Something interesting happened (and continues to happen) with City of Heroes / Villains recently and it’s something that deserves a bit more attention. No, it isn’t the launch of Going Rogue – it is the announcement of the Party Pack, retailing for $8.
To date, CoH/V has generally walked on the favourable side of micro-transactions – it has released a decent number of booster packs for $10 each, generally containing a mix of costume pieces, emotes and a new power per pack. As an example, here’s a video showing off the features of the most recent Mutant-themed booster pack.
In saying that CoH/V’s booster packs have been ‘favourable’, I’m talking at the overall level – obviously there have been some players who complained, but most players feel that $10 about every three months for some mostly cosmetic options isn’t too bad. If they don’t like the pack, they don’t have to buy it, but there is generally some value in every pack.
As such, Paragon Studios hadn’t generated too much negative reaction around its boosters. Until now.
The Party Pack has generated the most negative reaction from CoH/V’s player base in quite a while. Based on the trailer, it appears that the pack only contains 8 different emotes for $8 – basically $1 per emote. The overriding reaction from CoH/V’s community is that this price is completely out of kilter for a pack that doesn’t contain costume pieces and / or a new power. Of interest in that thread is that despite it being one of the current hottest threads on the CoH/V boards, no red names have popped in to contribute an explanation – something that is a bit off Paragon Studios’ more usual behaviour.
Why Is This Interesting Again?
This is interesting because it shows that even a MMO community used to buying micro-trans offers while paying a sub fee need to see value in what is being presented to them before they buy it. Maybe this is an obvious point, but it certainly wasn’t to the person who signed off on the Party Pack announcement. They certainly didn’t do a comparison the Party Pack versus the Mutant Booster Pack, which contained a lot more for just $2 extra.
The other interesting thing is the timing of this announcement. Going Rogue is only about two weeks old – theoretically a major expansion, costing US$30 or so – and should still be the focus of Paragon Studio’s sales push to attract and retain players. Instead, along comes an $8 emote pack that grabs player attention and makes them start wondering what is going to be charged further down the line. It’s a very poor marketing strategy. Numerous players feel these emotes should be delivered for free (and I agree) – they are limited use emotes that could have been used to increase goodwill in the CoH/V community. Instead, the Party Pack has ended up being a big buzz kill.