I know it’s been talked about to death, but TRS and 2K need as much feedback on this matter as everyone is willing to provide and I am well-educated in this matter. This is a game-killing issue and it needs to be fixed before it’s too late.
Gaming is my life and I have studied and observed the gaming industry at an obsessive level for the better part of 3 decades. I have experience and have done significant research in designing and promoting games, 4 years of business school, I own and operate a startup business and I have made it a priority to study and observe microtransactions and game sales and statistics when possible for at least 12 years. I know who has been successful and who hasn’t whether it come from the mobile, console, PC or even board/card game market, I know who has gone out of business and why, and I keep an unblinking eye on the evolution of pricing models in the game industry. I read articles from Gamespot, IGN, Tomshardware, Kotaku, Gameindustry, PCgamer, Polygon and more on literally a daily basis. I have my hand securely strangling the pulse of the game industry and my level of commitment to it might be described as “obsessive”. My point is, I have a little bit of an idea of what I am talking about and I can say with 100% certainty that you guys have screwed the pooch harder than I’ve ever seen when it comes to a pricing model for a game.
I told myself I was going to stay constructive, but how you guys managed to screw this up so badly when you have SO MANY amazing pricing models to observe is just fascinating to me. Do you not realize that it is your pricing model and not your game(obviously some improvements can be made and kinks ironed out, like any new game of this size) that is driving people away? People have few reasons not to continue giving a game a chance when there is no risk involved. They can pick it up or come back without any fear. No one is going to continue playing a game that involves such a tremendous financial investment with no sign of slowing down for continued support. Do you realize that Evolve costs $100 to play right now if you want all the available content? One hundred dollars…
I get it, Evolve is a AAA title with an enormous development overhead and likely a significant upkeep cost. What you don’t get is that profits don’t come from squeezing income out of the dedicated playerbase. Profits come from drawing in as many players as possible, then providing them with a continuous stream of content which has such fantastic value that the vast majority of them would feel stupid NOT to purchase it. What you’ve done is literally the exact opposite of what every successful “continuous-development” game of the last 5 years has done.
Your first error was in charging $60 for the game up front. NEW franchises(not to be confused with established brands) only have success with this approach when game reviews are off the charts and/or when a significant number of players have been given an opportunity to play the game for an extended amount of time before release. Your Alpha and Beta tests weren’t anywhere near long enough to meet this standard and your game reviews are far from what they need to be at to spur gamers into making a full-price purchase, let alone continued purchases so soon after.
It doesn’t matter how sure you are that your game is going to sell millions of copies, the majority of players do not share your convictions, nor have they been given a real reason to purchase your game. Commercial marketing in the game industry(and others)doesn’t work like it used to. Marketing now is all about exposure in the hopes that potential consumers will be provided with enough initial interest to do their OWN research on a game. Your game presents such a tremendous barrier to entry that you have essentially turned off 90%(or more) of your active demographic RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE. That means that 90% of those people won’t even touch your game until a large number of conditions are met(some of which I’ve already laid out). So right away you’ve restricted players from experiencing what is absolutely, 100%, unequivocally the MOST IMPORTANT part of promoting a game and leading it to eventual success: being able to try the game.
And it only gets worse. Those that actually took the jump and made the investment because they felt they had reason to do so find themselves in a game publisher’s worst nightmare. If a significant number of those people, upon purchasing and playing the game, find out that they aren’t happy for a number of reasons(not their kind of game, poor performance, bad bugs, slow content, friends didn’t want to spend $60 on a game they know nothing about, inactive playerbase, EXPENSIVE DLC, etc.) you’ve essentially tarnished your game’s reputation almost beyond repair. In this day and age, it is INCREDIBLY difficult and rare for a game to recover from such a thing.
You need to face one important fact about the current state of the game industry: Players don’t take risks with their purchases when there are SO many options available for them that present ZERO risk. Evolve was a risk that, for many, turned out very poorly, when what it should have been was a zero-risk opportunity to experience a whole new kind of gameplay and fun. Do you think anyone is going to REALLY care if your game has some issues if players were charged little to nothing to give it a try? Complaints are not the same as write-offs. The funny thing is that game publishers who take this approach to game sales present themselves with the very same risk when it comes to profits! So silly.
I’m going to share with you a secret about microtransactions/DLC. I am so sure of the effectiveness of this fact that I would literally bet my life on its validity.
The first part is simple; your game has to be fun. This is an obvious requirement of every single game in existence and I’m pretty sure it didn’t even need to be said, but what the hell. But here’s the primary fact: If the majority of players look at your available list of DLC and find themselves thinking ANYTHING other than, “Wow, that value is so good that I would feel stupid for NOT purchasing it and I’m pretty sure I’ll go insane if I don’t buy it all” then your pricing model is off. It really is that simple. Don’t believe me? Everyone who is reading this, check out your Steam profiles for some of your very cheap or F2P games to see how much money you’ve spent in them.
Here’s a quick list of a few games between me and just ONE of my gamer friends.
Marvel Heroes: $361
Dota 2: $612
Payday 2: $121
That’s over $1,300 spend between TWO people on just 4 games(over $300 per game on average). Do you not see the significance of this? Need more evidence? Ever heard of the Steam summer/winter sales? Ask yourselves, what is the one thing you are thinking during those sales. If it isn’t, “I’m going to buy every game because they’re so incredibly cheap even though I’ll probably never play half of them”, then there might be something wrong with you. I know one thing for certain, every single gamer I know, rich or poor, competitive or loner, slow PC or fast, buys up hundreds of dollars in games and DLC content during these sales. The value is just too good to pass up. Have you seen Steam’s sales figures during these sales? It’s unbelievable.
Your game could have assisted in furthering the evolution of pricing in the game industry, instead it chose to fall into literally the WORST category of content pricing that this industry has ever seen.
Luckily, it isn’t too late to correct your mistakes and make some headway on recovering from your obvious blunder. Whether you believe it or not, I have provided you (2K/TRS) with the information you need to revive this game and bring in a larger playerbase than you ever thought possible. In case some of it wasn’t understood, I want to just lay it out once more in a very simple list.
How to profit from the sale of a game and DLC
1. Create fun game - Obvious
2. Create as much exposure for the game as possible - Can’t accumulate players if they don’t know you exist and have a way to research you or even test you out before making any decisions.
3. Remove any perceived risk from potential consumers - Little or no risk = little or no reason not to try the game and plenty of good reasons(beta feedback, reviews, gameplay trailers, previews, streams, etc.) to give it a shot
4. Provide content updates with such incredible value that the vast majority of your playerbase would feel like fools for not snatching up as much of it as they can possibly afford. - Once you have enough people interested in and committed to playing the game for the foreseeable future, all you need to do is give them lots of stuff to buy and frequent sales on bundles/packs, each with incredible value. Anyone who thinks that profits come from squeezing as much money as possible out of ONLY the most dedicated/dependant consumers either runs a monopoly, a well-established brand known for consistent and superior quality or a very unsuccessful/dying business. When myself and most of the community look at Evolve’s prices, we’re thinking, “this is embarrassing, offensive and it will probably play a major role in the downfall of this game” not, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!”.
5. Support, listen to, provide updates for and address any concerns and/or requests deemed legitimate by both the community at large as well as the developers of the game. - Can’t stress the importance of open communication with a game that is being continuously developed and improved. Just look at the Path of Exile or Marvel Heroes forums as well as their development history.
I’ve said what I came here to say, thanks to anyone who got this far and don’t forget to support this thread if you want 2K/TRS to give it real consideration.