The email caught me off-guard.
“Hey Dredd,” the author wrote, submitting through Gepard Diary’s contact page. “Silver is out on discount for eleven more hours. Can you help us with a review/recommendation?”
First, I was delighted to hear that Silver finally made its way to the store window. For reasons to be revealed soon, my iOS and Android accounts had both run historically low. Indeed, the Android one was so broke that I had to let the Workshop lay idle.
I was surprised to get a request for real-time financial advice, but then I suppose I shouldn’t have been. I mean, the “Wall Street” series of articles about Pixonic’s new deals have been very popular if traffic has been any indication. Who knew that people facing a financial decision might like to have all the data available to them before making it. Crazy, right?
I jumped on my laptop and pulled up the conversion tables (seen below), doing some quick calculations. I took that and ran it back into the Aurora Nova Discord, in case one of the few hundred of us were at that moment weighing the same thing. And then I shot an email back to the gentleman who had first inquired with a screenshot of what I’d posted in Discord.
And with that done, I promptly fired up the Android tablet and treated myself to 33.5m Silver. With the time I’ve spent in front of a calculator and spreadsheet this week, I felt I’d earned it.
CORRECTION: It has been pointed out that my phrase “any other ingame method” above is incorrect. To clarify, I meant any other standard, non-promotional method. Clearly if you use discounted Gold to get discounted Silver, the rate will change.
Now, let’s get into it, starting with the tables I used last time to show conversion and efficiency rates. Note that this feature is the conclusion of a trilogy, which also covered the competitive landscape for ingame sales (Part 1), and the first batch of Pixo’s offerings plus an in-depth look at methodology (Part 2).
And now, more deals!
The Breakdown: This is the type of deal that the community is buzzing loudest about- the WSP gear sale. On first blush, the prices do seem the stuff of exaggerated taproom tales.
“What would you rather buy,” the question would go, “a Magnum or a Lancelot?”
“Well, I love Magnums, but…we get them for free.”
To understand this deal, we need to understand a bit about the Workshop. The Workshop unlocks at level 20, and offers you both a steady stream of WSP as well as one-time bonus amounts as you level it up. Ultimately, it’s simply a way to trade time for resources. You can buy additional WSP for Gold, but aren’t required to- every 24 hours you’ll get 510 WSP (in six four-hour increments) and a daily lump sum of 40, for a total of 550 WSP from doing nothing more than logging into the game.
A Magnum costs 3,750 WSP, which means if you harvest your WSP daily, you’ll have one in seven days (3750 / 550 = 6.82), absolutely free.
Now, I usually buy the first two WSP deals every day. That’s an added 13 Gold (5 for the first offer, 8 for the second), giving me 140 WSP (60, then 80). So my WSP income is typically 690 WSP/day, which means I’d get a Magnum in just over five days, spending approximately $0.65 to hurry things along the extra day.
Again, it’s vital to understand what’s at work here, which is the interplay between real money, Gold, and time. Many folks don’t think of time as a resource, but it most certainly is. And while it will be subjective and vary from person to person, it’s also a resource that you can put a value to. We touched upon this awhile back with the guide on prioritizing the fifth slot, but time really does equal money. It’s why items for sale in a “convenience store” are typically more expensive than the same item at a grocery store. You’ll pay more, but a part of the deal you’re essentially “buying” the time you would have spent in Stop & Shop that you won’t be spending in 7-11.
That means convenience stores have a balancing act to maintain. They have to price their products high enough to make the most return on their investment, but not so high that it incentivizes too many consumers to simply go to the grocery instead. The same balancing act is at play here. Gold and Silver are both play-based (you earn them by playing) and purchase-based. WSP are time-based and, to a degree, purchase-based. We’ve remarked that a “bulk discount” is in effect with Gold and Silver. The more you buy at one time, the cheaper they get on a per-unit basis.
Turns out that when it comes to WSP, the opposite is true. WSP’s are designed to reward longevity in the game, not to be short-term power boosts. Consequently Pixonic has structured them to disincentivize rapid accumulation. Tortoises, not hares, come out on top in this particular race. Let’s take a look at what this looks like in the game itself.
In the above graph, Harvest represents the daily amount of WSP you can get just for logging in, and right next to it is the 40 you get as your Free daily purchase. From there we have more and more purchase unlocks. I got this data from the superb War Robots Wiki, so if someone has gone deeper down the rabbit hole than this, I’m not aware (or it might not be any deeper, as noted in a bit).
As you can see, the more you spend in a given day, the less efficient your returns become. Imagine every time you spent $5 buying Gold in a day, the Gold amount of the next buy went up by 10% but the dollar amount went up 20%. Yes, if you needed it in a pinch, you could hold your nose and tap that Buy button like a Skinner Box rat, but it would be much more to your long-term advantage to simply make one transaction a day and allow the ratio to “reset.”
Now, let’s go back to the Magnum deal.
Sale Price: $54.99
Best Actual: $16.42*
Worst Actual: $22.98
* or free, if you wait two weeks
Whoa… conventional wisdom has held that the prices for the WSP items may be outrageous, but it’s only because Pixonic is charging “full value” for the WSP it would take to acquire the Magnum in a single day. That’s a reasonable assumption, since this is the first time we’ve seen a pricetag assigned to something like this.
But it’s also wrong.
Let’s start with the MSRP of $80, and the WSP cost of 7,500 for both. Simple division informs us that this offer gives us 93.75 WSP per dollar spent- or 0.9375 per penny. Remember that in our last piece, we established that one penny (USD) is the low-efficiency equivalent of 1 Au, so this means that the rate of exchange Pixonic is using in this deal is 1 Au = 0.9375 WSP.
That’s terrible. Looking back at the above graph, we see that on our 13th prime of the pump, the least inefficient return, we’re still getting more WSP for our hard-earned Gold. That torpedoes the “well, $80 must be how much you’d have to spend in a day to get two Magnums.”
In actual fact, you’d have to spend between sixteen and twenty-three dollars’ worth of Gold. The variation simply indicates the level at which you bought your Gold. If you’re a $5-at-a-time buyer, you’ll pay the higher price. If instead you buy your Gold a hundred dollars at a time, you get the lower price. Now in fairness, I should note that the price I’m computing includes the 550 WSP you get for free each day, but even still that’s not enough to explain the price increasing that much.
Three Gekkos. My brother is a woodworker, and he has a simple solution when he’s asked to take a job he’d really prefer to pass on: bid high. That way, if the client still wants to move forward, it’s a little more lucrative, but overall it lets him avoid some of the more tedious labor and focus on more creative work.
I’m somewhat reminded of that here. It’s almost like Pixonic said, “look, we’d rather they not fall into the hands of low-level players, but if they’re gonna shell out that much money, wellllll…”
It was this package (and worse, the Hydra one) that was responsible for the lion’s share of the blowback directed at Pixonic about the ingame deals. Although as we’ll see, Pixonic wisely recalibrated with a later deal, but for some it was one of those “no second chances to make a first impression” moments, proof that Pixonic was simply out of touch with its playerbase- or simply clueless.
That’s a cynical view, and not one I share. While I do agree that the prices were baffling, it’s worth noting that historically gamers tend to react poorly when something they worked hard for eventually gets offered widely at less time and/or resources than it originally took to earn. This is often derided as a “cash grab.” And if you avoid this scenario by pricing an item high, well, that’s also a “cash grab”.
For my part, I don’t really understand the outrage. If you don’t like the price, don’t buy it. They’ll either sell enough to those who have little issue with the price, or market forces will compel an adjustment.
The Breakdown: This is where I think there’s a lot of opportunity for Pixonic, releasing “package deals” of established bot/weapon combinations. Although Aphids aren’t my preferred Stalker weapon of choice, they’re perfectly serviceable. But is the price?
Sale Price: $64.99
Best Actual: $16.42* + $10.71 (Aphids) = $27.13
Worst Actual: $22.98* + $15.00 (Aphids) = $37.98
* Again, WSP are free with patience
According to the WR official FAQ, the amount of WSP that can be purchased each day is limited, so I am going to make the assumption that the data I have from the Wiki is comprehensive. No matter how much Gold you possess, the most WSP you can get in a day is 4,820. If this assumption is wrong, I’d be delighted for a correction.
But assuming it’s correct, that means you’d have to go deep into the WSP conversion on two different days. If you’re happy to take my word for it, just skip to the next paragraph. Otherwise, buckle in, this gets a little wonky. Essentially, you have to collect all thirteen WSP purchase opportunities represented on the above graph on Day 1 in addition to the harvest value, which gives you 4,820 WSP at a cost of 1,748 Au. Then on Day 2, you need to get the first eleven opportunities after harvest, adding 3,260 WSP for 728 Au. This will give you a total of 8,080 WSP for 2,476 Au. Since we only need 7,500 WSP for a Stalker, however, we can do a little arithmetic (8080 / 2476 * 7500) to arrive at a Gold value of 2,298.27. As before, we’ll use the values in table 1 to convert Gold to real money (RM) and populate our Best Actual and Worst Actual figures.
So what does this mean? It means that the “cash value” for this bundled deal is actually around half of the sale price. Like the Magnums, it’s a terrible deal on that basis. Earlier in this series I’d discussed how convenience stores charge you a premium for the convenience of getting the items they carry. In that sense, paying twice as much for an Aphid Stalker is simply what you’ll need to do if you want one immediately rather than waiting.
As with the Magnums, it’s worth noting that this early deal might have been substantially off, but Pixo had to start somewhere. Again, we’ll see a course correction coming up.
The Breakdown: Like any good customer loyalty program, my local grocery store looks to tempt me to make purchases with all manner of coupons and discounts. These typically come in three broad categories: stuff I’m not interested in, stuff I might be interested in, and stuff I already buy. No points for guessing which of these is my favorite. The Premium promotion here falls squarely in the third camp, making it a most welcome sight.
Currently, Premium is offered in two packages, a 10-Day and 30-Day. 10-Day is $4.99, or let’s call it $0.50 a day. The bulk package is $9.99, or $0.30 a day, which has long been a bit of a no-brainer. But how do these stack up, given that they’re in very different increments of time? For Best Actual, I’ll use the bulk rate, and for Worst Actual I’ll use the 10-Day rate.
MSRP: $1.99 / $12.99 / $99.99
Sale Price: $0.99 / $9.99 / $69.99
Best Actual: $0.90 / $12.00 / $96.00
Worst Actual: $1.50 / $20.00 / $160.00
If you needed a better example of how the pricing on this is much more likely an issue of “inattention to detail” rather than “greedy, misleading Pixo,” you are unlikely to find it. This promotion is a little bit of everything, but ultimately it’s consistently inconsistent.
Let’s start with the 3-Day package. At the 10-Day rate of fifty cents a day, this thing costs $1.50, but Pixonic inflates the MSRP up to $1.99. This isn’t unreasonable- the less you buy, the less efficient the cost/benefit ratio becomes. For all we know, $1.99 is exactly what a 3-Day package would cost were one offered, so there’s nothing to see here on that score. As for the Sale Price not beating the Best Actual, that’s also explained by the rate difference.
But then it gets really interesting. Note how close the 40-Day and 360-Day MSRP and Best Actual values are. Notice how much of a difference lies between MSRP and Worst Actual. If Pixonic wanted to inflate the MSRP to provide the illusion of a deeper discount, they had plenty of room to work with, and work with legitimately. It’s a perfectly reasonable statement to say, “360 days of Premium is worth $160.00″ and advertise a 56% discount.
If the person in charge of setting these sales at Pixonic was given a directive to be as flattering as possible to the company, there’s no way they would have missed this (or the Silver deal at the start of this article). This is the the easiest type of transaction possible- no converting RM to Gold, then Gold to Silver, or WSP or anything else.
As for the deal itself? These are fantastic offerings, and if you’re open to spending real money then these should be given serious consideration. Veteran players know that the early flood of Silver is deceptive, and that it’s the most valuable currency in the game.
One Gekko. Excellent value for the consumer. I expect to see these again.
The Breakdown: Like the Aphid Stalker, this is a package-deal put-together of two Gold items and a Silver. I find it a bit odd that you’re only getting two weapons for a bot with three hardpoints, this probably needed to have two Tulumbas just for aesthetics.
Sale Price: $25.99
Best Actual: $8.32
Worst Actual: $39.18
So let’s break this into its component pieces. The Galahad is 2,500 Au, the Orkan a further 1,200 for a total of 3,700 Au. The Tulumbas are stock at level 5, and cost 435,000 Ag. Using the tables at the start of this piece, we can get an idea of the range of RM cost for this deal, and again the results are surprising. Pixonic could have claimed this package was just under $40, which is a legitimate claim. Instead, they split the difference almost down the middle with their MSRP.
The actual discount itself- relative to their arbitrary MSRP– isn’t that great, but this is a solid deal. One Gekko.
The Breakdown: The Taran is an absolute staple for so many bots. Galahads, Lancelots, Griffins, Rogatkas, Cossacks… you name it, someone’s slapped a Taran on it and probably did pretty well. But this falls into the same category of the first deal we looked at, the Magnums, as a WSP price-point sticker shock. A Taran costs 5,650 WSP.
Sale Price: $44.99
Best Actual: $19.65
Worst Actual: $11.65
Three Gekkos. Pixonic got the WSP deals wrong, period.
The Breakdown: As all three of these are Gold items, I’ll go ahead and analyze them together. This one’s pretty simple, because we only have two currencies to compare (RM and Au). Aphids cost 750 Au, the other two are 1,500 Au.
MSRP: $7.99 / $12.99 / $12.99
Sale Price: $6.99 / $9.99 / $9.99
Best Actual: $5.36 / $10.72 / $10.72
Worst Actual: $7.50 / $15.00 / $15.00
Sure you’re saving money, but you’re really not saving all that much. The MSRP of the Aphid seems to follow the “round up to the closest 99-cents” principle, which is no great crime. But again with the Zeus and Ancile, we see Pixonic not fluffing the discount by presenting us with a baseline Gold-value MSRP. Listing $15.00 is perfectly fair, which would make these one-third off.
Another blow to the cynical “Pixo screwing over the players” narrative.
Sale Price: $44.99
Best Actual: $11.65
Worst Actual: $19.65
The numbers here are exactly the same as the Taran, so there’s no point rehashing all that. I did want to highlight this particular deal for an entirely different reason. This, more than any other, was the poster child of ripoff deals because of the perceived lack of quality with the Hydra. That turned this deal into a lightning rod for any frustrations players might have with Pixonic or their pricing.
I still remember blowing my Rhino budget on Hydras for my Doc, which I’ve never regretted. But after that and the Spydra Griffin, they’re a fairly narrow loadout. In the ‘lessons learned’ file for Pixonic, the note “don’t try out exploratory pricing with narrow-appeal weapons” is certainly written in marker.
Over the course of this series, I’ve reviewed a dozen Pixonic deals, but more than that have been fully transparent about the statistical basis I’m working with. At this point, no matter what deal Pixo offers, you have the tools to do the same analysis yourself. Hell, if you’re still here reading this, you might have the interest too!
But in general, it seems like the Gekko Greed scale broke along fairly consistent lines. The best deals (one Gekko) were deals for raw resources, like Premium and Gold. The moderate deals were for weapons and bots, with the worst offenders (three Gekkos) being the Workshop point ones.
By way of a postscript, I’m very encouraged by a new offer I noticed the other day.
I’m not going to break this down to the granular level. Rather, let’s compare this deal to the one that opened this feature. There, two Magnums had an MSRP of $80. Here, you get the same deal, with a Jesse and pair of Pins thrown in for $20.
Wait, a Jesse for less than twenty bucks? Fat chance- the Jesse has consistently been 3,500 snowflakes, coins, or Influence Points. If we assume a 1:1 ration between special currencies and Gold, then even at the most favorable rate of exchange 3,500 Au will still hit us for $25.00.
The only conclusion, then, is that Pixonic has lowered the price of the Magnums.
Market forces at work.
Thanks for reading!