Let me start by telling you a little about my situation so you can get an idea of my perspective (Saxywolf). I like my stories in dead tree format instead of staring at a screen. I previously have no experience reading ebooks. I don’t own a Kindle or other special device beyond my Android phone. I don’t read a whole lot of Battletech fiction (actually I just haven’t read much at all lately). The last Battletech fiction I read was the 8 novels of The Great Refusal to prepare for our convention games. I have no real clue what is offered beyond the general description:
Each month we bring you exciting new content, including a mix of exclusive fiction, in-universe new articles, opportunities for interaction with writers, developers, and artists, sneak-peeks at upcoming products, and even scenarios and tracks you can’t get anywhere else!
As I’m writing this portion, I’m still not convinced to purchase a subscription. I took the plunge anyway just so I could see what the deal was and let you know the details. I also wanted to get the First Strike: BattleCorps Compilation Vol 2 as a PDF so I could verify some information on an upcoming scenario post.
BattleCorps subscriptions come in three sizes depending on your tolerance for long term commitments.
- 1 Month for $9.95
- 3 Months for $26.95 (saves $2.90 over a monthly subscription)
- 6 Months for $44.95 (saves $14.75 over a monthly subscription)
- Recurring 1 Month is -$1 and recurring 3 Month is -$2.
When ordering the subscription, the page for adding a subscription to the cart has you select a faction and says:
If you do not already have an account, please select a faction below. Existing accounts will not change faction if a new faction is chosen.
What does that mean and why am I selecting a faction? Since I’m logged in, it should auto-detect my faction instead of telling me that my choice doesn’t matter. I realized however that this body of text is not automated. So, I’m actually not even sure if I had a faction. There isn’t an option to choose later, but while not immediately obvious you can switch factions. It isn’t a comprehensive faction list, but it does have the popular ones. Also, since the faction specific forums are not as active, limiting the choice some helps to avoid joining an inactive forum.
I was pointed to a ClassicBattleTech.com forum with threads announcing releases, but who is going to read a forum like that to figure out what kind of fiction they would have gotten. Anyway, this is what I got:
- Over 120 products for free download… right away.
- Access to purchase over 440 additional products in ‘Battletech -> BattleCorps’ Fiction
- 5% discount on ALL BattleCorps purchases.
- Access to a faction forum in the BattleCorps forums (Presumably to discuss ‘Mech configurations, tactics, etc.) Not to be confused with the Classic Battletech forums.
A very nice surprise was that it turns out that there is a plethora of previously released products you get for free right away. There isn’t a list or even a way to figure out what they would be before buying. But once subscribed, they aren’t too hard to find. I found 85 free products in my Fiction page right off the bat. I also found 38 additional free products in the BattleShop under Battletech -> BattleCorps Fiction. I don’t know why they weren’t automatically added to my fiction page, but I simply sorted the BattleCorps Fiction by price and went down the list adding all the $0.00 products to my cart. If you too are going to download all the free stuff right away, add the $0.00 products before going down your fiction list and downloading every item so as to avoid having to figure out which you already downloaded.
What exactly does ‘stories from five years of back issues‘ mean? This seems to be another instance of static text. It seems I now have access to purchase upwards of 7 years back and all of it is still only for members.
What is the ‘Subscriber Exclusives‘ category? I don’t see anything in that BattleShop category. It’s as though I weren’t even logged in. The message at the top says “Join the Corps” but since I know this body of text is static and not automatically customized for me, why isn’t there also a statement like there is at the top of ‘Battletech -> BattleCorps Fiction’: “If you are a BattleCorps member, but see no fiction on this page, then…”? I’ve heard talk that at some point there was an exclusive mini, but now the mini has since been made available to non members.
How do subscribers get new products that are released? Does BattleCorps send a notifications when a new product is released similar to a ‘BattleShop Product Update Alert’ when there is an update to a product previously purchased? I found an option in the Control Panel to ‘Notify on New Fiction’. I highly recommend you change this to YES if you sign up so you’ll get a ‘BattleCorps New Fiction Communique’ when something is released. Otherwise you can periodically check your Fiction page where items with the latest release dates are listed at the top.
How long am I going to have to wait for them to release new products? Well, there is no comprehensive schedule. In fact, the only planned date I see is for Exodus Road on Aug 27th a whole 4 months away. So, I took a look at their release schedule history. You can see from the chart below that they release products almost every month (Note that I did not include subsequent chapters of a product release if chapters 2 through 10 were released at a later date than chapter 1). Last year was pretty good and they even seem to be kicking it up a notch this year.
There are dozens of readers, both physical and software, that will read some or all of the dozens of different formats. Some readers are DRM restricted in that they only allow you to read the ones you buy through that reader. There are fortunately a bunch of free software readers that will let you read non-DRM ebooks, convert their formats, and help you upload them to any physical reader you may have. I won’t go into detail (especially since there are so many combinations), but you can read more about readers from your ebook reader’s forums or Google. Getting the first book to my phone was a bit of a pain, but from here on out at least I have the process down. It also isn’t so bad reading it on my phone and it’s really nice to have with me whenever I need to kill some time.
Unfortunately, Instead of giving you a download link when viewing your order, there is a link to your fiction page, and then you must search that page to find what you just purchased. Fortunately it is just one long page so you can do a quick Ctrl+F and type part of the name to find it on the page. Which reminds me of something else that irks me… You get sent an email when a product you previously purchased has an update for you to download, but instead of linking to the PDF or even just linking to the order that has the download link, they only tell you the order number for you to go find the download link. On the bright side, there doesn’t appear to be a download time limit on fiction so your collection is always available to you. I can’t tell you what happens to it if your subscription lapses, let alone if you re-subscribe later.
In case you too thought “Print PDF” would send the ebook to your printer, it’s actually a link to download a version of the product that prints well to hard copy. It isn’t in color nor does it have fancy graphics in the margin nor any background. This makes me wonder why the margins in the “PDF” version are so big, though I guess somebody might want to print it in color. I’m guessing the sidebar graphic is to reduce line length to help make it easier to read (and maybe to increase page count, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt). It seems kind of random which have “Print PDF” and which have “PDF” (or both).
What about value? A subscription is $10, $9, and $7.50 per month for the standard 1-, 3-, and 6-month subscriptions respectively. Here is the current value of the products previously released:
It seems as though you only barely got your monies worth for 2005 through 2008 if you did the 6-month subscription. However, there have since been a number of products from those years made free (and still exclusive) to subscribers:
If you want to save your money now by not buying a subscription and are willing to wait 3 or more years before buying all the old products, then you’d only have gotten your monies worth for 2006. All the previous years still would have been cheaper if you had done the 6-month subscription. If you had the 6-month subscription for 2010 then you would have saved a whopping 64% over purchasing all the products now. Keep in mind that we are only 1/3 of the way into 2011 and already we’ve seen about as many products released that we would normally see released in an entire year (except 2010).
My biggest problem with BattleCorps and the BattleShop is that it seems to be shooting itself in the foot. Making it easier to make purchases while clarifying what you are getting for your money are key issues. I counted 6 products that don’t seem to be available anymore while 4 of them are the beginning parts to stories where additional parts are available. 18 products have slightly different names that make them harder to find counterparts such as “Art of War: Earth: Part I” and “The Art of War: Earth: Part II” which are not listed anywhere near each other thanks to “The”. 3 items in the BattleCorps fiction seem to have duplicate entries such as “Under Pressure” which has two entries but with different descriptions. 5 of the 16 EPUB novels seem to have duplicates in the BattleCorps Fiction section with different prices. 3 of the BattleCorps Fiction products have a Part 1 released, but no follow up or the subsequent parts are not available. A bunch of listed release dates aren’t consistent, but that’s not such a big deal.
Still, I’m glad I subscribed and from here on out I plan to be on the 6-month subscription.
If you are still on the edge or even if you decide not to subscribe, head on over to your personalized BattleCorps Fiction page to get a tiny taste of the free stuff you get right away when you subscribe.Posted under Articles