Dark Orbit is the game I play from this company called Big Point. I've been playing now for 4 years. The game is a true one of a kind video game. The people are great, and the community is passionate. I've even seen it called a 'cult' following in Wikipedia. My complaint is one of concern for the community. I will start with some facts about the game, the most recent complaint and try to work my way into a more general flavor of the game as it stands today.
If you were to pay for it outright, a fully upgraded ship(called goliath) with fully upgraded equipment will cost you thousands of dollars on this video game even with these thousands invested it will take a player due to production time maybe a few days to get 'ready to play'.
Very few people if any go this rout.
There are two other routs that people take:
1. they spend those thousands over a few months in an event called 'mega happy hour', and get fully upgraded at a third the 'regular price' this way will still cost you over 500 dollars
2. the free to play way(well I spent very little in this last 1.5 years) in-fact I have spent the last year or so only spending money (which I regret) on a premium package and a piece of equipment(less than 100 dollars). I figure with my course load and other duties it will take me another year to get fully upgraded. This can be done for free but due to the 'bait and switch' I did pay for a premium advantage pack.
The most recent complaint 'bait and switch' is about a piece of gear in the game that gave the individual player a great advantage that would have made significantly faster their road to 'fully upgraded'. This is where a LAWYER MIGHT WANT TO PAY ATTENTION. In order to use this gear called kamikaze effectively the player needed to purchase premium advantages. The general consensus is that the effect that gave people such great advantage was a flaw with the original gear and should have been fixed from the outset. This did not happen. In fact I was skeptical that this kamikaze would continue unfettered, so I waited to see if it was fixed. It wasn't, in fact it took months for it to be fixed. My contention and please bigpoint correct me if I'm wrong is that the statistical distribution of premium purchases was falling off (on the right side of the curve) when the 'flaw' was finally fixed. This is fine. They wanted to milk this for all it was worth, I get that, and I enjoyed the benefits from it. When it came time for me to get a pro-rated refund on the remaining time on my premium package I was told no because of the nature of the premium advantages not being affected; this is clearly wrong as I only purchased the premium advantages for the kamikaze gear.
This is the complaint: After their inaction in fixing a 'flaw' the result being the purchase of premium, they wouldn't give me a pro-rated refund when they finally did fix the flaw. This practice was inept at best or devious at worst, I do not know, nor do I care which it was. I only want a pro-rated refund on my premium advantages. The following link is the other 1200+ complaints on this particular subject: http://en.board.bigpoint.com/darkorbit/showthread.php?t=414603
Ok that was the most recent complaint.
The general flavor of the game for some time has been that of a 'skinner box'. It sounds crude, but does have a significant impact on people who play games. Positive reinforcement on a schedule that keeps the compulsion to play going. On a small level I have no problem with this but when it comes down to it, my opinion of this is that it is straight out gambling. Please remember that this is a space shooter and as such CHILDREN play it whether or not the rules say they can.
For instance there is a device in game called a galaxy gate generator for which you get a 13% chance of getting a gate part. The most parts in any single gate is 128 pieces, and if you get a piece that has been already put on the board you get a multiplier. What this does is take that 13% and turn it into something like 4% on average.. nothing definite with multipliers because of the nature of them. In the end this galaxy gate will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of 1270 to 2600 spins to complete, it really plays out like a slot machine. Where a spin could cost you anywhere between 1 and 3 pennies per spin depending on how you purchased your uridium(its usually 1 penny to most shrewd consumers).. It might even be free if you 'worked' for it for a few hours. The following link is a statistical analysis of galaxy gates done by one of our more bright players: http://en.board.bigpoint.com/darkorbit/showthread.php?p=2469445#post2469445
The next instance of what in my opinion is gambling is booty keys. It does sound odd and like something out of a pirates of the Caribbean movie, but it is real and does cause a significant amount of angst in the community of players for Dark Orbit. This key costs 1500 uridium(12.5-50cents) per and it takes somewhere around 100-250 of them to get a piece of equipment necessary to achieve that 'fully upgraded' status. You need anywhere from 35-45 of these pieces to be fully upgraded. The disturbing thing about this seeming gamble is that there are no odds. It seems that the odds can be changed up to suit the needs of the business at any time.
The final bit of what I think in my opinion is gambling is just plain old bonus boxes. These little beasties seem to have no set probability distribution with respect to uridium, and can change just like the booty keys with the needs of the company. The great thing about bonus boxes is that it only costs time to get them. There is still a dark side here other than the reinforcement of addictive behaviors. It seems that if you collect a set sum of these bonus boxes in a set amount of time a 'cheater' script will catch you and will cost you possibly thousands of hours or dollars in game benefits depending on whether or not you paid. The net result is that bonus boxes are looked on by honest players as fruit of the forbidden tree and are picked up with great care and most of the time not at all.
I have outlined for you in this complaint that the company BigPoint has some big problems, but still has a game that is worth playing because of the community and the players involved. I would caution anyone getting into this game to be very careful with what they spend on it. If you get into this game its like jumping into a snake pit(you may get bitten), but other than that its fun:)