Live And Die By The Sale

Last weekend, DDO had a pretty major sale going. All adventure packs were 30% off, and the $50 Turbine Point package was awarding 6,900 points instead of the usual 5,000 points (138 points/dollar instead of 100). This week, things are back to normal, which may translate into far less money spent in the store this week.

The Impact of a Sale
For a practical example, look at the Ruins of Threnal Adventure Pack. This pack has a list price of 550 Turbine Points, which is $5.50 at the standard exchange rate. The 30% sale discounted it to 385 TP, which, at the sale exchange rate, works out to $2.89. In other words, the two sales stacked for a discount of a whopping 47.5%. This was a major incentive to buy (and, perhaps as importantly, spend) points, and I'm guessing that they did indeed do a lot of business last weekend.

The problem is that, where I would have paid $3 for this pack, I was not willing to put $47 - three months sub to the MMO of my choice - on deposit with Turbine simply to secure the exchange rate deal. Buying Turbine points in any quantity smaller than $50 is a much worse deal (in addition to not getting the bonus sale points), and this particular pack was more of a want than a need, so I decided to pass. Now, with the sale over and the pack costing twice as much, I'm even less likely to bite.

The Inflexible Sale
Sales are a powerful tool - I literally went from never having played DDO to buying $50 worth of points when the 6900 point deal was offered back in March. The problem is that the sale price affects the perception of the regular price. Worse, having such a large difference (38%) between sale and regular exchange rates makes just about any other sale Turbine could come up with moot; I'm not going to leave 1900 points on the table by purchasing $50 worth of points when there isn't a sale on, just to save a few hundred points in discounts on some adventure packs.

In the end, the content I bought with the points I had banked will last me for a while yet, but I will probably end up scaling back my DDO time (and therefore any possibility of making DDO purchases) until the next time a sale happens when a $50 purchase fits in my budget. (Given the history of LOTRO promotions, I'm not too worried about the wait.)

I'm okay with that for the most part, as I'd never really planned to have DDO be my primary full-time game anyway. Turbine might be less okay with that, if they are under pressure to produce regular monthly income. In this particular case, the inflexible nature of their heavily sale-incentivized payment model has literally cost them a purchase.

I guess they believe these kinds of promotions train players to spend more liberally in the short-medium term, and that this will ultimately be worth more than the amount of money they lose from players who actually care about sticking within a budget. In the long term, this type of attitude plays a big part in why non-item-shop players get the impression that item shop games are out to soak them for all that they're worth. Perhaps Turbine may not feel that they have the luxury of worrying about that right now, but it could come back to bite them later.