When I came home, Conrad was bouncing with excitement: "Rav, you need to login and get one of these for your stronghold. Now!"
I must admit I was curious about this so called 'slot machine'. If it had managed to get stronghold-hater and self-proclaimed vagrant Conrad enthusiastic, it surely must be a special thing.
A quick search on the GTN taught me the decoration was worth over 3 million. I did not have that kind of money on me. Conrad had already fruitlessly spent 4 cartel packs in order to get one and was getting ready to buy one from the GTN and install it in my stronghold. But then I got lucky and got one in my second cartel pack. The clicking could begin.
While Conrad was practically glued to my slot machine, general chat was buzzing with fellow slot machine addicts. This excerpt comes from Nar Shaddaa:
Apartment owners talking in Nar Shaddaa general chat
This teaches us several things:
1) "Playing it is exploiting it"
The truth is obviously a bit more complicated. Just using a slot machine definitely is not an exploit: you are using the decoration in the manner it was intended by the developers. These even gave out an official statement saying so. It is possible the player quoted meant the word 'exploit' in its non-gaming meaning: to take advantage of the high rewards that can be gained by playing the slot machine now, implying that this lavish amount is not intended by the developers and may be decreased in the future.
There is, however, an opportunity to use the machines in a manner certainly not intended by the developers: due to their repetitive nature, slot machines are especially suitable for the use of macros. With a simple text script deployed, a character with some stacks of coins in their inventory can simply keep clicking the slot machine and reap its rewards while the player is away from their keyboard.
disco ball = cartel certificate
2) "I got <insert nice stuff here> from it"
The slot machines offer the following rewards:
- Reputation items for the Contraband Resale Corporation (green, blue, purple);
- Scrap metal to exchange for crafting mats at jawas (green, blue, purple);
- Cartel certificates to exchange for rare items.
It's noteworthy that reputation with this faction could previously only be gained by spending (real) money on cartel packs. Making this reputation available through slot machines actually opens it up to a broader market. A remarkable development, because it in practice removes incentive to spend money on the cartel market to get that one special thing. Not that I'm complaining, of course.
It is not hard to get reputation through the slot machine, in fact, I quickly had reached my weekly reputation cap. It is also not hard to get any of the other items. The cartel certificates are the most rare, but even they are not all that hard to get. I soon had collected enough for a meditation chair or a sith throne - now I just need to wait until Tuesday to get the reputation sorted.
For only 500 credits per coin (which you can even 'win back' at the machine as well), the rewards are indeed lavish.
3) "WTS [purple crafting mat] 11k each"
And this is where the problem starts. If my memory servers me correctly, midlithe crystals were worth around 50k or more. Purple M was selling them for 11k. Checking the GTN at the moment of writing, they are worth 5k. Crafting materials are depreciating rapidly due to the influx of crafting materials gained through slot machines. This is great news if you need to craft yourself some stuff. But if you make money through gathering or crafting and you don't like spam-clicking machines, you're out of luck.
4) Slot machines may give out alots!And if you're as unlucky as Green M, it doesn't even give out anything else.
I'm happy the developers came up with a usable stronghold decoration; it is something I have been hoping for for a long while. Fellow LotRO players may remember the clickable furniture of that game, like ('drinking' from) kegs that would transport you to the most ridiculous places. I'm all for that kind of thing, and I hope more items will be following.
I do believe, however, that some of the current rewards need to be dealt with. The high amount of purple scrap metal (interchangeable for purple crafting materials) available through the slot machines has a devastating effect on the in-game economy. Assuming people keep using them en masse, gathering and crafting will barely be profitable, and our market will be controlled by people using macros. Removing or greatly reducing the amount of purple scrap metal earned would solve this problem.
Luckily, it seems the devs have picked up the issue while I was writing this article: "(...) we do hear the concern from many of you around the effects of the Jawa Junk’s drop rate on the economy. We are going to take a look at it and make changes accordingly. I will let you know once I know more." (Eric Musco, 16/01/2014 on the SWTOR official forum)
With that said, let's enjoy the rewards of the slot machine now we still can. I for one am going to try and augment my characters (yay for getting those annoying purple slicing mats). If you happen to play on the Red Eclipse and don't have a slot machine, drop me a message and you can play on mine.