Roadmap for Early 2023

Greetings, delicious friends! We hope you had a wonderful end to last year. Now the lacre is drying off the streets and Mr Sacks has taken all that it was offered. If you can believe it, it’s 1899 once again! The time has come to talk about our plans for Fallen London in the new year.

There are things that it’s too early to discuss in detail; the year is long and full of plans. So don’t take this post as a comprehensive list. But here’s what we’re ready to announce now:

Fate and Subscription Price Change

We will be increasing the price of Fate and Exceptional Friendship this year. It’s never pleasant to hear that something you enjoy is going up in price, but we hope for your understanding.

Fate has been the same price in USD since the game launched 13 years ago (international currency conversions have fluctuated a little). It feels redundant to mention how much the game has changed in that time. It’s so much bigger, deeper, and richer, and the things you can do with your Fate are so much more varied and interesting. The benefits of having Fate have increased a lot while the price hasn’t changed.

Cumulative inflation in the US since 2009 is about 40% (and a little more in the UK), so we’re bringing in a 30% price increase to Fate - not keeping up with inflation, quite, but bringing us closer to current levels. We plan to make inflationary adjustments like this more often in future, so any further changes won’t be so major.

We’ll make this change on the 6th of March, based on the exchange rates at that time. 4 Fate will be $1.30, 10 Fate around $3.25, and 100 Fate around $26. The best value price for a single point of Fate will be around $0.23.

Prices in other currencies will reflect these increases, as determined by the current exchange rates, which we update regularly.

Exceptional Friendship will cost $9 USD a month (8.5 EUR/£7.50/$12 CAD/$13 AUD) from the 6th of March, to reflect inflation, but also recognising that we have grown what’s on offer for Exceptional Friends since the last price change in 2015. We’re also adding another outfit slot for Exceptional Friends at the same time.

An Expanded Exceptional Friendship

Details are still TBD, but we are cooking up an expansion to Exceptional Friendship that will feature a more economical way of playing the growing back-catalogue of Exceptional Stories, plus some more delicious perks.

Regular festivals and living world updates

Our regular schedule of free festivals continues throughout 2023:

  • The Feast of the Exceptional Rose in February
  • Whitsun in May
  • Estival in July
  • Fruits of the Zee, now in September
  • Hallowmas in October
  • Christmas in December

Expect also to see periodic returns to Living World events like crab hunts and a newly-rebalanced urchin war – as well as the appearance of a new Living World event or two.

Read on for more details on Estival and Fruits of the Zee.

Horatia’s Boarding House

Your efforts in reaching social goals for the Mask of the Rose Kickstarter campaign are still paying dividends: you’ll be rewarded with a new small activity in Fallen London, free for all players. Visit the main location of Mask of the Rose, 40 years on, and see how the proprietress (and boarders) are doing. Horatia’s Boarding House arrives in January.

Two more zee ports, and a conclusion to Evolution

Our next planned port of call is Gaider’s Mourn. Expect the port itself to be fairly small, but it will come alongside adjustments and expansion of the zailing experience – aimed both at adding more variety to the zailing deck, and some more challenge for experienced (or foolhardy) zee captains. We expect to launch this in spring.

The conclusion to Evolution, and our final zee port of this cycle, is Irem. We expect to launch it in summer.

The Estival

Like 2022’s Prelapsarian Exhibition, this is a summer festival with an all-new story and the return of past summer-event items. 2023’s Estival will take place in July as usual.

The Tracklayer’s City

New stories in the Upper River will arrive in the second half of 2023, to show the consequences of your choices during the Railway storyline. This will be a little bigger than we’d originally planned. The Railway is largely written by our creative director Em Short, who is leading the writing on Mask of the Rose; thank you for your patience while she works away to complete it!

Fruits of the Zee

We are making some changes to Fruits of the Zee. We plan on a redesign with some new added content; at present, Fruits is the festival least in line with our current design principles and the one with the least content. Don’t worry, items that were available in past Fruits will continue to be available.

We’re also moving Fruits of the Zee into early September, to space out festivals more evenly over the course of the year.

Improvements to the Onboarding Game

Throughout 2023 we’ll be working on improvements to the early parts of Fallen London to make the game more welcoming and engaging, especially for new and returning players. We’ll be focusing our efforts on what we call the Onboarding Game: the experience roughly up to the point you unlock second tier main highway stat areas (such as Wolfstack Docks).

This will include:

  • clearer tutorialisation and a less overwhelming new player experience
  • some improvements to role-playing in the earliest parts of the game
  • revised progression and balance affecting very early players

Many of these changes will be invisible to the more experienced denizens of the Neath. For example, we’ll shortly be rolling out a clearer tutorial to introduce new players to Social Acts, but this won’t trigger for existing characters.

And Finally, Some Planned Maintenance

You may have noticed some outages in Fallen London before Christmas, which were down to a memory fault which, among other fixes, requires that we perform some scheduled maintenance. Expect Fallen London to be out of service for a half day on 17th of January!

Thank you for your continued patronage! We look forward to bringing you all of this plus the release of Mask of the Rose in April, and all of the various delights that a game launch brings (competitions! Events! Rats! etc).

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This reasoning frankly seems a bit specious. There are certainly a lot more things to spend fate on now than there used to be, but that mainly provides incentives for players to buy more fate, rather than making units of fate themselves more valuable. The part about inflation is more convincing.

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Inflation is not convincing either. It might be legitimate to increase price of newly produced content based on inflated costs to produce it. But not for old digital content, which demands no further cost to reproduce. Well, maybe we will see proportional discount for old content, but I have my doubts.

I am looking forward to Evolution and summer festival. And maybe tracklayer city, if it wlll not be delayed again.

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That’s true, but I took it more in the sense that it costs a little more nowadays to keep the lights on at the office, so there could plausibly be a need to try to boost revenues compared to before beyond increasing profit margins.

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Fate has been ridiculously cheap for many many years. This price increase is long overdue.

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And here I thought it was ridiculously expensive already, so that after a small initial purchase I never bothered again.
After all, 45 Fate cost me around 11.- Euros and that basically buys ONE measly adventure in a text-based browser game. If that is ridiculously cheap for you, I’d love to have your financial circumstances.

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Personally, what I value most about EF is the extra candle and the ten (rather than six) cards. It adds flow and makes the experience so much more coherent. I enjoy “daily life” in the Neath, with each day bringing its chores and projects.
So the Exceptional Stories don’t really fit in with my style of play, and it sometimes takes me weeks, if not months, to take time out and play them. Though they’re not so visible these days, stashed away in the library, I still feel bad about the way they mount up.
I’ve often wished there could be another tier of support, where you get the extra candle and cards, but not the Exceptional Stories.

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That’s how I took it as well. And at a time when everything is getting more expensive, the news of a price hike got little more than a weary sigh from me. Whether Fate strikes one as cheap or expensive, in real terms it has been getting cheaper for years, so Phryne has a point in that respect. (I was an Exceptional Friend six years ago, and when I returned from my long hiatus last year, I was surprised to find that the monthly subscription cost exactly the same as before.)

That said, I’m eager to learn details about the changes to Exceptional Friendship; the extra outfit slot is a sweetener – players have been asking for it forever, and I can imagine Failbetter holding on to it for exactly a time like this – but there are dozens of Exceptional Stories I haven’t played yet, and those add up to a lot of money. I understand three-story packages occasionally appear (I have purchased a couple), but I’d like to see more options.

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Yeah, it makes sense.

Everything’s gotten more expensive. Yes, server space and bandwidth has gone up, but the most important cost is paying people - writers and authors to keep writing content, sysadmins and IT folks keeping the computer running. And as cost of living has gone up, so has cost of hiring people.

Not really any way around it IMO. I’m sure FBG didn’t like having to raise their prices and all the bad PR that comes from that, but, if their costs have gone up, raised prices are inevitable.

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My circumstances are fortunate enough to afford it, so I don’t mind a price increase to keep parity with the economy. FBG has recurring expenses, and it’s better for them to have a sustainable income.

I don’t think the value of Fate has risen considerably in, say, the past five years or so. But the most generous reading of the announcement is to look over the entire 13-year history of the game. There hasn’t been in a linear increase in value, but if you compare against say pre-2015, the stories now tend to be higher-quality (and larger) and the mechanical impacts more impactful. And while that era is a long time ago, it’s true there hasn’t been a price increase since then.

I will say that paying Fate for an Exceptional Story never struck me as a particularly good deal. The Subscription, with all its discount also more importantly its ancillary benefits, seems like a much better deal and my rough, subjective, indefinable notion of “worth it” falls in-between those. But this matters more now that the backlog has grown to what, a literal hundred? I was fortunate enough to buy-in

I’m not exactly clear on this, but is the “Expanded” EF a second tier of subscription? I would definitely be curious about that. I would, for example, be more willing to buy a slightly larger monthly trickle of Fate than I would individual Fate purchases. I hope details of this emerge before the March 6 cost increase.

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People’s aversion to the bad PR of raising prices is how the word shrinkflation has come about. At least that’s not what we’re seeing here…

I completely agree, and it makes sense: if I recall correctly, the raison d’être of Exceptional Stories was to encourage people to subscribe, and thus offer Failbetter a reliable stream of income. The ability to purchase an older story with Fate is necessary – for players who choose not to pay for Exceptional Friendship and wish to play some popular stories, or for those who play intermittently – but I doubt it was the main concern for the company, especially when this “growing back-catalogue of Exceptional Stories” was only a gleam in their eye. And although many players (myself included) make good use of the extra candle and larger deck, I don’t know how many of them would pay for Exceptional Friendship if it weren’t for the monthly story. It took a while for Failbetter to arrive at this formula, but it seems to work.

The easiest way to take advantage of the accumulated stories might be a discount attached to Exceptional Friendship, perhaps for a limited number of stories per month. That would increase EF’s value without creating a second tier, and it would enhance the motivation to subscribe in order to enjoy more Exceptional Stories. It’s a new lease of life for the older stories, which by their number and price must look a bit intimidating for many, especially newer players.

People who care only about Exceptional Stories subscribe in a certain day of the month to get 3 stories for the price of 1.
Bigger candle and more cards is pay-to-win (+14-100% actions per day depending on playstyle). I would say it’s mild as things like this go in f2p games.
Additional outfits are pure evil. Selling QoL interface feature for real money.

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Ye, this is one that bugs me the most! There is an ingame “inflation” of items, stats and possible gears so my take on this is that free accounts must have additional outfit/s as well! One more free and more unlockable for everyone. :slight_smile:

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Thanks everyone for your nuanced responses to this news. It’s not pleasant to make such changes, but I’m glad for your understanding. (I’m not sure we’ve been called ‘pure evil’ before though!)

The EF+ idea is indeed going to be an additional subscription tier. Exact format is still being figured out, but with EF100 approaching in July, the time seemed ripe to make an offering like this!

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Do you know when you’ll have more details? I’m sure it might factor into some players’ decisions of whether/how much to stockpile Fate ahead of the price increase.

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Should you really be giving away the sneaky tactics?

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We don’t mind. We’re in this for the long haul, so it’ll all even out eventually. :)

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I don’t know at this point, but that’s a good point. I’ll see what we can do!

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Thank you for creating such a great game, and after not raising the price in over ten years, I can see how it needs to happen. $9 a month is not that bad, I’ll gladly continue to subscribe.

I may try the extra method to unlock more past stories too, since I just started playing a few months ago :)

They said it’s a 30% price increase. So, $1 worth of Fate will be $1.30 USD, starting in March.