The Mass Effect Multiplayer system has a huge amount of design space that is currently not being utilized. Specifically in regards to credits and credit manipulation. I have a number of suggestions that I think would greatly increase the multiplayer experience if implemented.
For those that don't know how Mass Effect Multiplayer works, a team of four battle 11 waves of enemies. On completion all players are awarded credits. They spend those credits on "packs" which contain randomly generated items. Some of the items are consumable and must be replenished, and some items are permanent, like guns and gear. There are two ways to progress in this game. First, you simply get better, which is natural and different for everyone. The second is get better gear, which is accomplished by getting more money and opening more packs. This is the same for everyone.
Opening packs is fun and exciting, I want to open more packs. Everyone wants to open more packs. I propose several methods for increasing this fun of opening packs without breaking immersion.
Hacked Credit Chit - Armor Consumable
I, II, III, IV - 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, bonus credits for one mission.
A hacked credit chit utilizes inter-species galactic exchange rate loop holes to provide the user financial benefits.
Researcher Package - Gear
-50% shields, +50% credits earned
Operatives are asked to wear special armor equipped with sensors that will survey the battlefield and analyze enemies. At the end of the mission the data is sent to HQ to bolster our research and strategic planning. Unfortunately the complex nature of the sensors requires shields to be reduced. Operatives who perform field research will be rewarded.
Bounty Rounds - Ammo Bonus
I, II, III, IV - .25, .50, .75, 1 credit per damage inflicted
Ammunition is provided by special interest groups who have a financial interest in reaper war. These groups incentivize operatives to hinder enemy forces. The special ammo pack tracks the trajectory and impact of each shot fired. All impacts on enemy targets are recorded and a bounty is payed out on total damage dealt.
These consumables can be handed out over various level of rarity. Equipping each of these would be a trade off, in that you are unable to equip a more useful mod. Im the case of research gear you take an even more immediate 50% cut in shields. Perhaps the special ammo does reduced damage, I think I would be okay with that. These would add a fun risk vs reward tension. Do you use all the money consumables at once to hit a major payday but severely cripple your load out? Do you take a plunge to platinum, or stay comfortable on gold? These are all fun choices to make as a player and would make the grinding process much less of a drag.
How about community challenges, that if successfully performed, offer a reward in payment? How about for 24 hours following a successful challenge double credits are given out? That would motivate me to perform. I (think) that would get the community to band together. Or if the above consumables are implemented, maybe they are ONLY awarded through successful completions of weekend challenges?
I can already hear people complaining "OMG now the noobs will just leech with useless money gear, way to ruin the community." Well, first, boot those pugs if you feel like you need geared out players to play with. Second, I don't agree. I think, if money items are added to the game, they will be so valuable a pug won't want to waste it in some random game. A 50% credit bonus could potentially be worth almost 80,000 credits. Would you risk that on a pug leech game? I would carefully think it through each time I use one, and I will get a huge buzz after hitting a big payday.
BioWare has, of course, implemented a real money system. If you just can't wait to buy more packs, you can spend real money. Although I am sure this happens, there is a stigma to doing so. Personally I am not opposed to in-app-purchases as I am already deep into iOS gaming, a platform where freemium IAP games dominate. However despite my comfort with it, I will NEVER purchase a pack in Mass Effect simply because there is no guarantee that I will get anything good. I am willing to spend money on … a new costume, for example, but if I open a Specter Pack I might get nothing! No deal. So what do I propose?
Compound Interest Account $9.99
Key operatives who hold a compound interest account receive 100% more credits from skirmishes.
Following in the footsteps of many successful freemium mobile games, you make an early one-time investment to permanently increase your earning potential. I personally would buy this the second it came out. It would have three benefits. One, players would invest in the game, and feel obligated to play more to get value. Two, players actually gain unlimited value. Three, BioWare makes money. Everybody wins. The game community becomes more active as people play more, players get more "fun" and BioWare gets more money. Obviously my $9.99 price point is totally from the hip. I will let better financial minds than me figure out the correct value.