Hi, I don't have an official developer forum account yet, but I'm the Executive Producer at YAGER, heading up Dreadnought's development.
Why tiers at all?
From a game design perspective, we felt that creating tiers of the content that we have was the only viable way for us to multiply our content and to be able to create a system for progression that allows players to unlock and progress towards the items: ships, modules, etc. they actually want, rather than putting everything (the things you don't want as well) on one long, straight path that gives you a lot of stuff you neither want nor need.
In the past we had ideas for doing exactly this with the content that we had, but it always turned out that it just wasn't enough. It wasn't enough in order to keep even us interested.
But, we thought, if we have more content within each ship class and subclass, then it should work. How do we make content that is, in truth, based off of the content we have without making said content... pointless and kind of arbitrary? We decided we'd reconsider the rule we'd created for ourselves and allow ourselves to create more powerful versions of the content we have.
After that reasoning, we started to realize that there are a lot of benefits to this system, and it affords us a lot of opportunities. For starters, we can take what we have and go further with it. For the higher tiers we don't have to be scared that the game will be too hardcore, that it will be unfair towards new players, that it will be paramount to have good healers, that Corvettes can kill things... in short, we can go hog wild.
For the lower tiers, we can finally fix things that were hard for us to deal with. Or, rather, that we didn't want to fix completely because of the adverse effect the fixes would have for the game as a whole. Corvettes, for example. Healing comes to mind.
And for everything in between, we can create a path from the one to the other. We can make sure that more people get into the parts of the game that we, and we take it a fair few of you, actually really like.
As for monetization. It is not our main focus, but we can say this though; we want players to like the game. We want players to keep liking the game and to keep playing it. We think this will keep players engaged longer. We think that this approach will keep players engaged longer so that while we're creating new content, and yes, I mean new classes, new modules, new manufacturers (we're dying to do all those things) you guys are still playing. Best case scenario, you're still there when the new content drops.
And as for balancing... well... The short answer is that we want to make sure that each tier of ships is internally balanced in much the same way (with some tweaks) as the game is now. We're adding loads of content, even though most of it is based off of content we already have, and there's no denying that this is a massive undertaking. Again, we'll do our absolute best, but it would be fantastic to get help from all of you.
On that note, one of the posts we read made an awesome case for us to use your help more, and we couldn't agree more. The last couple of months have been hectic to say the least, and we've been working on things that we just now made public. From here on in we should definitely listen more to you.