I have seen enough MMO companies to recognize the symptoms.
Yes, it is a rough time for everyone, Cryptic and players alike. It is inevitable given that Cryptic made a loss of 5.3 euros (~4 million USD) last year
. Just looking at STO alone, it currently has less than 50,000 gold subscribers at this moment (frankly, looking at the amount of content and art assets STO has, I can tell needs at least 150k subscribers). Just doing some simple math, 50k x USD$15 x 12 months tells us STO's revenue is under 1 million at this point in time. If I assume roughly similar figures for Champions Online, that gives Cryptic a revenue of 2 million. This isn't even enough to cover last year's loss.
If I am not wrong, Cryptic is in fire fighting mode right now. They are doing what they need to do to get through this rough period, even if it means they have to jack up prices and employ all sorts of slightly unscrupulous marketing tricks to get the money they need to survive. If not, I can guarantee you that one year down the road both CO and STO will either be in yet another year of hell, get shutdown or get sold to some other game company.
Thought they told us they were a huge money maker, and everything was good?
Honestly, I get that they have to make money. Would just be nice if they did it in such a way that it added to the game instead of increasing angst and pissing everyone off by being blatant about it. Hell, just putting things in the bag that you'd WANT would be a good start. The ship is desireable, but pretty rare. Everything else is either garbage or just not usable by the players at the rank receiving it. Which is why you can buy basically everything in the bag BUT the ship for really cheap on the exchange. For almost no money, I bought the DS9 uniforms, a horta, and one each of the samples and commodities packs, just to see what's in them. Not going to fool myself into thinking I'll win a ship (despite the constant spam hinting otherwise), and that's basically everything in the GOLD mystery boxes, right? Wouldn't pay 100 CP for any of those things, and bought them for minimal EC instead because everyone else feels basically the same way.
make them fun, unique things, and you've got something. Not one ultra-rare and a bunch of garbage. They could have just sold the ship, made about the same money, and garnered good will. Instead they made it a lottery, and played to people's gambling instincts. Same number of ships go out in the end, but now you've got a couple happy players and a ton of pissed ones instead.