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-   -   Where's the beef...? The Gamer/Developer Divide (http://sto-forum.perfectworld.com/showthread.php?t=412051)

stoleviathan99 10-11-2012 11:30 AM

Where's the beef...? The Gamer/Developer Divide
 
Okay... I expressed some of these thoughts elsewhere but here's the gist of it.

I think players want content. I think players, when they buy items, see it as subsidizing content. For many players, I think they've inherently adopted a Kickstarter model for how they think MMOs work. That is, "I pledge money to content development and you give me these shiny totebags as a 'thank you.'"

I think developers are split on this point. I do not think that's how publishers see it.

My observation is this:

Quote:

Atari:
Sub Fees - Server access. Where the real profit is.

Item purchases - DLC bundles.

Systems Design - Making the game work well.

Q&A - Keeping people from quitting before we made our money back.

Marketing - A side source of revenue through partnerships and low cost awareness generator.

Content - A difficult to grasp expense.
Quote:

PWE:
Sub Fees - A difficult to grasp "fan club" operation.

Item purchases - A one time monetization approach that is a product sold.

Raffles and Lockboxes - A longterm repeatable monetization approach that yields repeat sales if managed properly, creating a thriving economy by constant sink and churn from low investment users.

Systems Design - An integral part of driving new sales by engineering shinier products.

Q&A - A team designed to slow user churn.

Marketing - An expense needed to fuel new user acquisition and enhance retention, with the understanding that retention has a limited lifespan for users.

Content - A marketing expense designed to draw revenues.
Now here's how I think players see it, understanding that these are broad generalizations:

Quote:

Players:
Sub Fees - A stable means of acting as a patron for content distribution.

Item purchases - A means of establishing oneself as a distinguished, high dollar patron of content distribution, perhaps to the extent that you get some content advantage for your patronage. Also, vanity.

Raffles and Lockboxes - A dubious but potentially thrilling low cost means of donating to content development. Many DO find it thrilling but the question is always, "I spent $50 on these, where's my content?"

Systems Design - A means of creating engaging and novel content, with a side focus on creating rewards for content patrons. Big priority? Poker and mini-games and PvP. Low priority?Pretty ship powers with quirky effects.

Q&A - A team designed to make content work.

Marketing - How the team showcases its good work and helps draw friends in. The ideal is that it reinforces how smart the player is for spending money here and why all their friends should join them, while giving realistic content previews.

Content - The core product that everything else was a donation towards the development of.
I think misunderstanding this on players' part causes player dissatisfaction and frustration, justified or otherwise. I think players want a business deal that isn't the deal they are being offered. Inherently, I REALLY DO think many players view cash shops and even subs as basically "thank yous" for Kickstarter or PBS style contributions and donations to content development. "I pledged my car to you guys. Just don't cancel Sesame Street!"

I think the misunderstanding on developers and publishers' part stems from misunderstanding the value of what they're offering or what players are actually buying into. "We offer you a product. You buy it. You should be happy! How can we make the product we sold you better? We can sell you better products! Stronger products! Better guns! Bigger potions! Okay, let's focus on more repeatable sales!"

And it's the heart of the disconnect. Devs and publishers think they're running the Home Shopping Network with infomercials. Players think the so-called infomercials are TV shows and want to donate to support them.

To many publishers, player complaints come across as, "I bought the tote bag now give me more footage of the girls in the mall and the kids on the playground and that guy with the small business who loved that totebag so much. I want more of their product testimonials!"

To many players, developer interaction comes across as, "Thanks for your support in keeping quality programming like Masterpiece Theater, Nova, and Sesame Street on the air! Now, donate another $75 and we'll give you a glow in the dark totebag with an MP3 player that will identify you as a REAL fan of PBS! Act now or we shoot Big Bird in the head!"

There's your divide. There's the source of forum meltdowns and players behaving badly, invoking Godwin's Law and 9/11 and the "Won't you think of the children/addicts/soldiers?" threads in response to minor game bugs or what seem like purely business decisions. On the dev side, there's the source of costly employee turnover and high medical bills and needless illness and stress and failed relationships and botched product launches for developers.

It's more complicated than that. There are nuances. There are side issues and side interests. But that's the heart of it. That's the malignancy that, once addressed, will lead to a clean, healthy, and happy life (for anyone who would have had one anyway).

There you go.

robertcrayven 10-11-2012 12:05 PM

TL;DR version: Devs are shrewd, cold, calculating revenue generators, while players are whiny, ignorant, emotional train wrecks?

themarie 10-11-2012 12:17 PM

OP has a good grasp of the situation, except for one important detail. The internal operations of Cryptic are using STO to finance other more "shiny" products.

Think about it, we've had "talent" leave STO over the past six months, and I haven't seen names floated as replacements. Haven't seen any "X will be taking Y's position."

No new names or faces interacting with the crowd out here... and very little forward movement.

Unless it has to do with cash-infusion programs.

We're paying into a black hole. The money is going to... where? Neverwinter? "Fees?" "Expenses?"

I'm burned out grinding. I want STORY not another grind map or grind-sink system.

Yet... that's going to be the highlight of Season Seven isn't it? Progression System, STF map and possibly more grind-maps for the Fleet system.

I can't be the only one wondering where our money is going... we spend money on keys and ZEN and all we get in return are maps that could have been churned out by someone using the foundry. Two one-off missions (the clone-Vulcan mission and that ALPHA mission for KDF.)

Meanwhile we get stacks more lockboxes demanding Zen/Keys to open.

This is the real disconnect... at least it is in my mind. I paid into a game... that took my money and created more opportunities to spend money? Oh and if I get tired of that I can WRITE MY OWN story using the toolbox.



Yeah. Disconnect indeed.

Can we get a Dev or the Producer to chime in on this?

syberghost 10-11-2012 12:22 PM

Producing a fairly generic, combat-heavy mission that plays out in half an hour takes a week of work. Producing an intricate, puzzle and story-heavy mission that plays out in an hour takes a month of work. In both these cases, players use up that content in a day, and never see it again.

Producing a new ship takes a month, but they use it every time they play.

Plus, many players rebel at the idea of paying for missions, but are totally fine with paying for items.

stoleviathan99 10-11-2012 01:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by themarie (Post 6047531)
OP has a good grasp of the situation, except for one important detail. The internal operations of Cryptic are using STO to finance other more "shiny" products.

Nothing wrong with that if you're a widget manufacturer and the brand of the widget (STO, NW, CO) is irrelevant or secondary to it being a Cryptic product.

On a certain level, it's like manufacturing paper plates.

For some of them, I think Champions, Star Trek, and Neverwinter are themed designs they put on the paper plates. The Foundry is like offering a recipe book with your paper plates. Content is an ad for your paper plates or maybe an expensive promotional dinner event you host where you serve quality free food on your paper plates. The goal is to sell paper plates. The brand is designed or licensed to help you sell more paper plates.

Meanwhile, I think players who attend the promotional dinners are more like, "Yeah. Yeah. Enough about the plates. This is a pretty good restaurant. It could be better but I'd eat here. I'll take two cases of paper plates if it'll make you happy. Now, what are your hours? Do you have a senior discount?"

And the savvier of the devs are like, "Holy heck! We're running a restaurant now?" Maybe a few decide they're chefs because as it turns out, they ARE trained chefs. And back at corporate HQ, they're like, "Okay. So plate sales are up. Let's figure out how to maximize our plate sales. Maybe we can create 'restaurants' to sell more plates!"

rjcfoxtrot 10-11-2012 01:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stoleviathan99 (Post 6046651)
/snip

This whole spiel isn't a new one, but it certainly is one that does need to be realized more. If for no other reason than to clarify positions, and at best change the landscape.

stoleviathan99 10-11-2012 01:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by syberghost (Post 6047591)
Producing a fairly generic, combat-heavy mission that plays out in half an hour takes a week of work. Producing an intricate, puzzle and story-heavy mission that plays out in an hour takes a month of work. In both these cases, players use up that content in a day, and never see it again.

Producing a new ship takes a month, but they use it every time they play.

Plus, many players rebel at the idea of paying for missions, but are totally fine with paying for items.

Stating the obvious.

But the point is that players see the missions as part of the ship purchase in large measure.

They see it as a Kickstarter.

"I pay you indirectly to make missions, wink, wink, and you give me these ships as a free thank you so I can show what a good patron I am."

It's not that they'd pay for content directly. You're right. Most wouldn't if the content was the sole prize. But they see themselves as PATRONS rather than mere CUSTOMERS.

"I subsidize your TV network and you give me overpriced trinkets so I can flout my superiority."

vestereng 10-11-2012 01:08 PM

Well pushing the story forward could be anything, as little as a mail in the mailbox or 10 seconds cutscene or any number of possibilities.

Pick up a random item drop it off in another sector because something has happened, just some textbox and clicking an npc, how long exactly would that take to code, 40 min ?
Just an example here, point being it could be very, very simplistic and spartan or whatever you call it.
It doesn't have to be 7 new missions tied into an episode to be story related.

Have monitors show still photos, since I assume they can't display videos, of a klingon ship shooting and put a headline in the next picture, bam story is moving - I could have those screencaps for you in 5 minutes...


Personally I think STO is working on getting back on its feet and the developers are working on changes and do want to add other stuff than cash sink items but of course staying in business has to be the priority.

I also think they could handle it smarter if they took note of some of the simpler player suggestions, not necessarily mine :rolleyes: but some are actually very easy to make and covers a lot of ground.

rjcfoxtrot 10-11-2012 01:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stoleviathan99 (Post 6048131)
Stating the obvious.

But the point is that players see the missions as part of the ship purchase in large measure.

They see it as a Kickstarter.

"I pay you indirectly to make missions, wink, wink, and you give me these ships as a free thank you so I can show what a good patron I am."

It's not that they'd pay for content directly. You're right. Most wouldn't if the content was the sole prize. But they see themselves as PATRONS rather than mere CUSTOMERS.

"I subsidize your TV network and you give me overpriced trinkets so I can flout my superiority."

Very important point here that should not be missed.

stoleviathan99 10-11-2012 01:20 PM

RADICAL thought but what if they started tying content in relation to C-Store goals?

I know they'd never want to release HARD numbers.

But Kickstarter it up.

Have a meter that says, "We are at 25% of our goal to create Free Content Expansion X. As soon as we hit our goal, we begin production. It will take 4-6 months. Anyone who bought on the C-Store during this push gets 1 bonus Lobi for every $1 they spent after we hit our goal. If we hit 200% of our goal in two months, you get 5 Bonus Lobi and we'll begin work on a second content expansion with a second team. If we hit 300%, Patrick Stewart will reprise his role as Jean-Luc Picard."

Nobody knows the hard numbers. It's likely that different items would contribute differently based on the cost of making them.


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