(I apologise for this post being so long, I’m just trying to get my point across and improve the quality of the game).
TL;DR: …There isn’t one. Just skip the first part and read the suggestions if you want.
…Just look at what I have to say and give it some thought. I’ve been studying game transactions for a while now and thinking about how I could apply this to Star Conflict to persuade more people to pay. I recognise you’re using the micro-transaction model, and that’s fine. I have nothing against this. But, after some careful consideration and reflection, I have come to the conclusion that your current tactics are somewhat sloppy.
Seriously, who is on your marketing division? Are you sure they understand basic finances in gaming? Or are they just trying to engineer this game to:
A) Fail and
B) Act as a short-term profit box?
Cause they’re doing a pretty good job of it. If I had their email addresses I can assure you each and every one of them would have a very scathing one to read in their inboxes by now. Probably not just by me, either.
I understand that you wish to focus on marketing after you’ve properly released the game.
Not a good idea. Never build a game and then try to integrate a payment system. That is one of the best ways to send a game straight to the graveyard. You have to advance the system with every patch, modification and addition you make. It has to be part of the gaming experience itself. Doing this helps to make it appear less tacked on and rushed, and generally more enjoyable to use.
The micro-transaction model works well by itself.
When used on their own in a game micro-transactions are a good model to use. There are some other methods that are designed to be used in conjunction with another way of earning money from a Free 2 Play game.
Now the good thing about micro-transactions is that they are probably the future for the gaming industry. Many games will become free to play, or very very cheap to buy, and this system will be the one that brings in the real money. The micro-transaction model is good in the respect that it allows players to trial games they find and let them decide how much they want to spend.
Currently, you’re not managing it too well.
Number one rule of gaming involving profits:
Never sell power. Ever.
That is the worst conceivable idea any marketing team can have. And I’m sad to say that you’ve managed to do it, with or without your knowledge. The DLCs are mainly responsible for this. The Desert Eagle, Dragonfly and Bear are all - respectively - the best of their kind in T3, outdoing the Rank 9s by quite a long way. What’s even more annoying is you have to pay to get these. Hence, P2W. Normally I wouldn’t kick up that much of a fuss about it, but then the Pirate Packs come into it with ship that don’t even come close to their counterparts. The only ones worth the money are the Sai and the Shark. That’s it. The others are either Rank 8 or missing valuable slots. The Sai is only valid as the critical bonuses it gets are massive and make it the perfect Cov Ops ship-
Wait, it’s a RECON?! WHAT?!
Look, it feels like you’ve made these ships deliberately underpowered just as cover for the argument about the DLC fighters belonging in T4 and not T3. No. That doesn’t work. It just gives us more ammunition to use against you when we say ‘you have no idea how to balance your game’, But this isn’t about balance issues, so we’ll leave that behind.
Nice idea with the customisation. Why isn’t it permanent?
This is another one of my pet peeves. Why give us the option to paint our ships when it doesn’t even last forever? It makes no sense. It immediately makes players associate your system with the aforementioned cash scam. We want to buy things off the you, not rent them! Even if it’s a one time use, we should at least receive it indefinitely. This all applies to the concept of customisation: we want to make ourselves stand out. To look impressive. To attract attention. And - in the case of Star Conflict - make sure they know that we killed them.
Now, it’s ingrained into the human psyche that everyone wants to be better than anyone else. It’s true. You know you want to be the best at this game, but whether you’re prepared to do whatever it takes to get there is another thing. But that’s besides the point. JasanQuinn made a very nice idea for NASAs colour scheme, which can be found [here](< base_url >/index.php?/topic/18684-nasa/?p=209590). Compare that to the default colour scheme for each ship respectively. A lot more recognisable, isn’t it?
You don’t even have to look at the name to realise it’s someone from NASA. The colours are enough to get you to immediately associate that particular ship with them and probably send you running in the other direction if there’s a squad of them with those colours. If these were permanent you’d have a lot of people buying them. Making their ships recognisable may seem trifling at first, but never underestimate human vanity.
So why can’t we have permanent colours? Like I said before: allowing us a month to use that colour scheme when we’ve paid for it using real money specifically? No. Bad Gaijin. This won’t sell well and you’re throwing away one of the possible major incomes for this game as if it doesn’t matter to you. The pricing of the DLCs says otherwise. You care about your money, and yet you seem to be avoiding every possible way of getting more. You only added colouring when we nagged you about it incessantly. I know that if I was part of your graphics team I would have made you integrate this a long time ago.
At the time of writing, the current exchange rates are £0.65 British Pound Sterling to one (1) American Dollar, and €0.75 Euro to one (1) American Dollar. So, the price of your packs, respectively, should be:
- 1250+100 GS = $4.50, £2.94, €3.38
- 3000+300 GS = $10.50, £6.85, €7.89
- 6000+900 GS = $19.50, £12.74, €14.66
- 12500+2500 GS = $37.50, £24.46, €28.18
- 35000+7500 GS = $99.99, £65.19, €75.14
- Solider Of Fortune = $19.99, £13.04, €15.02
- Galaxy Explorer = $49.99, £32.59, €37.56
- Elite Pilot = $79.99, £52.18, €60.12
- Corsair = $19.99, £13.04, €15.02
- Jolly Roger = $49.99, £32.59, €37.56
- Dead Man’s Chest = $79.99, £52.18, €60.12
Now. Really, the Pirate and Mercenary Packs shouldn’t exist. I’ve already said why, but to recap: Micro-transactions are good when you can buy nothing else. DLCs? No. Have one or the other, but not both. It’s just generally a bad idea. You should be able to buy everything available to a player in-game. End of discussion.
Now, if you really want to fix these issues…
Then listen to my suggestions carefully.
- Add a recommendation system.
A lot of games do have a small system in place that essentially asks newcomers if they were recommended by another player, and rewards said player for doing so. It doesn’t have to be a large amount, something like 500 GS will do, but it really does help, and also resolves 2 things:
- All players have the potential to get any premium items. You’ll see why this is good in a moment.
- It persuades your current players to get their friends to play, which means more people potentially spending on your game.
AirMech has an ingenious version of system in place which gets players to recommend the game to their friends. When said friends get to a certain level, it awards the player x amount of diamonds, the paid currency of the game. Now, that’s a little add-on that you don’t necessarily have to implement, but it’s an idea.
- Allow consumers to earn currency in-game.
I know many of you on the marketing team would probably recoil in horror if you read this, but there’s actually no good business reason not to allow players the chance to earn paid currency when playing. Yes, it should be a long and arduous process but if players are willing to put in the time and effort to play your game nothing should be denied to them. There are five main reasons why you should allow players to earn gold standards:
- They’ll feel like the game is giving them a fair chance and it’s not going to make them pay for anything at any point and actually increases the likelihood of a player buying something. Yes, I’m staring at the synergy system as I write this. It’s designed to make you feel like you have to pay to advance any faster and forcing people to play ships they don’t want just says to me you guys have no idea how your players work.
- Using the in-game store at first seems very difficult for players, until they actually use it. Universally, games with the micro-transaction model report that as soon as someone uses the store once, they are extremely likely to use it again. Same with me for Dragonvale. It took me a long time to man up and actually buy some gems, but a few days later I went and got an even bigger pack of them. Same basic principle: as soon as someone buys GS, they’re very likely to buy another one which is probably going to be bigger than the first when they realise how valuable it actually is.
- If you balance the system correctly, many of your consumers will come to the conclusion that their time is way more valuable than their money. Gratz: you’ve converted some of your players into paying customers. Best thing about this? They will feel far more comfortable with forking out more cash. Either because they’ve spent too much to care or feel as if the game is actually saying ‘Thanks. Come again sometime.’ not ‘YOU WILL BUY STUFF!’
- If you don’t allow players to earn currency then you’re effectively excluding all who don’t have a credit card or just can’t afford it. Like those of us who don’t/can’t get a job. You’re cutting out the large chunk of your playerbase that are under 21. These younger players are also often the ones who make YouTube videos and put up wikis, and turning them away also removes the chance for you to get some publicity. If someone goes and starts making a nice chain of videos for people to watch online, BAM! You’ve just got free advertisement. Don’t throw away these chances.
- Pay 2 Win arguments are rendered invalid as everyone can earn everything. Someone complaining the premium ships are overpowered? Tell them to play more and get one using the GS they’ve accumulated. BOOM! You’ve now essentially gone and made your game Pay 2 Win Proof.
- Sell convenience.
In addition, this system also gives you potentially higher income profits: selling convenience such as extra hangar slots in this case (nicely done) and implant/ship profiles or even customisation options that make things look shiny could bring in way more. Even warehouse storage comes into this. This would require a slight redo of the warehouse system, but say players can store up to 100 items and modules in their warehouse at first, not including the ones already installed on their ships, which you currently count as being in storage. If they stock up on the modules they loot, then pretty soon they’re going to end up with a full warehouse and will have to make a choice between getting rid of things that may prove useful later or buying extra space.
The thing is, anyone who joins your game will feel as if these are totally unnecessary and the default amount will be plentiful. But after a while, if they’re that into your game they will immediately see the benefits of getting these little bonuses and will happily spend a few pounds getting them.
Even the licenses fit under this categories. You’re not selling power, just levelling speed. Everyone will get there eventually, just the ones with licenses will be there faster than the rest.
- Make the components of your DLCs available to buy in-game with GS.
Again, the micro-transaction method is great when used by itself. In short: get rid of your DLCs. If you broke down the DLCs and repriced everything (refunding the players who purchased them with GS), then all those players can just go and get what they had before back.
Here’s the thing: dividing every DLC you have up into smaller parts caters to both the player who wants to spend £5 and the player who wants to spend £100, instead of shoving it altogether regardless of price to the player who wants to spend £40. Plus, smaller amounts makes it look like less of a deal, until the player checks their bank account and realises they’ve spent over £300 on the game on all these smaller bits and pieces.
Let’s take the VIP cards as an example here. If you removed them from their respective DLCs and made a system that allows you to buy a card that’s permanent, then purchase upgrades for it, it’d remove a lot of hassle and make them more attractive.
VIP card (+10% synergy) > Gold VIP (+10% synergy and loyalty) > Platinum VIP (as before) > Ruby VIP (+10% credits) > Diamond VIP (as before)
Notice how I included the bonuses from the Pirate Packs in here as well. If someone wants the credit bonuses, this subliminally gets them to pay more to get said bonuses. The additional synergy and loyalty is just something on the side, but totally worth it.
The ships come in here. Integrate them directly into the ship tree, and allow players to skip some of the grind. Pirates could be an exception, but the three DLC fighters should most definitely be placed in Rank 8, and allow players to skip right to Rank 9, which they have to grind in order to get through the other two Tiers ahead. Very simple, and makes your consumers feel better about getting them.
- Add some more content available through GS purchases.
Give your consumers more to buy. If there are a plethora of things to choose from, it’ll take them a long time to get everything. Plus, it’s more opportunities for you to earn money. This can include anything. Maps, gamemodes (take a [peek](< base_url >/index.php?/topic/20752-crazy-kinds-of-modes/)) and even campaign missions would work. Yes, add a damn campaign. It’d certainly increase this game’s value on the market. Whilst I understand it is centred on multiplayer interaction a storyline would make one hell of a difference.
If you do end up selling maps, you must allow players to earn GS. It’s a prerequisite. If you don’t, you’re dividing your playerbase into two, which is a terrible idea. The best way you can get non-paying players to start spending on your game? Have them hanging out with the ones who have already spent a few pounds.
Look, you can even expand your colour system. If you included a window that looked like this:
In your customisation options. Allow consumers to buy a colour that they can use across all ships, and for the love of Pete, price it reasonably. We’ll get onto that right now.
- When we say something is overpriced, that’s the last word on the matter.
For God’s sakes, no-one will pay for something that’s overpriced. If we say it’s overpriced, you can bet your left nut that the newcomers will find it equally as expensive and will never, ever pay for it. And that’s potential money lost. Don’t deliberately overprice things in the blind hope that some idiot will come along with a bunch of equally moronic friends and go on a spending spree. I guarantee there are (fortunately) few people on this earth stupid enough to do that.
And that’s it from me. Thanks for reading!