Let me preface this with how I really don't like saying negative things about this game because I grew up with PSO Episode I&II on the Gamecube, played Episode III C.A.R.D. Revolution afterwards and even Blue Burst on PC. Then came PSU, PS-Zero, PSPortable/2, etc. and its the one of the very few franchises that I treasure because of the potential for fun they hold.
I have also seen a lot of snarkiness and downright rude remarks towards complaints in the community by people who'd rather have people shut up about the game's problems rather than discussing them in an attempt to get a better service. And why? Simply because apparently "they don't have the issue." Makes me think of the whole "Uh, homeless people? If you're homeless... why don't you just buy a house? Duh." meme except people are actually using it as a serious argument, and its disappointing. If you don't feel like relating to an issue, or can't because you don't have the problem, then that's fine. But at least behave in a manner that allows for the discussion to continue.
Either way, enough about that. Lets return to the game at hand.
PSO used to be about hunting rares you got by partaking in the grind. Yes the grind was brutal back then, it was even tied to a Colour-ID you were assigned based on your name. But after experiencing New Genesis, having played PSO2-Classic on JP since launch, I'd rather have that than what this game franchise has devolved into. I've simply ran out of energy when it comes to recommending the game to friends and defending it as well as SEGA's monetization choices behind it.
[Lets start with Premium and Material Storage.]
Been a premium subscriber on JP for years now, and was one in the west for the majority too, once Global launched. And for the first time I let it expire in June and bought only the Shop Pass, and even that was difficult to do.
For someone who has played the everloving hell out of PSO2-Classic, there's not much left to do in it anymore. And I'm certainly not gonna grind the SG options there because I simply don't have the time for it. But I do throw money at the game, and endured PSO2-Classic's perks even though I always felt like we were a laughing stock for putting up with Material Storage not being in the 1300AC Premium.
Premium is supposed to give perks, and things that in the end saves the user time and effort in not having to bother with certain annoyances like managing inventories. That's how F2P/Mobile games tend to work. Rare drop, experience and meseta +% boost for just being subscribed? Gets you to your goals quicker. Being able to join full lobbies? Allows you to get things done more efficiently sometimes by joining blocks where you know the overall performance is better, or simply has more people (a feature that's not present in New Genesis mind you.)
You get more login stamps, getting you more freebees, it gives other little things too that in the end saves you even more time in places you might not often visit (crafting-time reduction for example). I mean its what you'd expect. Paying something akin to a monthly subscription in a free to play game should serve the purpose of smoothing out the user experience and thus saving you time, without giving you pay-to-win perks, right? Then why are we as premium users expected to shell out an amount of SG monthly that's even above the price of premium itself?
[SG and Cosmetics.]
"But you can earn SG ingame!", and yes, I know that. But look at the amount of AC Scratches running concurrently ingame right now. I count 6 of them. Sure, that's 4 extra because of the anniversary event (which I'll get to that in a moment.), but we still had 4 AC scratches running at the same time before he anniversary event started if memory serves me right.
Now. In a game that advertises itself as having one of the (if not the) most customizable character creation and releases fashion in a manner of "pack" after "pack", one can no longer use the excuse "but its just cosmetics!" Because if it was "just cosmetics", SEGA wouldn't be making a boatload of money from it, to the point they nonchalantly continue the exact same model in the "sequel" (can we really call it that?) Well. except for the daily free SG scratch that's no doubt offsetting there being less options to get SG in New Genesis. Especially if one doesn't play PSO2-Classic anymore.
Call me a pessimist but I don't trust SEGA to keep it to 1 SG Scratch banner at a time. After all, on PSO2-Classic we had multiple SG Scratches running concurrently too. So the 1 free scratch a day works for now, but what if there's more? What if we have 2 or god forbid 3 SG scratches at the same time? I wouldn't mind if I wasn't expected to shell out 300SG a month for Material Storage, which is absolutely ridiculous.
I'm aware of the 3-month option being a better choice, which just adds to the annoyance. There's so much going on in the game that plays in on basic human psychology to make you be in a constant battle with yourself as to what to spend your precious resources on. Its stressful and leaves you with very little desire to upkeep the motivation to want to play (read: grind) the game. Its great that I can get storage with SG if I need to. And have consistently used SG in the past to have the Ex Storage 1 enabled. Even used AC to enable the 2nd a while back.
I realize that you don't need to have material storage every month. You can hoard your resources and then once every x months activate it and dump all of the stuff you hoarded into the material storage, right? But then what? When the 30/60/90 days are up you're back to your storage spaces unnecessarily racking up again until you can finally spend your hard earned SG as a PREMIUM user to get the time saving convenience that's behind a ridiculously expensive paywall.
Nevermind the fact that if I recall correctly, things that drop from monsters and quests that can go into the material storage are deposited there immediately when they land in your inventory, so you don't have to manually manage that. Juggling storages and inventory is no doubt one of the worst parts about the game for me. Another handy thing that really does sound like a premium feature is that quests and crafts picking the items you need from said Material Storage, so you don't have to manually take out the items you need every time. Once again, saving you time.
And if you ask me, someone paying for premium shouldn't have to mess with nonsense like that. Especially when the entire feature itself sounds...you know which word I'm looking for here. Yeah... Its the word "premium." A monthly subscription-option which mind you is also more expensive than a subscription to other popular purely subscription-based MMOs out there
I would rather give up the 400 slots of Premium Storage if that meant they give you material storage instead. Because my premium storage became exactly that. Where I store things I don't think about, or use anymore. Or if I once in a blue moon need things from it, I can then pull those things out. But in the meantime its at least not eating storage slots in the more common places (default & character storages.)
"But that's why you make more characters, the extra character storage spa--", No. In a free to play game, paying a monthly subscription dubbed "premium" is something that's so far been saving us time, allowing us to enjoy the actual game without the fuss a non-paying-player over time gets used to dealing with. At least in my experience. So making 3 characters and swapping between them to manage inventory is the one thing I actually don't want to do when I'm throwing 1300AC at the game every month.
Besides, aside from making a character on 3 different ships to play with different people, there's no real reason to make extra characters anymore with everything now being account-bound. Pair that with the current unfixed economy inflation makes buying basewear, accessories or hairstyles twice to make it account-bound a grueling thought.
And no. The BP fix is not really a fix. The BP requirement is easily achieved with a few extra cocoons and a basic upgraded weapon. The whole "solution" feels like the issue wasn't given much thought, or perhaps this issue isn't a problem in JP and Global isn't allowed to make changes as they see fit, and this was all they could do "without permission." Which for me, would raise some very worrying concerns about our voices being heard in the future. Anyway, the fact is this: as long as you can earn Meseta from red boxes, its exploitable.
I can't go much into this, since this is on both SEGA as well as the community in general, but moreso the fault of the former. I have 10 characters across Ship 1 and Ship 2 because of the inflation we already had before Cradle was released on PSO2-Classic. So naturally I did my weeklies and dailies on those characters on days where I had some extra time. 8 of those 10 characters are now useless other than "storages" that I'd have to swap between if I'd ever need anything specific off of them for fashion, cosmetics or whatnot. The economy is absolutely terrible, one of the several reasons also being people buying things for the sole purpose to resell them. This creates the problem of greedy players scalping and sniping the cheaper options to re-auction them for a lot higher. Or waiting until the stock's dried up and then selling the still wanted items for an insane amount of meseta.
Nothing inherently wrong with it per-se. After all, it is considered a "tactic", and allowed as nothing ingame stops you from doing so. Right? But when the prices become what they are, and having gotten the "featured items" which SEGA gets to decide which items fall under not being able to be sold for less than 500,000 meseta.. It really makes you wonder where SEGA's priorities lie in a game that I feel got rushed out the door at least a year too early.
"You can't gather everything" is an argument I hear a lot, and I can agree with it. It'd be impossible to do so unless you're lucky with AC Scratches, hunt and sell things before they flood the market, etc., etc. But when SEGA implemented the "Featured Items", it made absolutely no sense since you earn about 800,000-900,000 meseta a week as a free player? Its artificially limiting the prices so people run out of meseta quickly while you release several outfits and a bunch of accessories every 2 to 4 weeks.
Lets not even mention hairstyles, motion replacements or voices. I mean lets be real here. They have 8 years of data from PSO2-Classic. They know EXACTLY how the sales will go. If they save the amount of slots Dudu and Monica have reduced from failed augments, then you can be damn sure they've got all kinds of useful data logged too. I get wanting to protect the $ to meseta value but setting the minimal price equal to an entire week's worth of quests is ridiculous.
Now we have people red-box hunting on new accounts that are made for the sole reason of grabbing the meseta from red boxes, buying overpriced grinders from their main account in order to transfer the meseta and then discarding the newly made account and creating a new one. Rinse and repeat. And people making alternate accounts to grind dailies and weeklies on to do the same without discarding the accounts.
Anyway. I can't really comment much on this, because its not like I'm an economist educated in the field that can offer solutions. All I know is that having meseta in red boxes seemed like a bad idea from day one, and it turned out to be exactly that.
[The Anniversary event.]
I really do wonder who on earth looked at the idea of releasing 4 scratches at once, that are filled with 600+ items that are in no way touched up for NGS, and think "Yeah, this is an excellent idea for our game that just launched." I have voiced this before (on Reddit however), and laid it out too. The 9th anniversary feels like an insult as celebration, at least for ingame content anyway. There's no reason they couldn't have added a lot of the cosmetics they released in the scratches to the seasonal shop so people could spend their in-game seasonal points on it. Have some fashion to go along with the grind.
At least then you're giving people the content your game revolves around most (Fashion) rather than what you advertise it as (Action RPG). Lets not kid ourselves, this game is a fashion simulator with action RPG elements on the side. Anyway. We got 2 accessories, 1 stamp and a total of 200SG out of the event shop. I'm not gonna count the 350k from the alpha reactors you could buy because with the inflation, 350k doesn't dent anything. Nor do I count the weapons or capsules that drop from monsters and the market got absolutely flooded by. You can now buy the things of the seasonal shop for cheaper on the player shops than spending a load of your limited amount of seasonal points on them.
I mean. Not that there's that much to spend it on anyway. And to add insult to injury, the 2nd 100SG was made to cost even more seasonal points. Its as if whoever is organizing the event saw that people easily gained points and had nothing to spend it on and instead of thinking of an actual fix, they made the same recurring rewards cost more than the previous.
Putting popular cosmetics into the 9th anniversary of the game, that celebrates the game having survived for 9 whole years would have been a perfect way to say "Welcome to the new game. Here's some cool stuff you can work towards and own as a thank you to both the existing, as well as new player, because without you the game wouldn't have gotten this far"
But instead we got "Thank you for supporting us for 9 years and beyond, here's 4 more scratches you can give us money with. You know, on top of the 4 scratches that were also still active back then. With this, we flood 600+ new items into the market that'll be sure to overwhelm anyone not opening their wallets."
I have played this game's now "classic" version since it launched in Japan. Everyone that played with me quit eventually but I sunk my time, money and effort into the game for nearly 10 years now because I genuinely enjoyed the game. And in less than 2 months I've noticed even more how many practices were put in place that just manipulate you on a basic human psychological level of wanting to be unique. Items you can never hope to acquire unless you spend 90 dollars every 2-4 weeks (untradable 45-scratch-bonus.)
Yes, hello! Of course I wanted the Fairy Dash motion, my character would have looked so cute in it! But what's that? You want me to pay 90 euros for it in scratches? And I can't resell it either in case I wouldn't want it? Its just a couple of items as of the launch, yes. But over time you're gonna have an entire library of cool items you probably still wouldn't want to spend 90 euros on to acquire even in a revival scratch. How many more neat things will become an untradeable scratch bonus on top of all the other forms of monetization?
No. I'm sorry. I get that this is earning the company a lot of money, and someone mentioned Genshin Impact having made an insane amount of money on week one, put aside at the end of the launch month. But if this is the way online games are headed, playing into your basic need of wanting to be unique while people who defend the practices (to my amazement) scream "ITS JUST COSMETICS!" as they swipe their cards, then the f2p category of online games have clearly gone past what I'm willing to give them in terms of money and time.
Because even if you spend money monthly on this game for what's dubbed to be Premium like I have done for years back in JP, you still have to partake in the gacha or grind your time away in order to earn meseta to buy the cosmetics you like. Some of which are shamefully, ridiculously priced in the west compared to the Japanese servers. (I wish I still had the JP client installed, I might reinstall it tomorrow to post some comparisons.) By this I don mean to say that premium users should be given cosmetics. But when you pay a monthly price like that you at least expect something. What are we really getting in a premium pack that makes it worth the extra 600AC on top of the 700 shop pass?
At least on a game like Final Fantasy XIV I can go on the cash-shop and pay a fixed amount to grab my still insanely overpriced mount, or special costume. On PSO2 I can spend 1300AC and still be expected to scratch AC because you can't sell anything on the player shops as everything is 1000~2000 meseta. Which to be fair is expected as the game just launched. But if you take into account that paying money on a f2p game tends to save you time as waiting timers and such are lowered, or you're given some currency you can spend. What are we getting on PSO2 for it?
You're certainly not getting Material Storage. A slight rare drop boost was it? An extra login stamp- where they cleverly they put an N-Colour-Pass to make sure that you're also premium on top of the "charge 500AC to your account to get an N-Colour-Pass" campaign, just so you can change the colours of your outfit twice. Not to mention the CASTS, oh how I feel bad for CAST players. Its the main reason I never made one, and never will.
Anyway, what's the point? Why are Salon passes still working while we got a new type of colour pass for New Genesis? Why haven't we gotten an N-Salon-Pass? If you make a new type of item for one and not the other, its probably because there would be too big of a backlash from the player base. Or maybe I'm missing something here. Either way. Players are already scratching AC and paying for Premium. So why are we not allowed to freely customize our colours of costumes we've bought either with the time we sink into the game by earning meseta, or by receiving them through AC scratches? Why can't we just change the colours with Salon passes with the salon passes that are less rare?
The game boasts customizability, and it has a level of customization that probably no other game has. Its something I want to praise so, so incredibly badly and ask my friends try again because all of those amazing things are built into the franchise I grew up with and was willing to sink a lot of money into (making me part of the problem, I know.) But instead has the game has the most basic things you'd expect to be able to do to make yourself look unique, especially as a monthly premium member, locked behind all sorts of layers of paywalls.
SEGA is not a small indie company. Or whatever the meme is be about, I know its a joke. But I'm tired of it being thrown around because it makes a joke of a very real problem. There are core philosophies that were shown in a presentation once regarding Final Fantasy XIV's reboot:
And I believe they're things any game company should think of because otherwise you get what we have now.
Because what we have now is community that's divided over people calling each other poor, defending SEGA for obviously negative practices that are beginning to be banned in countries and properly classified as gambling. Because that's what it is. And while I'm thankful for the whales keeping the game alive, as ridiculous as that entire notion is. I would much rather pay a monthly subscription and enjoy a game rather so we're all on equal footing rather than seeing part of the player base feel like the rest owes them, and should even voice their thanks in a thread. "Haha we have a much larger disposable income than you and you should therefore thank us for keeping the game alive."
No. No we really shouldn't. I'm more frustrated by the fact that a game company is allowed to make use of people's desire to be unique and monetize it in a way where people who are fortunate enough in today's world to have more than enough disposable income that they then gamble away 2 euros per scratch to try and get either something cool, or something to sell. The very people who also get to dictate the prices which is a completely fair deal, and often goes really well. Except that thanks to an unfixed issue, the economy continues to be a mess and discourages you from making a purchase that costs a ridiculous amount of meseta. Because "what if the next scratch has something I want more?"
Nevermind the people with a less fortunate gene pool, and have lets say ADHD like me where my impulse control is really, really bad even on medication. I'm currently without a job. But as a programmer if I did have a job, I know myself well enough that I would no doubt be partaking in AC scratching and no longer see "the issue." Even if I'd like to say I know better these days. But the impulse control is something even normal people don't all have in the same amount either. Combine it with the nagging possibility of being lucky enough to get an item that sells for a lot of meseta, or getting a highly wanted AC item you no longer have to spend meseta on, you get the whole "what if this next scratch is the one that'll have x...?" mindset.
I can rant on for hours, honestly. Up until New Genesis I put up with a lot of practices that at least felt somewhat fair even if you paid a lot for a premium. And at this point it really feels like someone wanted the game released so badly to make more money, that they pushed it out a year too early. I love this game. But I am disappointed is all I can say, at how its biggest selling point has its most basic features locked behind passes.
Look. We all want to be unique and mess with fashion options. And this game gives you perhaps the absolute best way to do so while also being a genuinely fun game to play. But there are so many practices in place that make sure that every corner you look at outside of the combat aspect ("Action RPG") of the game, you're met with some sort of money-spending incentive trying to get you to spend money more money than you already have.
I'm tired of everything costing money in the game. If this is going to become the norm of "Free to play", then I have finally found a category of games I'll be retiring from. And I'm sad, genuinely sad to see the very title I grew up with during the Gamecube days to have become just another lootbox-for-fashion/waifus that you'd expect in a low-effort mobile game. Except this game comes with a full-price "monthly premium" option that in no way makes you feel like you paid for "premium perks" when you can't even freely customize your character and or costume colours without a pass that's so rare that I'm convinced we'll have an all-in-one cure for COVID19 before any one of you has made it to owning 10 N-Colour-Passes. This game that's become a service who's practices and prices would make Electronics Arts jealous.
A fashion simulator where you can customize to your heart's content*.
* = In the case of this AC Scratch: you get to customize your colours twice. Once after you pay 30eur in scratches, and once more after spending 80eur in scratches.
(I don't remember if Stage 2 had any N-Colour-Passes as its an older screenshot. But if it did, it would further add to the ridiculousness of the whole situation, and to what we as players of this game mean to SEGA.)
You know what the sad part is? Despite not playing it as intensely as I used to, I will still continue playing the game. Because there's not really any game out there that's like PSO2. It scratches an itch that other games don't, and they know it. But at the very least I can take solace in the fact that the game I do pay a monthly subscription for respects my time as well as money investment rather than constantly trying to incentivize me to spend even more money than I already have.
Any thoughts? I'm by no means perfect, maybe I'm lacking perspective in some areas, and or haven't given other things much thought. Or maybe I expect too much from a free-to-play game that has a premium-subscription.
Either way, thank you for making it this far if you have. And I'm sorry for the rant, I really want to believe it comes from a place of care and concern, no doubt worded in a harsher manner due to frustration. I was going to stay silent and uninstall the game after the Braver scratch, but figured I'd voice what I think and see where it leads. And who knows. Maybe I'll learn to see things from a different perspective or ultimately quit anyway.