PGI released their biweekly patch for Mechwarrior Online on Wednesday. Three of the four Phoenix mechs, the Locust, Shadow Hawk, and Battlemaster, each got two new variants with slightly different loadout options. Autocannons were nerfed in a baffling but likely meaningless way, as most of the nerfs landed on the little-used Autocannon/2. These changes were largely inconsequential, and came as no surprise to anyone.
What was a surprise was a new option in the store: C-Bill Bundles. Players can now buy one of three different bundles of c-bills (the currency earned by playing the game) for MC (the currency only available for purchase with real money). For 800 MC (approx. $4 USD), players can buy 1.1m c-bills in the small bundle, which is not enough buy any but the very cheapest mechs and not enough to fully equip one already-purchased mech. For 1600 MC (approx. $8 USD), the medium bundle has 2.4m c-bills, enough to cover most of the cost of outfitting most already-purchased mechs that do not need an XL engine. The Large bundle for 4000 MC (approx. $20 USD) has 6.5m c-bills, enough to outfit an already-bought assault mech, or a lighter mech that does need an XL engine.
These bundles aren't a very good deal, even by the standards of other options for spending MC in MWO. These bundles give players 1375, 1500, or 1625 c-bills per MC, respectively. This is a poor deal compared to buying stock mechs directly with MC, where mechs cost approximately one MC for every 2500 c-bills, let alone compared to buying hero mechs, which not only come with a usable mech, but a permanent earning boost while playing that mech. For players who simply want raw c-bills right this second, c-bill bundles are still a worse deal than purchasing champion Jenners and simply selling them for their c-bill value, which earns 3409 c-bills per MC.
The timing of this surprise addition could not be worse. Over the last several months, c-bill earnings from gameplay have slowly decreased. Player earnings have been directly nerfed by about 15%, ostensibly to offset increased earnings from 12v12 matches. However, 12v12 matches themselves decreased earnings for many players, as matches take longer and mechs die faster. Other gameplay features, such as pre-match ready screens and automated base defenses, result in more downtime and longer matches, again without any corresponding increase in earnings. Several upcoming features, including the "launch module", will add even more downtime, reducing earnings further. Players have been harshly critical of this "Paulconomy" recently. Even the appearance of nerfing c-bill earnings then monetizing the lack of c-bills is unseemly, even if it is unintentional.
This is an unwelcome addition to an already-troubled game. There already existed more efficient, if obscure, options to convert real money into usable in-game currency. The timing is unfortunate, as well, as these bundles come on the heels of direct and indirect nerfs to player earnings. Between the recently-added earning difficulties and the non-obvious poor value, these c-bill bundles simply serve to fleece new players who aren't already aware of the value of existing options.