Rebalancing under F2P/P2W

I may have understated the amount of “pay to win” in Marvel Puzzle Quest, although I would think that we would now be past outrage at the notion that “free to play” games have a revenue model. I am not sure whether to be more concerned about the sanity or the honesty of someone who claims to have spent $100+ on Puzzle Quest. I must guess sanity, as there are surely whales in every F2P pool.

Let me explain the drama of the moment, which is like a microcosm of our usual MMO rebalancing drama. Last week, Ragnarok (evil cyborg Thor clone. This is a real thing in Marvel comics) was the best character in Marvel Puzzle Quest, largely because of a very inexpensive ability that did nice damage and fueled his other ability. You know how people tend to hate rogues/thieves in MMOs for having abilities that do high damage on low cooldown with almost no cost or risk? Yeah, that, only make him as tough as Thor. So they nerfed him, tripling the cost of that key ability while reducing its effect, knocking the #1 character out of the top 10. After that, they announced rebalancing, which looks like weakening the other top characters while adding value to the rarest/most expensive ones (which are currently nigh-worthless).

I can see why you would be upset if you are the guy who just spent $100 to P2W, and they took away your W the next day. That is a heck of a thing to do to players who are your revenue source, and it must hurt their revenue for a while, since that list is like a promise to nerf the characters you might pay for right now. If they fix one per week, that’s scaring off revenue for about two months, although they might get some from buffing the most expensive characters as two of the first three changes.

In most P2W games, you should expect steady mudflation as they add new tiers of “best” to buy. You do not expect major nerfing of things you already bought (although League of Legends players certainly saw some cycles of that with new champions). As with the Kingdoms CCG example, it is good for the long run health of the game, but how do you re-establish trust with paying customers after doing something like that?

: Zubon

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