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Saturday, February 5, 2011

KingsIsle, KingsIsle, KingsIsle...Tsk Tsk

As the title of that implies, I'm not thrilled. I'm not even mildy happy. Nor does this mean I'm upset/angry.  Frankly, the primary feeling of this post is disappointment.  KingsIsle, a company many of us have looked to with respect for quite some time now, is slowly irritating a large segment of the player population.  I write this now a few days after the announcement as it has given me time to cool down to some degree, because I have a tendency to fly off the handle and was a bit furious when I first heard about it.

A few weeks ago, Open Chat was revoked for crowns players that had subbed at one point and got to keep the privilege.  Yes, a privilege.  Wizard101Central absolutely exploded when the post came across the newswire from Professor Greyrose and some of it is in the nature that I do not desire to link to.  There were personal attacks eight ways to Sunday.  A few Centralites, including myself, posted calmly in an attempt to a) assuage the crowds and b) search for solutions.  KingsIsle reversed what had been done with a letter from Professor Ambrose indicating that they DO care every bit as much about their pay-as-you-go population as their subscribers. 

Now, the new members benefits are coming through.  This isn't really something that bothers me, I understand that members need something to keep them as members as an incentive to keep paying rather than jumping ship to crowns to save in the long run.  Energy will replenish faster, crafting slots will cool down faster, friends list will expand by 20, and backpack space will increase.  That underlined portion is something that we've been asking for for quite some time.  Now, it's a members only benefit.  Add to that list unlimited Ranked PvP and Derby to that list to see the full set of benefits. 

It almost seems like we [crowns population] are trying to be phased out.  Also, it is my understanding that only credit card subscriptions will get the new perks.  It was previously noted that gift card based subscriptions could get you the same benefits as a credit card subscription.  When issues arose with Open Chat the gift-card-members-as-equals issue sprung up, too.  I know that gift cards are not a valid way to validate age, so Open Chat should not have been available via gift card.  But now alienation from members only perks because they opt to get a pet with their purchase?  What happens to the person that subscribes for a few months on credit, gets a gift card for Christmas, and uses it absentmindedly for a subscription in the middle of his recurring one?  Does s/he lose 20 friend list spaces and backpack slots until the subscription from the card lapses and it's all back on credit?  Somehow that doesn't seem quite right.

I realize they need subscriptions rather than crowns players, generally, because they are a more steady supply of income. Consider this case, though:

Person A is a subscriber on a recurring monthly membership, he does not purchase a year long special.
Person B is a crowns player who buys $80 in crowns (while not on special) to play the game. 
Person A plays for 2 months and then reality gets in the way, he cancels the subscription to not waste money.  Person B plays for the same amount of time, reality gets in the way, and she leaves as well.  Which person did KI benefit from the most?

Just some food for thought, friends.

Your [disappointed] Friend Always,
John Lifeglen


  1. It comes down to personal responsibility. If Player B was not anticipating reality and decides to expend $80 right away, considering it disposable at the time, then their scenario is a result of their decision and action. KingsIsle states that Crowns players are to play at their own pace, on their own time, to benefit the most out of their plan. I don't believe two months of areas require $80 up front. If Player B reaches that point so quickly, they should have considered the subscription. KingsIsle is not at fault.

  2. I realize that KI is not at fault, nor am I trying to spin this as such. I was merely giving a hypothetical situation to consider. The majority of my post was merely statement of fact, and if you believe I have missed something then by all means feel free to add here in the comments section. Can you refute my logic from the end of paragraph 4? I'd really enjoy seeing another viewpoint on why a gift card in the middle of a recurring sub should constitute privilage removal.

  3. One reason is how a parent may want to reinforce a personal punishment by ending credit card payments to KI, whether permanently or temporarily. The player does not have their parents' approval to the benefits of the CC-sub for whatever reason the parents cancelled payment for. True, this system is painstaking and unfair for those who aren't children and are making their own decisions to use a gift card before returning to a full-time sub, but the family-friendly niche is where the admin of KI want to stay in and appeal to.

    How would you do it differently, keeping in mind that there are hundreds of thousands of accounts to account for?

    As for what happens to the perks, I believe players will be allowed to keep their 20 extra friends until they are removed (it'll be treated like the backpack overfill). After the payment plan changes, no additional friends may be added until 21 are removed from the expanded list, is my guess.

  4. I haven't worked out all of the kinks yet, but a better solution could be that if the account is set to resubscribe at the end of 30 days, then they keep the perks throughout the gift card time. If a parent is enforcing punishment, then they merely need to cancel the subscription before applying the gift card.

    Yes, it's a little complicated but in the long run it would prevent alienation for gift card users who receive them as gifts. The current "fix" basically forces players to use a gift card for crowns when that might not be what they actually desire. Also, players that use a gift card after not being subscribed should have the option to resubscribe after redeeming the card, if they opt in then they get their perks throughout the gift card subscription. If they decide they only want to play for a month (or 2), then perks aren't necessary.