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.
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 LOTRO. DDO 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.
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.
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.