The recent announcements for changes to Neverwinter should serve as a warning and a lesson to other games as to how not to treat its playerbase. Now on the verge of mod 12b Neverwinter is facing another exodus of players the likes of which it hasn't seen for years.
..and its all been absolutely avoidable.
For the official words you can see the announcement threads on the NW forums:
Refining Changes: (Page with the technical details: Technical details)
Bonding Runestone Changes
The refinement changes:
Essentially we are moving to enchants with 14 levels, up from the current 12. Moving from level 12-14 isn't inherently a bad change, and was expected to happen eventually. As the game grows and tougher content is added its nice to gain some new room in our EQ.
It unfortunately greatly increases the expense for weapon/armor enchants in a blatant money grab. Not in itself a mortal sin, however combined with the other changes its net effect is a BIS player paying more than 50 million AD to arrive at somewhat fewer stats than they have today.
Replacing our current queue and incentive system we will get paid to join random queues where the dungeon is chosen for us. While we are still able to choose what dungeon we go to in private groups there will be no daily AD payment to sweeten the deal. Its either daily AD -or- hoping for end loot to be the payoff.
The net effect here is taking away what was an incentive to play content of your choice. This is to be replaced by incentive to play content that the GAME chooses for you. It also raises barriers to who can be in your group when you do this, requiring all members to qualify for entire sections of content, alienating new players from pugging with more experienced ones.
This is one part of the fun of PUGging as a high IL character. You get to go in and save the day sometimes, and still make your AD when the chest at the end disappoints, as they almost always do. Do a couple dungeons, a couple skirmishes, pad your ego a bit and move on with your day. Even nicer they added the ability to queue by yourself lately, which has been awesome.
Oh yeah, thats gonna go away too. :(
Its all just been so haphazard..
The bonding runestone changes:
This is the update, that along with the other changes has proven to be the final straw for so many people, many whole guilds.
Modifying the piece of EQ that people have been focused on working on for years now. It takes a basic player ages to refine all their materials to BIS or near. One has to focus one something and for nearly the entire game bonding runestones were that thing. You could focus your time, investment, and materials on upgrading this first for a solid foundation to your character.
So now they are taking these runestones and nerfing them into the ground, stating they are too powerful compare to other runestones in the game. Instead of improving and expanding the the weak options that few use, they have chosen to steal back the power they fairly recently added. The 'new' bonding runestone system isn't an ancient artifact from bygone days, it was recently added.
They are taking back the stats that people purchased, and letting you buy back some of them for whats been calculated to be about 50 million AD through taking all enchants from 12-14. Not only is this a cash grab, which is to be expected, its borderline theft.
So many alternatives have been given in the forum pages above. Boosting augments, slight reduction to bondings, boosting other runestones.. etc. All falling on deaf ears.
Despite 35+ pages of commentary over a 3 day weekend the extent of dev response is a 4 line reply that starts with "At this point we are still going forward with the bonding runestones as they are now." No reasoning, nothing.
We can not rely on any kind of foundation for the time or money we spend in this game. Any time spent building up anything for a character stands a good chance of being taken away the next time devs meet and decide that too many have started using that particular method. It isn't growth, its administration through castration.
I have not outlined all the problems or details with the changes. Ill leave those massive forum threads to do that talking for me. However NW devs in the future and other games designers should always refer back to this and remember to work on growth, not on hacking off player accomplishments to meet their income needs.
Remember - 'Pleasing your customers AND making money doesn't HAVE to be mutually exclusive.'
So what to do? Mainly be cautious in your upgrading and purchases until 12b comes out. The markets have been responding wildly to every rumor and dev post. Greater marks went from 20k to 4k, bonding runestone prices have plummeted, as have non-weapon enchant prices. The power structure of groups will greatly change and so will the needed EQ to work with the new system. Finally refining is changing drastically, so it looks like things from level 1-9 will be cheaper, but 11-14 will be VERY expensive.
Read before you spend for the next while.