Last night, a discussion ensued regarding the Free Kingdom winners gaining access to the Exclusive forum as part of their rewards. Caspian came in to discuss it with the community, but the information wasn't relayed very well and, after a lengthy discussion with the moderator team this morning/afternoon, Caspian took to voice–with nearly 200 community members listening in–to reinforce the rationale behind his decision to keep the forum open to the participants in the Free Kingdom of Elyria contest.
The Exclusive Access Q&As (and Exclusive Access forum by extension) have always been intended as a place for the developers to share information and receive feedback in a more intimate setting than the Early Access forum or with the community as a whole. It was with that intention in mind that the reward was initially associated with the Kickstarter Brewmaster tier and the Courtier package in the new store; the money spent was a natural limitation on how many people would gain access to them. Later on, after the Kickstarter, the community felt that people who were spending $1000+ in support of SbS and Chronicles of Elyria through other methods also deserved access to the Exclusive Q&A and the developers were faced with a decision. They could either say "no, access is tied solely to the package and we're not going to change that" or they could give access to those people and say "hey, you've supported us just as much, you've rightfully earned it". The decision was made to allow access to it and the forum became tied to influence in addition to the package. That brought the number of individuals with access to the exclusive forum to around
So, now there are two methods of gaining access to the exclusive channels: own a package that has it as a reward, or have 10k influence. When it came to the Free Kingdom winners, their access was based on the package that they won, not the influence they have. Of course, remitting that access would be entirely possible, but the studio has always done their best to provide the community members with what they were promised–never less, sometimes more. In this case, the winners were promised a modified Monarch, Royal, or Courtier package, with the exception being the lack of a DE and being limited to the Free Kingdom.
Regardless, people wrongfully assumed that Counts who backed during the Kickstarter campaign also deserved access to these exclusive channels, but if them, then why not those who pledged Magistrate or Governor? Access to the exclusive forum and Q&A is not part of their rewards, and by opening it up to them, Exclusive Access essentially becomes Early Access–as it is no longer limited to a few hundred members, but a couple thousand, and its usefulness diminishes significantly. It’s important that the exclusive access channels remain exclusive and as a functional tool for the developers to gather feedback on CoE’s ongoing development. It’s also equally as important that the studio honours the rewards from the Free Kingdom of Elyria contest. To that end, exclusive access will remain available for those who have won a package.
If there are any questions regarding this matter, we ask that you direct them either to Serpentius and/or any member of the moderator team or email [email protected] for longer inquiries. We'll do our best to assuage your concerns.