The Burning Lands Expansion Launched Just After Layoffs at Daybreak

We learned a little over a month ago that The Burning Lands, the 25th EverQuest expansion, was slated to go live today.  And so it has.  We knew it was coming, but we were finally getting some detailed information.  Also, pre-orders were open.  You could start giving Daybreak your money.

Does this feel a little “Disney” to you?

The high level points of the expansion seemed to be about on par with what we have come to expect annually from the Norrath team.  Some new zones around a hub, new raids, new quests, new abilities, and a new mechanic.

  • Luck Stat – A brand new stat that influences just how lucky you are! This stat will randomly increase the amount of gold in your split, the amount of critical damage you do, your chance to succeed at a trade-skill combine, and much more!
  • 6 Expansion Zones – You’ll adventure throughout the grand and fantastic environments and architecture of the Planes of Fire, Air, and Smoke!
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections

There is nothing on that list that is going to drag anybody new into the game, but that was to be expected.  MMORPGs beyond a certain age become more about tending to the installed base than trying to grab new players.  Anybody proposing otherwise is fighting history and wasting money.  Once you’ve launched and gone free to play there isn’t anything left to attract new players in anything like the quantity needed to support any radical change.

So a normal autumnal expansion release for EverQuest.  Maybe a couple weeks later than we might have expected… November is more the norm… but close enough.  All seems normal in Norrath.

Or would seem normal if Daybreak hadn’t just laid off a big chunk of their staff on Friday.

Daybreak, not being a public company, doesn’t have to tell us about layoffs.  But in the age of social media, word of layoffs get out quickly and this round was no exception, with John Smedley echoing what he had heard on Twitter Friday morning.

Once the press had been alerted Daybreak issued an anodyne statement about optimization while refusing to mention any details.

We are optimizing our structure to ensure we best position ourselves for continued success in the years to come. This effort has required us to make some changes within the organization and we are doing everything we can to support those impacted in this difficult time. As we look to improve efficiencies and realign resources, we remain focused on supporting our existing games and development of our future titles.

That statement is an example of one trying to have ones cake and eat it too.  Reports say that between 60 and 70 people, or roughly one third of Daybreak’s staff, was given their notice on Friday.  When you are down by a third it will be difficult to both support existing games and develop new titles.

Of course, what even are the existing Daybreak titles at this point?  EverQuest and EverQuest II,  holding up the fantasy end of the catalog, were merged into a single shared group some time back.  DC Universe Online is the superhero game and reportedly the most consistent revenue generator, the PlayStation 4 version being the breadwinner there.  And then there is PlanetSide 2, which has been problematic in the past, though it is still getting updates.

H1Z1 Battle Royale went to NantG Mobile as part of the joint venture between NantWorks and Daybreak announced back in September.  NantWorks had the money and Daybreak had the IP I guess, though Daybreak apparently held on to the PlayStation 4 version of H1Z1.  So if there was anybody left working on H1Z1 or the esports league, they were probably seen as expendable.

Word is that the layoffs were concentrated in the Daybreak Austin office and were related to a new project being developed there around a “top IP.”  Daybreak said that the Austin office was not being closed, but I guess that they are no longer working on that “top IP” if they’ve been mostly let go.

People working on the new thing are gone and people working on the old stuff were already spread a bit thin.  Where does that leave Daybreak.

Back in May there was a post on Reddit alleged to be by a former Daybreak employee about plans for the company.  I summed that up in a post here, and a good thing too as it was removed from Reddit by the author not too long later.

The removal led to it being declared a fake, but some key details certainly ended up coming to pass.

Sure, Just Survive sunsetting was hardly a reach.  Even I predicted that back in January.  But the whole Z1 Battle Royale was alluded to, something we didn’t end up hearing about until September.  And the trajectory for PlanetSide 2 seems to line up.

So, in looking at the rest of that post, you have to ask if we are looking at the end game for EverQuest and EverQuest II, if Daybreak is holding out for one last anniversary update for each of them (they turn 20 and 15 respectively next year) before moving on to the alleged EverQuest 3 and its plan for PvP focus anchored on a fantasy battle royale feature.

If that is the case, my prediction would be to prepare for disaster and a belated attempt to return to catering to the installed base once EverQuest 3 flops, because PvP has never been much beyond a distraction in Norrath.

But, the word has come out that we might be hearing about something new from Daybreak on Thursday.  Bets on what it will be?  PlanetSide 3?  EverQuest 3 PvP?  PlanetSide Mobile?  EverQuest Mobile?  What else have they got to work with?

Sources:

The December Update for EVE Online brings War Dec Changes, New Ships, and the Start of the Holiday Event

It is time for the December update for EVE Online.  One of the key things up front for this update are changes to the War Dec system.  CCP put out a dev blog on these initial changes, but the key is eligibility.  As was discussed previously, this change will not allow players to war dec a corporation unless it owns a structure.  The following structures count:

  • All Upwell Structures (including Upwell FLEX structures)
  • Starbase Control Towers
  • Player-owned Customs Offices
  • Sovereignty Structures (Infrastructure Hubs and Territorial Control Units)

If your corp does not own one of those structures then you should be immune to war declarations.

And, to close a glaring loophole, the second change is to add a setting to disallow structure transfers.  At least CCP could foresee that war dec corps would seek to bypass the structure rule by simply transferring a structure to their prospective victim and then declare war.  There is now a setting in the corporation details tab that allows automatic rejection of structure transfers, and the default setting for that will be true.

That is expected to be the first round of changed for war decs as CCP tries to figure out how to deal with this issue.

Also coming with the December update are two new Triglavian ships, the Rodiva and the Zarmazd.  These are the previously mentioned Triglavian logi cruisers.

Logi cruiser hull model

Unlike other Triglavian ships, this one comes as both tech I and tech II, aligning to the logi cruisers from the empires.  Only the blueprint for the Rodiva will drop and you must go through and do invention on the copy to get a Zarmazd blueprint.

There are also armor rep blueprints going in to match the two new ships, available as Abyssal drops.

The niche for these new logi ships is that their reps get stronger the longer they stay on their target.

Also coming to Abyssal space is a set period of invulnerability when transitioning through Abyssal gates.

The update also introduces the 2018 holiday even for EVE Online.

Thirteen Days Only

Called the Thirteen Days of EVE, you need to log your account in daily to claim prizes… like an advent calendar… but you have 17 days, so you could miss a couple days and still get all the presents.  The prizes include some new things EVE, including a standings booster, new Candy Chromatic SKINs, straight up skill points, and, for Omegas only, a booster with three uses that will allow the pilot to use skill injectors without the diminishing returns penalty.  That means people like me, with over 80 million SP on a character, could get the full 500K of skill points from an injector rather than the 150K one gets normally in that situation.

A sample of the rewards

That last item requires you to log in for the full thirteen days.  But that is easy enough and there is no reason not too.  Details are available at the event site.

The update also lays down the groundwork for the next in-game event, Operation Permafrost.

Coming soon

As usual, the event will come to you via The Agency and will require you to accumulate points for rewards.  At EVE Vegas is was mentioned that this event will bring your ship down into the atmosphere of a planet, giving the art team at CCP a chance to show off some more fancy new environments.  Details are currently up on the live event page.

Also on the graphics front, CCP has added atmospheric auroras to planets.  They only show up at random times though, so you have to be there at the right moment to catch them.

A Megathron spotting an aurora

Another possible background for screen shots.

A lot of the rest is just the usual tweaks and minor fixes that accompany any update for the game.  However, there is one innocuous one in the mix that I want to call out.  This one:

Adjustments have been made to the respawn rates of certain nullsec anomalies. These adjustments are part of a gradual ongoing process that will see further tweaks for this type of content.

As rumors have it, the “certain nullsec anomalies” are havens and that this is a direct poke at titan ratting.  Yes, titan ratting is a thing.  The alleged reason is that at the current respawn rate a titan can can use its boson doomsday, clear a haven, and another one will have spawned by the time the titan has recovered and is ready to keep rolling.  We will see if there is a corresponding dip in the NPC bounties with the coming of the December MER.

So that is it.  CCP has already announced that the update has been deployed successfully.  Information about it is available via the patch notes and the updates page.

Tinnudir and Annuminas

Tinnudir is the hub of Evendim, the central point from which most of the tale of the zone is told.  Oatbarton, Dwaling, and High King’s Crossing lead you into the Evendim, but Tinnudir is where you are set up for the long haul.

Annuminas feels legendary

Tinnudir isn’t much of a place even.  It lacks the pastoral charm of Oatbarton and the overwrought epic nature of High King’s Crossing.  Esteldin is sprawling compared to it, Ost Guruth feels like a fort when set against it.  Tinnudir is barely a place at all, some minor wreckage in a zone filled with the epic structures of the kingdom of Arnor.  It is just so much dirt and a few broken walls.

Tinnudir at night

It has all the requisite NPCs you need to hand, a task board if you feel you need to work on your standings (you won’t), a stable, a dock, and the usual crafting stations and skirmish camp off on the periphery.  While you’ll speak to many NPCs about quests, Orchalwe… whom I call “Ollie” in my head… is the main focus.  He sends you thither and yon around the zone.

Evendim as a zone

If you do every quest… and for maybe the first time ever I gritted my teeth, determined to do every last quest I could… you will pay a visit to nearly every acre, trod on every island, go up on  every hill and down into every dale before you’re done.

In the past I have always done everything to the east of Tinnudir, and all the islands, but I am generally getting so far ahead of the leveling curve by doing that that I tend to skip the Eavespires at the north end of the lake and the swathe of quests that lead down the western side to where the wood-trolls live.

This time I did the whole thing, even stopping at the wood-trolls long enough to make some headway on one of the dwarf racial deeds.

Advancing enmity of the trolls

I spent a few nights working my way around the zone, playing for an hour or two tops on any given night.

I even made it over to the blue lady and her corner of the zone.

Show respects

She is a bit out of the way and doing her quests require some swimming, something that will be familiar to anybody who did the zone in the early days before boat travel was added.

The number of places you are sent off to visit and the plethora of quests that await you make it feel like you’ll be there for a long, long time.  But, in the end, you don’t really travel that far… except to go to and fro with Gwindeth… and the quests go by quickly enough.

Soon enough I was on the boat to Men Erain, the way of the kings, where the tombs of the kings of Arnor lay.  Arriving there is the sign that the end phase of the zone is nearly at hand.  There is a series of quests to run there that send you in and around the tombs as well as way up into the hills behind, far enough that you can look over the peaks and see the bridge and the way back to Oatbarton.  Meanwhile you’re practically hanging over Annuminas, slaying the inevitable tomb robbers.

Fighting on a slope

At one of the peaks your quest objective is simply to use the /look emote to see what you can see about the state of the tomb robber infestation.

Looking out and reporting

But even that long trek takes less time than you think it will.  And soon you’re done with Men Erain and are back at Tinnudir speaking to Orchalwe again.  But this time he isn’t going to simply send you off on another task.  This time you’re to meet up with him in Annuminas, the final area of the zone.

Annuminas Map

Annuminas was the capital of Arnor, and while it lays in ruin it is still an amazing site.  In a way it is crazy that Turbine spent the time to create this area, something that is barely a footnote in the books most of us have read.  But it is really the highlight of the zone, the payoff for tracking about after the various and sundry foes.  Here the forces of Angmar congregate.

I spent a mithril coin to take a swift travel trip to the camp of the Wardens of Annuminas within the city just to avoid picking up too much along the way.  The camp is spare, though still arguably nicer than Tinnudir.

The Wardens camp in Annuminas

It doesn’t have all the amenities, but there is a task board and vendors and a few quest givers standing about the place.  But you really only need to speak with Orchalwe.  Once you start with him he joins you as an ally in your exploration of the old capital city.

Standing with Orchalwe

WoW has had quest givers like this, ones that accompany you along the way, letting you turn in quests and pick up new ones as you go.  I’m not sure who had the idea first.  But I haven’t had a quest giver quite like Orchalwe anywhere else.

In Annuminas you have a few larger scale quests and Orchalwe has some specific tasks for you to open with.  But the real adventure is the exploration of the city as, in each district or area Orchalwe will pop a quest for you.  But you only get the quests if you get to the right places.  So I always make an effort to get into every nook and cranny.

Some areas of the zone are fairly challenging, featuring groups of signature mobs.  Orchalwe assists you, and throws some heals in battle that can keep you going, but I rolled in there at level 38 which is a bit behind the curve, so there were some tight fights.

Orchalwe providing vital intel

However, I was fairly lucky during my explorations.  While by this point I was well behind the main pack of players, many of whom were already lingering about at level 50, I still managed to run into fellow travelers along the way at key points, forming ad hoc fellowships of need in order to tackle challenging objectives.  A level 45 bard showed up to assist me with the one small fellowship quest I needed to tackle.

I actually reached the point where Orchalwe was done.  I had achieved his over-arching objective and could have dismissed him and headed back to the camp.  But I knew from memory that I still had four or five of his location based quests left to do, so I dragged him along as I sought them out.

I didn’t really need those quests.  I had long since finished the final quest count deed and I had hit the kinship level of faction with the Wardens of Annuminas Men Erain.  I even had the advanced slayer deed for invaders from Angmar done.  But I really wanted to get in and see and do every last quest.  Given how long it had been since I had run through the zone last and the small likelihood that I was going to be doing it in this depth again anytime soon, I felt I had best treat this like it might be my last visit.  You never know what the future might bring.

And when I the control points had all been take and I finally got to that last boss on Tyl Annun and defeated him, I dismissed Orchalwe and made my way back to the camp, done with Annumiunas in just an evenings play.

From there Orchalwe says to meet him back in Tinnudir, which he pretty much has to say since he’s going to be there when you get back anyway.  From there it was a final quest turn in with him.  Then I hit the faction vendor to make sure and pick up the mount from them.

Then my quest log had tasks pointing me at Rivendell and the Trollshaws.  I was still shy of 40, which you need in order to take the stable mount to Rivendell, so I went to the Trollshaws.  I left behind me quite a few deeds left undone.  The numbers needed for the slayer deeds start to add up, sitting at 270 total kills needed for some.  I had no problem hitting that number with the ubiquitous tomb robbers and the invaders from Angmar, but others I let be.  I got all the titles and basic deeds, but the advanced deeds I’ll leave for another time.

And so it was off to the Trollshaws, a zone that is always a bit problematic for me, to get level 40 and continue the epic story line.

Waiting for a Hole

We had been warned that something might be coming up.  We had been given hints about when it might be and had been asked to have doctrine ships ready to go in 1DQ1-A.

Doctrine ships were no problem for me.  I had left them all in the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A when we returned from the war up north in the big move op.  So I figured we were ready to go.

Finally, yesterday, the ping came.  Asher was going to take us out for some sort of deployment again.  People logged in, got in fleet, and waited.  I got into my Guardian, put on the Emergency Response SKIN, and sat on the undock ready to go.

Guardian waiting

And there I waited for a while.  Asher told us where we were going.  There was an operation afoot to kill the Hard Knocks Keepstar in wormhole space.  There info about that over on Reddit as well as an update this morning over at INN.  We were waiting for a wormhole that would get us there.  In the meantime we were advised to pack for a week’s stay without any resupply and likelihood of living in space the whole time.

I docked back up.

I had not stocked up on enough supplies for that sort of expedition.  So, as we waited, I grabbed a mobile depot, a cloak, enough drugs for four long battles, replacement drones, a couple of sentry drones in case we shot a POS so I could whore on the kill, the extra modules we are supposed to carry but which I tend to leave in the station because we never swap them out.

I also got out my alt with the perfect scanning skills and put him in his Astero.  I was going to drag him along to get myself out of the wormhole should I get left behind.  I loaded up the Astero with extra probes, a back up mobile depot, extra drones, extra drugs, and a few more items.  If there was room in the fleet he was coming with us.

There were discussions going on as to how much to bring with us and what else we might need.

But eventually we went back to waiting.  The hole that we had logged in for hadn’t been right, so we were waiting for the next one.  Comms quieted down.  Asher, with not much else going on, went to appear on the Meta Show.  I pulled up the iPad and watched U.S.S Callister episode of Black Mirror.  I also undocked my alt and zipped around the system for a bit to see the new jump gate.  I didn’t really have to go far to see that.

The jump gate right off the Keepstar

As I idled on tether at the Keepstar I noticed an orange glow on one of the uprights that could only be an explosion.  I looked up in time to see a Rorqual coming apart.  A neutral had jumped to the cyno beacon and had been bubbled and blapped.

I didn’t quite get the camera on the beacon in time for the excitement, but if you are sharp eyed you can see the Rorqual wreck at the top of this screen shot.

Cyno Beacons are always bait

Before the Meta Show ended, while Asher was still on, a whole became available.  He pinged us to be ready go and had us free burn into Fountain.  There we grouped up and took our first ride on one of the new jump gates.  My first ride at least.

Jump Gate Ready

I had already setup the auto-pay on Wilhelm, but my alt wasn’t set yet and I have to approve a payment for 2,900 ISK in fuel to jump his Astero through.

From there we had another burn, though we traveled as a group this time.  Well, some of us did.  The more eager took the destination as a free burn.  Those of us more familiar with Asher’s style knew that if he didn’t say to free burn we would be going together and everybody should just jump through every gate and then align to the next one in order to be fleet warped.

Landing on another gate

Eventually we arrived at our hole.  The fleet gathered together so we could go through as a group.

Waiting for the word to go

When we all seemed to have arrived, Asher sent us through.  We were in Thera.

Once there we took the long warp to another hole, only to find somebody had been left behind.  DBRB went back to be a warp in for him.  One the lost sheep was collected, it was through the hole.

Only it collapsed before everybody got through.  A chunk of the fleet had been left behind and had to eventually wind their way back to wait for another fleet.  Apparently the Initiative had just pushed a fleet through that hole, so it wasn’t as fresh as we had been led to believe when we set out.

Those of us in the new hole were scattered about the system, the effects of a hole collapse.  I seemed to be inside of the sun.  Asher warped some people to our next hole, but that only caught some of the fleet so we had to wait a bit to collect.  Then we were off again, through nearly half a dozen more holes until we arrived in J115405 and saw the Hard Knocks Keepstar.

The Hard Knocks Keepstar in J115405

The armor timer was already running, the shields having been hit already.  The armor timer was set for late USTZ, so it seemed likely that I would be able to get online to see the fights that developed.

And that was really only the first Keepstar.  They have two together on the same grid, along with an array of other smaller structures.

The second Keepstar across from the first with a Fortizar in the middle

The first Keepstar was named Fort Knocks, while the second was Unassailable Wealth.  We shall see about that.  But there is a lot of fighting to be done here.

In addition to the Hard Knocks structures, somebody on our side had gone in and dropped over two dozen Raitarus in the hole in order to get us some place to tether and dock up.  I am sure most of those will get destroyed, but only a couple need to survive to make our foothold more tenable.

On arriving there wasn’t much else to do.  We scattered about the system, made safe spots, cloaked up if we were going to hang around or safe logged if we were not.

The only thing we’ve done so far is help the Initiative guard a hole into the system to keep Hard Knocks from getting anything in.  That mostly meant anchoring on Zed Starshine for a while and orbiting the hole, with the occasional trademark Zed Crazy Ivan turn to scatter us about and let the slower ships catch up.

Following Zen

Anyway, it is good to have a deployment of some sort going on.  I had been fairly dormant in null sec since returning from the war.  We shall see if more Keepstar kills result.  You can keep an eye on the kill board for the hole over at zKill to see what is dying.  Some POS towers are already down.

How Various Studios Deal with Problems

I’m not sure where this post started, but it assembled itself at one point a few months back and then sat in my drafts folder.   I looked at it again earlier this week, added the entry for Activision, and scheduled it for release it into the wild today.

Electronic Arts

There is no problem, the customers like it just fine.  Look at how much money we made initially.

*way, way too long later*

Okay, now that you’ve set the building on fire, sales have tanked, our company is being lambasted in the general press, and the government is saying that they may investigate us, perhaps we can look into finding some sort of solution.  But we admit no wrong doing.

Blizzard

There is no problem, things are just fine the way they are.  No, you don’t want the changes you’re yelling about.  We designed this, we know it is good.  Really, we know better.

*endless forum threads and editorials later*

Fine, have it your way, we’ll give you your feature.  But we’re going to delay it and we’ll make you work for it.  Also, we’ll make sure it doesn’t work all the time.

Activision

Yes, our numbers totally depend on an annual Call of Duty release, but we can smooth out that cycle!

*Gets on phone to Irvine*

Blizzard, stop worrying about quality and start making mobile games!  Also, put Call of Duty on your launcher!

King

We can’t live on Candy Crush Saga forever…

*releases half a dozen mobile games that go nowhere*

Crap, get some more levels out for Candy Crush Saga!

Sony Online Entertainment

We’re proposing to break the game and ruin all your fun and maybe sell your offspring to another company.  We talked about it in a conference room for a few days, so we’re pretty sure this is the right decision.  It was really, really convincing on the white board.  We didn’t run it by anybody, we just came straight from the meeting where it was decided and announced it.  So all good.

*one small riot later*

Wait, you don’t want any of that?  How strange.  Okay, we won’t do it then.

Daybreak

*sound of crickets*

Okay, we’re shutting this down and laying some people off, go away!

*sound of crickets*

CCP

We have listened to your feed back and determined that this upcoming new feature is not exploitable.

*update goes live*

Crap, you exploited it anyway… and in so many ways…  you are horrible, horrible people… let me get the band-aids.

Valve

Yes, we hear you.  We know we have a problem and we have a policy that will totally fix it.

*two beats too many*

Oh, and we might need to build something to support that policy.  But we’ll get to that later.  Also, the policy has a glaring loophole and we aren’t really following it.  Hey, is it time for another sale already?

Rockstar Games

Well, we released GTA V, what should we work on next?

*five years go by*

Cowboys again?

Riot

We are hardcore gamers, but we’re against toxicity and are masters at playing gay chicken.  Wait, no, scratch that last part.

*stands in front of “No Gurls” sign*

Equal opportunity.  Yeah.

*handed pink slip*

#@%&*!!!

The $200 LOTRO Legacy Edition

The team at SSG are looking for a Christmas bonus I guess.  Yesterday I posted about the Dungeons & Dragons Online 2 Year Season Pass limited offer and before that post could even go live SSG was out with a LOTRO version of the plan.

Available for a limited time

The LOTRO version, called the LOTRO Legacy Bundle, is different at least.  To start with, it costs $100 less and it isn’t limited to 1,000 units.

The deal is sort of the same as the DDO version, being wrapped up in a stretch of VIP game time.  However, the LOTRO deal is only for a year, and the price baseline for a year of LOTRO VIP is $99.99.

In the case of LOTRO, it gets you all of the quest packs, raids, and skirmishes that come with the expansions to the game… essentially all of the content of each expansion.

With that, $200 isn’t a horrible price point.  Knock off the price for a year of VIP and you only have to make up $100 in order to break even.

To go and buy the base package for all of the expansions today it would cost you $149.96.  The prices listed on the LOTRO site are:

Mordor            $39.99
Helm's Deep       $39.99
Riders of Rohan   $19.99
Rise of Isengard  $19.99
Siege of Mirkwood $9.99
Mines of Moria    $19.99

Siege of Mirkwood is expensive even at that price, but I might be a bit biased there.

In addition, you get all of the quest packs from the base game, something that comes with VIP status in any case, if I recall right.  That might be handy if you don’t want to keep paying for the VIP level access after the year runs down.

Unfortunately I cannot check the in-game store to see if the pricing is different because I own all of those, so they do not show up as options for me.

You don’t get any of the bonus items that came with any of the expansions, save for the Crystal of Remembrance that came with legendary version of Riders of Rohan.

In addition to that you get a pile of extras thrown in:

  • Premium Wallet (Account wide)
  • 250 Mithril Coins
  • Riding Skill
  • 5 vitality stat tome pickers
  • 10 skill and slayer deed boosts
  • 10 Reputation supply
  • A Fleet-Footed Goat
  • A Mount Picker (gets you 1 of 4 mounts)
  • Housing Pack

The wallet has changed enough over the years, and I got the premium one as part of some pre-order deal way back when, that I can’t tell you what that really means to an average player, even after reading the wiki.

Mithril coins are useful though, as is the riding skill.  Stat tomes boost your character, the boosters ease up a bit of grind, and a mount is always good.  The only thing I would discount would be the housing stuff, housing in LOTRO being such a waste in my opinion.

So one could argue that for your $199.99 LOTRO Legacy Bundle you end up with more than $250 worth of stuff.  Actual, tangible stuff, a VIP subscription and content.  That seems to make it a more substantial deal that the DDO Season Pass.

If, of course, you have not purchased any of these items already.  And therein lies the rub.

I actually own all of the expansions… and the base game… so of that estimate $149.96 in value, none of it applies to me.  And the fluff is not worth anywhere close to the extra $100… and I already have a lifetime subscription so even VIP access doesn’t get me anything.

But somewhere I am sure there is somebody who can commit to the game for a year… another problem for me… and who hasn’t purchased all the expansions.  If you stopped after Siege of Mirkwood you still come out a bit ahead on pricing using this to pick up all the content after that.

Anyway, as with the DDO Season Pass, this is a limited time offer, though the time limited is less constrained.  You have until the 16th to pick this up, while DDO side of the house is trying to rush you into buying by the 10th.  That, and the lack of an artificial 1,000 unit limit, makes me believe that SSG has a little more confidence in the LOTRO Legacy Bundle.

Also on about this:

The DDO Season Pass

My record with Dungeons & Dragons Online has been spotty since I saw it on the shelf at Fry’s just after it launched in 2006.  I picked up the box and there, on the side just by the system requirements, was a statement about grouping with other players being required to play the game.

The box I saw back then…

No solo.  That worked in 1999, but this was 2006 and World of Warcraft had been on the scene for long enough that the lack of solo was a deal breaker for many.  And, at the time I wasn’t in any regular group, so I was in that deal breaker boat.

I put the box back on the shelf and moved on, a preview of my ongoing attempts to play the game over the years.  And I did try.  I even made a category for it here on the blog, something reserved for games I expect to play and write about regularly.  It just never clicked with me for several reasons.  I complain about the look and UI in LOTRO at times, but DDO feels like the rough draft for even that.

So when Standing Stone Games announced the DDO Season Pass option, I could tell you right away that I was not the target audience.  Still, I want to look at it because I imagine if it sells then we will see the same thing coming up in LOTRO sooner or later, the way that free to play success with DDO led to the free to play conversion of LOTRODDO remains the trial balloon.

So what do you get for $299?

Two Years of VIP Status

In the world of DDO and LOTRO, VIP stands in for subscriber.  You get to be a subscriber and have all the benefits that gives you over a non-subscriber (as listed out here) including boosted experience progress, 500 coins for the cash shop every month, a “free” roll on a gold chest once a week (I assume that is akin to the daily and weekly hobbit gifts in LOTRO), access to more races (half-elf, half-orc, and warforged) and classes, and access to content that you would otherwise have to buy separately so long as you remain a VIP.

There are a range of prices you can pay to be a VIP, including the long time standard $14.99 a month if you want to go month-to-month.

DDO VIP Pricing Chart

So while $299 for two years is cheaper than paying $14.99 a month for two year, if you’re the sort of person who can commit to an MMORPG for two years, the 12 month subscription seems like a way to save $50 a year.

But the VIP access isn’t all you get, or we’d be done here.

Keep All the Content

The first selling point after VIP is that if you buy the season pass not only do you get access to VIP content for free, you get to keep your access to any VIP content released during the duration of the season pass, even if you go back to being a free to play chump.

That’s not nothing.  And I suspect that will be a selling point for somebody.  But my gut says that if you’re that serious about the game, then you’ll be VIP when you’re playing.  And you get all that access back if and when you go back to being a VIP.

Daily Golden Dice Rolls

I think that the golden dice rolls are the things that determine what you get in your golden chest… maybe?  SSG is unhelpfully using mixed terminology.  But if I am reading this correct, you get golden chest level stuff on a daily basis rather than a weekly basis.

Like the hobbit gifts in LOTRO, I won’t turn my nose up at something being handed to me.  But if SSG asked me to pay extra for those gifts I am not sure that I would.

Silver Dragon Armor

A cosmetic armor set.  Cosmetics are important to people, so this could be a selling point for some.

Silver Dragon Armor

Heroic Otto’s Box

You get a free one of these, which if I read this correctly, is an item in the DDO cash shop currently with a price of 4,995 points, which translates to about $50 at the default point price.  Otto’s box includes:

  • 1 Stone of Heroic Experience (2 million XP)
  • 5 Superior Experience Elixirs
  • 5 Major Slayer Count Boosts
  • 5 Huge Jewels of Fortune
  • 5 Siberys Spirit Cakes
  • 3 Greater Siberys Spirit Cakes
  • 1 Complete Reincarnation Timer Reset
  • Your choice of either a Cyan Gelatinous Cube Creature Companion or 65 Astral Shards

A few of those sound familiar as a LOTRO player, though I am a bit surprised at a straight up sale of experience.   Whatever.

The High Pressure Sale

Oh, and one key aspect of this season pass is that it is available for a limited time, December 7 though 10, and has a cap of 1,000 on the total number allowed to be sold.

That seems like a pretty transparent attempt to get people to buy in because the clock is ticking.  I would be surprised if the artificial limit of 1,000 was reached.

Is it Worth $299?

I don’t know.

I mean, for me, no it is not worth it, and not just because I don’t play the game.  I am also aware of my own gaming history and, given that, signing up for two years would be a bad plan.  I’m more of a “six months at a stretch” type of player.

The idea of offering a special package with incentives isn’t new.  CCP does it with subscriptions and PLEX deals every year, throwing in special SKINs and such.  Even Blizzard does it now and then, most recently with the Dreadwake mount they were giving away if people would just sign up for six months of game time.

But those packages give you something extra for the normal price in an effort to boost sales.  The DDO season pass is more akin to collectors edition offers, where they are charging significantly more for items that are not key to playing the game.  The VIP time is the key element, the rest I would argue is mostly fluff even if it has some in-game value.

I don’t get bent out of shape over collector’s editions, though I tend to avoid them, so I shouldn’t get bent out of shape about this.  But I can predict that I will give this sort of season pass deal a critical assessment should SSG move the idea over to LOTRO.

This seems like a good point for a poll.

There is a poll above this line that you might not see if you are using an ad blocker and probably can’t use unless you visit the site directly.

Finally, the paranoid in me wonders if something is coming up in regards to the game in 2020.  Why lock people in for two years?  Does the license for the IP come up for renewal then?  Is this, as some love to say, just a cash grab, or is there some other motivation.

Addendum: I had this slated to post tomorrow, but then SSG got out there and announced a LOTRO version of this idea.  Look for a post on that tomorrow.

Addendum: Despite the poll above running somewhat against the idea, it appears that SSG sold their 1,000 2 Year DDO Season Passes.  I guess if you like a game enough $300 isn’t much of a barrier.  I’m not sure I would spend that much in one go on any game, but maybe I just haven’t gotten the right offer yet.