This is what I studied for, and this is also the way we analyse problems regarding a company or product. This is also “me” who’s writing so expect this post to be long. Want a TL:DR version, read the title
Also know that this is NOT a short term fix. This is going to take time and is a concept for the future of Evolve. It’s either this, or letting the game die. I think the latest this should be implemented is a year from launch max. It’s clear that the community cannot save this game on their own. It’s something that TRS and 2K need to do now.
With 400 hours of game-time on the clock, being top 200 world globally and still having a TON of fun with this game, the player base is creeping on my back with every ticking second. It’s Tuesday 16th of April today and the amount of players playing at this moment, almost 2 moths after release are at 900 players for PC (down from 20.000+ at first). I absolutely have no clue how the player-base is looking on consoles, but at this point it doesn’t matter. We need to start discussing what to do with our beloved game and how Evolve will survive the bad start it got. Because believe it or not, this game is dying and the playerbase, even the most loyal, is bleeding hard. I tried keeping my eyes closed, but at this point I can’t, not any more.
Evolve was in great luck placing itself just in front of all the other huge releases. Only a few games were released these two months and this game is one of the better ones. With GTA 5 released and The Witcher 3 on the horizon, Evolve is going to lose a lot more players. I feel like the DLC is a fix to stop the bleeding for a week or two, but it kept on bleeding none the less.
So what is the real problem at this moment? Looking at my close circle of friends I know that they find this game way too expensive. I’ve heard this argument a lot and I fully agree that the base game for 60 euro’s simply is too much. Next to that they find that the DLC have F2P prices on top of the base game. Way too much for their liking, I tend to agree with this argument placed on top of the fact that this game is asking full prices for the base game.
I also know that TRS have a contract (with 2K?) that they need to finish first their contract first. New DLC, maps, game-modes, hunters and another monster. Only after this they will rework current hunters and monsters, add more content etc. The question is: will they? Why support a game that you can’t earn more money from to support future support? I know I wouldn’t, even if I loved the project so much… So how do you safe a dying game? You make it free to play, or really really cheap.
Don’t read this as one of “those” posts. Making a game free to play comes with great risks as well. It can completely fuck a game up so bad that noone want’s to play it anymore. Good thing is, Evolve’s current business model is 50% of that of similar F2P games. And that’s not a compliment, but an opportunity made into something it already “wanted” to be.
- Experience to unlock progression
- Experience to unlock masteries
- Experience (in tiers) to unlock new hunters and monsters
- Skins to customize your character
- Pay to get higher tier characters faster
- Pay to unlock new hunters
- Pay to unlock new monsters
What Evolve still needs:
- Ranked matches based on skill (not level)
- Fixing the still existing game-breaking bugs
- Reworking Nest, Rescue and Defend to make them viable for competitive matches (still too many exploits for easy wins).
- Reworking the Matchmaking to make it more user friendly.
- Include the ability to re-pick a perk when taking over a bot
- Include the option to ‘NOT’ pick or exclude a certain class or monster, or only monster.
- Include the option to filter games to prefer matches with players who have a mic
- Include a vote system to ‘not start a match against a bot monster’, if 3 out of 4 players vote to search for a new monster again.
- Include a system that gives you extra experience if you pick a class or monster that is needed in the matchmaking the most.
- Rework of custom games
- Add map rotation
- Make the design much more user friendly. Players need to go back and forward between screens to change even the most minor things.
- Reworking some character and/or monster skills to be viable for competitive play
- At least 80% of all the monsters and characters need to be picked at all times, if they aren’t good enough they should be reworked so they are viable for competitive matches. Or at least make them viable with another character working as a tight team.
- Reworking wildlife buffs so they are balanced in every match.
- Also give an option/gamemode to remove them completely
Free to play isn’t something to do lightly. You either re-release the game in “early-access” but people won’t like that one bit, certainly not for a game like Evolve. If you release this Free to Play though, a lot of existing buyers need to be compensated for the money they put into the game. Better yet, they should be rewarded for supporting this great game from the start. Giving them exactly the amount of content they already bought + extra. If you invested in this game you should get everything you payed for + loyalty service. There are games out there (APB:Reloaded) that did the same, but dropped all paying customers when they went free to play. Lost all my respect for them eventhough the game was reworked by a different studio.
Evolve can include a experience “brake” on the game making it harder to reach higher levels and get those characters and hunters faster. Say 50% of the 100% we have now. They can pay a small price (say 10 dollar) to set this normal again. This method lures in players that want to play the game for free, it motivates a small ‘fee’ to get it to the regular version. Keep the same DLC prices tagged on, improve the matchmaking and bugs and keep adding small amounts of content every month to keep the existing player base intact.
Start this trajectory with a few free weekends and only 15-20$ price for the game and work towards that point where the game WILL become free to lure in a bigger player base. My hypothesis is that they will earn more money on this game if they make it free to play with a 5x bigger player base than they will if they keep going on this route.
Evolve needs more love than it is getting. We need the parents of their child to stop focusing on making their kid the way they want it to be, but letting the kid be accepted by a bigger audience with no restraints.
Free to play games need a few things that make the successful. For Evolve these points might be crucial and not to be ignored.
- You need something to lure new players in.
- Making the game 100% free is a good start
- This will invite casual Youtubers back as well
- Doing a well planned promotion period in which gamewebsites pick up Evolve again and give the F2P version another re-“review”.
- Competitive scene will promote more games and keep this scene up
- Player to player advertising will work great for a initial tryout.
- You need something for players to come back too.
- Giving each player 1 token each month to unlock 1 hunter to play with for free (with the condition that they logged in and completed a match each day for 7 day’s). Saving up 3 tokens to unlock a monster. This is 5 euro a month “saved” most people wont even bother and buy it anyway.
- Playing for 14 day’s in a row will give you one random free skin that you don’t have yet
- Introduce monthly events that reward players for their imput and reward them for their effort (similar system to the challenges now)
- Have a Ranked system that drops your rank every other day you don’t play
- You need a “Dutch” pay model
- A model that makes it possible to not pay a single cent if you commit to the game for longer than +/- year and be able to unlock everything in that time. No 2K bullshit. In this year free publicity from 30% of the players makes it worth it.
- Fire everyone who brings up the idea to pay for time played. Or letting players who bought the game pay extra.
- A model that promotes buying things as an investment over time played. See token example ^
- Have a LOT of content available (base game) to play with once you downloaded it. But make the unlocking process take longer for people who haven’t paid anything yet.
- Set a minimum of 10 euro’s invested in Evolve to give players “normal” unlocking speed. This promotes more sales in the future since the first buy barrier has been broken. First investment is hardest for most F2P games. This applies to:
- Experience (Personal Perks)
- Masteries (even for DLC characters that have been bought with tokens)
- Need constant support, updates and patches for balance
- Because the game will get more money in, balance fixes, updates and new content should be released on at least a 2-3 month schedule timeframe. Make this event BIG, promote it, hype it a little by sending out a lot of teasers.
Free to play in the eyes of a “Dutch” person is only free to play if it is. No involuntary paywall, only voluntary. Make everything unlock able within a reasonable time-frame and make it so people buy things because they want it (sooner). Any trick, any method that shows the colors 2K showed for the actual game on release and you will get burned again.