Sega just announced that they are releasing a new expansion for Phantasy Star Universe. They are also giving it away for free, and also making the old expansion free!
Anyone…. Anyone? All I hear are crickets and World of Warcraft players laughing. Hmm.
Now, I am a huge Phantasy Star Online fan. I played it on the Dreamcast, Gamecube and Xbox. I even played the Dreamcast version in multiple forms. Everytime I played with characters that I spent at least 80 hours building up. I think you could call that hardcore. I would love to say that I was a huge fan of Universe. but they messed up it up. Big time.
From making the "star" of the single player campaign one of the most annoying snowboarder "freakz" possible, to not giving you access to key features until way too late in the game- Universe took many of the best aspects of P.S.O and threw them out of the window.
Now, I can understand the desire to stem cheating by not letting you play your personally created online character offline. But really, who truly gets hurt by people who would rather cheat and profit than play and feel a true sense of reward? I say kill the lame disconnect between the online and the offline.
Giving away free content was a cool move, but not the right move. I say lower the price for the subscription fee, or better yet, remove it completely. I would rather pay for extra content than pay a monthly fee for an "MMO" that is really only "massive" when you are in a lobby. Otherwise, the game is just 4 player co-op. They could even take some steps to limit lobby size- by removing the need for smaller in-world lobbies and giving people who are grouped up their own personal lobby which is run peer-to-peer.
If you remove the subscription fee, then you could charge for new missions and still make good money. Put out a pack of five to ten every month for $5 to $10, and charge for some exclusive weapons, clothes and accessories. That way you have MORE avenues for earning money and more INCENTIVE for players to come back and try it again after taking a break. Also, you might get people who come back and buy tons of missions and content, in essence charging them for all the time the missed… if they feel like it.
You are welcome, Sega. You can send a check my way whenever.