Honestly, the game shot itself in the foot a long time ago. They should have been advertising and pushing the player count up. As it is, I’m not convinced it can avoid a death spiral.
New, inexperienced and utterly useless pilots are being thrown into matches with hardened veterans who utterly destroy them. The reason for this is that the tier system isn’t working.
The reason the tier system isn’t working is A) all the money is locked in tier 3, and B) not enough players are in Tiers 4 and 5.
The reason there aren’t enough players in tiers 4 and 5 is because A) experienced pilots with low-synergy and xxxx gear don’t want to fly against hardened vets with full synergy top-gear when they could fly lower tier instead and have full synergy and top-gear themselves, and B) Long queue times (caused in part by A and in part by the fact tier 5 should never have been released) make people move down. Also, with Tier 4, we have C) the morons put mixed tiers back in, which nobody wanted.
So, the best players in T5 are pushing the mediocre ones out of tier 5. They are also pushing almost everyone out of tier 4 because the Devs mixed the tiers. These people are all being pushed back to tier 3.
But what happens in tier 3? Well, newer pilots get there, get farmed, and get sick of it. So they quit, or they move down as well. When that happens, queue times increase. When that happens, more people are tempted to try moving down again to Tier 2, which has more negative impact…
Is this fixable? Perhaps, but not easily. Many suggestions on how to fix it have been given. None have been listened to because none of them came from Rusian ESB pilots. Still, here is how I would fix things at this junction.
1) Advertise the damn game!
2) Separate Tier 4 and Tier 5 again.
Now, from here on out I’m expecting flak, but remember why I’m suggesting this; to push good players OUT of Tier 3 and into Tier 4 and Tier 5.
3) Move all Tier 2 DLC and Pirate ships to Tier 3. Upgrade their stats and slots accordingly.
4) Move all Tier 3 DLC and Pirate ships to Tier 4. Upgrade their stats and slots accordingly.
5) Fix Tier 3’s ship tree.
Why do this? People are going to stay where the money has been spent, and the bulk of the money in this game is in Tier 3. That was fine when Tier 4 was only for serious corporate competition, but the Devs shot themselves in the foot by putting all the money low down. And it’s not an inconsiderable some of money either; we’re talking hundreds of dollars worth of content!
By moving this content up a tier, you encourage the people who use it to move up as well. This means more people in Tier 4, and that tier 4 now has the most P2P ships and content. This should, hopefully, make Tier 4 the default tier for people who invest money in the game.
6) Offer Gold Standards to pilots who have maxed Tiers 1-3 if they fly Tiers 4 and 5 instead.
Why do this? Because GS is one of the few things the devs can really dangle in people’s faces. We’re trying to convince people with hundreds of millions of credits and pure-purple ships to move up and away from Tier 3, so the only thing that could conceivably be given to them as a reward for doing so is Gold Standards.
The trick is to find the balance between amount of GS and how you earn it. Perhaps something like “complete five PvP battles” could earn a small portion of GS. This also encourages players to max out their lower ships, which could potentially pull in some income from people converting Elite Synergy to Free Synergy.
Also, five battles may not sound a lot, but even if people just play five games for the GS and go back to Tier 3, it’s still a small boost to higher level player count and a respite for the people below.