“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities: Opening lines.
Hi Folks, We’ve just completed our third month since the Live Launch. It’s been a very interesting month. We began the month with just under 14000 game accounts and by the end of the month we have a bit over 15,500. That’s not bad growth in the third month, of about 50 new game accounts per day. BUT… We’ve seen the number of online players decline a LOT this month. We’ve also added a web based Herald this month which was a MAJOR investment of our WebMasters’s time. It’s very nice, check it out. /salute Benji.
This player population decline is very worrying to the Staff (and players). DAoC is the type of game that requires lots ofpeople online to group with and to kill. We think there are three major issues causing this decline.
1. Some players aren’t having as much fun as they expected so they stop logging in.
2. Elder Scrolls Online launched this month.
3. It’s Springtime in the Northern hemisphere.
Most people DO cut down on their indoor activity (including playing MMOs) when the outside gets warmer. It happens to every MMO every year. Most of those players will return when it gets colder IF they think the game is worth returning to.
Elder Scrolls is a game that will appeal to lots of DAoC players, it has three realm combat etc. Matt F learned how tomake games at Mythic so it will draw a lot of former DAoC players. BUT, no game is right for everybody and the historical AVERAGE is for 70% of the players to leave after the 30 days of free time is up. So many of our players who left for ESO could be expected to return in the next couple of weeks. Once again IF they think the game is worth returning to. Winter WILL return in a few months. All three of these issues can be addressed by increasing the fun factor on our shard. So what do we do about that?
We had a VERY LONG (but productive) Staff meeting last night where the major discussion was on how to increase the player population by upping the fun factor. We’ll share the key points of our decisions here.
We have a three pronged program:
1. Invite new players to try us out. To ensure that the new player experience is fun we’re retuneing the starter zones. The Hibernia starter zones received a basic retune first because Hib needed the most luv. We’ll be doing the other two realms soon and then applying a deeper retune to all three. We’ve started some modest recruiting efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. Of course the new players, and we do see new arrivals every day, will soon graduate beyond the starter zones. Then they will be looking for increased fun in the main homeland zones, in the frontier zones, in DF and in SI.
2. Reinvite players who have stopped playing to give us another try. We’ve fixed many of the issues that caused players to become inactive. We sent out ~900 emails to inactive players last week. We need to evaluate the results, change our campaign as needed and reach out to a larger audience. We know that some players like to focus on PvE activities, some are more RvR focused and some like both aspects of the game.
What are some of the initiatives we’re focusing on for the near and mid term future? Every decision we make has to pass thru a sieve… Will this change add to the fun factor or detract from the fun? We didn’t always look at things that way in the past. For example: No pure patch level is right for everyone. Patch 1.62 had some major drawbacks. Patch 1.65 isn’t perfect but it’s better than 1.62 so gradually, over time we’ll become more 1.65 like. However, we shall NOT be slavishly devoted to a patch lever, we will continue to customize when that will enhance the fun. Here’s an example of one of those custome changes; we’ve asked the devs to change the porter delay timer from 10 minutes to 5 minutes AND, for those who are always late or forget their necklaces, we’ll have a second port 30 seconds after the first. This is gonna keep those porters hopping up and down the stairs doing the Faranz Fandango! (this idea was first suggested to us during an in-game conversation with a player named Faranz).
Another example of a near term change is a cleanup of DF. DF appeals to both RvE and RvR so it’a a better return on the Team’s time invested than focusing on some thing that applies only to PvE (like SI) or mostly RvR (like BGs). So, next week, during the 24 hour x 7 day DF Open to all 3 realms… you should notive some interesting changes to DF… if you have time to notice ANYTHING in there other that the enemy realm players! We’ll also boost the XP in DF to match the bonus in the frontier zones. We will skip our Scheduled Maintenance window on Tuesday, 29 April to maximize the up time of the DF Event, (of course, there MIGHT be a need for an emergency fix at any time but we’ll get the server back into play ASAP).
Can you think of OTHER areas that have a nice mix of RvR and PvE? We can too! Stay tuned for the rework and reopening of the Frontier Dungeons. Of course we want to tune SI, the Epic Dungeons and the Epic Zones, but we can’t do everything at once, so DF and PoC have a higher priority.
We’ve started a series of polls to ask the players what’s most important to them. We think that can help our staff stay focused on PFE (Project Fun Enhancement). Of course we know that a few hundred forum posters won;t always reflect the needs of the total player base so we’ll continue to gather player concerns with other techniques. ALL of our staff play the game, and we play across all three realms. You might have one of us in your guild and never know it. Our player characters try to never blow their cover. We want to hear what you say and see what you do when you don’t think you’re being observed by staff.
I’m going to wrap this up here. I promised the staff to not give away ALL our sekrit plans. We want you to be aware of a refocus on FUN and player communication, both listing to your needs and providing you with direction.
Thanks for reading, thanks for playing. We do what we do for you!
Cody, Community Manager