I wound up typing a big follow-on to Kine’s post, but it’s really quite off-topic so I’m going to hide it in spoiler tags.
I have to echo what Kine said - too many people utterly fail to understand that multiplayer games succeed or fail by population. One of my favourite examples of this was the Resistance 2 map pack. It contained, in my opinion, some of the best maps that game had. It was epically fun to play, especially in larger games with lots of players.
However, despite this, it was dead within a month. It would take about half an hour to get a “DLC” match, and then it would turn out to be a 2v2, or even a 1v1. Why did this happen? A few reasons:
A lot of the early takers moved away. They discovered they could get matches quicker and/or play larger matches if they just searched for standard games.
This loss of players caused more of the “loyal” players to move away, because their matchmaking time was increasing and game sizes were dropping.
As word spread of the DLC being a ghost town, less and less people were willing to throw money at it.
The result? A death spiral. Today you can throw Resistance 2 into your PS3 and you will find dozens of PvP / PvE matches going on. You’ll even see 2-3 full or near-full 30 vs 30 matches taking place, but you’ll never see a single match that uses the DLC map pack. Hell, you’re lucky to see anyone using the character skins that came with it.
How does this pertain to Star Conflict? Let’s do a little math…
Let’s say there are about 1,000 players on at any given time. Let’s imagine of those 100 are “Paying” players (ie: they currently have a licence, DLC, gold ships, etc.), and then 400 are “maybes” - players who have either bought a licence / Premium gear before but are not currently using it, or haven’t yet but intend to do so in the near future. The rest - all five hundred of them - are the ‘freeloaders’ that all F2P game developers seem to abhor.
Let’s now imagine that a change comes into the game that all the freeloaders hate, but everyone else likes. This change is something like “You have to spend $5.00 to buy a ‘Pilot Permit’ to fly ships Tier 2 and higher.” The result? Your player base halves instantly.
Imagine the impact this has. Imagine matchmaking where every tier (for sake of argument) has half the player base it currently has. Tier 4 would effectively cease to exist, and Tier 3 would likely suffer heavily as well. Tier 1 and 2 might survive to an extent, but remember the downward spiral… how many of the remaining players would stay despite the drop in activity? How many new players would be coming in when there are now hundreds of voices all crying “Star Conflict sucks!” whenever people ask about the title?
Don’t insult the free players. As long as they are playing they provide value to the game in three important ways:
If they are enjoying it, they will tell people they enjoy it. This means more players will come, increasing the potential earnings of the company.
They may decide they enjoy it so much they are willing to spend money on it, becoming “paying” players.
They are playing, which gives everyone else more people to play with. Personally, I rather like it when the game is busy and it takes 15-30 seconds to find a Tier 2 match. The more people who play, the more often that happens.
As to the poll… I think it needs more options. I am not going to say I would never buy a licence, but nor would I automatically buy one just because the loyalty boost went up. I want a “maybe” option.