Rerolling to a New Game: Marketing Strategy

| Thursday, February 3, 2011
How many people keep playing the game they're playing because that is where they've invested their time? That is where they have their level Awesome Class of Awesome with a full Set of Awesome and the meta-achievement of Awesome while having also gotten the rare items of Awesome during the limited time event. I don't know, but I suspect someone with a character that awesome isn't eager to start over wearing dinner plates glued to rags as their new 'plate armor', even if the new world is pretty awesome.

There are no WoW killers, but WoW is an every other MMO abortionist. It refuses to let go of its players tied to their awesome characters and possibly a few friends. So all the new MMOs die.

Enter the marketing department. Figure out the approximate equivalent in their own world for class, levels, and armor, then offer that to players from other games. Let them stomp in feeling awesome, and awesome in a whole new world. That might draw out some veterans, and keep them.

But there's still that problem of social ties. People don't want to leave their friends behind, but not everyone can afford to spend the typical $50 for a box on a whim. Waiting to see what others think of it is a sure way to split a group and leave the pioneers wandering in a lonely world. So bring the friends with. Give a $1 discount for each friend they sign up, counting them as a group, so if you bring a group of ten friends (eleven total), everyone gets $10 off. Saving $110 around is essentially two free boxes, a trade which the friends could sort out among themselves, plus change, but for the company it is still more sales than it would have had otherwise. Friend stick together, the company gets more money, everyone wins. Well, except the previous game, but too bad for them.

Would you be more likely to try, and stick with, a new game if it offered you a higher level character? How about if it encouraged you to bring with your friends? I think I would.


Nat said...

I like the idea in theory, but obviously it smacks of the whole 'bought your toon off eBay' thing. Just because I have spent a ridiculous amount of time playing and learning WoW,it does not make me good at Rift.


Nils said...

"Would you be more likely to try, and stick with, a new game if it offered you a higher level character?"
Honestly. No.

"How about if it encouraged you to bring with your friends? I think I would."
I'm not really in favour of cheap marketing tricks. I certainly won't go to my friends and tell than that it would be good for my bank account if they bought the game, too.

Actually, I don't even think what you describe is a problem with new games. Many, many WoW-players love to test out new games. Remember 700k sold boxes, Age of Conan?

What you describe is a more a problem for estabilished rivals for WoW, because new players 'fear' that there are already other high level characters who 'look down on them'.

Besides: The whole grind-to-level-cap to start the game is absurd. This is not the future.

Caramael said...

I don't care about the level of awesomeness my characters have reached. I've rerolled to plenty of other MMOs, and the only reason I didn't stick with them longer than a month was because the gameplay sucked (in numerous different ways).
If I decide to try a different MMO, I *want* to start with a pitchfork, a ragged leather vest and no skills.
A decent game doesn't/shouldn't need stupid marketing bullshit (and that includes F2P) to attract players.

Chris said...

Having Garr's binding is what keeps me playing WoW. In fact, it's the reason I'm logged in right now and not on PotBS.

Tesh said...

"The whole grind-to-level-cap to start the game is absurd. This is not the future."

Yes, this. That said, if a game is going to insist on that sort of nonsense, I think it's perfectly viable to offer level capped characters. If someone is only interested in the "endgame", let them play it without dinking around through the leveling curve. Of course, that might be a "value added" service, easily monetized...

Klepsacovic said...

@Reala: There are some common skills across games, but I can't safely assume that the gear was due to skill.

@Nils: The idea isn't to say "buy the game it will save me money", but so friends can say "here, trying this out, if you're short on money we can get it free".

@Caramael: Please tell me you at least need to be able to attack. No one could be that masochistic.

@Chris: Aha, so a way to convert keybindings to equivalent skills?

@Tesh and Caramael: Maybe it could be a game that doesn't have "level to play the real game" paradigm and all the cool gear could be converted into pretty dresses or something. Hats. I could totally use some hats in exchange for whatever tier we're on.

Caramael said...

Yeah, being able to attack something with that pitchfork would definitely be handy to get started ;) Either way, my point was that I enjoy character progression. If people can skip ahead (like in Eve Online and other RMT rubbish), well, meh.

Chris said...

Huh? Some joke I've missed? By Garr's binding, I mean as in half of Thunderfuy.

Klepsacovic said...

@Caramael: Do you mind if people skip ahead or you just want to have your own choice of whether to skip or not?

@Chris: I thought you meant key bindings and you had a character named Garr. Oops. The one time I don't relate everything to MC...

Chris said...

Although, in regards to keybindings, I'm finding PotBS to be quite good in that regard. New game, meaning I can set up new keybinds. If I were to try and make my keybinds in WoW more useful, I'd confuse myself for weeks.

Anonymous said...

I checked out PotBS on a recommendation from spinks. If there had been a subscription, I wouldn't have started. But with a freemium/F2P option, the only inital cost was my time. Low barriers to entry are good and PotBS got the free/paid balance right. I'm playing it still because I like the environment and the gameplay well enough. I'm doing all of the tutorials too. If they dropped me directly onto an "epic" ship with end-game opponents, I'd be deader than dead. I want the learning curve.

So, no, I wouldn't want to start with a high level character. The incentive for my friends to start playing ought to be the same low initial cost that I had as the pioneer. What's going to keep all of us playing isn't some "refer a friend" bonus but great gameplay. The game has to actually be good.

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