How to Consider re Target Player Types in Albion Online
After my first day with Albion, I thought I'd share my experience a bit, and as a professional marketer I'm going to direct this post specifically to marketers, game designers and the game Economist.
In any marketing endeavor it's important of course to determine what your target segment is. In the case of MMO design as I understand it there are known player types:
Those who play games for thrill of kill,
Those who play to win,
Those who play to explore and learn, and
Those who play to socialize.
I'd like to give you feedback as a member of one your target segments as I perceived them from your YouTube marketing, specifically those who play to explore and learn and those who play to socialize.
AO has been marketed heavily as a game where you can "be anything you want to be". The player-driven economy was highlighted repeatedly as a key part of your vision. Presumably, the idea here is to target the segment of the "explorers and learners"; those who don't simply want to fight and win, but want to be a part of an economic system. Your recent video "Everyone Matters" was extremely well executed and I felt targeted this segment in a moving way -- i.e. you don't have to be a killer, you can be an explorer, you don't have to be a killer you can be a socializer. You matter too. We want you too (to buy our product).
However, my concern for your game is that your marketing appears to be attempting to draw out this wide variety of target segments, and yet from what I am reading in the forums (admittedly some of these posts are rants so I cannot be sure of their accuracy) and what I experienced today, your game appears to have some key weaknesses in delivering a positive experience for the segments that you are targeting.
I could go into detail, but you probably already know of some of these weaknesses, but suffice it to say the message I got from both the forum research I did and the game play I experienced today is that this game is *not* a good game for players who want to predominantly craft, because a) most players simply craft their own items and it is quite easy to do so and b) the crafting system and economy is not properly balanced to provide any skill or differentiation for those who choose to specialize in crafting and is simply a grind. I've read similar posts regarding players who hope to play as a trader; that the game design and economy introduces issues that makes playing as a solo trader impossible, yet guilds typically forbid any kind of trade outside guild, thus leaving the merchant trader type SOL.
So, my feedback is simply that, from a marketing perspective, you may need to make a hard decision between adjusting your product and adjusting your target. You may need to survey your audience and find out exactly which kinds of players are actually enjoying the game, and make sure that you are marketing to them, and not the segments that are not enjoying the game.
I may be an outlier, who knows, but I can tell you that every other MMO I've played I was addicted from the get go. But after about 4 hours in today I knew I was not enjoying myself, and soon after I was frustrated and logging off. This is after taking a special "me time" day off to dive in an have some fun. I actually *chose* to go back to work because I was not having fun on a day I specifically took off to play! So hooray for my real life, lol, but not necessarily a good thing for your churn as it were.
If you're not already doing churn rate studies and trying to isolate messaging that will suit your most satisfied customer, now is probably the perfect time to do so as you prepare for open launch.
And if you choose to retain the focus on player-driven economy and players who do not play predominantly for the kill, please get that Economist in there and pair them side by side with game designers and market experts to find ways to truly make "Everyone matter". Dopamine rush from grind leveling is not enough to keep someone in a game IMHO, at least not the explorer/learners and socializers. There have to be secrets to be unlocked through exploiting shortages and capitalizing on item differentiation, and there have to be social roles that can't be filled otherwise. If every killer is self-sufficient, there is no need for the other player types in the game.
My perspective from about a week of research, a day in the game, and a 50/50 likelihood that I would churn as a customer were this subscription based. Admittedly a short period of time but people have quit games for good in as much time. Oh and for the record for those calculating Net Promoter, at the moment I would not recommend this game to a friend.
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