Cosmetic Uniform Controversy in Star Trek Online
Star Trek Online like many MMOs uses multiple in-game currencies. Reputation, fleet equipment as well as cosmetic items are purchasable using a variety of energy credits, dilithium and reputation tokens. Cryptic have therefore placed various restrictions governing these items to ensure that the game economy remains functional. However many players still amass sizeable quantities of these currencies overtime; especially those with multiple alts and sufficient time to invest in the game. At present although dilithium ore can be earned in multiple ways, a daily cap allows only 8,000 units to be refined each day. It is refined dilithium that can be used as a tradeable currency.
Five years on from its launch STO has a sizeable player base with a high percentage of veteran players. Because of the nature of the franchise, a lot of these are lifetime account holders who invest heavily in the game and make it their personal gaming focus. In a nutshell, a lot of folk have a ton of dilithium. Farming across multiple toons is a common practise and even I have a modest supply that is regularly topped up via four characters. So naturally the game developers from time to time, create new dilithium sinks as a way of reducing the surfeit of this in-game resource. Today Cryptic did just that and added some cosmetic outfits to the dilithium store; items that had previously been available in the Zen store and purchasable for real money.
As ever with matters of this nature, the decision has been met with disapproval from some quarters. The prices for these cosmetic uniforms range from one to two million dilithium. That equates to approximately 2,482 Zen at current exchange rates which would cost about £17/$22.50 in real money. The fact that these purchases are character bound and not unlockable across an entire account has also met with criticism. However it should be noted that cosmetic items and ships are already purchasable from the Lobi store for similar prices with comparable criteria, which does somewhat mitigate such complaints.
I personally have no objection to dilithium sinks of this nature and it can be cogently argued that nothing currently on sale in the dilithium store is essential to play STO. Perhaps Cryptic could offer a wider variety of items, such as some of the limited edition ships that were exclusively available from previously events. Items of this nature may well be perceived as better value than cosmetic uniforms. However offering previously exclusive items can similarly antagonise a percentage of the player base, proving yet again that you cannot please everyone in the MMO genre. Ultimately this particular “drama” will pass with time, like most others and do no major harm to the game. Furthermore the need for a dilithium sink will continue to occur through STO’s lifecycle.