Purchasing video games used to be easy. You could go down to the retailer that was closest to you and pick it up the Tuesday it came out. There was no hassle and, more importantly, there was no worrying about whether or not you got the best deal. Now, marketing departments have implemented two key elements to their campaigns: in-game perks based on retailer and game edition. Both can have a direct impact on how games are played and how the company is viewed by fans clamoring for the greatest gaming experience available. There are a lot of opinions on the forums about the level of impact these should have and we are going to highlight some of them in this edition of Community Pulse.
To start, let's take a look at a brief history of Star Wars MMO in-game perks:
Star Wars: Galaxies - Collector's Edition
- Three types of eyewear. These will help identify the in-game character as being one of the first in the game.
Star Wars: Jump to Lightspeed - Pre-order
- Flash Speeder
Star Wars: Trials of Obi-Wan - Pre-order
- Early Access (1 week)
- 8-player Transport Skiff
Now lets take a quick look at what is coming with Star Wars: The Old Republic versions:
- Early Game access
- Color Stone
Digital Deluxe & Collector's Edition
- Flare Gun
- Training Droid
- Exclusive Mouse Droid
- Exclusive Collector's Edition Store
Most of these items are pretty self-explanatory (HoloDancer, anyone?), but there is one item that seems to interest people the most. "I really do hope the items you can buy from that Exclusive' store isn't something game breaking, Soulpiercer says in the Darth Hater forums. "It's quite fine to give Collectors Editions cosmetic items, mounts and all that stuff, but should you really be able to get an in-game advantage?"
Others on the forum agree, but most don't think this will be a problem. Korren notes, "TOR won't be the first MMO to have special, edition-only items and the items are never game breaking...I expect the items to be cosmetic gear pieces, one use particle effect items, or some other bind-on-pickup fluff item that CE owners can use to differentiate themselves in game."
Statements from James Ohlen and Stephen Reid at San Diego Comic-Con back up these opinions. They stated that while there will be weapons and armor available in the store, there are also items of equal power available to everyone outside of the store. RogueJedi86 points out that this could cause an issue for players if the items have no real value. If that is the case, people who spent the extra money on the Collector's Edition might be upset that they spent the money on items that don't benefit them. At the same time, he also points out that "if the gear is good, people without the CE can/will balk."
"This will end up being just like the SWG Special Edition Goggle fiasco," states Korren. "They were such worthless items, but there's always gonna be that group of people that screams, Not fair!' because they can't have them."
To that point, Gothfather brings up a valid point by defining the Collector's Edition as being just that: an edition for collectors. "They called the CE a collector's edition for a reason it has collectables [sic] in it and plenty of people collect both in game and out of game items. Seems perfectly REASONABLE to include both in a COLLECTOR'S edition of the game." It may not always be the value of an item that is important to a player; it might be the item itself.
Remlish points out that "the latest trend has been to offer a small selection of cosmetic items to collectors for free,' then after release most of those items are avalible [sic] to regular players in the form of a Micro Transaction." Since there have been no announcements about micro transactions in the game, it is impossible to know if this will be the case. However Raithnor puts forward another option: "Give it about six months and they'll turn it into a perk for subscribing to the game for six months." This would be a suitable option for archerazor, who requests, "Please make it available to everyone in some way. It's the little things that can make people happy."
Another angle to look at is the one offered by EnexEra, who points out that "everyone who pre-orders is already at an in-game' advantage in a sense, because we get to start early." Is this the same as getting the ability to purchase certain items at the start of the game while other players may not be able to until they are several hours into the game? Getting a head start on leveling a character could definitely be seen as an advantage when going toe-to-toe in PvP.
I remember the snazzy eyewear that came with my Collector's Edition of Star Wars: Galaxies. I wore those gaudy red things proudly as I ran around the first week. After that, I never wore them again. This is the way of most in-game perks that I've encountered. They separate you from the rest of the crowd for little while, but in the long run, have no real bearing on the game itself. Don't get me wrong; I ordered the Collector's Edition of SWTOR and I will definitely be checking out the store come launch. However, I highly doubt that I will buy anything that is merely cosmetic. My credits will be limited at the beginning and I like to save up for the really good stuff.
I buy collector's editions because I am a collector in the physical world. I like the way they look on the shelf and I just couldn't turn down a Darth Malgus maquette to stand beside the Shae Vizla one on my desk. BioWare has put a lot of time and experience into creating this game. It would be a complete shock to me if something is given to those of us who pre-order that makes us over powered.
That said, I'm also definitely going to be pulling out that mouse droid every time I come across a wookiee in binders.