Home > City of Heroes > The City wants your money

The City wants your money

July 31, 2008

It is now possible to buy respec:s for real money in City of Heroes/Villains.

I think it was last year that City of Heroes/Villains added the option to buy a server transfer or a rename of an existing character. A couple of other MMORPGs already had that option. While one can argue about the size of the fee, it seems fair to have some cost associated with it to avoid abuse and it does not affect gameplay.

Not long ago NCSoft added the option to buy more character slots – this means more storage used in some databases, which will have some cost for the company – again ok to get some fee for it, leaving the exact size of the fee as a separate topic.

NCSoft has also tried to introduced in-game ads into the game. As far as I know I do not think they have been very successful in attacting advertisers there, but I may be wrong. No fee and you do not have to see the ads unless you want to.

Now they have introduced a new service with a fee, and this does affect gameplay – a respec option that can be bought. A respec is the option to reselect which powers to use and how enhancements slots are allocated for these powers. Originally in game one had to complete a respec trial, a set of missions to be able to get the option to respec. When they introduced veteran rewards a couple of the rewards include a free respec also.

The veteran rewards have most likely reduced the number of people that would want to do the trial missions, which makes it more difficult for those that do not have any veteran reward respecs to actually to the trials and get the respec.  I certainly think that the way the respec trials are done have some room for improvement. But I do not think that the company should take advantage of a design flaw like this to get more money from their customers. Fix the flaw instead.

In this case I think NCSoft is going in the wrong direction with monetizing the game. What is next? Buy double/increased xp ? Rare recipes?

But it is the same company that introduced the Bling Gnome in Dungeon Runners. Although in that case it is free to play as default and you have to pay for a number of improvements; but in essence the gnome is also taking advantage of a design flaw in my opinion.

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Categories: City of Heroes
  1. July 31, 2008 at 19:22

    I think it is poor show for a game to charge for something like a respec. Respecs are almost always needed because the game clouds how a class/ability will perform in the future when a player first starts.

    It should be an option, for free, doable at any time, for any MMO.

  2. July 31, 2008 at 21:19

    “In this case I think NCSoft is going in the wrong direction with monetizing the game. What is next? Buy double/increased xp ? Rare recipes?”

    This is EXACTLY where NCSoft is headed. They’re not even being shy about it anymore.

    It’s slowly turning into a micro-transaction mess and I’m very disappointed with the path they’re taking.

  3. Sok
    July 31, 2008 at 21:37

    @Heartless: I’m twitchy about on-demand respecs. I think people should be able to get out of bad builds or builds they’re bored with, but I think people should have to live with the informed choices they make, at least for a while. Bobbling between, oh, Flight and Teleportation based solely on what’s advantageous at the moment seems a bit cheap to me.

    On the other hand, I’m with Jason on this; there’s a trend here towards microtransactions I’m not happy about. Thus far the purchasable items aren’t (to my mind) game-breaking individually, but I dislike the idea that more real-life cash = a better gameplay experience.

  4. August 1, 2008 at 15:28

    Weren’t they asking for players to voluntarily turn on in-game ads not so long ago? What happened with that?

    I wonder if more microtransactions might conversely lead to a Free-To-Play type of basic CoX access? I could get behind that, as although enjoying it, it probably is a sometimes game for me, rather than something I could obsess about enough to justify a subscription to myself.

    And I think respecs should be easily available, but perhaps be somewhat non-trivial to use; time-based cooldowns maybe; a week, two weeks, something like that. A bit like the way they offer the mission auto-completes, which was a neat idea.

  5. sente
    August 1, 2008 at 17:42

    There is a “hide in-game ads” option, which is disabled by default. So unless you change it you should see ads, if there are any. Which is an opt-out and not an opt-in as they said here.

    I cannot recall seeing any real ads in the game so far and I remember seeing a note that they had not been successful in attracting advertisers for the European servers at least.

    I think a base free-to-play model or an hourly rate model would be nice for the game, for all the sometimes players, which I think there are a substantial amount of. If NCSoft intends to go in that direction and do changes to that effect I hope they will be upfront with it. While it may not have NGE proportions I think they might unsettle some people.

    I definitely agree with respec:s being more accessible, but with some cooldown or restriction. Let people experiment, they can still not change their powersets.
    And perhaps consider actually switching a powerset as a “rare respec” option.

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