One indication of how much game development has changed since I bought World of Warcraft back in 2005 is that when I first heard how Sony Online Entertainment1 is offering $60 and $100 packages for its upcoming free-to-play game EverQuest Next Landmark, I didn't immediately laugh and dismiss SOE as a bunch of lunatics. After all, games like Minecraft and Kerbal Space Project2 started charging for the game in order to finance continued development. We've also seen the emergence of Kickstarter as a way to fund games like Star Citizen and Camelot Unchained. If people are willing to spend over $1000 on a spaceship in a game that wasn't scheduled for release in two years, then spending $100 for a nice package to get into a game's alpha seems very reasonable.
So then I decided to start comparing the prices of the Founders Packs with other items available in the MMORPG market. So how good is the value of the Founders Packs?
For $19.99, SOE offers the Settlers pack, which grants access to beta plus some items to get a player started. For that same amount, an EVE Online player can purchase the game, with includes the first month of play. Or a player can purchase a PLEX from CCP or a 30-day GTC and exchange it for either 1 month of play or sell it in Jita. Currently that price is approximately 600 million ISK. I think that's a better value. However, for the same price in Neverwinter, I can buy a 24-slot bag. In that case, I'd rather spend the money with SOE. Or for the price of a Settlers pack and 500 Station Cash, I can buy the Jewel of the Firelord and a Cinder Kitty pet from the World of Warcraft cash shop.
Things get interesting when looking at the packages with alpha access. For example, for the same price I'd pay for an Explorer's pack + 1000 Station Cash, I can buy a monocle in EVE. If fashion is not your desire, then Star Citizen offers the Origin 325a Fighter if you don't mind delivery in a year's time. Or if I don't want to spend the extra $10, I could purchase an epic mount with 110% bonus to run speed and a 24-slot bag.
When looking at the $100 Trailblazer pack, I have to go back to the days of the $200 lifetime subscriptions of games like Lord of the Rings Online and Star Trek Online, now both free-to-play games, to show that spending $100 isn't the craziest thing in the world. And Star Citizen's Rear Admiral package, clocking in at $275, isn't exactly cheap either.
So is SOE a bunch of greedy developers looking to suck all the money out of our wallets? Thinking about the matter, I think they're pretty restrained, relatively speaking.
1. Not to be confused with the Sisters of EVE.
2. I own the game and the tutorial is fun.