Champions Online crossed off my list

Early on, I scoffed at the idea of Cryptic offering a couple of special subscription offers (a Discounted 6 month sub, and a Lifetime sub) before the game released. All their marketing material said these were limited time offers that ended on Sept. 1st.

I scoffed, but I kept playing preview weekends and “open” beta, and found myself enjoying the game and slowly being sucked in. Finally I decided that I’d snag one of the two special offers, but I wasn’t sure which one. I had until Sept. 1st to decide, so there was no rush.

Last night, Cryptic posted a notice on their website shifting their story and saying now that “Supplies were limited.” By this morning, they were sold out. I didn’t see their site last night as I was busy taking part in the end of beta event. Nothing about this was in the launcher.

How can you sell out of a virtual product?

When I found out I’d missed out on these special deals, I was pretty upset. Had I known the offer was a limited time one, I would’ve purchased early. And I know now that I would’ve actually sprung for the Lifetime Sub. First of all, it comes with 8 extra character slots, and this was clearly a game I would’ve gone alt-crazy in. Second, it feels like the kind of game I’d play casually… a little bit at a time, over a long period, so a Lifetime Sub made sense for me (and I’d just earned a $200 bonus from a freelance job, coincidentally).

Anyway, now that this sweet offer has been dangled in front of my nose, then retracted, I find that I’m no longer interested in giving Cryptic any of my money.

Unless they decide to re-institute the offer. The one legit concern I can understand is that the special offers included entrance into the Star Trek Online beta, and I can see where they’d have to put a limit on those.

So maybe, hopefully, they’ll re-open the offers, just with the STO beta entry removed. I’d be fine with that.

I won’t delete the client, in the hopes that Cryptic does the right thing by their customers.

26 thoughts on “Champions Online crossed off my list

  1. I hope you still play, I’ve been enjoying reading your updates about the game.

    Most products never truly sell out, virtual or tangible. If each Best Buy sells 5 cheap TVs it’s a promotion to get you into the store, not based on a limited production of the TVs themselves. They factor in their comparative sales or loss on those TVs versus the sales from customers it attracts into the store. The same goes here.

    The STO beta probably factors into it, but so does their cost / profit ratio that would have dictated their limits. The screwup was they were vague about limits.

    Cryptic / Atari should have made the specifics of the limited offer crystal clear. From the CM responses it’s obvious they got caught with their pants down and they didn’t expect to reach their limits on these offers.

    Do you recall how pissed off people were when Blizzard stopped selling WoW entirely for nearly 2 months? They informed everyone that they had effectively oversold the game and got roasted over the coals for being unprepared. It’s not the exact same situation, but it’s similar.

    There are two, paradoxical bottom lines here:

    Bottom Line #1: Limited offer means limited offer. Get in early or risk missing out. Going for deals at the last minute almost never works out.

    Bottom Line #2: Customers are customers. If Cryptic doesn’t find a way to appease the customers that got left in the cold from this oversight, they’ll collect more bad press and lose more customers over it.

  2. I think what irks me the most is when they got low on their quota, they did a bad job (imo) of communicating that. It was the last night of beta…doesn’t it make sense that your biggest fans are going to be in-game playing, not hanging out reading the website? Had they put that news in the launcher, I would’ve made my purchase as soon as I saw it.

    Also, some forum denizens have found a thread where they did say quantities were limited (once, back in early August) but all their marketing material said Limited TIME Offer and that it expired on Sept 1.

    To me, that’d be like, say, a movie theater saying “This weekend tickets are half price!” then you get there Saturday night and they say “Oh, sorry, we sold too many half-price tickets last night, the deal is off.” It’s totally in their right to do it, but customers are going to have one of two reactions. A grumble and forking over full price, or storming away, swearing off giving the theater their business.

  3. That’s a very valid complaint and one that I’d aim at a lot of MMOs, but Cryptic especially, since it was an issue with City of Heroes as well.

    Most of my friends and guildmates never read forums and rarely visit the websites. They jump directly into the game. Any important info should be broadcast to them where they’ll see it.

    I admit, it’d be so easy for me to say “oh you snooze, you lose” when I’m unaffected by the cutoff. Just as it’s easy for others to slam games they don’t plan on playing.

    The banner on the website for the past few weeks has just said “Limited Offer” and then also mentioned the date, but wasn’t specifically “Limited Time Offer” or “Limited Quantities Offer”. Again though, it ~should~ have been more specific.

    I’m hoping Cryptic addresses this more directly than just via forum CMs. Even if they don’t reinstate the offer, I’m guessing at least a formal apology would be appreciated by some.

  4. Hah, personal disclaimer: I’m going by memory on the banner ads. If anyone has a screenshot that confirms or denies, feel free.

  5. Rog – I went to the website to set up my account when I bought the pre-order box a week or two back. Then I went back today after a friend told me they were sold out. Not everyone visits web sites. But everyone has to run the Launcher.

    I’m just saying.

    Now they’re closing threads on the topic.

  6. Rog: That’s a really good point. Important info like that should be communicated in game because most players really don’t read the forums.

    I find it bizarre that Cryptic are turning down money though.

  7. We’re making loads of money off this offer. Quick! Pull it!

    Does not compute.

    Also, it may not *be* bait & switch but it sure feels like it.

  8. I hope you play too — let’s form a superhero squadron of bloggers! Blog for Justice!

  9. @Pete: I’m confused that you may be arguing exactly what I said, so I’ll repeat it to avoid any confusion:

    I whole-heartedly agree with you that the information should have been right where you would have likely seen it: In the launcher or as a notice within the game itself.

  10. @Rog — I’m sorry for my growing level of snark last night… I was letting my frustration with the situation start to influence my reaction to well-meaning people. My apologies.

  11. @Pete: No worries. I seem to get long-winded when I feel I’m trying to explain what I think is reasonable and I always seem to miss that few people want that explained anyway. =)

  12. I could understand limiting the lifetime subs, but why the six month subs. Maybe other game companies will learn something from all of this.

  13. My guess is because the 6-month special deal included access to the Star Trek Online beta, and they have to limit those numbers. They do, in all fairness, have a discount if you buy 6-months at a time. It isn’t as much of a discount as their special offer, nor does it come with the perks of the special offer.

    I’m hoping against hope that they offer another deal, same as the one that has closed, only with STO beta access removed.

    Given that the game has RMT, I don’t even see a reason for them to limit Lifetime subs. Plenty of games out there survive on just RMT, after all. And those “freemium” games are getting pretty good. I think the sub-based model is on its last legs anyway…

  14. RMT…boy that has to be handled right. If they let one buy the best gear and best stuff with real money once again the little rich kids aka deep pockets will have all the best toys and think they are better than everyone else.
    Of course with internet gold sites that probaly is the case in a lot of MMO’s as is. One reason I left EVE was a player who was noted as being one the best players in the game was working with our corporation and I admired how he was able to PvP and not have to spend the game time working his wallet back up to refit if he lost when low and behold during one engagement with us he lost his ship and fittings and made the comment in our corp chat that he was going to a website and spend $200 in real money to buy the ISK he needed to refit. He was back in about an hour with a full refit brand new ship, something that would take a player a few weeks to earn (if not longer) if one played by the rules. Ganking and being ganked meant nothing to him as his real life deep pockets let him (enjoy?) the game without thought of the heavy death penalty that Eve has. If all had to live against that penalty perhaps ganking would be less common in the game.

    Yes, I subject

  15. They were kind of doing a number on themselves with the Star Trek Beta thing anyways, I am having trouble understanding how they thought that it was a good idea to sell beta subs in the first place. (I loathe betas now, they are always lower quality than release) But anyways, why sell them when it kind of says “we’re not that interesting so here’s another game you are dying to try and you can get into early by buying ours”? Still I will prolly be checking out Champions after it launches.. and by after I mean a month or so after so they have time to fix whatever they really need to fix (i.e. servers, etc..) I’m not expecting a perfect launch.

  16. “How can you sell out of a virtual product?”

    I’m reminded of Darkfall, actually. More than one pundit suggested that they were drumming up artificial demand by limiting supply. The reason set forward was technical, in that they didn’t want their servers flooded and thereby crashed.

    Still, these guys really haven’t been handling things well at all.

    *still likes the GW “lifetime sub” model*

  17. Oh, and I offered another voice of support over at Tipa’s place. Changing the business model most definitely changes how you approach a game. (And losing access to a lifetime sub option is indeed changing the business model.) I’d guess a full third of my comments and posts out there address that in one way or another. If not, they should.

    I really wish I could hammer that point home. The business model affects game design and how players perceive, play and enjoy your game. (Such is the root of why I detest the sub model, as it happens.) Yoinking the lifetime sub option changes the rules, and not for the better, methinketh. (And that’s on top of the whole “um, what we meant was…” nonsense.)

  18. Thanks Tesh. You can’t begin to know how much that means to me. Your voice of support got me through the day.

  19. I’m curious to see how people who reacted strongly to the “end” of the lifetime and discounted six-month subs are taking the reinstatement of the offer. Cryptic said Wednesday that it was reopening up the offers until midnight Aug. 31.

    It’s the right thing to do, and it’s what many people have called for. But is it enough to assuage the bad feelings?

    In a way, I feel kind of bad for Cryptic, as it bore the brunt of the blame and outrage when the decision probably had nothing to do with them, as it doesn’t even publish the game and set the pricing.

  20. @Ragorna — Thank you *SO MUCH* for pointing this out. You can bet I wasted no time in ordering my Lifetime Sub!

    @Gwen — We’ll see how people react, I guess. I said if they recanted, I’d forgive and forget, and that’s what I’m doing. We’ll see what happens on a wider scale.

  21. Since Syp /AFK’d this post, I just want to say more explicitly, that once Cryptic reinstated the special offers, I purchased a Lifetime Membership. I’m in Early Start and so far I’m having a blast.

    I’ve made a new section of Dragonchasers for me to record the goofy stories I make up to explain where my Champions came from:

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