The financial argument for free, universal ship names

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up top TL;DR Free nameplates would be a financial gateway to CMDRs buying more existing ship cosmetics. It's the difference between "The name appears on the ship? AWESOME! I gotta make my ship look badass now!" and "I've got to PAY for this for anyone to see it? Even ME? Are you kidding????" Plus, Frontier Support, brace yourself for a flood of tickets from users complaining they can only see ship names some of the time...


So it's been confirmed in the March 21st livestream that while players can name their ships, it will be visible only in the corner of the HUD to themselves and invisible on their hulls and to anyone else in the game.

The argument is that it's cosmetic and does not affect the game, but it is already generating a lot of complaints from players who see it as charging for something that should have been built in to the game from the start. This is a game where the spaceship is your fundamental presence in the game, Holo-Me notwithstanding. NPC ships will have visible names, but only players who purchase a "name plate" will have transponders, apparently, and can have their names appear visibily on the hulls. Personally, I agree with that sentiment. I think this is a lousy gesture from Frontier to their biggest fans, who are the ones most likely to pay for the "privilege" of naming their ship, and the ones most likely to resent it.

So I have a counter argument based on what seems to matter most here.



£ $ € Money € $ £

Frontier, I bet you will make more money in the end by making nameplates free. Why?

Market penetration.

If you charge for nameplates, there will be a percentage who will pay it, but there will be a far larger percentage who don't. The non-buyers include the group of customers who are going to be actively angry at being charged for a feature feel strongly should already be in the game for free. Those players are the types who will likely stop buying any future enhancements and represent lost revenue streams.

Then there are the types who won't buy them anyway because they don't care. You weren't going to make any money off of them, so no loss there.

Then there's another type, who might buy a nameplate if it's cheap enough, but then again, might not because it's too much money for too little, or it's a hassle to fill out the credit card form and actually buy something, or whatnot. They, too, represent lost revenue. These people might not even bother naming their ships.

But what happens if you make a basic nameplate free, visible to everyone in scans like CMDR Name, and on every hull so it shows up anytime the ship is on screen?

Every CMDR will see the name on their ship when they are on the loadout screens, or when they are in a fighter, or in MultiCrew, or that spiffy new camera mode. It'll be on screenshots and videos.

A ship name is a way for players to connect with their ships and it becomes an extension of themselves. Players who love their ships will see the name on their ships and want to individualize them further. How? "I ought to buy a skin. Maybe some weapon/exhaust coloration."

But it's the players who might not ever bother to even look at their ships who might now get roped into buying skins. Every time they see a screenshot of their ship and it's name on a bland gray hull, it'll increase the attachment to the ship and drive a desire to make it look cool. The thought process goes from "Pay to fill in the blank on the scanner and personalize your screenshot" to "Man, it's a shame that my baby the Awesome McCoolname is flying around in a plain brown wrapper. Let's see what's on the Frontier Store that fits my ship's character..."

Charge for exotic nameplates, but make the basic one free for every ship. It's a feature that your loyal fans have been asking for since launch. It's a feature that if you charge for will generate bad blood with the type of players you really should be trying to keep in your game. But all that aside if your goal is to make money, giving EVERY player in the game a reason to notice the exterior of their ship gives EVERY player in the game more incentive to making their ship look cool. Universal ship names is a gateway to cosmetic addiction, and I think you'll find a lot more CMDRs willing to shell out for a snazzy paintjob to make their personalized ship even more personal.

I don't know if this argument will sway Frontier or not, but I think it's sound, will make CMDRs happy, and will result in more cosmetic income for Frontier. If not, I humbly offer up to Frontier my idea for their next great cash infusion scheme to address yet another long standing player request:



After all, there's nothing wrong with charging for cosmetics, right?
 
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This is pretty scummy of them, but I'm sure we'll have the same handful of voices jumping in to defend this idiocy.

Charging extra for the full version of a feature that's being included as part of an already paid-for expansion is the most transparent case of double-dipping I've seen in gaming.

The folks at Frontier should be ashamed of themselves.
 
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OP, just want to check if I understand your suggestion correctly:

Giving a basic nameplate for free will increase awareness of players' own ships, and therefore increase sales of things like paintjobs and of course fancy nameplates.

Is that correct?
 
I fully agree it's a stupid decision to charge even a dollar/euro/pound/whatever for something like this. Names on ships should not cost a dime in a game like this. A game that's about ships shouldn't charge you extra money for such a basic ship related feature.

But the choice has been made, I wish they would see reason and change their mind about it costing real money but its highly unlikely.

Sigh.
 
I think I'd have to see the pricing of nameplates before I decided it was a totally bad decision but, yeah, it seems miserly of them to withhold displaying the ship name on scan. Names painted on ships is cosmetic, name in the hud is a minor code tweak.
 
OP, just want to check if I understand your suggestion correctly:

Giving a basic nameplate for free will increase awareness of players' own ships, and therefore increase sales of things like paintjobs and of course fancy nameplates.

Is that correct?
That was my reading of it. +rep ElectricZ
 
I'm normally happy to support the FD store, but I'll be boycotting this, sadly. I see no reason why seeing someone else's ship name in your HUD is going to affect hull lettering sales.

I'd buy them simply to have my ship names in the pics I take and post, but I don't want other players ship names (in the HUD) hidden from me because of some paywall.

Someone at FD really does need a clip behind the ear...

Z...
 
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Here's a portion of the original Design Discussion Archive on the subject...

Ship Naming
  • A ship can be given a name by a commander
  • A ship name can only be registered at a reputable space dock
  • There is a fee to register the name
  • Names are not unique
  • Although ships have unique registration numbers that can be shown
  • Ship names can be changed using the same procedure
  • By default a profanity filter is applied to all ship names (separate from chat filters) “starring” swear words out
Full text: https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/6793-quot-It-is-unsinkable-God-himself-could-not-sink-this-ship-quot-Revised-Ship-Naming
My assumption, based on the text, is that the fee would be in-game credits, not real-world money.

I'm OK with charging cash for an actual nameplate, but the ship name should appear everywhere in-game, that is, in the pertinent UI, at no charge. Given the strong feelings of others, I think a simple, unadorned nameplate should be available for no money, but it's OK to charge a reasonable fee in game credits.

Also, I haven't been wowed by the nameplates that have been released so far. If FD is charging actual cash for these, they need to be amped up.
 
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OP, just want to check if I understand your suggestion correctly:

Giving a basic nameplate for free will increase awareness of players' own ships, and therefore increase sales of things like paintjobs and of course fancy nameplates.

Is that correct?
Absolutely. Look at it like this.

There's a percentage of revenue that FD has already lost by charging for ship names by people who are off about having to pay for something they think should be built into the game, or who are just tightwads in general who don't like paying extra for anything.

Then there's a percentage of players who will buy ANYTHING Frontier puts on the store in order to support the dev team and their favorite game.

Both of these groups likely frequent message boards and watch the livestreams and have already made up their minds, so their money is already won or lost.

But the vast majority of the players have no idea of what's going on. Most people don't even bother to read the splash screens on the loading page, especially if it's an advertisement. These players will see "Ship Name" on the livery screen and those who are inclined will go "Oh, cool" and type it in... And then wonder why they can't see it. Most people will shrug and move on and never give it a second thought. A percentage, again, will notice you can buy the name plate. Some will, some won't. But it's a good bet that most people will just blot it out of their minds and never go back to it.

But if Frontier makes the nameplate visible to everyone, it becomes an advertisement for the ship. If when you click between the outfitting screens, you see the name of your ship, your eyes will be drawn toward the words. Your brain recognizes the symbols and are drawn to them.

Now you have that large percentage of players who never noticed their ship names seeing it every time they go to modify their ship, or when they take a screenshot They'll see their ship's name on a plain gray hull, and there will be a percentage of them that will go "Oh, hey cool, the name appears on the ship. That's AWESOME! I can't have my baby looking like a dumptruck" and go buy a skin that reflects their ship's name. It's still just a percentage, but it's a percentage of a huge body of players who would not otherwise even think about their ship's appearance. It's advertising, plain and simple.

I tell you something else... there's another downside to charging for ship names. It will make the game look bad to players who don't know about Pay-to-Name. I'm willing to bet money that after 2.3 goes live that the bug forum will see a surge of messages saying "I entered my ship name but I don't see it anywhere" or "Sometimes when I scan a ship I don't see the ship name." That's just the fraction of the people who will respond. The rest will just assume it's the standard Elite crappy networking and move on.

Pay-to-Name is a bad idea.
 
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I fully agree it's a stupid decision to charge even a dollar/euro/pound/whatever for something like this. Names on ships should not cost a dime in a game like this. A game that's about ships shouldn't charge you extra money for such a basic ship related feature.

But the choice has been made, I wish they would see reason and change their mind about it costing real money but its highly unlikely.

Sigh.
Apparently, we got a bit too excited about it, and they got an idea.
 
Completely agree. I wouldn't mind just a free basic name plate with generic font and no bells and whistles. I'd then probably pay for cooler fonts, or other colors or symbols next to it. The fact that I have to pay to essentially stensile on some letters on my ship is a joke. All customization will be taxed. I still haven't heard if CMDR customization will have certain options behind pay walls too. If not, there will be
 
Completely agree. There is definitely some truth to the idea that making the actual registration free, while charging ingame credits per ship makes a hell of a lot of sense - and I wouldn't even personally require an external nameplate - just knowing the shipname would appear to anyone scanning me would be adequate.

I would then likely buy a nameplate or two for my ships, as that would be a vanity choice I would make.

I think this idea was born from a 'bluesky' thinking brainstorming session between Frontier beancounters, and was passed as a 'viable way of making extra profit at zero cost to Frontier'. The RGB lasers were bad enough - this is just pure and utter greed, cashing in on a feature long asked for. The thinking was probably 'oh well, so many people have asked for it, it would be daft to not charge them to have it'.

I'm already highly disillusioned with Frontier's current business practices, and their direction for the game. This is one step nearer to being just-another-greedy-game company.

And for the inevitable white knights that will jump in with the 'nothing for free' and 'entitled' cries, that only counts if the 'thing' wanted, was something that time and effort had been put into, something that cost Frontier some resources, and that would be worthy of reimbursement. Say, they'd designed some good looking nameplates. That's something to pay for, if you so wished. Adding lines of code, which amount to 'player.shipid.name = (shipname)' isn't exactly effort is it. It isn't something they spent days creating, and it certainly isn't something you'd be asked to pay for in any other game that I am aware of.

But, you will come. You will come, and spread your rep between you, high-fiving virtually in reddit and congratulating yourselves on a job well done. Because, a multimillion company such as Frontier need your support. They need you to stick up for them, the poor developers, because, we all know, that game devs don't make much money, and their children are most likely starving.

Makes me sick.
 
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If you're going to broadcast your ship name to all and sundry, then someone has to actively filter that, and that is what costs money. Too many snotty nosed 2 year old children in this universe who think dirty words are funny.
 
Completely agree. I wouldn't mind just a free basic name plate with generic font and no bells and whistles. I'd then probably pay for cooler fonts, or other colors or symbols next to it. The fact that I have to pay to essentially stensile on some letters on my ship is a joke. All customization will be taxed. I still haven't heard if CMDR customization will have certain options behind pay walls too. If not, there will be
This, make the most basic ship name plate free. Put the fancy plates in the store and people will buy that.
 
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Here's my financial argument: their decision to charge money for the privilege of having your own ships name show up on scans, is something that so disgusts me that their company will never see another cent from me again.
It is the first cosmetic feature in Elite Dangerous to:

- not have a basic default and free version available to all players
- be completely paywalled behind a purchase in the Frontier Store

It is one thing to have improved, fancy, and embellished paints, skins, outfits, nameplates, etc as store purchases, nothing wrong with that, but to have a basic feature like this totally locked behind a purchase alongside the season purchases too?


It's a new precedent for Frontier with Elite Dangerous, and not a very good one either.
 
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