~ an op-ed by Kaitco
Just the other day I was mildly lamenting the fact that my Arena had become rather crowded with Traya teams, and I wondered what might be around the corner that would create some further segmentation in the Top 50 again. Enter Revan.
I think it’s important to understand what Revan is and what he isn’t. Revan is the answer to a “problem” that has been ongoing since the first Hero’s Journey, which is how to create full separation between those who heavily spend on the game and the rest of the playerbase.
The first thing to acknowledge is that Revan is NOT a cash grab. It is corporate small-mindedness preferring a short term option over the long term ramifications.
Thrawn’s first appearance was a “cash grab.”
The Phoenix Squadron had been released a couple months earlier, but they performed poorly in comparison to other Rebel teams at the time, they did not upset the Arena META, and few players were enthused to spend anything for the team that seemed to offer so little. After a couple months of lackluster showings, Phoenix were brought to their free-to-play nodes, and hardly a week later, Thrawn arrived, requiring five Phoenix at 5* just to unlock him.
The cash grab was in the fact that many players quickly bought bundles and packs for Phoenix, and also crystals to farm these characters to 5* so that Thrawn could be unlocked. The game figuratively dangled an amazing character in front of players while also showing that the path to him was through spending anywhere from $20-$100 to unlock this beast of legendary toon.
Rey (Jedi Training) could also be considered a “cash grab.” For those who thought they saw the writing on the wall, farming First Order for a 7* BB-8 was a tall, but achievable order since it was BB-8’s second appearance. That said, hints that Vet Smugglers Han and Chewie would also be required could have easily gone unnoticed. Once JTR was announced, again, the cash grab was presented to players. By purchasing crystals to farm the Vets from their two Cantina nodes, and through available bundles – AND double drops for the Vets, Finn, and Scav Rey – the second Hero’s Journey character was just within reach through some steady farming and maybe $30.
Thrawn was announced horribly soon after Phoenix became farmable, but Phoenix were only needed at 5* to unlock Thrawn through a legendary event. RJT required 7* characters in her Hero’s Journey event, and while the Vets were a long farm, RJT was hinted and then announced with enough time to allow players to complete their final difficult farms with just a little extra spending. In either situation, the key to an amazing character was set before players and could be achieved with just enough spending, which is the heart of a cash grab: pushing players to quickly spend when they otherwise would not have spent.
Revan, however, is not a cash grab. Revan is a “gift” to long-time, heavy spenders in SWGoH, and even though these major spenders likely drive the bulk of the game’s revenue, a character meant solely for this niche 0.1% of the playerbase is disingenuous to the rest of the game’s community who have made the game as popular as it has become.
Similar to Phoenix for Thrawn’s event, the Old Republic/KotOR characters became farmable a short time before Revan’s announcement and release. Unlike Thrawn’s event, where 3 of the needed characters were available in the Cantina/Arena/Galactic War stores and 2 were low-level Cantina farms, KotOR are not available in easily accessible areas.
Bastila, who was first released, is available on two “Hard” nodes; Dark Side 5B Hard and Fleet 2D Hard. There are only 8 free attempts using regular energy and 8 free attempts using Fleet energy to acquire Bastila’s shards. Jolee and Zaalbar are also both available on one regular energy Hard node and one Fleet node, with 8 attempts each. The remaining KotOR characters are available on Cantina nodes, but while T3-M4 has a drop rate that appears to be around 35-40%, Mission’s drop rate appears to be closer to 25%. This means that Mission’s shards drop noticeably less often than T3’s shards, making the farm even more complicated. Of the full team needed for Revan – again, one that’s only been farmable for two weeks – three of characters are on Hard nodes that require much longer farming times.
Even players who purchased the $10 bundles for each of these characters would not have time to fully farm KotOR to 7* by the end of Revan’s event.
Players who attempted to farm KotOR in preparation for a possible Revan event only requiring 5* characters would have to spend in excess of $300 at this point to get the team to 7* before the event ends. The reason Revan is NOT a cash grab is that there is little “tantalizing” about a $300 price tag for a single character in a game. While $10, $20, or even $50 is often within the range of the impulse buy that can entice a player to spend a bit to get that coveted edge, for the same reason that most players do not obtain 7* characters exclusively through the marquee packs, spending through the current bundles and packs an effort to get Revan is not practical.
What makes Revan especially different from CLS, RJT, or any legendary character is that the others encourage players to spend, but Revan pushes players towards the opposite.
I’ll use myself as an example. After calculating that I would need around 43K crystals in order to farm my 4-6* KotoR characters all to 7*, instead of looking forward to purchasing enough crystals or the bundles to take me the rest of the way, I have no reason at all to spend anything. If Revan were only 30 days away, or if KotOR had been farmable for at least 2 more weeks, I would have seen value in spending, but now I will continue the slow farm for KotOR, fully acknowledging that this is the first Hero’s Journey character I will not unlock on the first round.
An argument can be made from “Well, Revan will return. You don’t have to get him the first round.” The fact that he will return in 3, 6, 9 months is not of any concern. There is a major benefit in obtaining a valuable character right from the start. Again, using myself as an example, I wrote this Should I Buy for Enfys Nest and followed my own advice to get her to 7* as soon as possible. Not only have I been able to use her in and out of Arena, in TB and TW, I’ve also been able to gain the highest rewards from the Smuggler’s events right from the start because of the investment made into Nest early. The “Revan will return soon” argument is mainly for players who likely have never spent in the game and likely never will. For these players, Revan is an eventual collection piece, and while there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with this mentality, it does not excuse the releasing a Hero’s Journey character 2 weeks after the characters necessary for him have been made fully farmable.
Further egregious is the timing of Revan after the year the game has experienced. Back to back to back marquee events littered most player rosters with a number of 3* or 4* characters, all requiring around $200-$300 a piece to farm to higher stars. After so many marquee events, Chewbacca was released as a legendary event, requiring Bounty Hunters, but the difficulty level on the event is such that Gear Tier 12 and Zeta’d characters – as well as a little luck – were required to gain a 7* Chewbacca. And, right as the community’s sonorous complaints about the difficulty of attaining 7* Chewbacca still echo across the playerbase, a new event appears that again requires marquee characters.
Unlike the Bounty Hunters, a faction that has been available almost since Day 1 and whose best lead was fully farmable for weeks up to the event, KotOR farmability offers no chance. There is no hard planning or calculating involved for Revan. It’s either spend what most players are unwilling or unable to spend or sit out the event.
It is perfectly easy to sit back and view Revan as a “well-earned” gift to the heavy spenders of the game, but I take a different perspective. A reward for those who have spent tens of thousands on the game is nullification for those who may have only spent thousands.
Free-to-play players can be turned into small spending “minnows” over time and the pressure of desiring the latest and greatest, and minnows can be turned to steady and persistent spending “dolphins” over time as well. With enough time, the dolphins can see the benefits offered through spending a fair amount on the game and some will even become heavy spending “whales” who ultimately keep the game free for the largest part of the playerbase.
That said, the structure of Revan’s Hero’s Journey event is such that minnows are not remotely enticed to spend, and the dolphins who might have become whales over the event no longer see the value in what they’ve spent in the past and keep their wallets shut.
There will be a preliminary bump in spending by the current whales of the game who had not got around to getting all KotOR characters to 7* yet, but the overall impact to the game stretches far deeper. Why be a dolphin when you can maintain Top 50 as F2P or as a tiny minnow? Why spend at all when events require no planning or resource management, but simply a willing consumer? Why play at all when the game offers such limiting returns on fun by creating no stratification across the playerbase with mega-whales, whales, dolphins, minnows, and F2P?
I’ll take this moment to send out a plea to Capital Games; a lone voice crying into the wilderness at this point. Push the event just back one week!
Nothing is set in stone in a digital game. The event is planned, the bundles and packs are available, and the team is ready for the launch. All that remains is to show the community just a small amount of good will, by chance the launch date from 10/18 to 10/25. The developers have noted on reddit, and on their own forums that the recognize that some things simply do not work well. There is far more to be gained in providing the community with those 7 days than can EVER be received in pushing forward as-is.
I’ll note that, personally, it’s not the price of attaining Revan that really bothers me the most. It’s the lack of vision and the pure myopic pursuit of only the largest profits that undermine all that Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes should and could be. This limited sight diminishes the brilliance of one of the most requested characters in the game, and one of the best characters brought to the galaxy far, far away.
By Kaitco of Descendants of the Empire
Gaming-fans.com Senior Staff Writer