No Money for You!

I recently read an article on Massively that discussed an interview with one of the STO Devs, Al Rivera. In it, the Dev reveals some details about what was going on when STO had essentially no new content being released last year. I’m glad the articles author, Terilynn, was the one he ended up talking to, because listening to her on the Podcast UGC, she’s very direct, which led to this great bit:

Exactly what has Cryptic been doing for the past year?

The question was blunt: Over the course of seven months (from August 2010 to March 2011), the game saw the introduction of 15 featured episodes plus nine related “daily” missions for a total of 24 missions. The game has not seen one mission introduced in the past year. The acting Executive Producer, Stephen D’Angelo, recently announced that there will be two Featured Episode series released during the course of 2012, meaning a probable total of 10 missions over the next 12 months. What were Cryptic personnel doing during the past year that made content releases at the pace that was seen before impossible?

Rivera, now free from previously imposed NDAs, seemed eager to explain. Yes, a lot of it goes back to what was a very rocky relationship between Atari (Cryptic’s previous parent company) and Cryptic. Rivera stated that Atari “never really did understand” the MMORPG market or Cryptic’s involvement in it. Since Atari was a retail box company, its executives had trouble comprehending the persistent need for money to be spent on the constant upgrade of a game that had already been released. Finally, when Atari announced it would be divesting itself of Cryptic, Cryptic essentially “went dark.”

No money went into Cryptic at all. A hiring freeze was put into place, and it was hinted that the staff, which at one time had a roster in the mid-30s, fell to about 20 people. Those people continued to work on placing what content they could get into the game while they all struggled with yet another change of ownership.

So last year, the player base was constantly told that everything was fine at Cryptic, and more content was coming. All while they were laying people off and had no money. Money that was coming in from subscriptions (and the C-store) apparently was going elsewhere because the owning company did not understand the business it was in.

Instead of ranting about NDA’s or stupid business executives interfering with things they don’t understand, I’ll just shake my head. This explains a lot, and matches what many people suspected was going on.  Stuff like this happens far to often. Like what led to the NGE in SWG. The truth finally came out a few years later, and it was exactly whatever one thought. Interference by people who didn’t understand what the product they were messing with.

But STO has a new owner. So far things seem to be going better. There is content coming out. It is F2P. And the Devs are allowed to talk about things. Like, for instance, also in that interview he talked about the controversy over the Dominion ship and the infamous grab bag:

Rivera explained that while the revenue-generating gimmicks were very successful, they were also used as a means to get ships into the game, ships that most likely never would have seen the light of the monitor before now. CBS did not approve the generalized use of the Jem’Hadar attack ships in game because company representatives felt that portraying a majority of Starfleet officers flying enemy vessels was counter to the image they want to convey. CBS was amenable, however, to allowing the ships to appear in “ultra rare” circumstances, making the Dominion ships the perfect choice for theSTO’s first game-of-chance.

This reason make more sense to me. Sure, it was a greedy money grab. But it’s also a good reason the ship was not released for general play. It’s nice to see that someone at CBS at least thought about the IP on it’s merits, rather than just it’s money making potential.

I look forward to listening to the full interview on the podcast.

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