Spiral Knights: Just Another Knight in Wolver’s Clothing

Spiral Knights added a Heat Amplifier item for 800 crystal energy. This is about $6 in real world terms. I’ll note to supporters of the amplifier that it only amplifies 20% for two days, not 100% for two days. Anyone who’s making calculations based on 100% need to revisit them.

To some people, the Amplifier will be worth it, because they don’t think in terms of in-game money, only out-game money, and to them, $6 is spare change. To some people, $6 is like vending machine money to the rest of us, either because it really is vending machine money to them, or because they have no other expenses (for instance, if it’s part of a weekly $20 allowance). I’ve even seen someone spend the equivalent in revives in one run, because they simply won’t give up even when the revives start to hit 1000+ crystal energy.

In contrast, for me, $6 is half a meal, or 2 ounces of 5-star tea ((Or, often, tea that likes to think of itself as 5-star when it’s not.)); I remember a time when I had to make it stretch to a week. I’m upper middle-class without parents to give me an allowance.

And while it’s legal and all for Spiral Knights to make money off people to whom $6 is no great shakes, I can’t help but shudder a bit at the amount of money they’re spending on something that I can do for free just on T1 runs. But the Heat Amplifier isn’t for frugal players; it’s for premium players.

The label of “premium” easily makes the rest of us think that we, who don’t deserve any kind of label, will not be the primary focus for Spiral Knights’ future development. To those who don’t mind a $6 amplifier every two days, this is just fine, because the rest of us don’t really matter to most of them; to the rest of us, it feels like the cold shoulder from the Spiral Knights team.

I would feel better if a Spiral Knights representative could reassure people that this isn’t the case, that they care about all Spiral Knights players. I think that uncertainty is at the root of a lot of unhappiness, and that a lot of loyalty could be gained back by, not just saying that the Spiral Knights team cares about all players, but also showing that they care.

What does showing mean in this case? I think honestly it means two things at this point:

  • New content for T2 and T3, because if there’s one thing that F2P players and “non-premium” paying players are going to do, is grind for quite a longer time than premium players.

  • Extending the social aspects of the game outside of the forums and hacking things in the Clockworks; for a long time, the main extended social aspect was crafting, and during preview, it included the various PK arenas. Guilds should have been part of this extended social aspect, but they don’t seem to be getting the love that they deserve, that would make it socially rewarding to be part of a guild.

    Why is social so important? Because it gives people things to do, even outside of content, and allows them to find roles for themselves.

Both of these seem to be aspects of MMORPGs that the Spiral Knights team seems to think that premium players don’t care about, and so perhaps that’s why we haven’t seen advancements in them. It’s part of the perception that Spiral Knights doesn’t care about the non-premium players—and remember, non-premium includes people who would probably not mind a $5 monthly subscription, even some that wouldn’t mind a $10 monthly. After all, many people spring for the monthly extra weapon slots at 250 crystal energy each; with a maximum of two weapon slots, that’s 500 crystal energy, or roughly $3.75 a month. Add in the 2 extra trinket slots at 150 crystal energy each, and that’s a total of 800 crystal energy per month, and we’ve almost come full circle. I say almost, because the equivalent of having a Heat Amplifier for every day of a 30-day month would be 12,000 crystal energy, or $90 a month. For the weekends of a 4-weekend month, it’s $24 a month.

You know what would really be horrible? If Spiral Knights increased the amount of crystal energy for weapons and trinkets slots. I could see it happening, I could see it not happening, but the non-small possibility of the first option makes me worry. I wonder if the germ of this idea, floating subliminally perhaps, is bothering folks. Well, it certainly bothers me, but I’m just another Wolver-wearing knight.