This might have changed with SOE’s recent price drop for the all-in-one Station Access pass, where you now pay US$19.99 to access all of SOE’s game stable (there are some details, of course, but it’s not a bad deal). A quick look at the Game Pass page seems to indicate that DCUO has received a price drop for Australians, now costing AU$16.99 a month. It’s a price drop that would be good to see.
I add words like “maybe” and “seems” to this price drop because the DCUO site still has the prices at the old levels of AU$19.95 a month. That’s over US$20 per month only to play DCUO.
So, maybe a price drop, or maybe players will be surprised to find that they thought they’d pay one price, but are then charged another.
Even if the price drop is correct, SOE is still fumbling around with DCUO. Especially with…
To Market! To Market! To Buy A Fat Proto-Repair Bot!
DCUO launched their in-game market around about June 30. The cash shop aspect of DCUO has been expected since before launch, especially since the beta had a ‘Shop’ button in the main play menu, even if it didn’t do anything. No surprises there.
What is surprising is that DCUO launched its cash shop with only three items in it. Those items are:
- The Proto-Repair Bot, which is a portable, temporary shop (so you can repair items, buy some consumeables and sell inventory trash);
- A Vault Ticket, allowing a character into a run on the random item generating Vault instance (othersies limited to once every 24 hours); and
- A stack of 5 Vault Tickets.
That’s awful. The fact that the 2 minute Bot costs $US1, the Vault ticket costs US$1 and the 5 Vault Tickets costs US$4 is even worse. (Looking at the Station Cash page, Australian players still appear to be charged AU$1.60 per 100 points, which converts to a 71% mark-up when you consider the exchange rate. Why does SOE hate Australian money so?)
Cash shops / micro-trans are going to stir up the player base. It’s a given. The way you offset that is by offering a range of things in it that are attractive and cosmetic to convince part of your player base they should spend a few bucks on buying that Twinkle Aura of Twinkling. You launch with a variety stuff people want to buy, not things that are completely worthless to pretty much everyone.
As a result, players are left with a completely meh feeling about the cash shop while SOE haters everywhere get to give DCUO a good kicking for adding microtrans of no value to a struggling game. Sure, there will be some players who are happy, but these are players desperate for any new DCUO content. I don’t understand why DCUO couldn’t have held off starting up the shop until after they had some things to show off in it.
But all of that is DCUO avoiding the problem: they’re missing the superhero MMO boat.
Freedom To All
Do we see the pattern here? Superhero MMOs on the PC are all heading F2P. All except for DCUO. It isn’t like DCUO is in the market leader spot; although the PS3 version reportedly does okay, the PC version sees low player populations. Server merges are coming. F2P would seem to be the smart way to move forward.
Except… going F2P might not be possible, especially with the PC and PS3 versions requiring different discussions within Sony overall. F2P might not be accepted under the current contract with DC, or with how Sony Computer Entertainment (America or Europe) want the PS3 version to operate. Could the PC version go F2P while the PS3 version remained subscription based? Perhaps, but that might be difficult to operate due to internal SOE processes.
Besides which, if you go F2P, you need a cash shop containing things that people actually want to buy.