I’ve really been thinking about Mod 16 as of late and I think I know where they want to go with the new Neverwinter but I think it’s problematic but not for reasons many people may think.
First off, before we get into specifics we need to establish a few hard facts of life.
* Neverwinter, as it is now, is a sinking ship otherwise these new changes would not be so severe. I think the dev team is really, in all sincerity, trying to make it better. We should be more sympathetic to what they are trying to do. Really.
* With Mod 16 NW will lose a ton of players. There is no getting around that. Depending on what studies you read the loss will be between 30 to 70 percent of the player base but that in itself is not specifically a bad thing. It is, for lack of a better term, trimming the fat because, as harsh as this sounds, if you are not spending money, the powers that be don’t want you playing. You are a drag on the system. The real issue is how many of the 10-20 percent of players that bring 80% or more of the game’s revenue will stay and how many new players will spend. (This issue is really important and I will speak to below more in depth.)
*The devs and system people do not make the big decisions about the direction of the game. The C-level (upper management) corporate suits do that. That is not to say the devs don’t have input (that is very important and taken to heart) but at the end of the day, the bean counters call the shots.
*The purpose of Neverwinter is not only to make money but to make profit. If this doesn’t happen, the game goes away. Cryptic is not a charity. People need to buy Zen for the game to stay viable.
Now, that that is out of the way, we can get more into why I think NW is in real trouble of sinking with Mod 16.
As I said above, people need to spend real money to keep NW afloat. We all know this. This is not a surprise.
I will admit, I don’t know for sure, but I suspect, in the past, there have been only a handful of Zen items that bring in most of the revenue. They are, in no particular order, mounts, companions, coalescent and preservation wards, keys, and to some extent level tokens. As well as people cashing in Zen for AD to purchase things that they can only get in the AH.
Now, in the past, these items have been very significant to the success to our characters. Usually, when we purchased a new item, there was a definable and immediate improvement in our character’s combat or other non-combat mechanics which gives us that reward feeling in the happy centre of our brain. This is, in fact, why we spend money on attaining them in the first place and herein lies the issue with Mod 16's profitability, as I see it.
If you look at the items I listed above, that has historically brought in so much revenue, there is a new common thread amongst them. They have all been nerfed into the ground as far as how much they affect our character.
The devs have mentioned, many times that mechanics in M16, are going to be more inherently important than just flat stats. Indeed, they have taken away many of our ways to affect stats so we will focus on mechanics. Which is all well and good expect, then so much of reasons (motivation) we need/want items such as mounts/companions/enchants are not nearly as immediately rewarding.
In the past if you slotted a new high end item, it was like wow! I can do this or that so much better! Now however, the devs have said in M16 these things will not have nearly as important (read as rewarding) affect on our characters. So why buy them? Or should I say, why buy them as often?
In the past, there was a real, almost visceral, need to upgrade that weapon or armour enchantment. But now? Meh.. Will it be worth it? Or, will it be worth spending real money instead of just waiting to get enough AD to do it for free? I don’t know but from what I have seen, played and read about M16, I have serious doubts.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a population of NW players that will probably spend like the old days but with the population that will drop off after M16, NW will be dependant on new players to a certain extent.
Now imagine being a new player. You have never played NW before and you go ahead and buy some Zen so you can have that shiny new mount or companion but once you have it, was it worth it?
I can tell you the first items I purchased as a new player made such a big difference I was like, “Shut up and take my money!”. But if I was that person playing post M16 for the first time? With as hard as it already is starting out in M16? I would seriously doubt my willingness to spend/invest more in items that don’t seem to make that much of a difference.
So, if this is their actual model to save NW, I’m more than a bit worried. Is it sustainable? Because no matter how great they make it technically, it has to be two things. One, it has to be fun (especially to a new player AND those who stay after M16) and two, it has to be rewarding enough to get people to spend real money.
Will it be? What do you think?
Boudica's Sisters - A Guild For Introverts