I find the "one path" mechanic in Champions to be the thing I dislike most about a game I generally enjoy. To then, as a company, offer a small "repair kit" for that flaw for a fee seems vicious. It's as if I, as a consumer, was being told, "Oh, well, we know that's not exactly perfect. But if you pay us more money, we'll fix that for you." Microtransactions are not suppose to repair content -- they are suppose to add frivolous content or services on top of the things we already have. They are suppose to be things that are unnecessary.
When people start charging for content updates, my question becomes "What is my 15 dollars a month is paying for?" It obviously wasn't for QA, as the Kitchen Sink patch blew through announcement and testing phases very quickly. For such a huge patch that introduced so much new code to the game, you would think it would sit in QA and the test server for a while. Changing so much code at once can frequently lead to unintended programming mishaps, as you don't know how the code is going to react once it's all run together. Instead, it was patched in the test server on the 9th with no patch notes with a thread that basically said, "Try to find the changes," and then it was released officially on the 27th. 18 days of testing?
Now, this isn't to say that Cryptic had ill-intent when releasing this patch -- I personally think those guys only had the best of intentions. They wanted to fix the problems with their game in one big run. That's admirable. But when things are rushed by those above... you get errors.
Late communication, little warning
Surprise! We have a huge patch that we're not going to really test. Surprise! We added two more races to the Cryptic Store without giving you the heads up. Surprise! Vibora Bay requires you to purchase it.
Everything seems last minute when it comes to Cryptic. Nothing is ever eased into slowly... nothing is ever introduced to the player base before it happens. The best move they've made in a while is actually being upfront with Vibora Bay and that it would be a paid content addition. However, even that move was flawed as they told us we'd be paying for Vibora Bay without telling us what would be in it or how big it would be. We don't have any information about the expansion to justify the cost, leaving us to speculate darkly.
The Klingon and Ferengi races are more of the same thing. We weren't informed ahead of time that these two things would be available. They weren't advertised or built up to. Of course the players reacted negatively when these two races went into the C-Store -- no one told them about it. It's not that we don't want to pay for them (three dollars for the Klingon, one dollar for the Ferengi), it's more that we'd rather know about it before it happens.
The Cryptic Q&A is a step in the right direction, but I know I'd rather see the company inform us of things before they happen. Is there going to be a patch to the server? Great. Release the test notes, put it on the test server, let us get our hands dirty with it, fix any problems as they're addressed, then push to live once things are fixed. I know that players had found and reported the crafting bug in the Kitchen Sink patch when it was briefly on the test server, but that problem was never fixed. Why? Because it needed to go out the door?
It's not the end of the world, but it's not engendering sympathy
As a final note, I do think some people in these forum threads and comment threads are really out for Cryptic's blood a little too much. I agree that the company has done some really silly things, but these things need to be taken into perspective. It's not the end of the world when a patch fails on Champions Online or two races appear in the microtransaction store without warning.
This is a video game. You're suppose to be having fun. If you're not having fun, walk away.
How can I say that? Because I just did it myself. I'm not impressed with Cryptic's service right now, and I cancelled my Champions account. I want to go back to the game because I really do enjoy it, but I want to wait to see what comes in the future.
Seraphina Brennan is the weekly writer of Anti-Aliased who's opinion is all her own, not paid or bought. When she's not writing here for Massively, she's rambling on her personal blog,The Experience Curve. If you want to message her, send her an e-mail at seraphina AT massively DOT com. You can also follow her on Twitter through Massively, or through her personal feed, @sera_brennan.