Neverwinter as classic free-2-play title has a focus on constantly bringing in new players. The latest module “Heart of Fire” is only one of many examples. It incorporates a popular D&D brand mainly because it hopes to pick up the fans of Acquisitions Incorporated. We’ve already questioned whether this is really the best approach, and it seems actual data backs our claims. Attached is a Reddit post by Uncensored regular Janne that outlines some information about player retention.
Improving The Experience of New Players Has Little to No Effect
Janne was kind enough to already highlight the most relevant aspect of the post. Based on data, improving the experience of new players has little to no effect on player retention. If people like a title, they’ll play it regardless. And in case they don’t, whatever you think you’re doing to keep them won’t likely work.
Granted, the quote mentions intro quest structure and UI changes that make it easier for new players to get into the game. But it’s probably fair to assume that actual content falls into the same category. It suggests that a campaign like “Acquisitions Incorporated” doesn’t do terribly much for a game in terms of longevity. The development time invested on new players might be better spent on entertaining the veterans you already have.
You could however argue that to retain players, you first have to get them into the game, which “Heart of Fire” probably does just fine. But you definitely wonder whether marketing strategies and a larger social presence could do an equally decent job. All you have to do is get players to try your game and then the rest becomes largely irrelevant, at least in terms of retention. The heavy focus on low-level players means you’re constantly working the treadmill because you actually do little to grow the game. Instead, you could use the development time to extend the endgame experience.
A second related issue Janne mentions is decision making and evaluating the data that’s out there. The fact that Cryptic currently focuses on new players either means they are willingly ignoring facts, are not aware, or misinterpret the data. All three options aren’t great. A lot of things obviously factor in and we don’t know what the devs are looking at, but I think there’s a point to make that Cryptic’s approach could be wrong.
The amount of content you create for different tiers of players has always been a point of contention within the community. And data like this will likely keep it a controversial topic going forward. The fact that improving the experience of lower levels does nothing for your retention rates however should further encourage those that believe Cryptic has to focus more on veterans and the endgame.
What’s your take on the topic? Should Cryptic continue to cater to lower levels or do more for the endgame community? Share your thoughts and experience on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit our message board!
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