I don't even feel qualified to do this. I spent so little time on the site this year that I hardly took notice of what was happening.
Now that I've had a year to examine it, the Daily Chance revamp looks like it kicks out an average of 200 gold a day, along with some other stuff. Most still fairly undesirable, but it beats getting Neutral Starter Polos and 4th Amigo Pants every single day.
I didn't participate much at all in the holiday events. The Valentines event kind of got mixed together with the Gaia 10th anniversary celebration. We got some pretty decent items from that. All of which were throwback items that represented milestones from previous years. The Valentines items themselves were cute, but a little too pink for my taste.
Easter was a scavenger hunt, of sorts. We had to choose sides and battle against eachother....again. Items from that were pastel or industrial, and pretty unmemorable.
Houses were introduced into Towns 2. We got to choose which "town" we wanted to live in (Barton, Gambino Island...etc.) each with its own themed outside facade. Gambino island is an actual island, Barton bares a resemblance to original Towns, Durem is a New Orleans French Quarter-style apartment building, Aekea is sort of an industrial/ somewhat futuristic apartment building. The outside areas serve as sort of a common area where if you could gather and have private conversations...sort of like you could in original Towns. The inside of the house is identical to your house in original Towns, so we now can access our house from either original Towns or Towns 2. Towns 2 also doubled in size this year, with several new areas to hang out...though it appears not many do. Oh sure, you can go to T2 and see people standing around conversing at all hours, but not like original Towns where there are hundreds of gathering places, and at any point you can pick one of at least a dozen and find more people there than in the whole of T2. Don't get me wrong, T2 is quite lovely, but people aren't converting to it en mass like Gaia had anticipated.
The Summer brought an event that involved pet fluffs and much of that was split between activities in the forums and Towns 2. It was supposed to introduce a new pets system to Gaia. The event was buggy to the point where it was infuriating. The rewards were nice, but I absolutely despised the event for so many reasons. Not the least of which being that many of the functions were broken for most of the event. What really pissed me off was here they took characters and entities from zOMG!, a game which Gaia refuses to touch anymore, and dropped them into the event. Like, "******** it, we're not doing anything with them here anymore, let's just re-purpose them". Now here we are nearly six months later and still no sign of the pet system being put into place. In fact, a few months ago there was a stand that appeared in Towns 2 that indicated it was to have something to do with the pets, but it's since vanished. Which tells me someone screwed the pooch and they're unable to deliver on yet another promise.
Speaking of zOMG!, I found out that Gaia fired [ JK ], so there is no one left who knows how to do anything with zOMG!. Any glint of hope that Gaia might refocus on zOMG! at some point died that day.
Halloween brought with it a new battle system in the forums. I didn't even attempt to participate. I'm so sick of Gaia attempting to pit us against eachother. The Trick-or-Treat items came in packages, which is actually how it was done long ago.
Thanksgiving ushered in a new event game called, 'Switch 'Em'...or something to that effect. It's one of those games where you switch two pieces to make lines of three or more like-styled icons in order to clear them from the board. I like those type of games...for a little while anyway. Prizes alternated between gold and Thanksgiving themed outfit pieces. They're pretty, so no complaints....except that the game was designed to be just hard enough that half the items are unobtainable unless you bought power-ups and extra moves...bought them with real money, that is.
Christmas! For the third year in a row, the shopkeepers were adorned in the same outfits and spouted the same phrases. The standard caroling was again required for the 'Spirited' outfit. Again, it was gift wrapped, much like the Halloween outfit. It's a nice getup. Better than the ones from the last couple years. Switch-'em made a return with recolors of the caroling outfit...albeit not as pretty as the caroling set. The advent light post made its return and from it came a dozen Christmas themed items. Some of which were VERY nice items. So here we are back to the forum event and wouldn't you know, it's another fight. A snowball fight to be exact. Again, not participating. I bought the reward items from the market, which were snowballs that looks like a bunny and one that looks like a Jack-O-Lantern. Towns 2 was decorated for Christmas, and it's even snowing. It didn't blow me away, but I can appreciate the effort. At least everything was Christmas themed this year, and not the doom and gloom, "oh the world is going to end before Christmas" apocalypse, depressing bullshit we got served to us last year on a dirty platter.
Marshall's Little Helpers guild threw together a last minute gathering in zOMG! to ring in the new year. It was fun. There was an impressive turnout, considering how few active members are still around. It was easily the most fun I'd had on Gaia all year.
So over the past several months the number of cash items has blown through the roof. Every day we get an average of three announcements advertising "flash sales" or other items for sale in the cash shop. Re-releasing items from years past, recolors of items, bundles containing several re-releases or recolors, and a flood of new items, evolving items, rapidly evolving items, chance items, and so much more. It's insane. Insane, but not the worst. That distinction belongs to the new gold generators. Chance items you buy that may contain a little, or a whole lot of gold. More often than not, it's in the tens of thousands range. No need to buy items and vend them, just buy gold! It was supposed to be a one time thing, then it was released again under another name, then they stopped making excuses and just released them every other week. Since they've been instituted, the economy has been completely in the tank. Gold has been devalued to the point that it's a joke. Items are now selling for anywhere from three to ten times what they were before, simply because everyone now has easy access to gold. We have billionaires now. When I first started we barely had millionaires.
There's no point in earning gold by playing games or engaging in other activities, just buy it. In fact, trying to earn gold the old fashioned way is an exercise in futility, simply because those methods won't get you enough gold to buy anything outside of the gold shops. And most of those methods are limit capped! The gold I had before all this began is pretty much worthless, but most of the items in my inventory are worth up to ten times what they were a year ago. Kind of a catch-22 situation. Oh, except of course for those items that have been re-released. Those aren't worth near as much since there is now a bigger supply of them items in circulation.
Gaia finally introduced full-size wings, but they're Alchemy items and require a lot of money and work to craft them. (Except for those two days when they sold them in the cash shop for $100.00 each) This was somewhat of a boom for me because they require several Alchemy Caches to craft, and I've been collecting them form the Daily Chance for over a year. Caches went from selling for around 100K to in excess of 600K, literally overnight. And I was sitting on a few dozen of them. Of course this was all going on when the economy was bloating like my uncle Tony during the holidays, so 600K wasn't buying quite what it was a couple months before. Still, I racked up several million which was distributed among my many mules. I don't like to keep all my eggs in one basket. All that came to a screeching ******** halt when Gaia started selling the Caches in the Alchemy shop for 50K a piece. Now I get those damn Caches in the DC, I flip them in the dumpster because looking at them makes me sick.
Everything has become monetized now. As I mentioned before, maybe one out of every 80 Announcements are not about things for sale in the cash shop. Aspects of the events require money so you can buy an advantage over those who don't. There are more and more advertisements. Not just outside ads, but ads for cash shop stuff too. It's pretty disgusting. They even started a high roller club for those who buy more than $100 worth of Gaia cash in a year. They've even got their own members only store where you can spend said cash on exclusive, overpriced items. ********. We've already got one of those shops that's open to everyone, and as far as I can tell, no one shops there.
I honestly don't know if I'll be writing another one of these for 2014, because I don't know that I'll be around by then. I used to love this site so much but they're actively killing everything I loved about it. People are constantly telling them that, but they don't seem to give a ********. Gaia keeps repeating or increasing the bad behavior that's turning everyone off. I mean, I can see it everywhere. People are either quitting or reducing their activity here in record numbers. It's crazy. Well over half my friends list is inactive now. Gaia doesn't care. Just keep cranking out those cash shop items and don't worry about anything else. Figure out ways to get people to spend more, and don't worry about incentives to keep people here. They're about to lose me, and I never thought I'd say that. Hell, I was convinced I was going to have to leave a note on my computer with my username, password, and instructions to notify my friends when I died. Oh well. We'll see what happens. Maybe I'll be here in a year, and maybe I won't. That's pretty much up to Gaia at this point.