Strange things have been afoot at Cryptic, and they bode somewhat ill.
For a time, Atari.com displayed a new offer. Star Trek Online’s price was dropped by 10 dollars, and it came with an additional 60 days of playtime, adding to the 30 days you’d normally get, for a full quarter of a year of playtime.
It was an excellent idea, in my opinion. 90 days would give Cryptic long enough to prove that they intend to do great things with STO. It would have let folks like myself pop in from time to time to see if things had improved. Unfortunately, this great deal was only for people who had not bought the game yet. As many pointed out, it punished anyone who pre-ordered, or bought the game at launch.
You don’t do that. You don’t punish loyalty. Certainly not if you want that loyalty to continue.
After the storm of annoyed players hit, Cryptic quickly realised their mistake, and the deal was pulled from Atari.com. Apparently anyone who signed up for the awesome new deal will now not be receiving the additional 60 days they were promised.
You don’t do that either. You don’t unilaterally change the conditions of a contract after it is signed.
There is only one honourable way to deal with this problem. 60 days should be given to every account, whether it signed up under the short-lived new deal, or one of the older deals. That is the only way you don’t either breach a contract, or anger your existing players. Aye, it’d be an expensive proposition, but they should have thought about that before offering it to new players.
It is clear that such a deal would not be put on the table unless Cryptic, or Atari, were seeing poor retention. A month ago, they were charging 300 dollars (on top of box price) for a lifetime membership. Now they’re willing to throw in 90 days with the box. The number of people, myself included, who have decided not to subscribe is obviously sending ripples of panic through the accounts department. When you throw your own game into the bargain bin within the first month, it is an admission that all is not proceeding according to plan.
Was the new deal the work of Cryptic, or their publisher, Atari?
Later, this pseudo-apology was posted on the Star Trek Online forums:
First, we respect the time, energy and passion the community has put into their opinions regarding the promotion that ran this weekend on Atari.com, offering 60-days of free play.
Like many companies, we are actively trying to sell games we are very proud of in an extremely competitive marketplace and we are always testing new ways to get more people using our products. The weekend promotion at Atari.com was one of those experiments. In the case of a game like Star Trek, we believe a larger number of players is a benefit to the entire community.
We will continue to look at the best ways to add new users to our game in a competitive marketplace while keeping our current players happy. Your feedback – good, bad and ugly – is extremely helpful and appreciated.
We won’t always get it right, but we’re always trying to do the right thing by you.
We do apologize and we appreciate your patience as we continue to do our best to make Star Trek Online the best game possible.
Director of Customer Support