Star Citizen Enough is Enough - Fixing the Pledge System and the New Player Experience

Hello, this is the Noobifier.
 
Today I ask, is Enough Enough?
 
The question sounds negative and salty,  but you know the channel is based on simplicity and No Bullshit. I ask you to hear what I have to say before passing judgement and its critical that you offer your ideas and feedback in the comments. I love this game, I want it to be successful and my goal today, is to pull back the layers of the pledge system that we are currently all forced to deal with.
 
If it's frustrating for a veteran backer, Imagine how overwhelming the store is for a new player just starting out. The new player experience has continued to become worse not better. If every other part of the Star Citizen project is industry leading, why is the most basic part, new player experiences allowed to be so very very bad.
 
3 Month, 6 Month, 1 Year, Lifetime, 2,3,4,5 Year Anniversary, Game Packages, Standalone Ships, Standalone Packages, Concept Sales, Squadron 42 Add Ons, War Bond,  Credit, Concierge only Packages, Multi Ship Sets, Multiship Game Packages, Discount Codes, Cross Chassis Upgrades, Melting, Unmelting, Quarterly Buyback Tokens, Gifting, and Ships that are only available for one week per year.
 
Members of the org Im part of, spent hours brainstorming and discussing. We feel the subject is very important, so we ask that you share it with your org and discuss what we suggest. We began by first exploring how the system got so broken. Since “Kicktarter”, as backers asked for more changes, new store systems were layered on top of the others.
 
We start at the beginning.
 
Wouldbe backers, were presented a fantastic game concept that required their financial support, and for that, they were offered a selection of pledge options. The perks promised for early backers included, limited physical items, limited in game items, and in some cases, Lifetime Insurance. Despite being told otherwise, at the time, citizens decided that LTI would be a huge advantage. LTI was likely the main deciding factor which appealed the most to those who were undecided about the project.
 
History shows that the Kickstarter was a huge success and we thought LTI would no longer be offered in the future as the development continued. A perk for those who risked their pledge money to start the development.
 
A second pledge option allowed us to expand our fleet beyond the “Game Package” with the option of the Standalone Ship. Artificial Scarcity was introduced right from the start. Some ships were always available, and some ships available only during special events called Ship Sales. The original choice of wording “Ship Sale” has always been confusing for new citizens. “For Sale” as in available versus “On Sale” as in available at a reduced price.
 
As new ships continued to be brought to concept, the Lifetime Insurance was always offered as a concept sale perk. Backers thought once again, that the concept sale would be their only opportunity for Lifetime Insurance. Some ships like the Phoenix, 890 Jump and “Cap Ships” were sold in limited numbers with LTI. This mostly holds true to date
 
The recent release of a previously Limited ship with an even more Limited skin which included LTI, was seen a slap in the face to some.
 
The panic set in as humans by nature are collectors. People make choices based on what they know at the time. These obviously drove sales up pushing the funding even higher. Bakers wanted the ability to change their minds, and change their fleet.
 
Backers could “exchange” a pledge to credit, preserving 100% of their pledge value. This became known as “Melting” and melted Store Credit could be used towards future purchases. Gifting a Pledge was also an early option if it was bought fully with new money. Melting a rare package would mean you also melted your backer perks. As newer ships were announced, the original constellation you bought years ago might seem less appealing than the new Carrack that was just announced. You would have to choose between the original ship or upgrading and losing your perks. Customer service was helping backers with these upgrade requests on an individual basis, but the manual nature meant an expanding backlog. The CCU or Cross Chassis Upgrade System was introduced and would clear the backlog. Backers could upgrade any ship to any other available ship of equal or greater value.  The CCU would preserve 100% of the donor package, but change the ship. Each Year, as the ships became available, the CCUs options expanded to include the limited ships.
 
A side effect was players could now Stockpile CCUs during the sale, making those limited ships available whenever the player wanted.
 
Up to now, the system had become a bit confusing but the original backers had the majority of their early backer perks intact. Early Backers, you might become upset with the rest of the suggestions within this video, but I want to remind you of one special day in November 2015. The P72, then The Argo, then the 85x, the Dragonfly, the NOX and X1 Concept Sales.
 
The first day in November 2015 that the P72 was sold, was the day that Original Backers exclusive perk of LTI was neutralized and became available to any citizen. Because that ship was $30 and had LTI, it would be used to add Lifetime insurance on any ship. After November 2015, it was possible for any citizen to get any ship with LTI, with only a handful of exceptions.
 
There was a second system at work. The escalating yearly anniversary sale insurance perk have also eroded any limited aspect of LTI. What Ben Lesnick has for said for years is true, LTI has evolved to be a minimal perk. I can find no instance of any official release saying anything to the contrary. LTI is a thing, only because we told ourselves it was. So year after year, the anniversary sale comes and goes adding a longer insurance period. Some backers have calculated that last years 5 Year insurance is effectively LTI. Even if its Game Time, you would need to fly that ship exclusively and constantly for the grace period to run out. Next year should be six year and seven after that. Can we not then accept that the original perk has become irrelevant. LTI Tokens and Anniversary sales ensure there is no reason to ever pay for insurance.
 
Insurance was planned to be one of many in game money sinks. If everyone has free insurance, the insurance money sink won't matter and we are left with costs such as maintenance, taxes and fees.
 
CIG. Step one is to LTI on Everything. All Ships, All Game Packages, original or not, get LTI. The player that actually needs LTI the most is the new player. They research ways to find it because its not available, often ending up on Ebay. Nobody feels like the have made the right pledge if they know there was a better or safer package somewhere else. This would be the first suggestion to address the situation.
 
Step Two has to do with the artificial scarcity. I've spoken about artificial scarcity in the past. Selling some ships during a narrow window in November creates mild panic and results in a mad dash to stockpile CCUs. CCUs combined with LTI Tokens feed the grey market. Regardless of the reputation of some sellers, there should be no need for a player to go to the market.
 
CIG probably thinks that the yearly week long influx of money, boosts the funding. I’m sure that if all ships were just available all year, CIG would actually come out better.  
 
Tax Season, Birthdays, or other "Winfalls" throughout the year are missed opportunities. I just got my taxes back and I want an Orion. If the ship was available right now, I would have added it to my fleet. My current options are Grey market or wait. I won't have the money in November because the money will become a graphics card, or something else. A missed opportunity.
 
Suggestion two is to make all Ships with few exceptions, available in store, all the time. With that we can execute part three with is to phase out the CCU system, Buyback System and the Buyback Tokens. If all ships are on sale all the time with LTI, we don't need the CCU system and players won't need a grey market. Their pledge money will count towards their concierge rewards the way it should. New Citizens would research the ship to suit their gameplay, and simply buy it on the official store. How streamlined would that be?
 
We came up with a possible timeline so nobody would be blindsided by the changes. A possible scenario could look like this.
 
May 2018
-Any Ship in a package or Standalone, Now has LTI.
-All Announced Ships are perpetually available in Store
(with some exceptions)
-All CCUs become available in Store until further notice.
-All eligible items in buyback can be bought back with credit until further notice.
(Effectively, unlimited buyback tokens)
-Players have two months to adjust their multi ship packages.
 
July 2018
All CCUs and the CCU system Disappears. Abolished
If they had value, its returned to you as store credit.
 
November 2018
All Buybacks and the Buyback system Disappear.
 
We don't need CCUs and Buybacks because the ships are available.
We have no need to CCU tokens for LTI because its already on all ships.
 
The Org then discussed the new concept of a concept sale. What would be the incentive for a backer to pledge during a concept sale if it would be available anyways? That incentive has always been built into its name.
 
SALE.
 
Here is a scenario to explain. A new ship is released on concept, exactly like normal and can even still include Warbond or Non Warbond Options. The announcement on Thursday during around the verse is that the brand new Aegis Stormfire will go on sale on Friday for two weeks. $100 for a new light stealth fighter. After two weeks, the Q&A had come out, people have added it to their fleet and the sale is over.  The Aegis Stormfire remains available in the store but the ship is now $125 after the Sale. Those citizens who change their mind, can melt it for the next concept.
 
If they change their mind again in the future, they simply buy it at the normal non concept price of $125. The concept sale price is the perk. It exists only for those who buy and keep the new Stormfire. No hoarding of CCUs or Stockpiling them in Meltback.
 
We then discussed what to do about all the multi ship packages. If the ccu system is removed, the package you bought would technically be locked. We proposed that grouped ships in a package would be given the ability to melt some, before being left with a melt all option. Here are three scenarios explaining three possible situations. The 5 Nox Pack with LTI was Originally $180, but the ships would be $200 if bought separately. In this case the suggestion is that you would be able to melt individually from the set. Your melts would let you adjust to suit your actual needs.
 
Your initial melts would refund the discounted NOX price because the NOX 5 pack was discounted. Melt one away leaving 4 and get $35.00 as credit.  ($145) Melt a second and get $35 as credit. ($110) If you decide to melt again, You would melt the pack for $110, which returns the full melt value and the flair items in the pack. This care would need to be taken calculating an individual melt value to prevent players from exploiting a loophole.
 
The second Scenario I present started as the same 5 pack, but three were upgraded. The Package is now a Carrack, Reclaimer, Orion and two NOX. It's important to be able to melt parts of a set. Backers who want to change one ship, but would be penalized heavily. The original discount and/or if a ship had gone up in price. Here the original $180 was upgraded, once for $310 with a Carrack CCU. The Carrack was $350 at the time. It was upgraded a second time for $310 with a Reclaimer CCU. The Reclaimer was $350 at the time; and Finally, upgraded a third time for $285 with an Orion CCU. The Orion is $325. The Nox 5 Pack has a total melt value of $1085 and the player has decided the Reclaimer is too much ship. Melting only that ship from the pack, they receive $345 because the NOX donor was discounted. The backer bonus for being early was the original price of $350. New citizens who decide to get a Reclaimer will pay whatever the current Price is. If this backer who just melted out a reclaimer from the 5 pack wants a reclaimer in the future, they just go to the store and buy it at full price.
 
Finally, any Ship Packages with a Game Account or Flair Items or Physical Merchandise can be dealt with the same simple way. Just like the previous example, individual ships can be melted out of a package for their weighted value. Once you have only one ship in the pack, your next melt would return the ship, core items which include the game package and flair. I can see customer support helping citizens case by case correct for big blunders, but for the majority, they would just use the melted credit to buy the fleet they want.
 
There is one final very important part of this plan. The original backers who risked their pledge in 2013 and 2014 so that we can all enjoy the game. Those backers enabled the project to begin and paved the way for the rest of us. So if LTI isn't exclusive, why not say thank to those special backers with a set of ingame items. The system already exists for the concierge level backers as Gold Armour, Gold Weapon skins based on their pledge level. Based on when we backed, lets come up with a set of perks. What would be wrong with giving a backer from 2013, a decal or skin to be used on all of their ships. A weapon skin, hangar flair, whatever seems appropriate to say thanks for risking early so we could have this game.
 
So that's it.
 
I know it's far from perfect, but I hope its a strong starting point.
 
It's now up to all of us to take the time to discuss with your ORGS and Friends. Please post your suggestions in the comments or simply say, “Yeah I support that” or “No I don't”.
 
Hopefully CIG can take our feedback and bring the store system in line with the rest of the game. The store is one of the oldest and most important parts of Star Citizen. It's the first thing a new player sees, let's give them a professional first impression of the game project. Thanks for spending your time with me.
 
I will always try my best to bring you interesting subjects or informative videos to help you stay current. Fly Safe and I Will see you in the verse.
 

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