Item refunding (and why it isn’t happening, sort of, kinda, in a way?)

Alternative Title: How Cubes and Crates work in [BB] and why cube refunding for items isn’t really a thing, but maybe it will be.

As players recently have noticed they’ve been acruing items over time, a common request has come up – can we please do something with these items (ie, refunding for a % value) please?!

Well, the answer to this is – sort of, maybe, kinda,  yes…? But no.

From a gameplay point of view, Cubes are actually quite important in the ecosystem of things, even if players don’t initially realise it (and this will be a larger scale of why many other games implement this feature for what seems entirely redundant in some cases). Currency in a game is an easy way to express progression; without having to actually display anything other than an arbitrary number going up. User completes action A; they receive X currency reward. User complates action B; they receive further X currency reward. In mobile games this is actually used heavily to try and tap in to that part of the brain which likes to gamble and so on, but more on this another time.

Within the [BB] ecosystem Cubes allow for a sense of progression, a journey. Once you’ve reached so far in that journey you’re able to purchase a cosmetic to display how awesome you are! That item then becomes part of the next leg of your journey as you continue to farm for more Cubes to kit yourself out – for the bigger; the better and flashier looks. For a while Cubes were the only way to gain items – so if you weren’t good at the task given to you: you basically gained nothing. 

This sucks – so how can we improve this? Random crate drops!

Crate dropping systems are in some way predatory (but that’s a blog post for another day) however they fill an interesting niche that both conflicts yet compliments the Cube system. Within [BB] every day or so you’ll gain a crate when you spawn. For many players this is often the first time they load in on a fresh day – but technically every death (assuming the internal cooldown isn’t active for that player) can trigger a crate drop. Within these crates is a sample of items – often new sets mixed alongside some older sets with high quality, high sought after items alongside what many items will consider to be junk – or low value items. Better yet – you can often get a version of the item which is ‘unusual’ which has special effects and has an approximate 2% value to appear.

To move things along a bit, we end up hitting a wall. We have items now being conjured out of thin air (as opposed to being traded for Cubes) meaning that over time players are going to accrue a large amount of items that they don’t really want. And there’s nothing worse than forcing something on a player which they really do not want. This brings us to the current predicament where players are looking for solutions that others have implemented and are going ‘why not do this!’

Remember how I said that the Cube and Crate drop system somewhat compliment each other but also fight each other? By giving players items for free; we’re diminishing the value of Cubes – especially so when we’re offering special effect versions that can only be uncrated. With this Cubes are now less attractive albeit still serving a purpose of progression and allowing players to get an item directly as opposed to rolling the dice. However, what if we allowed them to refund these items for % values?

Well, this is where things go haywire. If we start allowing for items to be turned into a direct Cube value it completely destroys any value Cubes have. Under the right conditions and drops players could actually earn far more from a refund than they would playing the actual games themselves. The fact that players are suggesting that items be turned into Cubes shows that the player considers Cubes to at least have value; possibly (and understandably, it’s not their job to) not seeing the long term consequences. What players want is a useful way to take items and morph them into something else to be useful, this is where the crafting system comes in.

Essentially with crafting you’ll be destroying items you never use / want which will allow you to build up to making various items. Internally there’s some debate as to if we should release the demolition system first (ie the destruction of items) to allow you to gather reagents – but this doesn’t really solve the issue long term because all we’re doing is replacing one item that actually has a use at that time to an item that literally just sits there (think the Halloween candy or the xmas charcoal). So all I can say really is watch this space. We’ve heard you loud and clear – we just need to see how we can make this a priority and the best way of making it at least somewhat interesting (and decent). The last thing we want is to release something that simply doesn’t work well – with a system like the painting system we’re able to get away with iterating over a few updates (which is what happened). With something that affects items and Cubes in such a way we’re only going to get a single shot at getting this right which means we need to put the work into this in the right way.

That said however, there is a use-case currently where item refunding is valid.

As of the moment there’s no easy way to preview items (no idea why we haven’t stuck this in yet, in theory we probably have all the systems in there, they just need to be connected up) so often players are having to experiment, query other players or simply take that risk which is unfair to the end player. With that in mind, what I’m happy to do from today (until we add a feature to automate this) is any item that you submit a forum post for in the dev section (something like Item Refund – Item Name) within two days of purchasing; we’ll refund you the Cube amount for 100% of the value and remove the item from your inventory. Though we do ask that you don’t decide to bulk-buy items and then choose to refund them because we do reserve that right if you’re doing it too often to simply deny the refund.

To sum it all up – we know there’s problems with the Store (including things not listed here) and the obscene amount of items players are totalling up at this point in time – but in this case it’s not entirely straightforwards to craft a solution due to the delicacy of it all and we’re working on it!

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