So let’s talk about all the weirdness going on with Champions Online.
Let me preface by saying that until a few weeks ago, I was pretty sure I’d be playing Champions Online on launch day. But then Cryptic started making really strange decisions.
First, they tied early-start to a specific retailer (Gamestop). Now, anyone who is a fan of video and computer games should NOT be purchasing games from Gamestop. That outfit is a fat, bloated leech sucking the lifeblood out of the game developer community. I don’t shop there if I can possibly help it (basically I’ll spend gift cards there if I get them). So that means no early access for me.
Not a huge deal, but a bit strange. I get that PC developers don’t have the same issues with Gamestop as console developers do. But where I live, the brick and mortar Gamestops don’t even stock PC games anymore.
Then there’s the Lifetime Membership issue. Cryptic’s Bill Roper used to have a little company called Flagship Studios, and they made a game called Hellgate: London, and they offered a lifetime membership to it. Roper was from Blizzard. I’d met the man, I knew how passionate he was about games (at least at one time). Even though Hellgate was kind of broken at launch, I forked over $140 for a lifetime membership, partially to show how much I believed in Roper. I just knew he’d pull the game together and I wanted to do what I could to help Flagship get that game fixed and awesome.
Of course, that didn’t happen. I would’ve been much, much better off had I bought $140 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets. Or $140 worth of horse manure. Or something.
But now here’s Roper’s next project and next Lifetime Membership offer. But this isn’t Roper’s company and it’s a much bigger team and anyway, everyone produces a dud at some point. So I actually consider this new offer. I also bought a Lifetime Membership to LOTRO and I’ve never regretted the decision in the slightest. Quite the contrary. So I’m thinking about my budget and if I can figure out a way to carve out $200 and be able to play CO indefinitely.
Assuming I like the game, of course. But wait…what? I have to buy the Lifetime Subscription BEFORE the game launches? Hey, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you, Cryptic. How about we trade? What a lack of confidence in their product this deadline broadcasts. This says to me “We don’t think you’ll want to buy this Lifetime Subscription once you’ve seen the game, so we’ll try to bribe you to purchase it pre-release with perks like access to the beta of a totally different game.” Huh? How in the world does that make any sense? “Buy a lifetime sub to this game and we’ll give you early access to another game in a few months.” So presumably you expect I’ll be SO BORED of Champions Online by this winter that I’ll be desperate to play another half-built game?
Less than a month from release, the NDA is still firmly in place. But Beta Keys went out today to pre-orderers and to Fileplanet Subscribers. I’m in the latter camp. I kept an eye on my email all day, assuming the alloted Fileplanet Keys would get snapped up quickly. And I scored one. Yay! Can’t wait to get home and download the client. But wait….what? I can’t actually PLAY the beta until the 17th of August? Then why make this big fuss about sending out the keys today? Downloading the client took all of 30 minutes from Fileplanet, so I don’t buy the ‘pre-load’ bullshit. Release the keys a couple days ahead of beta opening? Sure. But 12 days?
Once again I read a lack of confidence in this decision: “We want to wait as long as possible to let more people into the beta because we want to delay players realizing how bad our game is for as long as possible.” Or more generously, “We don’t want to give players time to hit high levels in beta and find out there’s no content up there.”
I don’t know who is running the marketing and/or sales divisions at Cryptic, but it almost feels like someone is deliberately sabotaging the hype of this game. Every new bit of information I read makes me less inclined to want to play it. It seems really evident that Cryptic has something to hide from us, the potential customers. Folks in the beta remain under an NDA gag-order, so they can’t tell us what’s going on, and the gates are barred from the rest of us getting in.
What’s really going on inside Champions Online?