Nearly everyone who's been in the game for the last two weeks will have heard by now of the blessing/curse (delete as applicable) that was the Contraband Slot Machine.
For those who don't know, this is a decoration which one can receive from the latest Cartel Pack, the Acolyte's Shadow. Unlike the other slot machine decorations - which notably did not drop from the Constable packs as intended and was added to the Binary Star vendor for 1 credit apiece - this one is fully interactive, making all the same bleeps and accompanying Jackpot fanfare as those during the Nar Shaddaa Nightlife. It wasn't just a flashy toy, though; it actually yielded results, which included Contraband Cartel reputation tokens - which you could otherwise only attain from the second shipment of packs - Cartel Certificates, and all three kinds of Jawa Scrap.
It is here that the meat of a perceived problem can be found. The scrap dropped incredibly frequently. You'd see on average, in a stack of 99 slot machine tokens for 49,500 credits, at least ten of each kind, sometimes even more. Considering that these scrap pieces could otherwise only be attained from Cartel packs or from the Conquest rewards, this sudden influx of tokens people could use to buy essentially free (if you step over the token cost, that is) crafting materials had a very mixed reaction indeed. Some were of course overjoyed to be able to get a multitude of materials for the fraction of a cost than they would be on the GTN - not to mention the uncertainty of a critical success on Crew Skill Missions.
Others, though, viewed this with an especially negative connotation. This was an item, first-and-foremost Cartel originated, which spat out tokens which could completely mess with the in-game economy. Crew Skills, as mentioned above, would be deemed nearly worthless, simply because the results could not be guaranteed. People would no longer buy the Materials being sold on the GTN, or would add their own as contest, and so they would plummet in price, which then would result in high-level crafted items following suit. If your entire in-game income was based around crafting Augment kits and item modifications, you could potentially be severely harmed by this as the cumulative cost of materials would become far less expensive than the assembled item. Let's not forget that this slot machine came in the same week that the Ravagers scenario was finally fixed, another event which has had a significant effect on the GTN economy. Rather than seeing everything return to normal following illegitimate actions, this wholly legitimate item appears from the Cartel Market which has a markedly similar impact.
As a result of these concerns, the machine has been tampered with. Instead of the sheer number of Jawa tokens it spits out, it now only rarely has a chance to grant even one of any kind. The same is true of Cartel Certificates. Even the cost of the tokens has been increased, from 500 to 750. Reputation tokens seem to be the only item which has stayed roughly the same, if not ever-so-slightly increased, although that could be due to the fact that there is no longer any corresponding proportional representation of Jawa scrap which is giving this illusion.
There is, however, one completely new addition. BioWare's beloved Walker Mounts have become more accessible since 2.9, and even more so since 3.0. Rather than just being Cartel, as with the ST-7 Recon, Conquest and Yavin vendors both have a walker per faction (FA-1/GZ-4 Command, and BA-2/KX-7 Recon, respectively) for Ten Dark Projects and 100,000 Credits, respectively, the Hard Mode Forged Alliances Flashpoints have a chance to drop Commander versions of the Yavin walkers, and Battle of Rishi is supposedly meant to drop a ST-7 Commander, although I doubt that a Tactical would yield such a thing. Maybe if Rishi ever gained a Hard Mode.
The Contraband Slot Machine is no stranger to walkers now. Depending on your faction, you have an incredibly small chance to win a blue/yellow (Republic) or a gray/black (Imperial) Recon Walker which are both bound on pick-up. Whilst I am very glad that they've actually added something as a rare drop now - in a draft of an appraisal of the slots from last week, I mentioned that it would perhaps be a good idea to add something in as a really rare drop, akin to the Kingpin's Rancor - I must admit that I am slightly disheartened that it is another Recon Walker. It is particularly infuriating, in my mind, that every single one of the blasted things is nearly fully identical; the Command versions have a spindly gun at the front and additional pods, but that's the only difference. No new functions, they're just there. Not even a differently-shaped cockpit. Ah, well.
It is a shame that the Slot Machine, a promising venture to begin with, has devolved to the point where it is at now. However, I can also understand the concerns which led to it being demoted thus. Regardless, I do still love the idea of them as a means of being able to gain old Reputation tokens without buying those respective packs (granted, you do need to know someone who owns a slot machine in the first place if you yourself do not have one). I can imagine other slot machines coming out in future for the other cartel reputation factions. Hopefully, with the Contraband one in mind, they will have a more secure idea of how to handle them.