We have talked about the product lifecycle in the previous post (1). Games, just like other products, progress through the sequence of stages from introduction to growth, maturity, and decline. Things that make a game different is the duration of the cycle and the size of the audience. Take World of Warcraft as an example, the game has been online since 2005 and was sweeping through the gamers globally for over a decade. However, the subscribers of WoW dramatically dropped to 5.5 million in 2015 Q3 (2), compared to its peak of 12 million in 2010. There is no wonder that people start saying “WoW is dying.” (3)
Number of Active Subscriptions for World of Warcraft (Source: Statista 2016)
Why is WoW dying? Simply it is not “fun to play” anymore. With that being said, the gameplay is the treatment for a dying game. What is the key of gameplay that keeps a game fun so that gamers cannot put it away? My answer here is “new elements” and “gains.”
“New elements” refers to the new systems and functions discovered by the gamers in a game. A gamer reaches a certain level to unlock a rare weapon, goes to a higher level to unlock a unique function of this weapon, and crafts a new weapon by leveling up even higher. This is an example of how the new elements in the game keep the gamers.
However, the capability of the developers to create new elements is limited within a certain time period. If a game loses its gamers faster than new elements being updated, it is still highly possible for the game to fade. Nowadays, when a new update released, gamers are smart enough to calculate how much time they would invest in a game to level up; thus to evaluate whether they should put it down.
What gamers gain from this period can protect the game from running out of updates. Every time when a gamer calms down from the excitement of the update, the question being asked is “what can I gain from these new things?” Generally, the gamer will have stronger skills or weapons to deal with new quests. However, none of the two gamers have the same playing habit. Some of them choose to forge their way up level by level, while others are willing to pay for easy access to the same level. It seems not fair and discourages the non-paid gamers, but the experience gained from the game will keep a good balance among gamers with different playing habits.
In order to keep a game “live long and prosper,” the developers have to make the game both “wide” and “deep.” Width of a game determines how many new elements for gamers to explore, while the depth of a game keeps the gamers when they go through the same process repeatedly without feeling bored; sometimes, it also related to the mechanics of the game. On top of that, with a good channel to deliver such a good game and stabilize it, the lifecycle of the game will definitely be a long one.
Seasun is a leading Chinese online games publisher focused on creating high quality games/game engines that push the boundaries of player experience in action entertainment. The company is also involved in small-medium sized investments for game studios worldwide. We have recently started up our U.S. studio in Redwood City, CA to create top quality content for the western market.
Seasun has shipped many successful titles, including the popular MMORPG series JX (http://jx3.xoyo.com/), the MMOARPG titles First Myth (http://fs.xoyo.com/index1) and CQ (http://cq.xoyo.com/), along with our FPS MAT (http://xd.xoyo.com/). The “JX” series has grossed more than $250 million and has achieved a daily active user count of 3.3 million. Our first game for the western market is Relics of Gods (http://rog.seasungames.com/). We are currently building a special team of highly talented people to create the technology for our next-generation MMOARPG at this studio.
Kingsoft, Seasun’s parent company, is publicly traded in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (SEHK: 3888) with market value of 3.8 billion USD. Kingsoft has created 3 other subsidiaries alongside Seasun: Cheetah Mobile (NYSE: CMCM), WPS Office, and Kingsoft Cloud Service. Kingsoft has over 4,000 employees worldwide.