Wizard101: The Crown Shop Problem
Everyone loves crowns. Wizard101 players fight for them in community contests, the free crowns giveaway is always a favorite during the 12 Days of the Spiral, and a lot of people take advantage of special discounts when they come about. Yet, I find myself in a very peculiar position. You see, over the years, I've seen my crowns collection accumulate. My heavy involvement in the KingsIsle community has exposed me to numerous opportunities ranging from contests to giveaways to anything in-between. While I started with the equivalent of a broke piggy bank, I can now say that I'm pretty well off in the virtual currency department. As of writing this article, I have 106, 962 crowns. Not too shabby ... but I've run into a problem. I don't know what to do with them.
I've been sitting on a large amount of crowns for years. Aside from a few henchmen or energy elixirs here and there, most of my crown "dumps" have been because of articles just like this one. I'll spend thousands of crowns on new packs for screenshots of the gear or to examine drop rates. However, I can't remember the last time I felt that I actually needed or really wanted something from the crown shop. I suppose this is more of an issue for KingsIsle than it is for the players, but it's an issue nonetheless.
Back in November, KingsIsle introduced something called the "Night-Knight Crowns Event." Spending a certain amount of crowns during the event weekend unlocked different tier rewards. The highest tier was a Night Dragon mount that could only be earned after spending a whopping 550,000 crowns. Assuming that there wasn't a crowns deal at the time of purchase, obtaining 550,000 crowns would cost you a little over $700. As you can imagine, the community wasn't very pleased. Yes, the price was certainly the biggest issue surrounding this event, but what was less talked about (at least that I saw) was the crown shop itself. Purchasing the crowns didn't get you the tier rewards, spending them did. Which begs the question - even if someone was willing to shell out a large amount of money, what would they even spend 550,000 crowns on?
Let's take a look at some of the different things you can buy in the crown shop:
- Packs: This is probably one of the more popular categories that people are willing to spend crowns on. This is where a good chunk of mine go too. However, the randomness turns a lot of people off. I personally find backpack space the most annoying aspect when purchasing these. Because of how filled my backpack and bank are, I can't buy more than 2 or 3 packs at a time without stopping to make more space. Even so, most people are done buying packs once they get what they want. At a certain point, the hype and "need" to purchase more die down.
- Mounts and Pets: There are some really cool mounts and pets in the crown shop. I've spent crowns on a couple before, but there's always a personal limit. Mounts all serve the same purpose - how many do you actually need? Pets can always be obtained through the hatchery so buying them directly from the crown shop quickly becomes irrelevant. Mega snack packs are always useful, but diligent gardening would render them unnecessary.
- Gear: From what I've seen, crown shop gear is mostly used for stitching. In fact, that's where I got my current wizard's look from. Since I'm still happy with my character's aesthetic, I wouldn't need to spend crowns in this area.
- Housing Items: Some players are really into housing, others aren't. Passionate housing decorators could probably spend a decent amount of crowns on wanted items for their majestic masterpieces.
- Gold: I personally don't know anyone who has spent crowns on gold, but I'm sure there are those who have. If I'm in need of gold, I'd rather spend some quality time with Halfang in Grizzleheim.
- Henchmen and Elixirs: I find these two categories to be the most useful for me personally. Despite that though, they're super cheap and very situational.
Even if I bought hundreds of elixirs and henchmen, a couple mounts and pets, and packs galore ... I'd come nowhere close to that 550,000 crowns threshold. In fact, I'm guessing I could probably buy every single item from the crown shop and still not reach that number. Fortunately, KingsIsle took community feedback under consideration and hasn't run that version of the crown event since. I'm happy that they're continuing to make adjustments to ensure that the format caters to this specific playerbase.
I know crown shop items are a double-edged sword for KingsIsle. If players don't deem something worthwhile, they won't see the value in spending money on it. At the same time, putting sought after items in the crown shop might create "pay-to-win" backlash from the community. It's a fine line that's tough to balance. Spending crowns on name changes or a seventh character slot are ideas that have been floating around the community for years now. Even though I see the value in both and would love to have them, that still doesn't fix the problem of "one and done." I'd personally like to see something involving pet talents. Being able to pick pet talents for crowns would be a wonderful opportunity. If that's too good to be true, being able to see what the pet would manifest beforehand might also be popular. Just knowing that my derby pet will manifest Spritely instead of Durable would save me a bunch of time and mega snacks.
If KingsIsle wants to encourage players to spend crowns, then I really think they need to add new items to create motivation to do so. In the meantime, me and my collection of crowns will continue to lurk in the shadows. Patiently waiting for the right moment.