YouTuber The Assist Man is, er was a big fan of Neverwinter on Xbox. Recently the free-to-play MMO released all of their current PC content on to the Xbox One, including some really unfortunate cash grabs (detailed in the video above). If you’re considering jumping in to the “free” MMO, I highly recommend giving the video a watch.
It’s a fairly lengthy view at around 22 minutes, so if you’d like the nutshell version it’s basically this.
Neverwinter really, really wants your money more than anything.
It’s a free-to-play MMO, so of course they want your money… but how have things changed? With the recent update, the game now applies an injury debuff to your character every single time they trigger a trap. You remove the injury with injury kits, which are purchased with in-game currency or real-world money.
The recent patch has made it significantly more difficult to earn currency, as all drops in dungeons are now bind-on-pickup. No more selling tier pieces in the auction house to turn a profit. With it being far more difficult to stay afloat, what better way to remove these injuries than buying them out with real world money? Neverwinter’s new loyalty plan offers rewards for those willing to shell out 1000 Zen (which is $10) every month. Every VIP package purchased increases the player’s rank by 1, and should you make it to rank 7 ($70) you’ll conveniently obtain permanent immunity to injuries. Fantastic.
Also beginning in the recent update, Neverwinter has started giving players three different versions of the same exact item as drops. One of which is a normal drop, another is bound to your character, and another that’s bound to your account. Each of the three items do the exact same thing, but take up three separate bag slots. Why would they want to inconvenience you? Starting the same day, the in-game Zen shop began selling a new Runic Bag of Holding for 1600 Zen ($16 USD). The bag is also Bind on Equip, meaning that once you purchase one single bag for $16 you can only equip it on one of your characters forever. Previously, bags were Bind on Account. Players could then empty the bag and use it on another character by transferring it through their account-wide bank in Protector’s Enclave. Not anymore.
According to The Assist Man, the average character at the max level of 70 has around 100,000 health points. The highest level potion only cures for ~10,000 HP. The day the patch went live, players were given a free Greater Stone of Health. This item restores 100% of a player’s health pool, but can only be used 200 times before disappearing. It’s worth noting that this very same item is 1500 Zen in the Zen store ($15). The secondary stat Lifesteal used to heal players by a percentage of their damage done, but was drastically nerfed in the Elemental Evil patch. By making the in-game potion and Lifesteal virtually useless at level 70, how else will players heal themselves in combat? By paying out of pocket. Then doing it again when the 200 charges run out. And again. And again.
In addition to players getting banned for no reason at all, The Assist Man claims that Neverwinter’s forum moderators are wrongfully moving and closing threads that question the game or report things as broken. He states in the video above that he was banned for writing in party chat something along the lines of “Let’s give this one more shot then.” He also reports that he’s had an entire forum post moved to the Bug Report section (away from the general public) after suggesting that he felt Trickster Rogue powers were currently broken.
These aren’t the only mentioned shady business practices. At Gamescom in August, Neverwinter reported 2.1 million players on the Xbox One version alone. The Assist Man doesn’t understand how that’s possible if no one is really streaming the game on Twitch or YouTube. For the record, I did find a channel streaming the PC version with about 400 viewers but no one was really talking in the chat. Botting on Twitch is a common thing, so I have no way of verifying the viewers were legit. The other Neverwinter streams going on right now have around 4-6 viewers per room, so it’s definitely low. Neverwinter’s official Facebook account currently reports about 1,500 people talking about the game with roughly 380,000 followers. The official Twitter account only has 60K followers. As The Assist Man suggests, that seems particularly low for a company reporting 2.1 million players just on the Xbox.
It’s worth mentioning that Perfect World Entertainment’s Better Business Bureau page has 80% negative reviews from its customers, and there are others complaining about unwarranted banning, unanswered or deleted customer service tickets in-game, and lost characters as well. However, they’re still listed as accredited by the BBB with an A+ rating.
This is a nutshell version of the current state of Neverwinter according to The Assist Man. I highly suggest giving the video a watch to get a bigger picture, as he makes some incredibly valid points. I’ve been a fan of the game since it was in beta on Xbox One, but I gave up toward the end of the last module due to the overall unpleasantness of the grind. I recently reinstalled Neverwinter to check out the new content, but it seems to me like the folks over there have made some unfortunate business decisions that solely revolve around sucking as much money out of its consumers as possible. To see a game I once enjoyed devolve in to such a mess is really saddening.
Are you still playing Neverwinter? What are your thoughts on the video?