You’ve done well Warhammer. The Endless Trial and the New User Journey are something of a hit. Anytime during the day or night I can jump onto my Destro toons on Iron Rock and spank out some deliciously simple RvR. The changes to Empire and Chaos are well done, and laid out nicely. It makes me feel like the very beginning of WAR, over a year ago now, with the amount of population running around. The battles are epic flowing waves of bodies crashing into each other over and over again.
Now lets talk about what you COULD be doing that would revitalize the game. Oh, and this is going to have some evil naughty and hated words in it, but it’s for the best.
Microtransactions. Seriously, we can all feel it coming, but how can you do it right while still enticing people to get the full subscription? An expansion of the Endless Trial is in order and perhaps a small expansion to the game as well.
Right now the game is limited to the Empire vs Chaos pairing in Tier 1, this is fine. In fact, I like everything about how this is set up initially. Sure, we miss out on the other two pairings, along with all the flavor, but no matter. Let’s get the population booming first, shall we? The thing that bothers me is that no other tiers get anything out of the Trial itself. Sure, T1 is booming, but hasn’t it always? Once you level out by hitting rank 12 you’re introduced to the same cold and desolate world that T2 and T3 are infamous for. Occasionally during primetime there will be a warband running around, but aside from that, nada.
Expanding the Trial to T2 and T3 is a necessary must for me. However, it needs to be done in the right way, and with microtransactions in mind.
- The level cap should follow the same ideaology as T1, R20 and R30 respectively.
- Templates must be created for starting toons, R12 and R22 should have a set of R11 and R21 green gear.respectively.
- The Starter Guilds should be expanded to R30 so players have an opportunity to commune until T4 begins.
- A new Instance for T2 needs to be put in place. Currently the T2 equivalent is in the Capital City which would still be restricted.
These little bullet points hold a good amount of weight to them, but aside from the new instance, it’s just rulesets so far. We know from the test server that it is more than possible for Templates to be made and work flawlessly on a large scale. The have the level restrictions in place for advancing past 10 implemented already, so that shouldn’t be an issue either. Copy, Paste, Modify, done! Yeah yeah, not that simple, but whatever, should be simple enough.
Another thing would be to break up the Tier access to give a flavor of each pairing. T2 seems most appropriate for High Elf and Dark Elf, and T3 would work very well for Dwarves and Greenskins. An expansion on the New User Journey upon entering the T2 warcamp for an explanation on Keeps could be done, and the T3 warcamp tutorial for an explanation related to Advanced Keep sieges. This also breaks up the storyline for those who are interested in it, which adds replay value for anyone that wants to go through the full pairing later on. It’s a lot of PvE, but lets be honest, some people just enjoy it.
Another thing that should garner some consideration would be a pairing shift every month or so. Even playing for free, doing the same area over and over will still get some players logging off as they’ve lost the taste for the game. For this it could be a single pairing from one tier. Say for example T2 shifts from HEvDE to EvC and at the same time T1 could change from EvC to DvG, and T3 could change from DvG to EvC. The battlefronts changing dynamically as the focus of the entire (free play) game changes. Over time, all the Endless Trial players will of course have the full T1-T3 experience, but never at the same time. A sense of disconnection and curiosity will hopefully bring in full subscribers along with other things.
Of course, these Endless Trial players would have to unlock each Tiered character slot by maxing out their previous Tiered character. It would defeat the purpose if someone brand new to the game instantly started at R20 in T3 and had no idea what they were doing. The journey is half the fun, and hopefully by the end of T3 they would be interested enough to sub for a while and give the game the padding it needs.
Now you have all three tiers populated with additional (although not paying) bodies, at least in designated zones, it brings players back to leveling, brings RvR back to the lakes, and brings PvE back to the PQ’s and instances. This makes it a much more enjoyable experience for players that are paying for the game to level and interact with people in all tiers. T4 doesn’t have a problem with population as much as it’s the final destination for the paying base of the game, a base that I’d imagine Mythic won’t be losing anytime soon. Everyone that drops their 15$ a month is going to end up there anyway, hence it’s exclusion from the free trial. The game won’t feel as lifeless and empty as it was only a few months from launch. People that jumped in from the start were well on their way to T4, and anyone new to the game faced tons of leveling just to catch up. An MMO needs to feel massive, and influx of free players to each tier can bring this back.
However, this is a business EA demands to be run, and therefore profits must be made. Enter here the evils of microtransactions for trial accounts…
- Set gear, both PvE and RvR, should be limited per account with a MT cost.
- Influence Rewards, both PvE and RvR, should be limited per account with a MT cost. (and adjusted across all tiers so they don’t suck)
- Mounts should be limited per account with a MT cost.
- The Capital city should be limited per account with a MT cost, this should include the AH
- The Bank, Guild Vault, and Mail should be limited per account with a MT cost
- The Guild Hall, along with guild scrolls and guild mounts, should be limited per account with a MT cost (although not included in the R2 starter guild).
These are all things current in the game that could be affected by microtransactions, set gear and mounts would be the most noticeable. Yes, they do incur a serious advantage over players that don’t pay for them. For me, anything aside from that concept would be contradictory to having a free trial in the first place. It’s something that I think DDO didn’t quite understand. If people can play your game and NOT feel disadvantaged for not paying for it, then what serious incentive is there to pay for it at all? WAR needs to be careful about this. They have THE BEST system for instant hardcore MMO-style PvP that exists. Giving that away without giving a reason to pay for that could cost them BIG. Paying players should absolutely have an advantage with no questions asked, and if a trial player wants a piece of that, let em buy it, just like we do every month. It’d all be bound to player anyway and non-salvageable, so it wouldn’t really hurt the economy of the game much I’d imagine.
Moving on with the microtransaction frenzy of course there could be a shop with any number of blues and purples available for whatever price, along with healing potions, buff potions, etc and so on. These are pretty standard fare and I don’t think tons of people would go crazy for them, but hey, It’s not like it’s physical product here. Let people shell out cash if they really feel the urge. The only mistake to avoid making here is giving out items that cannot be attained in game by subbed players.
Things out of the ordinary could include..
- A full package ticket to T4, decays over 3 days of game time (could be up to
2 weeks), along with a set of Annihilator gear, a mount, advancement to R40/RR35, a stash of Liniments(bound), and 50g.
- A full package ticket to the Land of the Dead unrestricted, decays over 3 days of game time, along with a set of Conqueror gear, a mount, Advancement to RR45, a stash of Liniments(also bound), with a handful of scarabs and money.
- A City Siege package that gives a number of uses (5?) while a Siege is under way to be teleported there to defend or attack, this would also grant a full set of Invader gear, a mount, advancement to RR55, a stash of Liniments(bound), and 50g.
These would give players a taste of what the end-game is like without ruining it totally. Putting a reasonable price on it would make money for Mythic, and give subbed players fresh blood every now and again. The decay timer would either keep people coming back, or entice them to subbing to the full game anyway. Enough mixing to keep the game fresh will have free players constantly getting shuffled around and never quite settled, all the while providing full subbed players to go back and play through the game without worry of having an entirely dead game waiting for them.
After the first few glorious months of WAR, all replayability had gone flying out the window to be replaced with a monumental task of grinding to reach high enough level to participate in the T4 campaign. With the Endless Trial expanding to cover three of the the four tiers, a new life could be brought back into the game. If the intent is to leave the trial restricted to T1, you’re just going to have the same trickle of players slowly making their way through the game and eventually calling it quits when they can’t get any action as they progress through T2 and T3.