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ACE has done poorly at Selling Crowfall, Maybe try Marketing


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During my years in Silicon Valley, I knew enterprises that were 1) Engineering focused, 2) Sales focused, and 3) Marketing focused.

Lets talk about the major difference(s) between being Sales focused and Marketing focused.  A sales focused enterprise has a product offering that they attempt to sell into a marketplace. It can be quite difficult and expensive to try to convince people that they need what you are selling.  A Market focused approach is to FIRST determine what your perceived marketplace NEEDS. If you discover that your market NEEDS offerings with features A, B, & C and your Engineers have the skills to develop offerings with features B, D, & F, focus on that intersection of Feature B, don't waste engineering talent working on D & F. Also, if there isn't a compelling Return on Investment RoI) from developing an offering focused on feature B, look to sweeten the offering by partnering with or acquiring an enterprise that can add features A & C.

If you can offer A, B, & C in a product offering, the product will almost sell itself!  Just a little bit of marketing to let people know you have such an offering that meets their major needs and the customers will beat down your doors to get you to take their money.

ACE, IMO, it's not too late to adjust Crowfall's feature set to begin offering what your exit surveys tell you the customers value. Stop trying to sell what the customer base doesn't value and start marketing what they do value. 

Edited by MacDeath

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+1 to this, it has always worried me that CF hasn't been marketed at all. Perhaps they're waiting for launch feedback before refining the game a bit more for a wider audience and then going all-out with marketing. First impressions are a huge deal, after all.

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Marketing-focused is not the same as Market-focused.

Pretty sure ACE knows that they have to do marketing in order to sell a product.
Not sure why you are explaining common sense (building a product based on what customers need) and then at the same time disregard common sense (building your product with a limited feature set because you currently don't have the engineers).

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3 hours ago, MacDeath said:

A Market focused approach is to FIRST determine what your perceived marketplace NEEDS.

I imagine they, along with their investors, determined there was a market for this game based off of the successful kickstarter. 

 

Blazzen <Lords of Death>

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Product-lead marketing and development is a strategy where essentially the product sells and markets itself. Zoom video meeting tools is an example of this, compared to other competitors they do very little marketing. They make the barrier to entry low (free) and allow people to try out all of its great features, then ramp people up with paid add-ons.

Demand-generation marketing is a strategy where you need to demonstrate and make people realize they need your product/service. This can be done with a combination of education and resourceful content. Having deep empathy and understanding of your ideal customer profile allows you to tailor content that will get inside their brains and build authority and brand awareness. When they are ready to buy they will come to you.

 

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12 minutes ago, DocHollidaze said:

Product-lead marketing and development is a strategy where essentially the product sells and markets itself. Zoom video meeting tools is an example of this, compared to other competitors they do very little marketing. They make the barrier to entry low (free) and allow people to try out all of its great features, then ramp people up with paid add-ons.

Demand-generation marketing is a strategy where you need to demonstrate and make people realize they need your product/service. This can be done with a combination of education and resourceful content. Having deep empathy and understanding of your ideal customer profile allows you to tailor content that will get inside their brains and build authority and brand awareness. When they are ready to buy they will come to you.

 

Yep and if your offering is unique enough at satisfying real needs, they rarely do price comparisons to somewhat similar offerings that don't quite meet their needs as well.

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They did the kickstarter, they got the money, and this is as Doc described Demand-generation marketing.  Crowfall is intended to be the game people who like games like Shadowbane will naturally gravitate towards and know about.  Mass Marketing isn't actually going to do you alot of good for a niche product.  You'd basically just be throwing away money mostly marketing to people who wouldn't be interested in your product in the first place.  Also, really and truly, is this game even in a state right now where you'd want to do a huge marketing push?  That could do more harm than good vs a push in 1-3 months for example. 

Hungerdome was intended to accomplish 3 things and while I have my criticisms it did those successfully.  It grabbed more eyes and it delivered a vertical slice of the general gameplay of the game within it's own separate mode.  It also allowed them to work on their tech in a separate mode that would not directly affect/mess up the main game.

People make a big deal about 50k but 50k is peanuts to even a project of this size.  Assuming they have only 20 people and assuming they made an average of 50k a year total compensation (when including benefits and etc into the actual company  cost I promise you the cost per head is more than that) the salaries alone would be 1 million dollars a year.


The problem with arm chair marketing or development is that we come at things with very very narrow views focused on 10% of the overall picture in the best of times and in the worst of times the direct industry experience or experience at all of those arm chairing is very lacking.  This is why despite being video game QA myself I'm very loathe to throw that around.  Very rarely is it actually applicable.  My feedback is feedback just like anyone elses.  There are very rare times a specific issue comes directly into my wheelhouse, but outside of that it'd just be an appeal to authority fallacy.  Either my feedback stands on it's own merits or it does not.  I can believe in it, I can argue for it, but it's just feedback and not direct expertise in 98% of cases and thus my status as video game QA is simply not relevant.  I try to do my best not to overapply that expertise, if for no other reason than because most cases i'm tempted to means I instead need to better express yourself, are wrong, or need a better argument.

Edited by Ralathar44
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1 hour ago, Toadwart said:

Do you really want the current marketing strategies continued? ie ., dumping 50K on a tourney for an unreleased, unfinished game that drew a few thousand viewers?

 

Im not a marketing expert, but even I know I could have given Asmongold or Towelie 5K to showcase the came tp 50K+ viewers....

I thought the whole Hungerdome / ECS'21 detour away from the MMO game was a waste of development time and marketing $. They showcased an MOBA / BR sidecar mode and not the main MMO. Fewer people tuned in to watch it every weekend. What a lost opportunity. That was NOT focusing on the needs of the marketplace.

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Just now, MacDeath said:

Fewer people tuned in to watch it every weekend.

And why wouldn't that be the expectation?  Every game release, every big update, etc follows that same trend outside of very rare things that go viral.  If you're expecting your viewership for something to grow every weekend then you've already got unrealistic expectations.  That's the hope, that's what everyone wants to get.  That viral content, that smash hit, but the reality of most video/game releases is much much more sedate.

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@Ralathar44You said, " Also, really and truly, is this game even in a state right now where you'd want to do a huge marketing push?  That could do more harm than good vs a push in 1-3 months for example. " You seem to be focusing only on the advertising side of marketing. Sure, it's important but I wanted them to listen to the stated needs of the PvP MMO playerbase and focus on their NEEDS at kickstarter AND through the next 6 years so they were meeting those needs.

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Just now, MacDeath said:

Sure, it's important but I wanted them to listen to the stated needs of the PvP MMO playerbase and focus on their NEEDS at kickstarter AND through the next 6 years so they were meeting those needs.

Ok now here you enter MY wheelhouse since now you're talking about a developer reacting to feedback and not marketing.  So I can speak on this as a relative expert.  There is a difference between stated needs and actual needs.  That's why it's called feedback.  Reality is that we all give our feedback pretty honestly for the most part and believe in it.  But as logical as we believe we are we're oft speaking in emotion and not logic and we also often do not understand what actually bothers us or cannot communicate it effectively or both. 

This is why processing feedback is an art.  Here's a pretty good article covering it.  Polygon has a pretty spotty track record but they do a good job here.  The core examples in there is the "too many skags" feedback, the "let me build my own gun" feedback, and the reload/movement speed feedback.  That's how feedback works.  Sometimes you can take feedback at face value but honestly that's pretty rare and game design is much much more complicated than people think. 

Heck I remember sitting in on a presentation presented by the folks that made Fortnite as they described their frustration at trying to get players to use the harvesting "target" to do extra damage.  They went through many iterations trying to make it more prominent and visible and players were still ignoring it lol.  Finally they had to lock it behind an upgrade for players to start using it.  But Crowfall, thanks to Fortnite existing, doesn't have to do this because now Fortnite's impact on the industry has made it kind of a known mechanic and part of general games literacy for your average gamer.

Artcraft Entertainment has made many significant changes to their original plans over time directly in response to player feedback.  Were they the right changes?  Hard to know for sure.  Usually I'd say "we'll find out" and let the game's success or lack thereof speak for itself but with the game releasing incomplete that gets alot muddier real fast.  But were they actively trying to do exactly what you said?  Yes.  Pass or fail they were attempting to do exactly that.  Even on stuff they were super stubborn on like non-VIP respec they eventually relented on due to player feedback.

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Mmo games are specific enough to sorta of not need marketing.

Most mmo players will most certainly hear about it as long as they keep their heads up.

Plus there will be a lot of free marketing.

Mmos sites will cover its launch. Any youtuber with a mmo focus will talk about it.

I really wonder if it worth spending money to advertise when it isnt really needed.

Hell we have seem a lot of people come around. We have 400k accounts registered. That with zero advertisement.

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16 minutes ago, Ralathar44 said:

Ok now here you enter MY wheelhouse since now you're talking about a developer reacting to feedback and not marketing.  So I can speak on this as a relative expert.  There is a difference between stated needs and actual needs.  That's why it's called feedback.  Reality is that we all give our feedback pretty honestly for the most part and believe in it.  But as logical as we believe we are we're oft speaking in emotion and not logic and we also often do not understand what actually bothers us or cannot communicate it effectively or both. 

This is why processing feedback is an art.  Here's a pretty good article covering it.  Polygon has a pretty spotty track record but they do a good job here.  The core examples in there is the "too many skags" feedback, the "let me build my own gun" feedback, and the reload/movement speed feedback.  That's how feedback works.  Sometimes you can take feedback at face value but honestly that's pretty rare and game design is much much more complicated than people think. 

Heck I remember sitting in on a presentation presented by the folks that made Fortnite as they described their frustration at trying to get players to use the harvesting "target" to do extra damage.  They went through many iterations trying to make it more prominent and visible and players were still ignoring it lol.  Finally they had to lock it behind an upgrade for players to start using it.  But Crowfall, thanks to Fortnite existing, doesn't have to do this because now Fortnite's impact on the industry has made it kind of a known mechanic and part of general games literacy for your average gamer.

Artcraft Entertainment has made many significant changes to their original plans over time directly in response to player feedback.  Were they the right changes?  Hard to know for sure.  Usually I'd say "we'll find out" and let the game's success or lack thereof speak for itself but with the game releasing incomplete that gets alot muddier real fast.  But were they actively trying to do exactly what you said?  Yes.  Pass or fail they were attempting to do exactly that.  Even on stuff they were super stubborn on like non-VIP respec they eventually relented on due to player feedback.

You seem to be saying that because they changed a few features that means they ARE focused on player feedback. Well, even a blind hog will find SOME acorns. If you really want to meet the needs of your customers, you need to do things like exit surveys (and ACE does) to find out why players don't  stick with the game. Then some focus groups to probe more deeply at what  caused those players to quit. Analyze the feedback and make recommendations for change.

Should the devs respond to every request for change? Of course not, but there are patterns to the lack of player retention and SOME changes are needed.

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22 minutes ago, BarriaKarl said:

Mmo games are specific enough to sorta of not need marketing.

Most mmo players will most certainly hear about it as long as they keep their heads up.

Plus there will be a lot of free marketing.

Mmos sites will cover its launch. Any youtuber with a mmo focus will talk about it.

I really wonder if it worth spending money to advertise when it isnt really needed.

Hell we have seem a lot of people come around. We have 400k accounts registered. That with zero advertisement.

It may be a language issue mate, but THAT'S not the marketing I'm speaking off. I'm focusing on discovering the needs of a marketplace BEFORE you start to develop an offering / product.

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7 minutes ago, MacDeath said:

You seem to be saying that because they changed a few features that means they ARE focused on player feedback. Well, even a blind hog will find SOME acorns.

This is willfully disingenuous.  They've changed rather large areas of the game in response to player feedback.  The passive skill tree and drop rules alone are rather massive changes.  The fact that you have to couch your argument in a "well they haven't done ENOUGH" now shows that you're bargaining without any truly solid argumentation ground to stand on.  Let's play devil's advocate and say you're absolutely right in your assessment for the moment, your presented arguments to demonstrate that are currently quite weak.  Because you're now just sounding like an average poster who wants them to change things for them specifically instead of the higher level approach you were taking before.

I was honestly interested in what you had to say and this reply murdered that interest :(.  Honestly rather than double down on this I'd step back for a second and reconsider your point, the context, your position, and what you really want to say.  I think you can do better than that response.

 

9 minutes ago, MacDeath said:

It may be a language issue mate, but THAT'S not the marketing I'm speaking off. I'm focusing on discovering the needs of a marketplace BEFORE you start to develop an offering / product.

It feels like you have a pretty big disconnect with how game design actually works.  Succeed or Fail Crowfall is following the tenets of game design.  You come up with an idea, you float that idea and see how people like it, you refine it a little and start developing.  That was kickstarter.  Along the way you get feedback and you make changes, sometimes rather large ones like the passive skill tree.  Sometimes even larger ones like Doom 4 becoming Doom 2016 by completely redesigning their game. 

Both inside of the company and outside of the company you will have numerous conflicting opinions on what the game should be and where it should go.  You have to do your best to determine which of those folks you want to please and how viable that market is.  Our own tiny Crowfall community often bitterly disagrees on major aspects of the game.  Who's "needs" (lets be honest, what you're actually saying is wants based on how you've presented it.  Need and want are very different) do we even cater to?  Yours?  Mine.  Ape's?  Toadwart's.  OFC you'll consider anything but those catering to your own needs to likely be them not addressing your "needs" unless there is very clear proof it was better for the game.  (and even then sometimes people double down)  Right now the game is in a place of uncertainty so everyone can feel justified in feeling right and correct in their own opinions of what the game should be.  That includes you, me, and everyone else. 

But the reality is if we were to pull back from your expressed version of "needs" (which has read as wants) and were to say with an ominscient view that "x" subdemographic is factually the best to focus on and "y" things are the stuff that they actually need regardless of what they say they want the chances that either you or I would be totally happy with those changes is rather small :D.  Warframe has been a hugely successful game for many years and has continuously grown (which is in and of itself an insane accomplishment) year after year.  Despite all of that people make very very similar arguments daily.  I have my own criticisms of them.  And yet, month after month and year after year they are crushing it.   So despite my feelings they are obviously doing almost exclusively the correct things to keep their game and business successful.  But if you go onto the reddits and forums and etc you'll see sooo many people being hypercritical of them and I've heard people predict the death of the game many times.  Such is game development.  Both initially and ongoing.

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17 minutes ago, Ralathar44 said:

This is willfully disingenuous.  They've changed rather large areas of the game in response to player feedback.  The passive skill tree and drop rules alone are rather massive changes.  The fact that you have to couch your argument in a "well they haven't done ENOUGH" now shows that you're bargaining without any truly solid argumentation ground to stand on.  Let's play devil's advocate and say you're absolutely right in your assessment for the moment, your presented arguments to demonstrate that are currently quite weak.  Because you're now just sounding like an average poster who wants them to change things for them specifically instead of the higher level approach you were taking before.

I was honestly interested in what you had to say and this reply murdered that interest :(.  Honestly rather than double down on this I'd step back for a second and reconsider your point, the context, your position, and what you really want to say.  I think you can do better than that response.

 

It feels like you have a pretty big disconnect with how game design actually works.  Succeed or Fail Crowfall is following the tenets of game design.  You come up with an idea, you float that idea and see how people like it, you refine it a little and start developing.  That was kickstarter.  Along the way you get feedback and you make changes, sometimes rather large ones like the passive skill tree.  Sometimes even larger ones like Doom 4 becoming Doom 2016 by completely redesigning their game. 

Both inside of the company and outside of the company you will have numerous conflicting opinions on what the game should be and where it should go.  You have to do your best to determine which of those folks you want to please and how viable that market is.  Our own tiny Crowfall community often bitterly disagrees on major aspects of the game.  Who's "needs" (lets be honest, what you're actually saying is wants based on how you've presented it.  Need and want are very different) do we even cater to?  Yours?  Mine.  Ape's?  Toadwart's.  OFC you'll consider anything but those catering to your own needs to likely be them not addressing your "needs" unless there is very clear proof it was better for the game.  (and even then sometimes people double down)  Right now the game is in a place of uncertainty so everyone can feel justified in feeling right and correct in their own opinions of what the game should be.  That includes you, me, and everyone else. 

But the reality is if we were to pull back from your expressed version of "needs" (which has read as wants) and were to say with an ominscient view that "x" subdemographic is factually the best to focus on and "y" things are the stuff that they actually need regardless of what they say they want the chances that either you or I would be totally happy with those changes is rather small :D.  Warframe has been a hugely successful game for many years and has continuously grown (which is in and of itself an insane accomplishment) year after year.  Despite all of that people make very very similar arguments daily.  I have my own criticisms of them.  And yet, month after month and year after year they are crushing it.   So despite my feelings they are obviously doing almost exclusively the correct things to keep their game and business successful.  But if you go onto the reddits and forums and etc you'll see sooo many people being hypercritical of them and I've heard people predict the death of the game many times.  Such is game development.  Both initially and ongoing.

I think I have a pretty good grasp on how game design works. I was the Managing Director of a game company.

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15 minutes ago, MacDeath said:

I think I have a pretty good grasp on how game design works. I was the Managing Director of a game company.

If that's the case then your representing yourself exceedingly poorly by making claims like they're not catering to the needs of their community when they've consistently changed major aspects of the game in relation to feedback including completely reworking progression less than a year before launch.  You need more than an appeal to authority to hide behind.  You need good arguments.  I could be the managing director of a game company tomorrow if I wanted.  Doesn't mean I'd be a good or successful one.  Even when we went into my wheelhouse as QA I didn't rely on that as a crutch, I provided information from successful sources demonstrating what I meant.

And keep in mind that I'm not especially hung up on this game.  I think it has a 75% chance of failure.  I think the whole idea of "let's make a shadowbane style MMORPG" is a fools errand currently because those games get repeatedly attempted and repeatedly die.  The most successful examples of the genre are still incredibly niche and are also in direct opposition to what many people have said they want in many ways.  In addition I think that the idea of PVE providing all progression and literally the ideal way to progress is to avoid PVP to PVE somehow being a way to force PVP is laughable.  I have many staunch criticisms and if this game dies I'm not going to be put out.  Though I do think it's crafting system is fairly inspired and great as is the disc system for character building.  And the combat certainly isn't terrible.

So when I come in here saying "they have repeatedly catered to player feedback" THAT is the perspective I come from.  I'd be very quick to call it out if I thought they were ignoring the player base.  But they're not.  They're repeatedly making adjustments in relation to player feedback in both big and small ways.

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3 minutes ago, Ralathar44 said:

If that's the case then your representing yourself exceedingly poorly by making claims like they're not catering to the needs of their community when they've consistently changed major aspects of the game in relation to feedback including completely reworking progression less than a year before launch.  You need more than an appeal to authority to hide behind.  You need good arguments.  I could be the managing director of a game company tomorrow if I wanted.  Doesn't mean I'd be a good or successful one.  Even when we went into my wheelhouse as QA I didn't rely on that as a crutch, I provided information from successful sources demonstrating what I meant.

And keep in mind that I'm not especially hung up on this game.  I think it has a 75% chance of failure.  I think the whole idea of "let's make a shadowbane style MMORPG" is a fools errand currently because those games get repeatedly attempted and repeatedly die.  The most successful examples of the genre are still incredibly niche and are also in direct opposition to what many people have said they want in many ways.  In addition I think that the idea of PVE providing all progression and literally the ideal way to progress is to avoid PVP to PVE somehow being a way to force PVP is laughable.  I have many staunch criticisms and if this game dies I'm not going to be put out.  Though I do think it's crafting system is fairly inspired and great as is the disc system for character building.  And the combat certainly isn't terrible.

So when I come in here saying "they have repeatedly catered to player feedback" THAT is the perspective I come from.  I'd be very quick to call it out if I thought they were ignoring the player base.  But they're not.  They're repeatedly making adjustments in relation to player feedback in both big and small ways.

Yeah, well that's like just your opinion man.

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Putting my marketing hat on, I think a game like Crowfall would benefit from influencer marketing by partnering with some key niche-streamers.

--- ACE has largely failed in that area from a marketing standpoint, from what I can see, as a lot of the feedback from bigger streamers in the MMO niche speak about CF in a poor light.

CF would also benefit from some more concerted marketing in the faux-gaming news channel. I see promotional content on sites like MassivelyOP and MMORPG, but it comes across as the usual puff stuff and doesn't seem to get much attention. But at least they are putting in budget in those channels.

You can advertise on Reddit (/r/mmorpg), you can do cold targeted audience promotion of content on Facebook based on demographics and peoples' interests (gaming, 21 to 50, mmorpgs). 

A lot of stuff ACE can do.

---

But at the end of the day, you have to look at the life-time value of a client, err gamer customer playing Crowfall. With what appears to be a very low retention rate my guess is that the marketing costs per acquisition are going to be high and the life-time value of each acquired customer is going to be trending low. This suggests a poor ROI on paid media and other intensive marketing efforts.

What ACE really needs is a game that is hella fun and makes people want to stick around and waste their afternoons in front of their computer. Because if they do this thing sells itself. Or streamers will be doing tons of free influencer promotion because people want to know about this cool new game.

Product-lead marketing works amazingly when you have a really great product. It can still sort of kind of work if the product is at least decent, and the barrier to entry is next to nothing. Right now, CF is buy to play, so they will likely have to go to free-to-play to make up for perceived deficiency in the quality of the product.

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