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What's It Worth to You?

Tim Eisen Posted:
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I hate to dredge up ancient history but the latest Elyria news links directly back to said ancient news thus a drudging I must go. When I say, ancient I mean in internet time. Get out your flux capacitor’s and go way back to the loquacious December 29th update. In internet time that makes it 25 years ago! You might think that sounds like an exaggeration but few people realize internet time isn’t constant its exponential.

That news from December 29th was addressing another communication/interpretation problem. Before I get into it I want to note I’ve followed games long enough to know communication breakdown isn’t always the studios fault. Sometimes it’s the fans fault for taking something the wrong way, freaking out and never looking back. Others, and most often, it’s a little bit of both; poor communication from a studio and poor interpretation by fans. I’m not sure where the fulcrum landed but I will say some of the math didn’t add up.

What I’ talking about is the new purchase packages that Soulbound put in their store. As with other crowd funded games the idea is/was that the people taking the most risk (that being Kickstarter people) do so because they get the most return for their hard-earned dollars. Post Kickstarter game packages are generally similar but not quite as good. It’s a hard road to walk. You have to downgrade them enough to please your original supporters by making them feel like their early buy was well worth it but retain enough appeal as to not make new customers feel second class. In this, Soulbound ran into a slight issue…

Some of the new packages were deemed too good by some of the Elyria fans! Some of the new packages were even said to be better than their Kickstarter equivalent! Sounds legit, right? Pitchfork worthy even? But, and I say BUT value is in the eye of the beholder. Soulbound pointed out that the dollar value was still better for the Kickstarter version of the packages in question. What some original bakers were doing was assigning their own value based on their point of view and that value, while justified to a backer, was in fact less when you worked out the dollar amount.

For a made-up example, maybe my Kickstarter package came with a custom hauling cart and two horses that have more health than other horses and a small house. Then the post Kickstarter version of my package came with a regular cart, one regular hose and a medium house. I might think the medium house was enough to make that package more valuable than my original version where as Soulbound might think the opposite. I want to note that not all the new packages were this debatable, some appeared to be far more correctly and/or incorrectly obvious. Compounding the problem is that we still don’t have any way to understand the value of the digital pre-launch currency (EP) that comes with packages.

As I’ve done before I would like to point out Kickstarter Tiers are complex, it is a lot of data to keep track of and every game I follow had a few post Kickstarter packages that were debated or even flat out broken (too valuable compared to their original versions). In those cases, developers took feedback and made what I felt were fair adjustments to bring things back in line. But what would Soulbound do?

After a couple weeks of civilized community discussion Soulbound did what I believe is the right thing, they added houses to the Kickstarter pledge packages. “I have a lot of thoughts about the discourse that has gone on about the new packages and, largely, I've been impressed with the reasonable debate and supporting facts. Not many communities can tout such maturity! Still, it is clear that even with the transparency about the valuation of the new packages, there are still concerns. First, that the Kickstarter Exclusive rewards were included in the valuation of the package when it is felt that the risk that our first backers took was the real cost. Second, that manor is just too. damn. sexy!

Allowing our fans to doubt their decision to back us, question their value, or feel cheated is not something that was our intention and is entirely unacceptable to me. It is a simple and easy decision then to retroactively add housing to the Kickstarter pledge packages.”

Vye, whom has done a great job with the updates, also noted the EP currency won’t be knowable until further into development but to expect that it compares to the package you purchased. “In addition, we may make some adjustments to the EP when we get closer to the launch of the EP store. The EP tables were not yet balanced - nor could they be - without more of the items designed. So please ignore any of the previously posted EP prices for anything and, instead, hold onto this: our intention is that the amount of EP in your package is designed for the average player to be able to buy exposition items suitable for that tier.”

Like I’ve said prior trying to figure out the value of EP without having anything but a few odds and ends to go on was frustrating. I’m glad they came to this conclusion. I’m also relived that another potentially combustible situation seems to have been snuffed out due to Soulbound being willing to listen to their backers. It’s not often a serious internet debate stays civilized, especially when it includes two things people are extremely passionate about, MMORPGs and their money! It’s a testament to the kind of fans that make up this genre. We don’t just buy the games, nowadays we fund their development and even help work out a problem or two along the way.


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry