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Steam early access

One of the more important (IMHO) things to do is to streamline the interaction interface between players, as those will be extremely important to new players. When I logged on for the first time I was flabbergasted by the lack of click-to-whisper/trade/form party interface.

And fix that Vault for frakks sake, it is a shame.

Aside from that it mostly comes down to improved functionality/more content wich a dev team in place can begin to expand/fill in. A wishlist for that is longer than my arm and contradict several core functions and thus are totally irrelevant…
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Quijenoth Starkiller
You'll be lucky if .0001% sub for a month if anyone. Opening it to steam will not have a lasting impact. yes you'll get a few people playing but how many will stay after 15 days? We all know the first 15 days in this game is dull and the controls handicap it for most.

IMO, for steam to work, they still need an investor FIRST. Someone to pay a much larger team to work hard on polish and the new player experience, plus getting the core mechanics in/finished.

I agree with you. If you put a $30 box price and then only offer 15 days your retention rate will be really bad. Why? Because this game takes about that long to actually wrap your head around. The key move here, as mentioned by Lisa previously, is to raise the box price to something like $40 and give 45 days with purchase. This does three things. First it gets a player fully acclimated into how the game works. Next, it allows enough time for a new player to make social connections with other new players and form a company or connect with an existing power block and integrate there. Last, it gives enough time for a focused player to train access to a T2 weapon and a T2 suit of armor allowing full access to content. The 15 day free trial was a horrible, horrible idea we can't take back, but we can put it behind us.

Throughout this thread the main opposition to getting this game up on steam has basically been: "Don't do it, because there is an investor coming and if you put the game on steam now it will get a ton of bad reviews and the investor won't invest in it." To those people waiting for an investor with a two million dollar check to come in and save this game, unsub now. Stop wasting your time. There is very strong possibility this game will never secure outside funding. It has been trying to do this very thing for three years unsuccessfully. Capitol investors are not knocking down the doors of the MMO industry to invest. In the past 5 years we've watched one AAA title after another tank. The MMO, in many ways, is a dying breed. Luckily this game has never tried to be a AAA title.

No, for this game to see fruition, I feel the only path is support from it's player base and slow developed growth through subscription revenue. Steam Early Access is a vehicle to drive this subscription revenue. Is it going to fix this game and make it a flashy, polished, AAA title next year. Absolutely not. Not even a little bit. What it will do is bring 3-5k players into the game to check it out for 45 days and get some steam achievements. Out of those 500-1000 will stay and make there home here. End result? The initial push allows Goblinworks some cushion money to shore up shaky finances and the residual 1000 subscriptions works out to enough money to hire a couple more devs to move the ball forward.

I think in all this discussion we've forgotten a key truism. This game is FUN. Rough, unpolished, and far from finished but this game is fun. It is more fun when we have a player population creating content on a daily basis. There could be zero development past EE 11 aside from bug fixes and UI polish and I'd still be playing, provided enough others stay active so that I can group, grind, build, and wage war. We are dangerously close to sinking below that threshold at this time. It's time to get new players in the door and show them what the fun is about.
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During one of the keepsides Lisa said they were throwing away $3000-5000 a month by removing the box price which was a substantial amount to them. I assume that's about 100 sales a month at $30-$50 for the box price.

How many subscribers a month do you think we have today? 1,000? So that's $15,000 a month?

I think the game can sell more than 100 copies a month on Steam. Even if players don't sub I think Steam will pull in enough from box sales for the next year to double what they're making from us today. People collect games for their libraries all the time even if they have no intention of playing them for more than an hour (or even at all). Steam provides a level of shopping convenience PFO does not have today, and encourages impulse purchases from gamers conditioned to consume something new every month.
Duffy Swiftshadow
Rough estimate they would need to to cover $5k-6k a month per employee (assuming roughly average benefits and comparable salaries) and that comes to $100k-$120k a month to keep a staff of 20 working on the game. That requires roughly 6,666-8,000 active subscriptions per month to cover payroll of team that size. Running an office increases those costs and I don't know enough about the area they are in to estimate that properly. The yearly revenue or investment money needed to at minimum cover payroll is somewhere in the $1.2mil - $1.44mil range. Scale costs appropriately for more or less employees.

Based on the fact that they only have 3 folks right now and using the rough guesses above I would conclude we are sitting somewhere around 1k active subscriptions. Probably on the upper end since they are also paying the server costs. Still that would require the current population to increase 6x to get back to a 'good' place. Might take awhile, even doubling only gets us around 6 staff.

Now you can of course do things to skew some of the costs, sharing offices, increasing and decreasing staff depending on requirements and availability. But they are probably still gonna need pretty close to those numbers to get an effective team working again, more to get back into their own offices.

While the box price might help it is a bit like a bait and switch. Get the money up front assuming they won't subscribe because your game is not worth a subscription (a very common sentiment of the vocal naysayers). If anything I would recommend a lower entry cost ($10-20) that includes 45 days and gives some minor things like the starter and class packs too as a promotional jump start thing. Seeing the equivalent value gained for what you're spending and putting the price in the typical impulse range will hopefully draw in more folks but reduce abuse.

They should probably not do a Steam launch until after EE11 is out and stable.
Wow, I don't know what the game would look like with 8000 active subscribers. The map may appear large but consider there are only about 50 decent monster hexes. The most you could probably have are 500 players working escalations every week before opportunities for new players becomes fiercely competitive. This would be a beautiful problem to have unfold. smile

I would hope that even if the dev team doubled to six people they could keep up with a monthly schedule of new escalation events, finish the building and holding work effort systems, and slowly trickle in new features like factions and gushers. I would be happy with that as a goal for 2016 and I think they could pull that off with even the worst box price sales on Steam.

If they are ever going to launch on Steam I wouldn't invest in the game until I saw a few months of sales figures. Obviously there is an issue with the subscription model in the MMO market at large, so I think for this game to survive box fees have to be looked at as a replacement for revenue not just a bait and switch hoping for subs. After the initial first appearance rush I think you'd get a steady stream of Steam shoppers paying money to add it to their libraries. With zero development or updates I could see a few hundred copies a month regularly sold even in the months of 2017+. This is much better than what they're pulling in today through new subs off free trial accounts; I suspect they're even losing more subs than they're gaining.
Caldeathe Baequiannia
I feel like it's going to take a critical mass of people all entering in a short period to get it over the hump of being empty. Some sort of event that will attract at least a couple of thousand people to all log in over a weekend so they can see what the game is like when crowded, rather than what it currently looks like most of the time.

On the other hand, how to actually make it worth people's while to make a special effort to get in a specific weekend, without cutting further into fund generation, is probably a special trick in itself.
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If Bob created a new escalation event with new mobs and only spawned them once manually in six hexes spread regionally like he did with Nhur Athemon then I think everyone with a sub would login to try it. Make them ridiculously difficult to the point where multiple groups are needed to kill them but also make the event short lived for a large group to clear. As a bonus incentive give a unique, powerful Azlanti stone only on the boss drop.

Trees and trash nodes…attack!
Caldeathe Baequiannia
Everyone with an active sub isn't going to change the number of active subs. It needs to be attractive to people who aren't currently playing.
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In a sandbox where long term effort is needed to feel hooked into the community I don't think a weekend theme park style event will ever attract a large number of new subscribers. I think the best thing they can do is increase visibility and Steam is a good place for that. Charge $35, and then lower the price to $20 one weekend during a Steam Sale Event.
Caldeathe Baequiannia
I'm thinking more to attract new people into long-term play.

Like a special incentive that only drops for new accounts (i.e. a one time drop and all accounts that already exist are flagged as having received it already, so it only drops for accounts created during the "event" ) that lets you buy two months for the price of one (or four for the the price of two) and can't be transferred.

Or have it available to all, but based on active logged in hours, so anyone that plays for at least six hours on the event weekend gets a 2-months-for-one GC.

Or skip the drop, and have a weekend where new accounts can be created for $30.00 that include three or four months of play time or a year of play for $60.

Or tie it to an achievement that can only be gained during a particular week, and can't be obtained without visiting several disparate sections of the map. So you need to kill and/or gather one each of a half dozen special mobs/items/loot that only spawn in different places on the map. Maybe each of the home hexes could have a unique achievement/item added to their loot table for a few days. Then PvPers who don't want you to get the cheap time can try to interdict one or more of the special locations.
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