Star Stable: 2 years in, I’m over it

northswedishIt’s been two years since Becca and I started playing Star Stable. I, at least, bought the game based on their previous update history (probably foolhardy) and since then, they’ve changed the way they update. They went from 1 to 2 new horse types plus story updates a year, to a 3 new horses every month. It feels like Star Stable has bought into it’s own hype and the “secure” feeling of being the only girl oriented horse MMO around.

According to the Kidscreen article, their planned strategy doesn’t fill me with hope. They are planning in 2017 to come up with 4 animated shorts. That’s fine. I don’t mind that as long as there is a different team working on them than the one working on the game. They are in talks with publishing houses to try and do chapter books in 2018. More kids reading, yes! I’m laughing if they think that they’re going to be publishing in 2018 unless the books are already written. But books are fine, in fact, I think books are a good idea. But these are the end of what I call good ideas as stated.

This December they plan to put out two more mobile apps, one is going to be about raising a foal that you can eventually add to the game. No word on what the other one is at all unless it’s the current MyStable & Friends app they have out. Honestly, the game doesn’t need mobile phone apps. The brand doesn’t need mobile phone apps. The brand needs to FOCUS on their major game and bringing it up to the standards of other MMOs while still catering to their target market. And then the already mentioned toys and collectibles, which I have no problem with as long as they are independent of the game. If they put codes with them for additional story lines to the game, that is my problem. Then it is no longer what I would call an “optional” purchase. There is going to be a huge black market for these codes. Hacking will increase. Players will leave. Parents already refuse to pay for subscriptions and lifetime of the game as it is. Does SSO really think they’ll play for toys with codes? Really?

You can read the article for yourself here: http://kidscreen.com/2016/08/30/online-game-star-stable-gallops-into-licensing/

There are also rumors that Star Stable Entertainment AB and Big Tent Entertainment are going to put out more games in the world of Jorvik. But there hasn’t been any other information about what types of games they are. So, with 70 company employees, after 5 years, they are going to put out more games when they can’t quality update the one they have? My skepticism knows no bounds here.

My tolerance for the game is at an all time low. It’s sad. I really do enjoy this game. My experience became really sour after a very snide and passive aggressive exchange with their Customer Service. I was trying to point out something going on with their side of the servers. Instead, they blamed me. When I finally get it through their heads that it is not my end. It can’t be my end. I’m trying to help them. I get told they know everything already basically. All I wanted to hear was my concern was being forwarded to the IT department. After this exchange, I vowed that I’d never go to customer service again. I also started to watch their exchanges with their customers more closely on facebook. None of them are remotely helpful. All of them tend to be backwards passive aggressive slaps that blame the customer instead of Star Stable Entertainment AB.

An extremely good example of this is with the recent update to OpenGL instead of DirectX. They knew this was coming. They knew that this was going to mess with the games playability. They knew that it was going to change the basic hardware and software requirements of the game. They knew that players with older computers and laptops weren’t going to be compatible anymore. They didn’t post anything about these new requirements until a week after the game was inaccessible for a great many of their players, had horrible lag and the colors were glitching. Sure, they said there was some new graphic updates coming. They said that about the makeover to Fort Pinta! They didn’t say anything about the fact that they were upgrading the entire system so much that new hardware was going to be required. In order to upgrade the system, they knew what the new minimum requirements were going to be. And they said nothing.

But hey, they’re sorry that their players can’t play. They feel really bad and they’re working really hard to fix it. This is supposed to make everything all right. (So, they are working hard to fix something that they didn’t need to actually do in the first place and they spent a lot of time and money on that changed absolutely nothing about the look of the game. Yep. Okay. Sure. You know. There is something about not fixing things that aren’t broken…)

This Kidscreen article has also been buried. They didn’t post any links to it on their website or on their news pages or on Facebook. Players found it and shared it, but not Star Stable. This is worrisome. Their public relations has never been that great social media wise anyways, but this is an important article. This is information fans would want to know!

We’re very close to a final straw. This year’s birthday is getting super close to breaking the back of the horse so to speak. There was a code for 400 SCs supposedly. This code expired within 12 to 48 hours of them posting it I believe. Not only that, because with their birthday update they changed over to the new Open GL system, people couldn’t log into the servers to redeem the code. The south east coast of North America was bracing for a hurricane. So by the time most people found out there was a code. It had already expired and was gone. Instead of apologizing and reinstating the code until the next update. Star Stable very flippantly said that people would just have to keep their eyes out for the next code.

I searched for that code on all of their social media services. Hiding codes in little videos may seem cute but it is more or less crazy. I couldn’t find it. I don’t know where it was. And this is pretty normal. They don’t cross post everything that they should. They can’t seem to get through their heads that it would make their customers happier if they post everything everywhere. I don’t care if that means I’m seeing the same thing in six places. I want to see it in six places. I’m half afraid that this code wasn’t posted at all or it was posted for five minutes or was only posted on non English sites. For god’s sake, EMAIL the codes, they can do that for everything ELSE.

I want to put this “gripe” into perspective. Star Coins cost real world money. They are used for things such as using the transport (2 Star Coins), moving home stables (25 Star Coins), buying horses (up to 1000 Star Coins), pets (25 to 300 Star Coins, I wish I was kidding, there was a frog that was close to 300 Star Coins), optional game mechanics that don’t do anything aka leading your horse (135 Star Coins), and certain clothes and gear you can’t pay for with Jorvik Shillings (up to 150 Star Coins.) 100 Star Coins costs $5.50. Therefore 400 of them would have been a $22 dollar value.That’s a $22 valued “free” giveaway that they are blase telling players to “wait for the next code” for when I looked and couldn’t find this code anywhere official. (And no, I don’t want to hear about where it was, it will only piss me off more. It wasn’t on Facebook, it wasn’t on Instagram, it wasn’t on Twitter or on their news. I shouldn’t have to dig further than that.)

As I said, a horse can cost up to 1000 Star Coins. To purchase 1000 star coins in the shop, they have a pack that is $30 dollars (which is a 45% savings over buying them 100 at a time.) 1000 star coins are a $55 dollar value.  Star Stable is putting out new horses every four weeks. So, every four weeks on a game that costs on a one payment only lifetime membership $80 dollars, tack on a $30 dollar price tag every month if your darling child wants a new horse right now. So, $360 a year? That’s major micro-transaction scamming right there.

And I know players that as soon as the new horses come out, they buy one in every color across multiple accounts. That’s $90 per account. They brag about it. So, that’s hundreds of dollars that players are pouring into the game over pixel horses. The latest horse, the Mustang, (available from level 7 in the first star rider map area) is 969 Star Coins. (This is probably in response to the players who were upset that the last few horses were available in a level 16+ area. Put it in the first area, more players can buy it right now.) Yes, that is a $30 real money purchase if the player doesn’t have the coins and wants it right now. Like I said, they are releasing 3 horses every month, and they are blatant money grabs.

Patience isn’t expressly a virtue with many of the game’s target age players. They ask for these star coin codes constantly. And you can see why, not many parents are going to expressly want to pay $30 every month into a game that they’re afraid their kid will outgrow or will disappear. (In fact, there are plenty of parents who don’t want to pay for the game at all and won’t.)  You can save star coins. And when they were only putting in say 12 horses a year (that’s 2 new horses with at least 6 colors each) it wasn’t that big of a deal. Now, my list has 7 more horses to it. It takes up to 2 months to save Star Coins from my star rider membership. That means it would take me 14 months to save for those 7 horses. And by then, no doubt they’ll put out 42 more options to choose from. You see how ridiculous this is getting?

Right now, I’m playing through Christmas because I like Christmas. But this year, I’m not giving them anymore of my money. And after this year, I’m not giving them much more of what is actually worth more than money, my time. I’m a creative person. I’m a writer. I can write my own magical horse game.

Look, I enjoy the game’s content, when there is actual content to play. The story is fine (for the most part, spiders and weird scary dolls and snakes should have been a huge no.) I enjoy the world and the graphics. I do not enjoy being pulled along by a string on vague promises that there is more plot coming someday. I am over new map areas and over new horses and new clothes. I’m done with the blatant money grabs and passive aggressive customer service. Figure it out SSO.

The Star Stable diary won’t be deleted. You’ll be able to find it in the archives if you’re interested. The Star Stable review I did has brought me a lot of traffic and I’m grateful for that, so those posts won’t be going anywhere. In a way, I’ve found Star Stable to be a real learning experience. An experience right now in how not to set up an MMO.

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