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Whillwynn
12.23.2012 , 12:06 AM | #31
Feedback on the Cartel Market offerings? Sure:

I understand that the reason you put all the most coveted items in gambling boxes is to squeeze every penny out of us that you possibly can... but it looks desperate and low of you. Since I realize that you'll never drop the gambling boxes because some customers are probably spending every penny of disposable income on them, I offer suggestions to make the system something that benefits you, but might alleviate the feeling of gouging that your Cartel Market currently exudes:

1. Offer the "old" Cartel Pack's offerings for individual purchase when you introduce a new Cartel Pack. It is clear that you seek to monetize the new hotness. But surely you realize that there is a sizable chunk of us that would gladly pay a reasonable fee (read: not $15 for one item) on top of our subscription from time to time to obtain specific items that are currently only available through a Cartel Pack. Your current system drives people like us to the GTN, which can be frustrating at the best of times because obtaining items from a store shouldn't involve tons of credit grinding unless one is unwilling to pay. Your current system drives us to the GTN because we're unable to pay for what we want to buy. That's a failure on your part, in my opinion.

I see one easy solution to keep Cartel Packs relevant if you made this change: make the direct-buy versions bound (read: can't convert them to credits or mail them to alts, which makes Cartel Packs appealing since repeats and undesirables can be sold or mailed to alts). As it stands, you're undermining your own store by driving customers to the GTN if they know what they're after. Your current scheme only encourages "whales" (compulsive buyers or people with tons of disposable income) and grinders to try for these items, since the "middle man" finds the prices on the GTN absurdly high.

2. Balance maximizing profits with offering value for purchases. I cannot scientifically prove anything, but I suspect that if you polled your playerbase at large, more than a few of your customers would consider the current implementation of the Cartel Market a shameless money grab with very poor tangible offerings. Most items I see are "padded" with potentially undesirable extras to increase the purchase price (sets of shells stuffed with epic level 30 and 43 mods that are largely useless, along with full sets of unmodded shells that only have one original piece in them -- like the Valiant set introduced very recently, just to name two examples).

While the store should provide you with a profit margin, the goal should be to provide value and desirable items to show good faith to the customer. Currently, it feels like your intent is anything but. Almost every addition to the Market feels like a minimal-effort attempt bundled in the most anti-economic-for-the-customer way to push them to purchase Cartel Coins. And while this may be the REAL intent, the common expectation is that you court customers to maximize long-term profit... as it stands, you might manage to exploit the current scheme a while before people get sick of it and stop participating.

3. Leave some item categories out of Cartel Packs entirely. Some things, such as emotes, have the potential to sell really well if you market them separately, and offer them at a reasonable price. I feel you're trying to hit the three-pointers, and underestimating the value of lay-ups, to use a basketball analogy. Both are important components for a well-rounded game, but focusing exclusively on one or the other will limit your possibilities.

Perhaps this last bit I am about to add will be what trolls and the blindly devoted quote when they respond to this post, but I feel it might be of value to you given that, despite all my displeasure with the current affairs, I am a huge Star Wars fan and started playing MMOs after playing (and loving) KotOR:

The introduction of F2P could have been a very positive thing for this game -- and your PR folks have and will continue to spin it as being an overwhelming positive. But as someone that should have been a shoe-in for a long-term customer for your product, I have found myself looking at other MMOs whose development teams have shown better judgment in case this game continues to go the way it has. For the time being, I remain subscribed... I think it's a tad early to call the Cartel Market and this game a complete disaster, but even someone as biased in favor of this game and developer as me cannot help but think that your poor decision-making is going to drive what could have been one of the financial success stories of the decade into the ground.

I urge you to take a long, hard look at your current offering, and at the decisions you have made that brought you to this point. Even if one were to grant you the assertion that you've not driven customers away in droves by your decisions or lack thereof, a product such as yours, with its pedigree, IP and foundation should be performing far, far better than it is. It should have been able to stand up on its own two feet with subscriptions alone. As that's water under the bridge, I think that the least you owe your remaining and future playerbase is some honest self-evaluation and a F2P offering that shows you care about your customers and not just their wallets.

I haven't posted much since you rebooted the forums prior to launch, but I felt this needed to be said. I hope you're actually listening, as you've said you are.
"People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it." - Edith Schaeffer