[mud-dev] Offline play


J C Lawrence:
Actually the cynical mould is a bit worse than that. In the early days of the product you want lots of players on the servers as that creates an impression of crowd, business, popularity etc. Later, once the player base is well established and large what you actually want is for almost all them to never play (thus saving bandwidth, hardware, networking, presence costs etc), leaving a small enough percentage playing to maintain the sense of vibrant activity for the new players to replace your churn.

Yes, this makes sense for the marketing but doesn’t work in the reality. Players don’t pay for a game they don’t play.

I still believe that marketing works if you have a product to offer. You cannot, instead, build a successful product by just following marketing rules because the marketing itself should be derived from the quality of the offer.

Just above that you say: “From a marketing perspective you never want to make it easy or attractive for a customer to decide to leave your service.”

Well, that applies also to what you write below. Incentivate your players to “not play” is again about making it easy for them to leave.

Raph Koster:

Players don’t pay for a game they don’t play.

A disturbingly large number of them do, actually. Not all, obviously, but still a significant percentage. If you look at “unique player logins in a month” it just about never reaches 100%, nor does it match the churn rate (in other words, the people who do not log in also don’t all quit). I don’t have monthly figures handy, but you can have a game that shows 70% of the userbase logging in every week, and not have anywhere near 30% of them quitting–in fact, not even a tenth of them will quit.

I know this. In fact I’m subscribed to FFXI even if I don’t log in from months. But this doesn’t disproof what I wrote. The fact that I’m not playing the game makes me a lot more near to the decision to cut it. What you are doing here is the most common mistake. You observe a behaviour and draw a completely wrong rule. We were considering the design. I simply think that is overly stupid to develop a game that doesn’t want you to play. For obvious reasons (look at the last line of this message).

My line you quoted there is surely wrong if you take it in its absolute meaning. But the fact is that you cannot read it, prove that it is wrong and so demonstrate its contrary: “you can design successful games that incentivate players to stay offline”.

Both in what I write and what you write there’s a sub-text.
1- “Players don’t pay for a game they don’t play” has the subtext “incentivate the players to play because here is the success”
2- “A disturbingly large number of them do, actually” has the subtext “the success of a game isn’t tied to the fact that players use to play it”

This is what I mean. It’s true that there are players that don’t play but pay. But this isn’t useful to draw a positive design strategy. Designing a game for players that don’t play not only will make you loose those who play. But also those who don’t.

There are peoples that buy cars and then don’t use them. So you think that you can develop a successful car that doesn’t move?

And let’s focus on the content and not on the form. The line you quoted is “truth” if you consider the context of my message, “false” if you isolate it, like you did. At the other side your message here is “false” if we consider its context, “true” if we consider it isolated (since I cannot argue nothing that you wrote here). What I did in this message is to provide back the context to mine and your message to demostrate that mine is true and your false.

You win on the form, I win on the content :)

I want also to add that the title of the message isn’t its topic. The problem of the casual crowd, and so the mass market, is WAY more complex than a simple issue with the time you have available. In fact a casual player can still love single-player games that are excassively long, just by playing them at the “pace” he chooses. The problem is simply inherited by the fact that time and play puts GAPS between the players. The issue is originated by the structure of the treadmill, where “young” players cannot play with older ones.

I have many design ideas on how to solve the problem about “Casual Crowd vs.Time Rich Crowd” and they are along the lines of creating different structures inside the game where different players have different roles and goals. Where casual players have a specific role and goal and where time rich crowds have another. And the *key* is about giving them different roles but making they play *together* with the same general goal.

Separating them with different personal goals and roles and pushing them to play together for a communal goal. I’m cooking an article about this.

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