Daily Archives: July 3, 2012

SOE Eschews the Middle Tier with Vanguard Free to Play Pricing

SOE announced back in March that Vanguard, the fantasy MMO step-child in their lineup, would be going free to play this summer.

Having been around the block with SOE titles moving from subscription to F2P at least twice before, first with EverQuest II and then EverQuest, it was probably easy enough to predict what was going to come to pass.

Both of those games ended up with a three tier subscription plan. (Yes, EverQuest II Extended had FOUR tiers, but that was clearly an experiment.)

At the bottom was “free,” which required no money changing hands.  All you had to do was create an SOE Station account, download the client, and you were set to log in and go.  Of course, there were some pretty severe restrictions on just what you could do with a free account.  These were put in place both to encourage you to upgrade and to keep abuse from gold sellers and the like to a minimum.

At the top end there was the “Gold” subscription, which was essentially the old monthly subscription plan in a new wrapper.  You could continue to give SOE $15 a month and get access to what you had before the transition.

And in the middle was the “Silver” tier where, for a fee of 500 Station Cash (which could range in value from $5.00 to 80 cents depending on various sales and incentives), some of the restrictions placed on “free” accounts were relaxed.  You got a couple more character slots, the ability to have more cash per character level, and no restrictions on chat channels.

This “Silver” tier made a lot of sense to me.  For an up front, one time payment, you were able to still dispense with the monthly fee, but got some benefits by essentially buying into the system.  Doing so probably meant you were unlikely to be a gold seller or other nefarious character likely to commit acts that might get you banned.  You had invested.

So I was somewhat surprised to see the Vanguard subscription matrix that was released today, as that “Silver” tier appears to be missing.

The two tiers of Vanguard

There is a FAQ up about the transition to F2P, which this time appears to cover most of the pertinent questions, but which makes no mention of the lack of a middle tier.

I wonder if that “Silver” level has proven ineffective in keeping the riff-raff under wraps, or if it ended up being too appealing to players, thus siphoning off potential dollars from players who might otherwise opt for a monthly subscription.

And this still leaves me wondering about PlanetSide? It will soon become SOE’s sole subscription-only title.

Reusing Images is “Green,” Right?

Smed says PlanetSide won’t be going away when PlanetSide 2 shows up.

When will it go free to play?

Getting to the War in Delve – First Attempt

As I noted in my June in Review post, things had been quiet in the part of null sec where I generally live.  I wrote that we needed a war and that the Goons tended to go to war in the summer, so maybe we would get something to do soon.

And my wish was granted even before that post went up.

In the most recent State of the Goonion, which was held hours before my speculation was even posted (automatically, because I was away), it was announced that the CFC was going to war in Delve.

(Another link to DOTLAN EVE Maps, about which there is a nice community post up from CCP, if you want to know more about it.  Oh, and there is also a video announcing the war in Delve.)

So I came back from vacation to find war was declared, a lot of people already redeployed to Delve, and battles already under way.

This will be the fifth war in Delve for the Goons, who I gather have now taken to seeing the region as a place to take their summer vacation.  They know it well.

I, on the other hand, have never been and had to get their.  Regular convoys of ships seemed to have ceased.  I was left with some directions and a note on the fridge saying, “make sure you turn off all the lights, see you in Delve!”

Delve is kind of far away, in EVE terms, from my usual home up in Deklein. (Map from the usual source.)

Getting to All The Fun

Just putting in our staging system in as the destination put the route as 61 jumps from VFK-IV.  Jump bridges had been set up along the way to cut that number down by a fair margin, but it is still a ways to go.  And, of course, the route was all through null sec, so danger lurks at every gate.

Still, fun beckoned, fleet ops were being announced regularly, and I wanted to go.  So I decided to risk it and run the pipe down to Delve on my own.  So I grabbed one of my fleet fit Drakes and a copy of the route and headed out.

And I made it about a third of the way there.

As seems to be usual for null sec, a few systems had people in them, but most along the way were empty or had one or two other players.  And things went smoothly until I hit 6-4V20.

There were five hostiles in the system when I landed at the jump gate.  I had the intel channel up, but the system had not been mentioned by anybody up to that point.  Nobody was in sight, but they might have been cloaked, as I was, around the gate.

At that point I had three choices, go forward, go back, or go hide.  Going forward meant warping to the jump bridge in the system and heading to the next destination.  Going back meant turning on the microwarp drive and trying to cover the 15km to the gate before I got webbed, jumping out, and then working on where to go next quickly if they followed me.  And hiding meant warping to some other point in the system, a belt, a planet, or a moon.

I probably should have tried hiding.  There was an off chance I might have been able to work my way around, staying ahead of the hostiles, and then hit the jump bridge.

But I happened to come through the jump gate aligned almost right for the warp to the jump bridge, so I had a chance of at least warping off successfully.  With a Drake, aligning to warp can take time, enough time that you can get warp scrambled and held before you can get away.  So I went for the jump bridge.

I uncloaked, aligned very quickly, and warped off.  As I did so, the hostiles all broke cloak as well.  They did not get me at the gate.  But they did not need to.  They knew where I was headed.

Just short of the POS and jump bridge was a drag bubble they left on the path.  I hit that, dropped out of warp and was hanging there in space, trying to align for another point in the system when they showed up.  I was webbed and scrambled pretty quickly.  I had hardeners on and locked up and fired away at the ship that was keeping me from warping, but it was a futile effort and I knew it.

It actually took longer than I thought it would for them to take down my ship, but it blew up all the same.  Here is the kill mail.

My Drake goes “Boom”

In that picture you can see the drag bubble, the closer sphere, and the POS shield in the background.

And I was quickly podded after that, which at least saved me the trip back.  At least I was in a no-implant clone.  Though to add insult to injury, I realized that I had grabbed one of the Drakes I had not bothered to insure, so my payout was the minimum, 17 million ISK.  And there is no alliance reimbursement for fools like me who get caught trying to travel alone.  Not that the ISK is a big deal… though I am glad I wasn’t flying a fleet fit Tengu, which costs about 8x… but it does make one feel stupid.

And I wasn’t the only one to get picked off there on the way to Delve.

So I ended up back in Deklein in a new clone.  I will have to wait until more people are traveling to Delve to make another attempt to get to the war.