See and this is where I disagree. Unless the company considers its business model to be "Let people pay us so they can break our product", tweaking the Goldmark mechanics is absolutely not akin to changing your current business model completely. The better analogy to a store would be picking up a service or an item on customer request or serving a different brand of coffee. Nobody is asking the company to change its entire business model, step away from Goldmark or the ability to buy advantages in the game. It's like the fiftieth time I say that in this thread alone. This is why I find it so hard to understand that the Goldmark mechanic, for as far as I can tell, has not substantially been touched at all in over ten years.
I remember the gold free alliance tournaments and those were an absolute spectacle to watch. I can't say I ever knew of gold free games with entry fees ever existing, probably because they were alliance only from what I gather. Else I would have been in them. But the Goldmark options as they stand right now are essentially the same of ten years ago while many, many changes have been made to the rest of the gameplay. I think this is for better or worse whichever way you look at it, as while surely some failures and losses were avoided, innovation and revenue was as well. And sure, after ten years of it running well enough, it's hard to provide any reasons to not get complacent. The whole mechanic just seems a little antiquated now, especially as the game's entire marketing has shifted generations with the new UI and the website overhaul, stuffing it into a profitable market. Its monetization is still very uninspired and 1.0 from 2010.
And as a pretty meaningless side note - I mean, I'm happy for you that the game is in its best year ever apparently, but you would not phrase it that way from playing it, take my word for it. The target audience for a freemium service has become very young over the past few years and this game is clearly no exception. Again, I'm glad you're doing well, but the product lives off its players here and it's not doing better for that. And to be truthfully honest with you, as by the way I do appreciate the transparency of your reply, I'll be so transparent to express how I find this particular aspect of a business model to be extremely disagreeable. The GO's are to enforce a "family friendly" atmosphere among players, the chat even filters the word "bollocks" for crying out loud, like we're pandering to five year-olds here, yet you know as well as I do that the company has no issue whatsoever gauging these kids for money it deliberately attracts and you also know as well as I do that the reason it does this, like most other freemium platforms, is because these kids are inexperienced with spending money and will soak up microtransactions with absolutely no regard to the quality of the product they are recieving. This works so well because presenting them with a challenge and then providing the easiest solution will have them go for that in the majority of cases. The whole freemium market really is capitalism 2.0. This obviously isn't Bytro's fault at all but they also quite clearly do not think much of participating in squeezing very, very young customers for all they're worth because that's the easiest thing you can possibly do. I think it's despicable quite honestly and while the time for concerns like that has mostly passed, I don't think it gets any better when you consider what a family unfriendly topic this game is about.
I'm aware that someone who gauges money out of children for a living makes it more than clear by doing so that he couldn't give less of a patootie what some random guy on the internet thinks about that. I'm also more than aware that now that Bytro has taken that road and decided to just throw its product into the thousands of other generic games that are in that particular market because it's easy to serve that market and it generates income with almost zero effort, all pretense that the quality of the product is of any particular meaning to the company is out the window, likely never to return. You can throw out random gameplay updates every few months as much as you want, this game is being handled hands-off by the company at this point. You found a way to make this thing a money printer on autopilot and for what it's worth, once again I'm glad you guys are getting payed, but when taking that road the company made it clear that it's not going for a special, high-quality product anymore that sets itself apart. Personally, I think an opportunity was blown there to have a product that's actually valued by your customers.
Hey, just wanted to chime in again to clear up some misconceptions. Our game is actually not for children. Our Terms of Service clearly state that you have to be 16 years old to play this game. Of course children can disregard that and still register and still spend, but then it is up to the parents to monitor that and to not hand their children their credit cards. That's the same everywhere in the internet. We definitely do not market the game to children, we have clearly defined audiences our marketing campaigns are running for. The spending playerbase is also mature, with a rather high average age. So we are totally unreliant on any child spending in this game, and we also don't want them to.
It is also not true that we don't care for quality. We care very much about it. But if you think that only a game without the usual free2play model can have any quality, well then we probably can't agree. I think we can aim for a quality game even within the current business model.
I agree that the current monetization mechanics are quite antique, but as I explained it creates too much risk changing them for such a mature and well running product. If anything we would rather explore new monetization options with new games in the future, and perhaps apply those learnings afterwards into our older games. But we won't jeopardize the current success of S1914 with such experiments.
Oh, and, sorry for the double post but quoting stuff is a ... female dog in this forum.
Yeah, that's not surprising. This is what happens when you implement one thing and then ride it for ten years, too afraid to touch it. The idea is about as old as Goldmark itself but you guys shot it down for years with the old "Well we gotta eat somehow" logic. You could have tons of experience in doing that at this point, it was your choice not to have it. And come on, if you usually get guarantees that things you do in your life will work out, I'm open to swap.
Oh look at that, I worked out the quoting. It's actually really nice in this forum, who would have guessed.
This is certanly true, however there are also a lot of free2play games, especially competitive multiplayer ones, that have much less intrusive monetization strategies, often because they're not ten years old. If you're gonna throw food for thought at me, have some of your own.
Another thing just popped into my head, or rather a decent way to phrase it out. Since you apparently consider any change to the Goldmark mechanic a change of business models yet you bring updates upon gameplay every few months, some of them unwarranted, even experimental, I reckon that at this point you guys consider the actual playing of the game to not be a part of the business model at all? You give off that impression when you say that any change to GM would risk people's livelihood whereas gameplay changes can be made at all times. It's like to the company, the spending and the playing are seperate categories, the gameplay being mere bywork to the structure that allows people to give you their money. That's somewhat understandable from a business perspective as without covering the costs, no gameplay could be provided, but I honestly believe it's a harmful way of thinking to the quality of the product, which is also something you can observe in plenty of other businesses as I have in some that I have worked for in my life. People typically don't like to pay if they feel that's all they're good for to the salesman. Alas I now realize with the mobile gaming market, I guess this sadly doesn't apply, so consider this just an idealist tangent.
True, we totally could have garnered experience in other models. But we did not have to. Our current numbers prove us in that regard. Could we have had more success by changing our model? That is highly speculative. It seems following your logic a company has to garner experience in all different disciplines possible? That is just not realistic. There are many companies out there that specialize in different models and businesses. There are successful triple A companies who only market premium 60$ games, who have no ide whatsoever how to market a free2play game. Would you also recommend them to branch out and gain experience marketing free2play games? There are also successful free2play companies out there who have no idea how to market premium games. Maybe all companies should at one point explore different models, but that also creates distractions and might hurt their core business due to a lack of focus. If a business is doing well in its segment it is usually fine for them to stay there and to refine their core business further. Except when the market shows a decline for that segment/model in general. But in our case our numbers suggest the contrary. After all neither model is better and success is possible everywhere. You write as if it is a bad thing that we are a free2play company and that it has to be avoided, but the market trend shows that the free2play segment is actually one of the fastest growing business models in gaming. So if we look at it from a business perspective we are positioned rather well. Of course there are other more modern free2play monetization mechanics that should be explored at some point, as I agreed that ours are quite old by now. But still we have other options to test them in the future without throwing them into a live product.
Smaller changes to the detailed gameplay mechanics are usually too miniscule to affect KPIs, although they can of course. But they won't affect the business model much. After all we still remain a free2play grand strategy WW1. By the way we did very few gameplay changes in the recent past though, compared to for example CoW or S1, so in that respect S1914 is pretty stable.
Indeed your views are rather idealist and from a player perspective I actually share them. But I can also understand the business realities and hope you can, too!