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change income model to cosmetics - current model sapping engagement

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  • change income model to cosmetics - current model sapping engagement

    TL;DR: This is a very, very big suggestion but I really think the game would benefit from a revamp of the entire income model toward the more modern "cosmetics only" model used by many big games today, as opposed to the 5-yr-old+ "paywall" model the game uses now, which feels dated and a little cheap.

    First: I recognize and appreciate that your paywall model is more of a "pay-lightly-inclined-slope." You don't have nearly the hard stops that most FtP games have, and it's not too hard to circumvent the walls with a lot of sustained play. However, the end result is that your game tends to encourage a drop in engagement once the initial barriers have been climbed. Here is my personal anecdote as an example:

    I just started and have played the crap out of this game for about 3 weeks. I managed to get into the top ~1.5% quickly with my stalker BH, all without: any skills at 10, a 3rd passive, a 3rd companion, or buying a companion. (I'm also using mostly XP gear and don't have full legendaries.) I was pretty proud of all that: but now I am struggling to engage with the game, because all I have to look forward to is grinding up gems so I can buy things like a 3rd passive that will help me get just a little bit higher (and grinding new set pieces, which hopefully you're working on with the crafting update). And while I would love to work on a warrior or a mage, all I can think about is: gem costs for an event hero vs. gem costs for a standard hero. It's roughly 3000 gems cheaper to create an event hero - and they're cheaper in all the places I want (skills/inventory/companion slots). But since I joined right after the last event, it will be months before I can make a new hero... and I have no incentive to work on a warrior or mage in the meantime since they will get replaced with the new event hero which costs 75% less. In other words: for me, the gem prices are killing my engagement; they don't provide any meaningful long-term goal.

    (Here's another anecdote: I know a person who used a cracked version of your game to get endless gems; they quickly quit the game because they determined there was nothing else besides the gem walls to keep them engaged or motivated.)

    Worse, having things like paying gems to add sockets to low-level gear, re-roll low-level gear, buy low-level epics, buying large treasure chests, or hurrying up needlessly, excessively long wait times (like crafting and ability-boosting): all these practices seem cheap. It ends up feeling like you're putting gem-traps into your game to fool people into wasting gems, which cheapens the overall experience and makes your game seem greedier than it is. And having one of the highest gem costs go toward having one row of inventory space for one character: that just feels frustrating - like you're building in gem-sinks to temp players to spend. FtP gamers are more savvy than we were 5 years ago. We've been fooled; we've been cheated. We are wary and we don't want to feel like our game is trying to trick us into wasting money: we want to feel like we're rewarding you for an awesome job in game development on something that absolutely is not going to give us an in-game advantage. (*cough*, EA, *cough*) Feeling like we need to spend (either to progress or out of competition) leaves a bad taste in our mouths and it only lasts so long. Feeling like we are rewarding you makes us tell every one of our friends about this awesome game because we can engage as much as we want.

    I will also say you're doing amazing for a non-gatcha-style game (which are extremely predatory), and that also should be recognized and is much appreciated. The issue is more that your whole income model feels pretty carefully balanced toward moving faster toward a hard end point; more gems, faster XP, and light pay walls. I think you could move those end-game goalposts even further - without introducing gatcha-style predation - with a shift toward cosmetics. The game is a bit small on mobile devices, so it's a little rough to get good art that looks good: but with some talented artists I'm sure you could make some designs that pop. (Hint: the BH does not currently have designs that pop.) And then you also have the built-in seasonal rotation that other games use to keep people re-engaging throughout the year. And let's be frank: the development time on new art is way less than the development time on new levels or new abilities, since there's SO much less to debug. It wouldn't even take that long to shift your income model (once you had it mapped out). It wouldn't even take that long to simply add cosmetics and see if that worked as an income model before pulling back on the gem walls - probably less time that adding Act V, if I can be so bold.

    And just to be even more frank, let's talk about how the FtP model even works: whales. 50% of game income comes from 0.1% of players (I think 90% comes from 10%?). You can't get big without big fish, and big fish don't have anything to spend on once they've navigated the pay-slopes you've put in there. There are people on this forum now saying "what else do you have to spend gems on" and honestly that's not a good sign for a bottom line. Cosmetics don't stop; there's no end to what you can do or spend on, so there's no reason to disengage.

    I'm sure I don't have to name-drop other wildly successful FtP games that use cosmetics-only models... And while many of them have lots of reasons why they succeed, their income model is absolutely a part of that.

    You have a very engaging, fun, extremely well-balanced Diablo-clone on mobile, and the genre is hungry for that. You've got years of blood/sweat/tears invested, and it shows - you have a great commitment to keeping the game updated and engaging. I just hate to see it held back with what I see as an outdated paywall income model when I think it could go a lot further by copying what the very big games are doing.

  • #2
    Cosmetics are already on the board.

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    • #3
      purple They already plan on removing most of the paywalls you're talking about, like paying for the ability spots.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Humus View Post
        purple They already plan on removing most of the paywalls you're talking about, like paying for the ability spots.
        They do?

        I haven't seen anything about this. Do you have a link or something?
        ANB #1- Mage Rank 17..... T107 in 9:47
        ANB #2- Mage Rank 1....... T116 in 9:54

        Live LB- Mage Rank 1........ T122 in 9:05.
        Live LB- XP Mage Rank 31. T112 in 7:55/ T100 in 3:25.

        Click here to see my gameplay videos.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Purple Potato View Post

          They do?

          I haven't seen anything about this. Do you have a link or something?
          I don't have a link, but I can attest this has been floated in conversation (back when there *was* conversation...). No whens or hows though.

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          • #6
            Good to know cosmetics are on the board. I 100% support them making money and these are ways to do so without making any side feel cheated.
            Lord Emperor of Bridge Navigational Systems Engineer for:
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            Do NOT hire Xagan! He works for the enemy!!!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Purple Potato View Post

              They do?

              I haven't seen anything about this. Do you have a link or something?
              Red mentioned it in Discord chat, posted by Humus, back in 16 Oct 2017 - but yeah, just rough, work in progress, ideas...

              [5:30 AM] Red: we are also not happy about how some gameplay elements are locked behind gem payments
              [5:30 AM] Red: so we will do something about that
              [5:31 AM] Dumaitzjivos: Isn't that more of an end game issue, rather than when you're starting out and struggling to expand?
              [5:31 AM] Red: one side is, the other side is not
              [5:31 AM] Red: the fact that e.g. you only have one ability and one passive is a new player problem
              [5:31 AM] heyjude1971: Is the gemstone update coming soon?
              [5:31 AM] Red: soon tm
              [5:32 AM] Red: no deadline for it
              [5:32 AM] Red: working on it
              [5:32 AM] Dumaitzjivos: Do we get the gems back lol
              [5:33 AM] Red: what gems Duma?
              [5:33 AM] Dumaitzjivos: If you make skill slots open for new players... I don't actually expect you to...
              [5:33 AM] Red: they won't be completely open
              [5:33 AM] Dumaitzjivos: O I c
              [5:33 AM] Red: most likely, they will start with them open, but skill slots will have levels which you upgrade spending gems
              [5:34 AM] Red: you will be able to put a skill in a non-upgraded slot, but that skill will have increased cooldown or lower effectiveness
              [5:34 AM] Red: you will still be able to spend gems same as now to upgrade the slot to normal quality
              [5:34 AM] Red: players that spent stuff and unlocked slots will have them max level
              [5:34 AM] Humus: Is adding ads to the windows version still in the plans?
              [5:35 AM] Red: so if you spend stuff now, you will have fully upgraded skill slots
              [5:35 AM] Red: your spent stuff won't be for naught
              [5:35 AM] Red: its planned
              Eternium Files - links and details (Updated: 10 Aug 2018)

              Eternium Guides:

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              • #8
                This is going to be more controversial and poorly written than my OP, but to expand what I was saying further, personally I would suggest that they dump gems for skill slots, abilities - all of it. Dump gems for treasures, items, all the hurry-up-and-wait mechanics - seriously, all of it. I know some folks will feel salty about sunk costs as the above post shows (even though they've gotten access to the game for longer and have more time invested and thus better characters already), and I'm sure the devs could find a way to make that right, but it will be much healthier for the game in the long run, in my opinion - for all the reasons I outlined above. Making the gem paywall be even more of a slight incline (as Red's chat suggests) doesn't solve the problem: it's still a paywall. And unless you get rid of the gem traps: it's still cheap.

                I think the game could change so that the only thing you spend gems on - which, one more quick suggestion: call them literally anything other than gems, as it is way too confusing with gemstones; maybe call them crystals or whatever - would be the following:
                - cosmetics (the new main focus of the game; they could be rare random drops at, say, TL 10+, but you can get them from gems faster and easier; maybe some are gameplay-exclusive and some are shop-exclusive)
                - rerolling max-level gear (remain the same, start at 20 and 50 being the max cost)
                - buying companions (since they are minimal power gain and almost cosmetic already)
                - living weapons (or keep them cash only, that's fine)
                - buying all the various boosters* (see below)

                That's it. Ability/skill slots, companion slots, bag space, stash space - all that should unlock as you play. It can remain gated with gold which is about the same thing, and adds another gold sink for new players, but that still feels a little weird. Leveling up abilities should happen by giving each ability its own XP bar, which levels as you level when you have the ability equipped: that way you level up abilities by using them in the game, and gives end-game progress a bit of a tail instead of focusing on paying mechanics. Also, as a personal anecdote: right now I'm leveling 4 characters' 10th level abilities by doing one thing and then doing nothing for 3 days. That's not a rewarding gameplay mechanic for me.

                And all those super-cheap traps, like treasures for gems and purple items for gems and hurry-up mechanics for gems? Just plain gone. No place for that.

                *Even more controversially, I would also suggest dumping the boosters. It's a bad habit; it encourages pay-to-win play, and if your game is boring enough that people want to speed through it, then it's not a good game. Also, as soon as PvP season-like events hit, boosters are pay-to-win. They're close already with the PvE events, but it's also sort of a way to reward long-time players, so it's harder to draw a firm line there. But the game already has CLs; it doesn't need boosters for people to speed-level additional characters. And gemstone boosters are just another way to disguise the time cost of playing the game: right now the only "end game" is perfect jewelry, which takes insane amounts of gemstones, which is just a time sink. Hopefully cosmetics would fill in that gap when gemstone collection goes away. (To be fair, I could see leaving gemstone boosters just for the sake of having yet one more end game activity and an easy go-to for promos, but I still think it weakens the overall experience.)

                If you can't take boosters and paywalls away from the game without making the game uninteresting, then it was never much of a game in the first place. I don't think that is the case with this game: I think there's a good game here that is just weighed down with paywall and gem-trap mechanics from an era in FtP games that it has survived and surpassed.

                And finally: obviously all of this is just a suggestion. I don't have access to the numbers on what people are spending on or what mechanics are driving spending; it seems very likely this game will never change in all the ways I'm suggesting because they are making money doing what they're doing now, and change is risky. I just think they could make more money by not only implementing cosmetics, but ripping out all the cheap FtP stuff that makes this game feel like less of a mainstream game. I think they would expand their customer base extensively.

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                • #9
                  Just going to throw this out there that I got to number 1 spot overall as a F2P and within ~5 months or so of starting the game. (not counting the 1 week I played back in 2015)
                  ANB #1- Mage Rank 17..... T107 in 9:47
                  ANB #2- Mage Rank 1....... T116 in 9:54

                  Live LB- Mage Rank 1........ T122 in 9:05.
                  Live LB- XP Mage Rank 31. T112 in 7:55/ T100 in 3:25.

                  Click here to see my gameplay videos.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Purple Potato View Post
                    Just going to throw this out there that I got to number 1 spot overall as a F2P and within ~5 months or so of starting the game. (not counting the 1 week I played back in 2015)
                    I'm not sure how that's related to anything here (other than my quick overview of my own play progress), but that's impressive.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by purple View Post
                      I'm not sure how that's related to anything here (other than my quick overview of my own play progress), but that's impressive.
                      The relation is to your mention of "paywall" - Gems requirements are not paywalls, since you get them from simply playing the game, purchases simply give you more immediately.


                      Edit: I realise that you did clarify your usage in your initial post - it's just what I associate the term to...
                      Last edited by Nhat; 08-15-2018, 03:03 AM.
                      Eternium Files - links and details (Updated: 10 Aug 2018)

                      Eternium Guides:

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nhat View Post

                        The relation is to your mention of "paywall" - Gems requirements are not paywalls, since you get them from simply playing the game, purchases simply give you more immediately.
                        Worse use of "paywalls" than Melchiah xD

                        Also at purple, because this topic is about changing game model to something different when I don't see anything wrong with it. (Except some events packs which is a different topic)
                        ANB #1- Mage Rank 17..... T107 in 9:47
                        ANB #2- Mage Rank 1....... T116 in 9:54

                        Live LB- Mage Rank 1........ T122 in 9:05.
                        Live LB- XP Mage Rank 31. T112 in 7:55/ T100 in 3:25.

                        Click here to see my gameplay videos.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Nhat: Yeah, I'm using the term "paywall" to mean any intentionally designed obstacle that can be overcome quickly by paying (not something that completely interrupts progress or causes you to stop progress without paying - that's selling you the rest of the game). You obviously don't have to pay - and this game uses the gentlest "pay-slightly-inclined-slopes" I've ever seen, but they are still obstacles to progress (that have nothing to do with gameplay, put there by the devs intentionally) that you can overcome quickly by paying. I'm sorry that wasn't more clear.

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