From: Vermont, USA
Ok, I had a night to sleep on some of the feedback here. Let me try to approach this again, because we do most definitely care what you all think.
War in the Pacific is, in our opinion, a unique game. We looked at that game and made some unique decisions on how to proceed with developing, marketing and pricing AE. Unfortunately, these decisions don't fit neatly into one of the existing marketing "boxes" that you've seen before. I think the key misunderstanding in all this though is that from our point of view, everything we did was with existing owners of WITP in mind. New customers who did not own WITP were a secondary concern. This may seem strange, but again WITP is unique and for a number of reasons we feel this is the right way to go. The decisions we made were intended to make things as convenient and affordable as we could for existing owners of WITP.
First, having AE share files or not share files with WITP is a minor technical issue. We could easily have it share files or not. We decided early on to have it not share files so that customers could continue playing their modded or unmodded WITP games without any disruption. We didn't see how it would be a good thing to have AE share files and create possible issues for WITP game continuation. Having AE share files and having it not disrupt WITP in any way would be a bigger technical issue.
Every "expansion" you've ever bought could have been a stand-alone game, it's just a technical issue to do it one way or the other and not a particularly difficult one. For those of you who see it as a big difference ethically, I want you to understand that the reason we made the decision way back when to do it this way was specifically because we did not want to inconvenience existing WITP players.
Second, the pricing. We could have priced AE as a stand-alone game and not had it require WITP. This would have increased its price significantly and also required us to offer a discount to owners of WITP. The only way to offer a discount is to check serial numbers, create a discount coupon unique to each serial number (only one per serial number) and then have customers use that in the store. We've done this before, it's not a technical challenge.
However, in our experience it is definitely a hassle for some customers. This type of route creates many possible points of failure, from customers who can't find their old serial number, to customers who lose their coupon code (or don't receive it) to customers who use it and place the order incorrectly and then can't use it again, etc. We decided that rather than make existing WITP owners jump through these hoops, if we had AE require WITP then the purchase price could already be set at the discount level and all that existing WITP owners would have to do is buy the game as they would buy any other.
Third, new customers. I've been told that we are strong-arming them, thinking for them, etc. I suppose I can see how this can come across. The truth though is that AE was always for existing owners of WITP first. That's a pretty big crowd and we felt that it's also the group that would likely be responsible for 90% of the sales of AE. We did not see AE as having a lot of appeal to customers that had already decided, over the course of the five years it's been on the market, that WITP was not for them. Still, based on recent feedback we made the decision to discount WITP for a limited time to give folks who were having second thoughts about missing out on WITP now that AE was coming out a chance to test the waters.
I am also telling you our real thoughts and discussion when I say that we really feel that AE is not a game for someone to really jump into without any previous experience with WITP. We think that for WITP players, AE is a wonderful thing, but for people who have never played WITP, AE is not just "WITP 2.0". It has a much larger map, many more units and many more rules that are based on increasing realism but that a player who is not already steeped in the real history of the War in the Pacific may not understand. It also has fewer scenarios than WITP and fewer small scenarios. It has just enough of those to help WITP vets get their feet wet before jumping into the new grand campaign, basically.
Having AE released on its own and having people jump right into it without prior WITP experience would, in our opinion, have created a potential for a lot of misunderstanding and confusion and unhappy new customers. I think existing WITP players will be delighted with AE. Someone who has not played WITP might be lost at sea though.
Finally, it is to our benefit to have both WITP and AE on the market. First, while we love AE and believe it will do well, there is always risk. Taking WITP off the market, with its smaller scale and greater initial accessibility as well as increased scenario selection didn't make a lot of sense to us. Pricing AE at $100 or more stand-alone in this economy also seemed likely to provoke a knee jerk reaction (at this point, I think frankly we were going to take heat whatever we did). More importantly, WITP and AE both fund ongoing development - WITP primarily is a help to funding 2by3 and AE primarily will help fund ongoing development of the WITP series.
This was our thought process as far as why we made the decisions we made. We're well aware of what the economy is doing now. What I think some folks here don't realize is that we really do see existing WITP players as our market and the way we set things up was deliberately intended to make new players who don't have WITP think twice about whether they want to step all the way up to AE in one jump. I think this is surprising to a lot of folks, but we felt that our primary concern should be addressing the needs of the people we think will make up 90% of AE's sales and making sure that the pricing and procedures were set to make it as enjoyable as possible for them.