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The Decision

Victor Barreiro Jr. Posted:
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Ever since I wrote The Value of Claim-Staking, my first Everquest Next column for MMORPG.com,  I’ve been quiet regarding my own purchase decision for Landmark’s Founder’s Packs.

It isn’t because these packs are bad, per se, but mostly because I had to weigh the value of spending X amount of money to play a game yet not be able to really talk about it. In the end, I decided to spend $20 for the Settler Pack as a tentative purchase, but have decided to watch very closely for any information that might sway me to upgrade my purchase for Alpha Access.

This week, I’m going to walk you through my thought process. While most of you are likely set in your ways and know whether or not you’re going to buy a game, this is more for the benefit of people who think they know what they’re getting into when they read my write-ups but want to see if my viewpoint and experiences match theirs. Hopefully this will allow you to make better decisions regarding the game.

Real-life considerations

The most basic considerations I had regarding paying for a founder’s pack were likely different from many outside the Philippines, where I live, partly due to real-world issues I felt I had to address. I also had reservations about the game and reflected on it in light of other related game purchases that made me consider other aspects of shelling out $60 $100 for Alpha access

First, I spent quite a bit from my day job and my earnings here on MMORPG.com, donating a moderate sum to real-world relief efforts for people in other parts of the Philippines hit badly by Typhoon Haiyan.

Second, while I had enough to really take care of any other Landmark-related concerns, I had to weigh those in light of some other initiatives I wanted to tackle this year. These included everything from  random acts of virtual kindness (I will not name what I did, but it’s the equivalent of a random act of buying someone pizza from across the world) to online gift-buying, to some medical stuff and replacing/upgrading my computer’s old video card.

While I figure many of you have real-life considerations of your own, I’m pointing this out in an effort to be transparent despite my general hesitation regarding writing about my charitable actions. I don’t want to seem boastful, but I do want those out there reading to know that, despite my enthusiasm for the game, I have realized I shouldn’t place a video game above other concerns where my money can make a tangible impact on a person’s life or quality thereof.

Aside from these, there are also some game-related concerns I want to see addressed before I infuse more money into Landmark.

What do I really get?

I decided a thought experiment was in order (Yes, I take a long time to make non-impulsive purchasing decisions. Apologies). Whenever a perk for a particular item was listed in a given Founder’s Pack tier, I would ask myself “What do I really get from this perk?”

When I completed my experiment, I was left with a number of doubts. I’m going to list the actual statements I took down – slightly edited from my written shorthand – when I did the experiment.

Settler’s Pack

  • Unlimited Closed Beta - I get unlimited access to a more polished version of Landmark without shelling out for more.
  • Settler’s Flag: Cosmetic flag, will be so common as to be ineffectual as a status symbol before launch.
  • Founder’s Pickaxe - Powerful resource gathering item for starting the game, likely useful long-term if it doesn’t need repairing (Can this be repaired?).
  • Game and Forum titles: Status symbol.

Explorer Pack Notable Differences

  • Cosmetic clothes and another flag - Status symbols
  • Alpha Access: Do I have the time to test this game and offer feedback?
  • Ring of Bounty and Mega Pocket items: need more details. How much extra value does this give, and does this value matter in a game about building stuff over time?

Trailblazer Pack Notable Differences

  • More cosmetics - status symbols
  • Mastercraft Bracer - Need more details. How does crafting work in this game, and would I gain a noteworthy advantage depending on the crafting system implemented?
  • Void Vault - Notable freebie. Get vault access without needing to build my own vault. Worth a bump-up? Not by itself
  • Alpha Boost: Only for two weeks of Alpha. Need more finalized details on how resource collection systems are implemented before calling this a worthy buy. Reddit says tools have stats, so this would improve total yield but not rarity of items gained?
  • Name in Landmark credits: I have this for FFXIV: ARR, but I’ve never actually checked the credits. Pass, I guess
  • Time-limited beta passes - If they’re interested in this game, they’d have likely shelled out already. Timed beta passes seem like free advertising with little issue for them, so what’s the use for me?

Based on my thought experiment, what really seems interesting are the $20 and $60 tiers, but the advantages in the Explorer Pack tier are situational: Alpha access is useful to me if I had the time to really test and offer feedback regarding the game (I don’t), and while I do enjoy a good cosmetic outfit, it’s not going to be significantly worth anything over time other than as a status symbol.

The two buff items are very nice, but only if their gains are significant for a user, and without knowing more about the game’s systems from the developers, these could simply be worthless trinkets.

The end result

The thought experiment tempered even more of my enthusiasm for the game with a cautious optimism. As a stepping stone for EQNext, it’s certainly fun to have these perks… but since these perks don’t even transfer to Everquest Next, I would be better served by being prudent regarding a Founder’s Pack.

More importantly, and this is in relation to my tasks with MMORPG.com, having Alpha or closed beta access is functionally useless for work since I would be bound by a non-disclosure agreement. I still don’t have an opinion on whether I support the NDA thing for a paid alpha or beta, but it’s certainly worth discussing in the future.

At the very least, I’ve currently secured a spot for the beta, and can easily upgrade if needed once I get more information. Here’s to hoping the readers out there can find my thought experiment useful for their needs.

Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains The Devil’s Advocate column, as well as the ArcheAge and Everquest Next columns for MMORPG.com. He also writes for news website Rappler as a technology reporter. You can find more of his writings on Games and Geekery and on Twitter at @vbarreirojr.

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Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains The Devil’s Advocate and The Secret World columns for MMORPG.com. He also writes for news website Rappler as a technology reporter. You can find more of his writings on Games and Geekery and on Twitter at @vbarreirojr.