Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.

Hey guys.

Wanted to get some feedback from you as to whether you think this would be a good idea or not.

After Escalation ships, we are considering creating a multiplayer only edition of Ashes of the Singularity (Tournament).  You wouldn't be able to buy this version.  Instead, everyone who buys either Ashes of the Singularity or Escalation would get 8 keys to give out to people.  Those people could then download the Tournament edition.

They'd only be able to play online (they couldn't host games but they could join custom games as well as join quick match / ranked games.

In doing this, we think we'd be able to build up the MP player base so that we could have more MP options.

However, the risk is that we would be potentially losing out on sales which is what funds continued Ashes development.

What are your thoughts?


Comments (Page 1)
on Sep 25, 2016

On one hand yes nice idea it could be something to push multiplayer. On the other hand Ashes is not the most expensive game the last special sale was for 13€ and for example Evolve. They changed to a free to play model after a phenomenal rise they lost again a lot of players http://steamcharts.com/app/273350

on Sep 25, 2016

The max size of the largest map in Aots is only 6 players, so it would be better to reduce the number of keys to 5. This isn't a bad idea, but it should be tested before implementing. Make a survey of how many would actually make use of the keys. Revenue is very important, it would best to look further into costs.

on Sep 25, 2016

Evolve lost users because they basically screwed over users who paid for the game and it's DLCs. They gave them nothing in return after they went F2P.

on Sep 25, 2016

Gameplay needs to get deeper or faster if you want to grow the community significantly, preferably deeper.  Considering hardware requirements, it's probably not going to grow much though, people with high end machines can afford to buy it just for a look.  Pseudo F2P will be a short term bandaid, few will stick around for the duration, the vast majority of your non-active players probably wont even bother giving theirs out.  I'd be unlikely to do so myself, most of the people I think would be interested have insufficient hardware to play it.  I can't think of one person to gift, let alone eight.

on Sep 25, 2016

Eight is overkill, particularly for a non-full priced game.

Considering the video card requirements, you have a limited user base anyway, and anyone who can afford a 100$ (2nd hand min cost for your minimum requirements)  to 300$ new card can afford a $25 game.

 

Thoughts;

- Two keys is more than enough. Perhaps if the user you gave it to buys the game then you get your key back to give out again?

- Ensure that even when they load into the game, they can still click on 'single player' and you can see the different dlcs available (greyed out - hence unplayable - but visible, so it shows which dlc to get which map / campaign etc). Currently i go into campaign and i only see the first campaign, as well as a  'tutorial' and 'king of the hill'. It is pretty awful set up that you have. I presume there are others??? Either there should be much much more , or they should be shown to the users so they can see what is available. Marketing 101. Simple up-sell to pre-existing users.

on Sep 26, 2016

Opposite to most of the replies so far (I guess there's only been 4), I think that you need to aggressively spread this game across the internet in order to gain a player base and increase revenue. 

Freemium games are what is driving the gaming industry these days. Limiting keys to people and relying on your existing player base to "spread the word" really isn't the answer. The reason is, as an avid RTS player that has a huge amount of friends from Starcraft 1, Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 2 - not a single person I know would be interested in playing this game - and this is someone who was once competitive and played on Check6.

I've watched Warcraft 3 Frozen Throne stay alive for years until League of Legends and DOTA (own platform) came out. Both were freemium and both got huge. What RTS lacks right now is a freemium mind-set to reach more players. I know this goes against your philosophy of wanting to build a game for the select few who have $500+ graphic cards, but that simply isn't a good business choice. It makes no sense - at all. Not only are search times ridiculous right now (3-12 minutes) for ranked games, I can't find anybody who actually wants to play. It's the greatest killer of this game - I certainly didn't pay for the story (for $39.99 you could buy the entire Lord of the Rings series in fancy hard cover).  

I'm probably the only person in Calgary Canada to have touched the Ranked Multiplayer button. It's a city of 1 million people. That's pretty hilarious. Not a single person on twitch streams this. I found 11 past videos on twitch of people "trying" it. 

Give "most" of the game for free - and then charge for the "full version". Make it convenient. Make it viral.  Otherwise, prepare for a slow burn.

on Sep 26, 2016

How about temporary keys that allow you to play X number of games before you have to make a purchase? Is that possible?

on Sep 26, 2016

I've been thinking a bit more about this issue, and have a different proposal.

 

Your biggest issue is the number of players. Which is massively constrained by graphic card users who also like RTS.

 

So;

- Graphically gimp the game. Remove zooming. Remove awesome graphics. Animations. Everything. Remove anything intense. Have them all use the same attack animation. Whatever is needed to make the game playable by 80% of all gamers. This way you massively increase the player base potential as more people can actually run/play the game.

- Lock out all of the default content. Single player. Campaigns etc. But allow it to be visible so they know what content is available if they choose to buy.

 

This (the graphic gimping) worked for path of exile, where the full game is free. But you pay for enhanced graphics.

 

You get more players. They already know the game wont look as good unless they pay. It gives them a taste, and the option to upgrade for the full experience as well as for the single player.

on Sep 26, 2016

Ashes isn't a MOBA, it will never be LOL, it can't go viral.  Plenty of RTS games have great sales, with large multiplayer communities, but none of them, including the holy grail of RTS multiplayer communities, Starcraft, have ever come close to it.  It's an order of magnitude more popular than anything else and it's not just because it's free, or CS:GO wouldn't be massively more popular than TF2.  Going freemium with an expensive to produce, slow to change, niche RTS, would just be filing for commercial suicide in triplicate.

on Sep 26, 2016

psychoak

Gameplay needs to get deeper or faster if you want to grow the community significantly, preferably deeper.  Considering hardware requirements, it's probably not going to grow much though, people with high end machines can afford to buy it just for a look.  Pseudo F2P will be a short term bandaid, few will stick around for the duration, the vast majority of your non-active players probably wont even bother giving theirs out.  I'd be unlikely to do so myself, most of the people I think would be interested have insufficient hardware to play it.  I can't think of one person to gift, let alone eight.

 

I have to agree with this, supreme commander forged alliance wasn't main stream but it had no issue building a decent multiplayer base due to its depth in multiplayer.  I would consider putting the development time into more depth for the game to draw in players.  i mean have you played it currently? maybe try and do 10 ranked games in a row especially at "gold" rank.  Even the single player ultimately against even the best ai becomes a game of basically building up dreadnoughts and inching them closer across a million mile wide map placing orbital nullifyers and air defense and radars as you go...  that is limited options if you ultimately end up at just one way every game to win.  

It is good it just needs more of everything, personally i think it needs to be over the top in things to build, make it 50 different ways to kill the enemy and only the players imagination is the limitation.  

Obviously we are judging the game pre escalation, maybe escalation competently transforms the game and you get a massive influx of players becuase of the new depth.

i have a few peeps on my friends list i could randomly text them out but honestly if i want a game i will buy a game nowadays.  its the quality of games which is the issue not money. 

If every review in magazines says how amazing ashes is as an RTS surely every RTS fan would come here to play it.  when escalation hits get it to every reviewer you can.  hopefully they can give you some decent honest feedback good or bad.

on Sep 26, 2016

peter_neate

I've been thinking a bit more about this issue, and have a different proposal.

 

Your biggest issue is the number of players. Which is massively constrained by graphic card users who also like RTS.

 

So;

- Graphically gimp the game. Remove zooming. Remove awesome graphics. Animations. Everything. Remove anything intense. Have them all use the same attack animation. Whatever is needed to make the game playable by 80% of all gamers. This way you massively increase the player base potential as more people can actually run/play the game.

- Lock out all of the default content. Single player. Campaigns etc. But allow it to be visible so they know what content is available if they choose to buy.

 

This (the graphic gimping) worked for path of exile, where the full game is free. But you pay for enhanced graphics.

 

You get more players. They already know the game wont look as good unless they pay. It gives them a taste, and the option to upgrade for the full experience as well as for the single player.

 

The game ran for me on a GTX 580 ! thats 6 years old now.  i really think if people are running less than that then you can really keep crying for lower graphics.  you just have to bite the bullet and say my pc is slow and it needs a £80 new g card.  Not to mention the new low texture feature.  

on Sep 26, 2016

This idea is really playing with fire. I'll say how I'd do it if I had to, then critique OP idea.

Alternate method:

-Free to everyone

-Limited to one faction*

-MP limited to Ranked only

Here is where you could diverge: (I'd go for both)

- Provide 3 SP missions from the campaign, they don't have to be in the original order. This acts as both tutorial and tease for campaign content.

And/Or - Provide one or two maps for SP skirmish play. Again you only get the same faction but you can play the same map as much as you want.

All this would have to be locked down tight so people couldn't add maps etc.

This involves more work, but it is both more limiting and more inclusive as a product, in good ways I think. It is more like a demo really and will likely take more work than the OP method but I think it would work a lot better.

* I first thought PHC was the obvious choice as they are easier to learn and are very/more popular. But if you take Sub missions from the new campaign they might be more interesting and can also be used to tell people how to play Sub. Also if PHC is more popular then it increases the likely hood they buy the main game so they can play them  

Your method:

Too generous, too narrow, shooting in the wrong direction:

Too generous: They can play all factions on all maps and all MP types. If players give keys to people who are only semi-interested in the game they will probably only play custom games with their friends anyway and so wouldn't buy the game.

Too narrow: Giving keys to friends won't work. I can't think of a single person (who doesn't already have it), who if I gave them the key they'd give it more than a quick go and only if I play with them. Unless I give it a few random people I don't personally know. I expect you would end up with keys just online, but that is messy.

Wrong direction: Your proposed way is aimed only at MP. You yourself have said vast majority of people only play SP. Those SP won't touch this and in their mind it might even create the idea that Ashes is all about the MP so it puts them off the game in the future too. 

So none of them increase sales. And limiting it to keys for existing owners, well, I think you would get very little payback for the effort you put into creating Tournament.

 

I am not sure it is a good idea at all in the first place but the OP idea won't work well I think. One problem with free games is that people on the whole (I think) don't appreciate them so much and will often drop them quicker. It is the extension of the idea that if you buy a game for $60 then you will definitely play it and put some time into it. If you wait for a game for a couple of years and pick it up for $5-$10 in a Steam sale then the  likelihood of it sitting there in your Library and barely played or even never played goes up substantially, in general.

 

Make Escalation as good as you possibly can and push it as best you can and see what happens. You can already play the game on pretty old hardware so apart from supporting lower resolutions better and continued general optimisations then I don't think you need to be creating a super ugly version for very low end users. With all settings at lowest the game doesn't look good as it is. Get Vulcan out there for Windows 7 users and then Linux. If you can get Vulcan support out at the same time as Escalation then you can get a free round of press from the tech sites comparing Vulcan to dx11 and dx12 performance You also need more start options, replays, better mod support/Steam workshop etc. As long as you keep working on the game and can get some press out when you launch Escalation and then 3rd faction expansion and then Navy etc., then people should keep getting the game and even the lower end gamers will have systems with 2GB of VRAM or more.

 

My main worry with Escalation and its reception would be some people buying the game and then refunding it just to put a complaint review that it is standalone. One good thing if you made the demo type I suggest is that hopefully people will try before they buy so you cut down on negative reviews of the main game from people the game doesn't suit.

 

on Sep 26, 2016


After Escalation ships, we are considering creating a multiplayer only edition of Ashes of the Singularity (Tournament).  You wouldn't be able to buy this version.  Instead, everyone who buys either Ashes of the Singularity or Escalation would get 8 keys to give out to people.  Those people could then download the Tournament edition.

It's not a good idea to turn the game into f2p. If I would have that option in the first place, I wouldn't have bought AOS. 

My suggestion is to make this edition half the price of the full game but only for MP, or to make it free but with limited use: ex: 10 MP or  Skirmish Games.

 

Ps: ticktok has some really nice feedback!

 

on Sep 26, 2016

You could just make tournament completely free then those wanting a free ride make it a better experience for those playing already but ultimately if they want more than ranked tournament play they have to buy escalation.   

 

I I think this works well because you have said only 5% play ranked yet it is the part which which relys most on numbers.   I know I would certainly play more ranked if it wasn't a 17 min wait and only ever other gold level players to play against.  It's a very small percentage of players that would be getting a free game yet the potential for the free to cause others to join just because it's free is immense.  

 

I I know I played the bf1 beta and alot of friends played it too but now it's gone back to paid no one is playing it.   I guess it's hard to get everyone of your friends into the mind set of paying for a game.  

Ive recently started looking at using the ue4 engine for a bit of game making just for fun and the community is massive made so due to the engine being free and massive amounts of learning docs made by epic games.  

on Sep 26, 2016

I think it's a good idea and really I love the idea. The game has a great potential and we as the community need to work with the devs to push things forward.

This is a very strong step in the right direction though from stardock as this engages with consumers on a very personal level. 

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