In which we give marketing advice to MMO publishers

Gravity noted via twitter that he’d offered some suggestions to Flying Labs (creators of Pirates of the Burning Sea) on how to improve their website to better attract new players – it’s a post on their suggestions forum.

<…> new users will make a fairly quick prejudicial judgement on whether to download the game. They’ll be asking questions like, will I get ganked, how much does it really cost to play and enjoy it, and what are the features.

Answers to these questions should be easy to find.

Sounds sensible, right?

So what advice would you give to your favourite game as to how better to attract new players or draw back returning ones? (Advice like ‘completely redesign your game’ probably isn’t useful.)

Here’s a couple of thoughts:

LOTRO: It’s difficult to draw players into an older game because they’ll tend to assume it’s less good than whatever they are currently playing. But LOTRO has a lot of unique selling points – the lore, the skirmishes, the great epic storylines, and the friendliness of the player base. They really should be pushing the friendliness more because it would draw in exactly the sorts of players they want. So I’d suggest for them a social push with lots of inducements to share information on social networking sites.

WoW: The price of entry is way high, especially since if you really did want to buy all the expansions it’s about twice as expensive if you do so online via Blizzard as if you just buy them from Amazon. (I know this because I checked earlier.) Just bundle the dratted things together and halve the price and loads more people would buy it if they liked the trial.

Sony: Oh. Haha. This online thing just isn’t working out for you is it? Sorry, I got nothing.

7 thoughts on “In which we give marketing advice to MMO publishers

  1. Important LotRo questions like ‘What if I really, really hate bears? Will I be killing some?’ and ‘Will this bear killing take place at night?’

  2. Maybe I’m weird, but one of the first questions I want to find out with every new game is how daytime progresses. In that specific respect, I found the WoW model always much more immersive than the EQ model (to name two current, popular choices): a day is a day long, not 72 minutes.
    Of course, that can come with its own problems if you have content that is only available during specific times of day, and you further assume that your player base will have very regular and strict playing time patterns…

    Of course, this is a question you never find answered in FAQs. I guess that’s because it’s just not that frequently asked.

    • I picked up Vanilla WoW, TBC and Wrath around Christmas for $20 direct from Blizz on that sale. Not a bad deal at all. Now, if that were the standard price, or maybe even $30 for a new BattleChest (fine, $40 if you throw in CAT), that would go a long way to lowering that barrier to entry.

      Of course, the true barrier for them earning more of my money is that thrice-cursed subscription. Blizzard, stop dicking around with the money siphon and take the lead from Guild Wars already. Especially if you *don’t* do BattleChest 2.0.

      I really do like Azeroth (in smallish doses anyway). That subscription is just too high a barrier for me to really endorse the game.

  3. Agreed on price structure. Its stupid.

    Bundle everything bar Cata in one expansion at a discount price, preferably with a new name/box so its one package/download.

    Telling someone they have to buy or download 4 boxes is a discouragement.

    • I always found the tendency of some games to have only a vanilla ‘free trial client’ that forced you to then sit through updates for hours equally stupid. Is it really that hard to update the download file say, once a month, so it doesn’t become some huge timesink just to try out the game?

      • Agreed. one of the things Warhammer got right was their idea of a streaming client for the trial. If I decide to try a new game, they’ve got a very limited window to hook me while I’m still interested (say, while my favourite MMO is down for patching). If that window is used up just installing the client, they aren’t very likely to convert to a sale.

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