the best product they can. They’re not maliciously doing it wrong.
The spacey girl at the coffee shop that always fucks up your order isn’t a bad person – she’s just a little overwhelmed. She still has to try to sell coffee to you and everyone else that comes in. She’s not asking you to buy anything; she’s offering you the new special that you’ve been requesting all year.
A business isn’t about whether or not you “deserve” money. It’s about whether or not you can get money. Fault them for their performance all you want, but chastising them for offering to sell the very product that keeps them in business is misguided.
Stop bitching about the $500 ‘mechs. Seriously. Make fun of them all you want, but whining about the price is the definition of missing the point. The crux of the ‘mech is that it’s ridiculously expensive and flashy. You’re getting something cool, rare, unique, and (debatably) functional in return for what is effectively a generous donation. Again, they’re not asking you to do anything – they’re just giving you an option.
Why pay $250,000 for a car when you could get a perfectly beastly one for $75,000? Why buy a garish, $10,000 handbag instead of a good-looking one from a thrift store? Why download this app? They’re status symbols. They’ve always existed and always will. They’re a way of saying, “Hey, I have money.” There’s no reason not to have them in MechWarrior: Online as long as it’s not pay-to-win.
If no one buys them, who cares? And if they do, who cares? Playing in one of those things will be an Insanity Wolf affair. It’s basically an expensive toy for your ‘mech bay and private matches, and there’s nothing wrong with that.