You Win Some, You Lose Some

It’s been my experience that players are very good at identifying when something in an MMO is too good be true. So when I read Eric Musco’s response to the Contraband Slot Machine, I knew right away I must have one. In a strange turn of events though, it was the player base complaining that it was overpowered and it was BioWare defending it. Here’s a bit of what he had to say about it.

 Eric Musco

We know that there have been many questions about the Contraband Slot Machine and its intent. Here are a few notes on it:

  • The Contraband Slot Machine is not bugged.
  • It is 100% not an exploit to use the Slot Machine.
  • If you feel the desire to sell access to your Stronghold, that’s totally up to you. As a reminder, do not scam people as that is against ToS.
  • We added the Slot Machine as a fun idea based on the positive feedback from the Nightlife event, so spend those credits to your heart’s content!

I dumped 3.6 millions credits into the GTN, and was soon pulling the virtual lever and shouting, “winner, winner, orobird dinner!” over and over again. The slot machine was amazing. It was as if I had found a leftover relic from the ancient Rakata empire that was made out of pieces of the Starforge.

The win rate was down right absurd, as it should be. In typical gambling establishments these machines are rigged in favor of the house, and I had put the slot machine in my house. Ergo, I was the house, and therefore should win; and win I did.

So let’s talk about what made (note the past tense here) the slot machine so awesome and apparently game-breaking. Well game damaging anyway. Here are the prizes you could win.

  • Cartel Market Certificates – These are used to purchase items from the various cartel market reputation vendors.
  • Contraband Resale Corporation Rep. tokens – These are used to raise your reputation with the Contraband Resale Corporation.
  • Scavenged Scrap – Used to purchase common quality crafting materials.
  • Assorted Droid Parts – Used to purchase rare quality crafting materials.
  • Jawa Junk – Used to purchase Artifact quality crafting materials, including grade 11 mats.
  • Contraband Cartel Chip – Gives you a free roll.

What you have to keep in mind is that the win rate on all of those items was (again, note the past tense) exorbitant. If you sunk twenty coins into the machine you were bound to win at least one of every item in that list, and likely multiples of everything.

What got most players in a keruffle was the Jawa Junk and easy access to the grade 11 crafting materials. You know, the mats you never get from running Diplomacy, Investigation and similar missions? Jawa Junk is anything but junk. It’s real credits, and the slot machine was dispensing it freely. It also had the side effect of people talking excessively about Jawas and their junk in general chat, but then again when was general chat ever anything but inane chatter.

The Contraband Resale rep. was a nice perk in it’s own right. For players like myself who didn’t have the reputation, it granted access to a cornucopia of items that could have only been acquired if you had a Hutt sized bank account.

Head over to the GTN and get a price check on hover chairs, command thrones and, Revan and Darth Nihilus’ masks. Well done, if you have the credits on hand to buy one of each. With the reputation and a few Cartel Market Certificates you can get these items for a fraction of the credits you could on the open market.

The reputation also grants you access to purchase chest pieces from the Embargoed Items vendor. That’s stuff you can’t find anywhere but here.

Given the rate at which Cartel Market Certificates were dropping, you were pretty much guaranteed to be able to buy any of those items for any toon. Remember too, the certificates are good for any Cartel Market item that you have the reputation. Normally you could only get the certificates from Cartel packs. This was going to change that.

And what if you didn’t need the Contraband rep? No problem, because tokens can be sold for credits. Enough credits in fact, to pay for the Contraband chips you need to play the slot machine, which were only 500 credits (once more I point you to the past tense).

So that’s what the developers gave us, and it’s also what they took away.

On Wednesday a patch was released and maintenance workers from the Star Cluster Casino sliced all of the machines and nerfed them to ground. The cost for the Contraband chips was increased to 750 credits. The drop rate on the scrap items and certificates is next to nothing. Factional walker mounts were added as rewards, but as someone on reddit pointed out, it’s quite possible that drop rate on those is’nt next to nothing, but may very well be nothing.

Just a quick aside here, but that’s some serious credits in that screen shot.

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Now when I pull the virtual lever I either lose, win a chip, or get a rep. token, but not enough tokens to pay for my chips. I’ve gotten one piece of scrap, and one certificate, and it’ll probably take a few million credits to win a Walker.

So, was the slot machine overpowered? Did it need to be nerfed? If the goal was to make grade 11 artifacts cheap and readily available, or if the goal was to diminish the need to run crew skill missions for those artifacts, then job well done. The slot machine was indeed working as intended.

If the goal was to create a steady supply of Cartel Market Certificates without needing to buy packs, then mission accomplished.

Alas, that wasn’t the goal for those items, and so yeah, while I had no issues with the slot machine, I understand why it needed to be changed.

I knew going in that purchasing a slot machine in it’s pre-nerf state was a risk. As Gault is fond of telling me, “you win some, you lose some, and you just lost some.”, and it’s now time for me to try and recoup that 3.6 million credits as best I can.

*sigh* Back to work.