In the original Star Trek series, Harry Mudd was described by Captain Kirk using the words “thief,” “swinder,” “con man,” “liar,” and “rogue.” Such colorful descriptors might make him the kind of person you wouldn’t want as a mascot for your store in a free-to-play game, but that’s just what Perfect World Entertainment and Cryptic Studio have done with the recently implemented “Mudd’s Store” in Star Trek Online, which has resulted in players using even less complimentary language than Kirk.
Mudd’s Store offers a variety of items — straight up, no loot boxes — ranging in price from 1,000 Zen to 3,500 Zen, or $10 to $35. While players are a little miffed at those costs, what’s gotten them even more riled up than a bunch of bloodthirsty Klingons is that those are supposedly “sale” prices, all at 75% off. This would put the “real” prices at $40 (for a holographic bridge officer) to $140 (for the Tier 6 Vizier Command Assault Cruiser), price tags that would put even a Ferengi to shame.
While players initially thought that the “real” prices were a joke, playing off Mudd’s reputation as a shady huckster (“It’s actually $40, but for you? I’ll knock it down to $10!”), Cryptic has confirmed that yes, the items will be at those higher prices after their “sale” is over. How long that will be is as yet unknown, and there are some rumblings from angry fans that consumer laws may have been broken, as several countries require an item to be offered at a “regular” price for a time before going on sale.
Whether or not any illegal acts have been committed, it’s clear that players’ feathers have been ruffled by the pricing and dubious “sales.” Whether that will result in Cryptic changing anything is up for debate. In either case, the prices are probably not that far off from what players should have expected from non-loot-box-gated gear, which I crunched the numbers on a while back. And for a game like STO, which relies heavily on loot boxes for its income, the numbers might be expected to be slanted even higher — though $140 a ship still doesn’t come close to matching the excesses of something like Star Citizen.