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A comprehensive theory about where Relic is going...

10 Dec 2013, 20:39 PM
#61
avatar of CombatMuffin

Posts: 642

Greeb: casual games are not necessarily aimed at the short term. That's just the mainstream perception.

Angry Birds is as casual as they come, and it is every IP's wish. Candy Crush, Peggle, Plants vs Zombies, Snake, etc. All casual and very succesful games through the span of several years. You don't need to be at the top of gross profits to be a VERY successful business (Minecraft is an example).

Truth is there are many, many things that make up a good game. You don't need to be a competitive game to last through the years, but like Inverse stated, it seems to be the RTS's tendency.

The strategy genre (in general) doesn't need to be competitive to be successful (Civ V), but in all honesty, in the case of CoH, it is what kept Gamereplays alive and it was members of the competitive community that started CoH2.org. It is only logical that those players would want CoH2 to be competitive.

Is it bad if CoH2 remains tailored to casuals? No, it isn't, if people keep enjoying it. However, you can't expect the competitive community to stick around, either.
10 Dec 2013, 21:05 PM
#62
avatar of Greeb

Posts: 971

Greeb: casual games are not necessarily aimed at the short term. That's just the mainstream perception.

Angry Birds is as casual as they come, and it is every IP's wish. Candy Crush, Peggle, Plants vs Zombies, Snake, etc. All casual and very succesful games through the span of several years. You don't need to be at the top of gross profits to be a VERY successful business (Minecraft is an example).

Truth is there are many, many things that make up a good game. You don't need to be a competitive game to last through the years, but like Inverse stated, it seems to be the RTS's tendency.

The strategy genre (in general) doesn't need to be competitive to be successful (Civ V), but in all honesty, in the case of CoH, it is what kept Gamereplays alive and it was members of the competitive community that started CoH2.org. It is only logical that those players would want CoH2 to be competitive.

Is it bad if CoH2 remains tailored to casuals? No, it isn't, if people keep enjoying it. However, you can't expect the competitive community to stick around, either.


I think otherwise.
Almost all casual games have a short life span. The very Zynga, developers of farmville and a lot of those type of games, is in a dire situation. Also, those games have their target in phones and tablets. Console and PC games follow another rules, due mainly because people don't play them while taking a dump or waiting the next bus.

Games as Candycrush are like teenager pop-stars. They make a lot of money and disappear the next year.
Competitive games, instead, are like old rock stars. They still do music in his death bed.

Casual games survive releasing a new iteration of the game each year, like CoD, Battlefield, FIFA, etc. Because the game itself is boring and lack a catchy gameplay, so developers have to introduce novelties quickly. CoH2 is falling in that mechanic, were the playerbase only appears whenever a new patch comes, and disappear again a week after.

Competitive games like CS or Starcraft release a new game only when the game is becoming technologically obsolete. Seriously, I think Valve is really great doing that, making money selling hats and stuff while the competitive aspect of the game is untouched.

The only right step I've seen in Relic approach is Steamworkshop.
Any good game without a huge playerbase really need mods and customizing tools. CoH1 success was that the game was great, but also that it had plenty of mods and game modes to appeal a great variety of public.

BTW, I don't think minecraft is a casual game. On the contrary, I think is the opposite, or at least started as the opposite.
10 Dec 2013, 22:40 PM
#63
avatar of CombatMuffin

Posts: 642

Minecraft is a casual game. It is not designed to be competitive, whatsoever. In that sense, it is a casual game. Casual =/= Simple.

Games like CoD, BF4 and FIFA are not necessarily casual either. They have somewhat somewhat strong competitive environments, albeit they are not as popular as the hardcore SC and CS, because they are mainly tailored for the everyday fps player.

ANY game can technically be competitive: Thats how speedruns began, and while they are not the same type of competition as say, Street Fighter IV or Starcraft 2, it goes to show that a game designed for casual play (Yoshi's Story/Mario 64) can be turned into a competitive environment.

Competitive games do NOT always have long lifespans. FIFA enjoys competitiveness at the local level (I've seen FIFA tournaments at bars in Mexico) and yet releases yearly.

In fact, it has little to do with lifespan: Starcraft, Warcraft, Counter Strike, Dota 2, League of Legends, Quake, etc. share one thing... all of those titles are self-published.

Competitive scenes can increase the lifepan of a game, yes. Fighting games are a good example, people still play the good oldies, but eventually become irrelevant to the developer. Sure, money can trickle in, but it won't sustain the business.People still play Quake competitively: it ain't increasing Quake sales to compete with new AAA games.
11 Dec 2013, 02:12 AM
#64
avatar of Greeb

Posts: 971


Competitive scenes can increase the lifepan of a game, yes. Fighting games are a good example, people still play the good oldies, but eventually become irrelevant to the developer. Sure, money can trickle in, but it won't sustain the business.People still play Quake competitively: it ain't increasing Quake sales to compete with new AAA games.


I don't think that is irrelevant.
An eventually new Quake game will make sure sales with all those happy fans. Also, making custom tools always improve the life span of the game without the developers wasting more money or time.

Valve did it just right with CS, for example.
Having your customers happy with your game isn't as inmediatly rewarding as selling lots of DLCs until all players leave the game.
The former involves working for free to harvest sales in the long-term.

In that situation, I'm in a loss with Relic. For one side they still give support to vCoH for free, which is wonderful and was the main reason I bought CoH2. And on the other hand, they release a huge amount of DLCs for CoH2, some of them plainly overpriced and others which break balance completely.

That's why I don't know if I should have faith in this game or just leave it and try another one.
Today's patch has been a good step in the right direction that I expect from a PC developer and accordingly, I will buy the new DLC.
But I'm afraid of which commanders is Christmans bringing to us.

11 Dec 2013, 04:03 AM
#65
avatar of spajn
Donator 11

Posts: 926

you write very elegant but that doesnt make you anymore correct. I was there in vcoh when the "supposed" comptetative community was demanding relic to fix the game and the claimed mass exodus and DEAD game. Well 6 years later SNF was being held with growing audience and that show didnt even excist when the game was declared DEAD. So I have still high hopes for coh2.
11 Dec 2013, 22:47 PM
#66
avatar of kafrion

Posts: 371

jump backJump back to quoted post10 Dec 2013, 18:44 PMInverse
Saying competitive = success, casual = failure is a pretty gross generalization IMO. However, when you narrow your scope to predominantly multiplayer games outside the FPS and MMO genres, there's a pretty strong correlation between success and competition. CoH falls into that category, being a largely multiplayer-focused RTS.


i think the differentiation between casual and competitive games is largely plasmatic , surely game design plays a part in the way the playerbase treats the game , but in my opinion the differentiation between casual and competitive exists primarilly in gamers . I dont think there is any successful game that doesnt have both and coh2 doesnt need to make any distinction
11 Dec 2013, 23:28 PM
#67
avatar of Jinseual

Posts: 598

maybe in 100 years this game would still be alive and kicking and DLCs prices would be so cheap that people would have them anyways, and people would finally enjoy the game with an average of 2,500 players playing at once per day.......

btw, what was the average player count for vcoh from 2007 to 2012?
11 Dec 2013, 23:50 PM
#68
avatar of CombatMuffin

Posts: 642

jump backJump back to quoted post11 Dec 2013, 02:12 AMGreeb


I don't think that is irrelevant.
An eventually new Quake game will make sure sales with all those happy fans. Also, making custom tools always improve the life span of the game without the developers wasting more money or time.



Quake 4 was by and large a dissapointment. Nowhere near as popular. You don't see any more Unreal Tournament games, even though they tried. They IP couldn't survive the market trends.

Again, Valve can take thpse liberties not because they made a good competitive game, but because Steam is bringing them money where they can take such liberties (Notice how CS:S was released with Steam and was in fact, free for all HL2 purchases). In Blizzard's case, it was World of Warcraft. In none of those two big self published examples, has competitiveness influenced their release schedule. They DO put a huge emphasis on competitiveness, but it is not the sole reason why they succeed.

Again, IpKaifung said it: Most huge competitive games also cater to casual audiences, and they have very low hardware requirements that allow broad audiences to play and enjoy the product.

Both worlds can be catered to. It is, however, much easier to cater to the casual genre, as they are much more forgiving. Games are rarely created purely around e-sports.

12 Dec 2013, 04:08 AM
#69
avatar of voltardark

Posts: 955

While i'm not a big fan of playing 1vs1 match, 1 like watching them sometime. I did watch the last match of the latest SNF. Strangely it's look like a 4vs4 match with it's 8 T34/85 but at least it's was fun and we could feel the energy. Great event ! i luv the casting and the comments.

But that such a high level match resume spamming tanks is a little strange. All on a small map... So what is the bug here and what could be done ?

To have disconnected production cap and territory control may have some advantage, but it has some consequences too.(last SNF match.)

This has to be fixed.
Here is 3 propositions to improve it :


  • Bring back vcoh style popcap. (Great, but it may be hard to go back to it)

    Have a hard-coded popcap for each map. (A possible way to bring some logic, rather simple to implement, and their could be cap for inf, for tanks, etc. )

    Give player's base a minimal popcap value and then increase it for each sector he controlled, for a maximum of 100 with 50% of the sectors controlled and connected.

    Ex: A map has 8 controllable territories and the base minimal pop value is set at 24.
    So it gonna be (100-24)/8*2= 19. So popcap is increase by 19 for each sector a side control to a max of 100. (medium to implement and the one i like the most ;) )



The last patch was good, i think that the game is improving.

The CP change is a great one and it gave me this idea :

Bring the numbers of ability each Cmdrs have to 6 and separate those in 2 rows of 3 each.
Make CP a pool where the cost of the chosen ability is deducted. The lowest cost in a row must be bought first, but one can switch row. Ex: The lowest of each row could be bought.

Note :The CP cost is just the for showing the layout and mean nothing.
CMDR 1 CMDR 2 CMDR 3
6 - 8 7 - 9 5 - 7
3 - 5 3 - 4 4 - 6
0 - 2 1 - 2 1 - 3

I propose this change, i feel it could improve the game while giving Relics and Sega the opportunity to keep selling Cmrds.

**If someone has proposed this one before me, then i add my voice to his**

12 Dec 2013, 10:17 AM
#70
avatar of Marcus2389
Developer Relic Badge
Donator 11

Posts: 4559 | Subs: 2

Yeah, the resource system is one of our concerns and we have given feedback to Relic. We also feel the game is in a state where it's hard to judge players skill due to lag and various mechanics that, if improved, would dramatically increase the entertainment and the micro/tactical decisions impact in the game.

We'll hope for good news in the future :)
12 Dec 2013, 10:53 AM
#71
avatar of Nullist

Posts: 2425

Permanently Banned
Protip to Relic:
- Schedule a Cold Tech focused patch that reduces the magnitude of negative Cold Tech effects.

I am sure it will be very well received.

Cold Tech is good, in theory, but the negative effects are simply too pronounced and start taking priority over gameplay.

Just reduce the values of the negatice effects. I figure all it takes is adjusting a few number values.
12 Dec 2013, 12:18 PM
#72
avatar of SmokazCOH

Posts: 177

The impact of op DLC spam on lost sales and it's supposed reduction in competitiveness leading to "ded gam" is just teenager conjecture. Sorry if you felt called out, greeeb, it's just so hard to read all this ideology crammed into analysis of corporate behaviour when there's really only one important factor: securing revenue.

If we look to MMORPG models a base concept there is adding on content when people are "maxed" to keep them playing. Keeping "maxed out players" advancing secures two things: a community ready to receive new players ensuring the health of new sales while also securing the continuing income from old sales.

So you see - once the vast majority of COH2 players reach level 100 - Relic will add a patch with new bulletins and a higher level cap. Or something functionally similar. It will probably be free too - but it will coincide with DLC content.

Some other stuff to think about:
- Short term profit is not independently a problem
- competition may have a lot of fringe effects helping profit, but:
- competition without a way to tax viewers or advertise is not economically significant to a publisher

As for competiveness and coh: having a big following on gamereplays and to a lesser degree here doesn't change the fact that people were competing for breadcrumbs compared to what we see in LOL and Dota 2.

DLC pays for further development, both good and bad. I think this model is here to stay, in fact, I think DLC is just the first steps. In the future we will see the following:



You buy a subscription to a game where you don't even remotely own the IP. In the long run this is inefficient, so cross-platform Steam and similar providers come up with a new idea: why not just make generalized monthtly packages that you can subscribe to?
In 2020, you buy the right to play games from a catalogue, and there are different catalogues. Newer games require newer subscriptions or "bypass" fees for singular titles. There might be a monthly fee of 100$ with small fees like 2-5$ for unlocking a title for use.

Initially you would think that this would give the customer more power. Imagine a mass exodus of customers cutting the monthly revenue, this would decidedly force a developer that wants to run a game for years to take action in accordance to community demands.

But what happens is the big corporation effect, Steam and the other providers can take blows to defend the developers and publishers to avoid this kind of democratic protest achieving too much. But there might be different providers of different size. Its not hard to imagine the Indie Game provider, with lower cost for less production value titles.


Generally the video game genre will produce a lot of crap both from big productions and small productions, much like the movie industry. If you compare you see the exact same thinking in both:

- Blockbuster titles of their genre, Compare Splinter Cell or Metal Gear solid to Jason Borne or James Bond
- A lot of genre/cliche titles that will generate some money anyway because it has a following that always buys these titles (RPG, JRPG vs Shallow anime shwos)
- The publisher demands regarding "what sells" going up against storytellers and attempts to educate or surprise the audience
12 Dec 2013, 13:40 PM
#73
avatar of Jewdo

Posts: 271

Your assuming you can unlock DLC, at a later stage.
12 Dec 2013, 14:11 PM
#74
avatar of Inverse
Coder Red Badge

Posts: 1673 | Subs: 5

It's pretty tacky to start an argument with an insult, but whatever. I don't think anybody can really argue that DLC is a problem in and of itself. The real problem lies in execution.

Dota 2 and LoL are two games that rely entirely on DLC and microtransactions for their revenue streams. However, everything purchasable in Dota 2 is cosmetic, and my understanding with LoL is that everything you can buy that affects gameplay can also be earned through normal play (haven't played, so someone can correct me if I'm wrong).

You make a lot of comparisons to MMOs and games in other genres, but you don't talk at all about other RTS games, which strikes me as a little odd. Even if we ignore the fact that Relic tried a similar business model with CoHO and it tanked, we just have to look at sales figures (Source) to see that three of the four best-selling RTS games ever (Starcraft, SC2, and WC3) also had thriving competitive multiplayer communities. They had/have entire industries built around them. Of course, correlation does not imply causality, but it's still an interesting thing to consider. There seems to be a pattern here.

Furthermore, your claim that a competitive scene gives nothing to a developer is patently false. How often do you see Valve and Riot advertise Dota 2 and LoL? They don't have to, because they know they can get people to watch their games and generate exponentially more interest that way than they could traditionally. Riot believes so strongly in this that they fund 16 professional teams, pay all salaries, and hold extremely lucrative tournaments. They don't do this to be nice to the scene; they do this because they believe it will make them money. And LoL has probably been the most popular game outside WoW for the last few years.

Nobody is going to argue that making a competitive game in any genre equates to success. It's equally stupid, however, to claim that a thriving competitive scene gives nothing back to a developer. When you rely on post-launch microtransactions to make money, you want to attract a large and dedicated fanbase. Historically, the best way to attract such a fanbase in an RTS is by making a game that is well-received by competitive players and giving those competitive players the tools and means to promote your game as best as they can.
12 Dec 2013, 14:14 PM
#75
avatar of Nullist

Posts: 2425

Permanently Banned
I anticipate Bulletin DLC, Soon (tm).

Its what I would do.

Cheaper microtransaction with less balance influence.
The options are endless and cheap and easy to implement.

Infact they would be a better way to support "customisation" of ones own personal build choices, not only because they under the umbrella of Commanders, but can be be minute enough not to cause as dramatic imbalance as a new Commander.

Presuming ofc they remain rather specific and balanced in and of themselves.

Nonetheless, far easier to release a DLC Bulletin, even for a minor advamtage, for cheaper, than a complete Commander that requires more extensive balancing, coding, graphics, new units etc.

CoH: O already laid some precedence for this.

If I was sitting at a Relic planning table, these are what I would suggest:

- 2 Commanders max (1 per faction) every 3 months. More is a waste, because each Commander takes so much work to produce, whereas people will generally anyways only buy the "best" one, no matter if you release 2 or 200. So more is a wasted effort. Just provide a FOTM Commander for each faction to keep the richer and more invested players buying and tasting the latest flavor. 3 months is also the optimal time where people are still watching the game for updates without losing interest completely and going elsewhere, even if they arent actively playing. 2 Commanders will give them an impetus to spend a few bucks ro return to the game and see whats what with them.

-Small Bulletin packs in the months in between. I think 3 Bulletins per pack is reasonable and it matches with the 3 nominal ones you can select per game. You can even give them themes, like "Motorised Assault Bulletin Pack", or "Artillery Supremacy Pack". Make them annoying cross referenced so people end up buying 3 different pwcks to build the 3 Bulletin customisation they feel they really want for their personal build.
12 Dec 2013, 14:37 PM
#76
avatar of Inverse
Coder Red Badge

Posts: 1673 | Subs: 5

cr4wler made an excellent point in another thread that Relic seems to be targetting a small playerbase with a high conversion rate for their DLC, as opposed to the traditional model of a large playerbase with a very small conversion rate. That's why you see these commanders that add so much to the game. They're banking on the small number of people playing the game feeling obligated to purchase the DLC in order to remain competitive. This is in contrast to a game like Dota 2 or LoL, where they can sell skins and cosmetics that might have a lower conversion rate because they have the massive player numbers to back it up.

When you look at it that way, it makes sense. It's shitty for competitive play and it limits the growth of the playerbase, both of which I think are extremely short-sighted, but it means they are able to profit off of the small player base they have. I don't think it's sustainable personally because I feel over time it's going to drive players away from the game, but it gives a different perspective on the additions being made.

Suggesting modifications to the DLC commander release schedules and related items is really only putting a bandaid on an ever-expanding problem IMO. I really think the smartest thing they could've done was make commanders free of charge (ideally ditch the commander system they went with and implement something that makes the game more interesting to play) in order to attract a larger playerbase, then sell them cosmetics like unit skins, audio files, HUDs, faceplates, etc. in order to make their money. It might have meant less revenue short-term, but I think the goodwill and additional players this model gives them would more than make up for that over time. Valve has had overwhelming success with that model in TF2 and Dota 2, and it really seems like the most intelligent model to sustain post-launch DLC.
12 Dec 2013, 15:02 PM
#77
avatar of SmokazCOH

Posts: 177

jump backJump back to quoted post12 Dec 2013, 14:11 PMInverse
It's pretty tacky to start an argument with an insult, but whatever. I don't think anybody can really argue that DLC is a problem in and of itself. The real problem lies in execution.


Well I guess we are both tacky then. It's a nice van and I'm willing to share.


Dota 2 and LoL are two games that rely entirely on DLC and microtransactions for their revenue streams. However, everything purchasable in Dota 2 is cosmetic, and my understanding with LoL is that everything you can buy that affects gameplay can also be earned through normal play (haven't played, so someone can correct me if I'm wrong).


They also make money on tournment tickets and advertisements in streams/tournaments.

Although it's a frail technicality believe there was a point in LOL where you payed for early access to heroes - I have no idea idea if this still stands, but it was argued by people before me that this gave a competitive advantage since you got early used to the heroes etc. I'm not sure how this extended to tournaments and hero bans and whatever.

Im compelled to believe that Relic marketing decided that strong commanders and no big nerfs to them made for enticing DLC to a much higher degree than the cosmetics.
Primarily because the cosmetics are really limited. Cosmetics in dota are of much higher craftsmanshift than the cosmetics of COH2. It's a unfair comparison because obviously people would be offended/put off by the type of creativity in coh 2 cosmetics that you get in Dota. There just isn't much to make money off here, especially if they open up for user-created skins.



You make a lot of comparisons to MMOs and games in other genres, but you don't talk at all about other RTS games, which strikes me as a little odd. Even if we ignore the fact that Relic tried a similar business model with CoHO and it tanked, we just have to look at sales figures (Source) to see that three of the four best-selling RTS games ever (Starcraft, SC2, and WC3) also had thriving competitive multiplayer communities. They had/have entire industries built around them. Of course, correlation does not imply causality, but it's still an interesting thing to consider. There seems to be a pattern here.


I'm gonna just post it one more time what I actually wrote:

- competition may have a lot of fringe effects helping profit, but:
- competition without a way to tax viewers or advertise is not economically significant to a publisher


I am 100% behind you that poor balance screws competietion over. But not to the degree that it makes competetiveness unviable on its own, we have to consider the whole product and therefore the whole smiluation. I would like to mention starcraft like you do, but I think the difference in depth of the simulation makes such a comparison pretty weak. COH is defined by a little RNG, starcraft is defined by the lack of it.

Moving ahead from that, I think we can both agree that there is no big industry curently for COH2.


Furthermore, your claim that a competitive scene gives nothing to a developer is patently false. How often do you see Valve and Riot advertise Dota 2 and LoL? They don't have to, because they know they can get people to watch their games and generate exponentially more interest that way than they could traditionally. Riot believes so strongly in this that they fund 16 professional teams, pay all salaries, and hold extremely lucrative tournaments. They don't do this to be nice to the scene; they do this because they believe it will make them money. And LoL has probably been the most popular game outside WoW for the last few years.


(again)

- competition may have a lot of fringe effects helping profit, but:
- competition without a way to tax viewers or advertise is not economically significant to a publisher

I didn't speak in absolutes here.

I try to avoid advertisement in general as much as I can, but I'd like to point out the general function of this "competetive investment" is to create more revenue. It was close to paid henchmen in the light of their streaming contracts, something they had to go back on. We are hard pressed to not see it like that they wanted to control this player group as a primarily advertising group, not as competitive players. The main point follows:


Nobody is going to argue that making a competitive game in any genre equates to success. It's equally stupid, however, to claim that a thriving competitive scene gives nothing back to a developer. When you rely on post-launch microtransactions to make money, you want to attract a large and dedicated fanbase. Historically, the best way to attract such a fanbase in an RTS is by making a game that is well-received by competitive players and giving those competitive players the tools and means to promote your game as best as they can.


A competitive scene that they do not control or create a industry for is not making them any significant money.

We don't really disagree on much, in fact we see things very similarily in the last post you see. There just isn't much of a future here with the current model.
12 Dec 2013, 15:09 PM
#78
avatar of SmokazCOH

Posts: 177

Since solutions to the current mudhole is being posted, I'll just add that I don't see a viable one, as in possible-to-do, with the current game. But it's not a big problem. COH2 is a fun niche game but it's not developed in a manner where it can be big like dota 2 or starcraft. Dota 2 has creative possibilities with their paycontent that coh2 can't match, and starcraft 2 has a simplicity of their simulation allowing for high competitiveness that is not the intention of COH2. COH2 is actually lacking in both these respects.

I think the main way to create more revenue in the possibly _most_ competition-respecting-manner would actually have to be add more factions and units in complete addons, because this continual milking of the cow where they can't go back on doctrines, possibly for legal reasons, is turning out to get a negative community response even if the DLC is actually being bought and paid for.

It raises the question, can you actually complain and get a refund if your DLC gets nerfed? What about expansions? Do these then differ from DLC? I would say yes, with a expansion you get a hopefully big slop of new stuff that can't be attacked on one aspect of it, while a industry commander that gets super nerfed creates frustrations from both the victims of it in OP state and the purchasers in the nerfed state.

Huh, when you think about all of this, why didn't Relic foresee these issues?
12 Dec 2013, 15:21 PM
#79
avatar of Nullist

Posts: 2425

Permanently Banned
SmokazCoh: You have mail.
12 Dec 2013, 15:24 PM
#80
avatar of Inverse
Coder Red Badge

Posts: 1673 | Subs: 5

I'm sure there's a clause in the agreement you had to accept at install that says sales are final and they reserve the right to modify any and all content as they see fit. If you bitch loud enough about it they'd probably refund your money to shut you up, but if they refuse I doubt you'd have any legal recourse.
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