Why Are They Doing This?

coh[City of Heroes] This weekend, City of Heroes/Villains is doubling experience gains for 60 hours (also prestige and influence/infamy). [discussion thread, I have not read it all] As a player, I do not need a reason for free candy, but having an interest in development and economics, I wonder why this is happening. The official “why” of “This is a special thank you, because we really do appreciate you all-through the thick and thin” is meaningless (sorry).

Would it be good for the game to have twice-as-fast leveling, but for some reason this is only good for the game for one weekend? The most likely reason is to recruit some re-subscriptions, since an e-mail went out to all current and former subscribers; this could work better than that free weekend. Is there a reason to want to get a great many players logged on at once, beyond the usual? It could be hard to set any records on a big convention weekend. Any relation to recent NCSoft financial issues?

Feel free to comment on the subject, or how subscribers’ incentives would differ under constant double-xp, periodic (power hour/day), or occasionally-by-random-announcement. I think that predictable incentives lose much of the impact here.

: Zubon

13 thoughts on “Why Are They Doing This?”

  1. City of Heroes is a grinding game to an extreme – outside of the limited PvP, costume aesthetics, and roleplaying, there is literally nothing else to do. In my experience that grind starts getting nasty around level thirty. Wouldn’t surprise me if people got bored with the game around then; the double experience, therefore, would be bound to grab loads of returning subscribers who quit when the game turned into a timesink.

  2. If they made it 10x, all the time, and un-nerfed my controller and I’d consider trying it again.

  3. Double bonuses are a cheap advertising and player-appeasing method for any grindy game – it matches exactly players’ desire to ding faster. If the bonuses were permanent it would reduce the grind (yay) but also destroy the whole whack-a-mole gameplay model the game is based on.

    Related, I like rest xp in WoW because I cant play heaps. But while battleground weekends (double honour) get more people playing, everyone gets the bonus -> therefore relationally between player progress, there is no bonus.

    As for financial troubles, if I ran a grindy MMO I would definatly use ‘advertised bonus weekends’ for a quick cash influx, because it appeals to many reasons players leave in the first place.

  4. I’m pretty sure the main reason is as you mentioned–to pull some former subscribers back into the fold. I’m guessing most people quit when the grind gets tough, around 30 as Gatombre says. So for someone who misses the game but not the grind, this could be a nice opportunity, if only temporary. I think it’s a good move on NCSoft’s part.

    As for the “special thank you,” I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss it. The game owes a lot to the City of Heroes Community, who tend to be pretty supportive and helpful to the devs. Of course there’s a marketing angle to it, there always is. But as a CoH player, I was pleasantly surprised.

  5. My wife and I played and very much enjoyed City of Heroes for a year. We both had many alts (we often get “alt-itus” in a game that we enjoy) and we had main characters who were about 41st level or so. Yeah, only 41st level after about a year, we are nearly the definition of “casual players”, we got maybe about 10-15 hours a week to play.

    We left for good when the “issue” came out that nerfed the crap out of tanks and controllers. I don’t care that this was for PvP purposes (the devs game crap reasons why it *wasn’t* just for PvP but I call BS on those…the nerfs were PvP centered, pure and simple), my wife and I don’t *care* about PvP. “pwning you b1tches” is NOT the reason why we play.

    I hope that City of Heroes/Villians is gaining subscription numbers with their decision to cater to PvP, but regardless of what weekend exp fest that they choose to offer they’re not regaining our two subscriptions. The Devs kept nerfing until they nerfed our subscriptions out of existance.

  6. They can dangle the “big whoop,extra xp” carrot all they want,I am not interested. I could tolerate the grind,mostly,but after Issue 6,all the things I liked best about the game were gone. And so was I…

  7. Is it free-come-back-please time as well? That’s the only reason I’d currently go back. CoH, while visually stimulating, is the essense of what I call Short Attention Span Theatre. There’s just so little to do besides the grind (medals, yay), which I was sad to find out. The missions are just different flavors of the same thing, even the floor plans are limited (leading to you being able to simply shortcut yourself to where you want to be with experience). I spent more time rolling up newbies than playing my assortment of mid 30’s to mid 40’s characters.

    They could benefit from WoW’s rest system, which I personally have grown to love. If I play a lot, I still make progress, or I can play a few characters and have decent progress on all of them (assuming I’m not just chain-playing them), or I can take a week off the game, come back, and have screaming exp. In the end, it’s probably the same exp (I never parsed it), but I didn’t “fall behind”. Makes the grinding less grindy.

    One thing that WoW probably stole from CoX was the exp bonus on mission completion (i.e. the exp you get on quest completion in WoW). Except in certain minor, and frequently nerfed cases, EQ’s quest experience was almost non-existant. Well, let’s be honest, it’s quest system sucks as a whole, but that’s another story. Completing a mission in CoH was usually a really nice chunk of exp, which is how I used to level up quickly.

  8. Do you know the feeling when you burnt out a bit, took a break, recovered a little, but didn’t have the motivation to really go back to your game? Well, such occasional “double your xp”-weekends are a good incentive to do so. You finally got a reason to go back, a little motivation. I bet there are a lot of players out there who feel like this.

    And, if you plan a stress test for your hardware, you will get this at a planned time.

  9. Maybe they have realised that no-one wants to play the boring game they nerfed CoH into and so are desperately trying to get people back. That would be easy to do:

    – Roll back the nerfs so that people are playing superheroes again.
    – Fire Statesman and never, ever, listen to him again.

  10. *nods to winter and Martin*

    I’m a solo’er at heart, and CoH doesn’t support that (at any reasonable speed) with most of its archtypes. I quit around the time I hit lvl 20, and didn’t look back util CoV came out. I found the archtypes a lot more fun in dynamic — and soloing as an MM or Brute was unquestionably fast — but I still slacked off when I hit the high-30’s and cancelled the account. A couple friends and I got the email and decided we’d make complementary characters and get a jumpstart on a blitz to 50 so we can play around with Kheldians. It’s a marketing gimmick, and it likely won’t end up being much fun, but I can’t blame them for taking advantage of the fact that a hefty share of MMO gamers are bored and disillusioned.

  11. “Maybe they have realised that no-one wants to play the boring game they nerfed CoH into”

    Yeah, you’re right. Why, right now I’m just as bored as I can be, sitting on this rock in the middle of a forest preserve, waiting for 5 minutes as the tank runs out into the wilderness to gather up the wolves. I can’t follow him, I’ll die, and besides, it’ll mess up his pull. I just have to sit here and wait until he gets back, and then the controller will jump down and freeze the entire trailing mob solid, and then I get to hop down and hit one, maybe two, attack powers before they’re all wiped out, then I climb back up on the rock and wait for another 5 minutes.

    …oh, wait, sorry, flashback. Actually right now I’m trailing close behind the tank, with the rest of the team, firing off my powers as quickly as they recharge, and the controller saves his giant disable for when we get blindsided by a patrol.


  12. I have no doubt that people can no longer farm the few maps they could. However the cost is that people are no longer playing super heroes, they are now playing something that sits between a minion and a lieutenant. That wasn’t what I signed up for, and I don’t think it is close to what most people feel should be the hero level of power.

    Of course the constant nerfs, the amatuerish use of status effects to buff the mobs vs players and all the other hackish changes made by Statesman won’t stop the players who can’t just leave their investment of time from continuing to play. CoH never had much in the way of content. However it did let you play a superhero and you could kick some serious arse… that didn’t fit in with Jack’s vision so it is gone, leaving behind a very average game.

    In the end all CoH will be left with are the ultimate fanbois… I think it is already starting to get to that stage, hence the desperate attempts to get people back.

  13. It’s still fun from time to time. People *are* playing super-heroes. Take your lvl 50 and go back to Atlas park to drop some thugs with single uses of brawl. If that’s what you want, go ahead. You’ll bore as quickly as someone cheating in an action game, there’s no challenge. That being the case, why should you get xp for it? If your complaint is that the world is full of creatures which are also up at your power level, what else is there for super-heroes to fight?

    They could make the flood of minions a weak distraction before whoever’s leading the outfit, but then that becomes an unnecessary annoyance. They could remove the minions altogether and just have the boss-fights, but then you’re looking at a crippled action-rpg. To make the game more interactive they’ve got to have the minions doing something that would impact you negatively if they finished their task, but then you’re getting into what they’ve half-assedly tried to do in PvP zones. In the end: it’s an MMO.

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