With Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Online (GRO) Closed Beta “offline” for the past two weeks, I haven’t been playing any shooters at all — third or first person variety. Sure, I know the servers have been temporarily shut down awaiting the next phase of the Beta, but GRO PR and its devs have been unusually silent. I suspect the silence has been even more profound due to Ubisoft’s release of Ghost Recon Future Soldier. After all, most marketing departments know that you have to stay focused during a new game’s release and talking about multiple products would be, I guess, very confusing for the average gamer.
It was therefore with some relief that I finally saw an email from Ubisoft yesterday:
My name is Tim Adams (Arad1), I am the player experience manager for Ubisofts upcoming title Ghost Recon Online. You are receiving this email because you were an integral part of our last Closed Beta and as such I would like to personally invite you to participate in an upcoming test of the Ghost Coin sytem.
Participation in this test will allow you to experience the purchase of Ghost Coins risk-free. You will also be able to provide feedback directly to our development team. As a reward for participating you will receive a full refund to your game account, in the amount of your initial Ghost Coin purchase plus an additional 20%, when the game launches. As an example, if you purchased 100 Ghost Coins during the test, you will be granted a total of 120 GC on your game account when the game launches.
If you are interested in helping us test the Ghost Coin system, please reply back and we will send you further instructions.
Player Experience Manager
Persona Name: Arad 1
So, if I get this right:
- We Beta testers get a rather underwhelming email that many of us first thought was a not-so-elaborate phishing scheme.
- Now, assuming the email is legit, Ubi appears to be asking us for money — before — the game is actually released.
- Ubisoft wants testers to fork over real money, to the tune of 100 Ghost coins, with the promise that we will get it back once the game goes Open Beta — with a 20% bonus.
- The testers are thus offered a ridiculously low compensation for making multiple leaps of faith with their own personal financial security details. A compensation that amounts to roughly squat give or take a few decimal points.
Since I initially read the email, I’ve been of two minds over the request. First, I have no problem paying for GRO content, so the request is not completely out of line. I’ve enjoyed the Beta so far and think it is an excellent product. Most of the Beta testers are excellent and have been very friendly; in fact, I’ve had some of the best online experiences in my gaming life. Getting the testers to pay up during this phase totally makes sense given that Ubisoft wants to check their code with real transactions. Got it. I totally understand.
However, what has me a bit miffed is that Ubisoft seems to be nickel and dime-ing its testers and quite frankly it does not bode well for the fans of GRO and its future.
The consensus on Ubi’s forums is that the $USD to GC conversion rate is something like this:
- $4.99 for 675 GC
- $14.99 for 2,250 GC
- $29.99 for 5,830 GC
- $49.99 for 11,070 GC
- $99.99 for 27,000 GC
These values are not official and therefore should be taken with a pinch of salt. What it all means though, if the values are accurate, is that a top tier weapon will eventually be worth around $20USD and cosmetic items, like funky headware for instance, would be in the $10 category.
Based on the chart above, 100 Ghost coins does not translate into much. While Ubi will refund all of your 100 GC when the Open beta starts (all the Closed Beta points will be wiped), you will get a bonus! But it’s only 20%. So, if the conversions prove to be right, that would be a whopping fifteen cents.
At the very least, testers who are prepared to help out in this third Closed Beta process should have been rewarded with a high tier weapon or capability – not this pittance. At this stage in the process, Ubi should be trying to persuade its Beta testers to be game ambassadors not irritate them by this penny-pinching.
Am I missing something here?