I made a post on another thread a while back that level up tournaments as a whole needed a fundamental reworking and got a few messages (okay, one) saying I should expand on it, so thought I would do so during the downtime that this CRW provided.
I don’t claim to speak for anyone other than myself, but going by the region-wide SIGH that’s emitted from GC when yet another level up tourney is announced, along with the general reaction from the forum here (and hell, even the suggested topics when I started writing this), I think I can safely say that most players are sick of them. Why? Of course the prizes [or what now pass for prizes] are a big part of it, but to get to the crux of the matter you have to look at the actual concept of a level up tourney.
Leveling up is universally accepted in gaming as a necessary evil - a chore one undertakes in order to perform better in the other areas of the game that matter; combat, pvp, pve, whatever. It’s a means, not an end. It’s a grind. And grinding is one of the least fun aspects of these games, so making a tournament to see who can out-grind one another is nothing short of lunacy.
Stick “level up tournament” into Google and tell me how many games appear in the results… Exactly. No other game runs them for precisely this reason. Every single other game of this ilk involves leveling up. Not one of them feels the need to “tourney-fy” it.
I could excuse a level up tourney as a stopgap back when the game was still finding its feet, but it’s been over 2 years now and is still a staple, in fact arguably the most often-ran tournament. Which is a major indictment on the developers for providing so few alternate competitive aspects to the game in the meantime. But that’s another discussion.
@kalishane posted a thread regarding level up frequency recently, with the main point being that they want players to see level ups more as a tool than a tournament, feel confident in partaking in several per week, not holding onto toons for a long period of time to save up points etc. Then we get the reward structure for the following tournament(s), with a 2 million point milestone still the top prize. Statement and action are not reconciling here. If players are constantly leveling up here and there, piecemeal, not a single one is going to hit a maximum milestone - no one is going to “stumble” upon 2 million points. Hell, given the current structure, not a single player would hit a minimum one.
Players’ complaints were myriad, and to address them, there was another post that filled me with dread - implying that Scopely’s “solution” is their usual myopic, simplistic, brute force approach of “multiplying renown points”. No. We need to think bigger, and we need to think long-term.
My proposal is that level up tournaments are scrapped outright, and the Level Up button becomes a permanent fixture on the screen along with Raids, Territories, Survival Road et al. The objective boards still exist and can be completed at the player’s leisure, or not at all, should they decide. Renown is changed from a temporary tournament score to a permanent currency, and a new depot is added where players can cash in this currency for prizes not dissimilar to what’s currently on offer as milestones; Event items (to take the most recent one; gun parts, shirts etc.), Ascendance Medals, weapon parts, 5*/6* Gear, Trainers (Aden, Benedict, Lilith, Ulysses etc. as opposed to Burt/Brady), 5* Tokens, ascendable 5*, so on.
This would remove a significant amount of both stress and tedium from players’ lives. No more leaving a toon that would be useful in wars at T1L1 until a tournament with “decent” prizes arrives. No more frenzied scav mission aborting cycles trying to stack YGL atop YGL in the faint hope of hitting an otherwise unobtainable milestone, ending up in cooldown limbo and just falling short, not due to lack of planning but luck. No more leaving a roster on 299/300 and getting a pop-up after every single 13.5 run because of trainer hoarding.
Players can accumulate renown at their own pace, store it long-term in order to get an ascendable 5* like Abe, Barker etc. or spend more liberally on the smaller items. It’s up to them.
However, I’m not suggesting the complete excision of competition from leveling up. I’m all for leaving a leaderboard up, be it weekly, biweekly, monthly, whatever. With the players who hit the most renown during that period of time getting whatever nominal items that currently pass for ranking prizes in the present structure. It would be there as an “also” aspect to leveling up, a bonus for the majority of players, but a target for whales. You satisfy both ends of the playerbase here.
Whales are gonna whale regardless. When you have a podium, they need to be on top of it. It’s in their nature. It’s psychological. They’re going to coin YGLs, buy trainer packs, and pull the ever-lovin’ shit out of premier toons at the same rate they always did. They’re even going to coin refresh this new depot. This is not an indictment on whales, it’s a statement of fact. Every game needs whales.
I’m aware that so many good suggestions from players have gone blatantly ignored by Scopely because there is the outside chance that it may ever so slightly negatively affect their bottom line, so here’s a little section specifically for the bean-counters there currently asking “What’s in this for us?” Because I know that’s the driving factor behind change here.
Happy players are spending players. Not the other way around. Yes we have whales who will spend regardless, but I’m talking about the not-insignificant subset of players that straddle the spending/ftp fence. When an otherwise free player is treated right, they actually feel more inclined to drop money on a game “because the devs earned it”. A 30 day pass, maybe the occasional 40 pull. Nothing extravagant, but keeps things ticking over.
You also need to bear in mind that apart from spending whales there are social whales. This is a concept I feel flies way over your [Scopely’s] head. Long-term, well-connected players who act as the glue that keep a region together. Players who, while they may not spend (much), if they were to quit, they would take the bulk of their factions with them. Diminishing the playerbase, reducing the competition in a region and resulting in the knock-on effect of much less spending as a result. Here, educate yourselves - https://www.ninjametrics.com/blog/infographic-social-value-finding-the-true-influencers-in-social-games-and-mobile-apps/
As I said above, every game needs whales. But every whale needs plankton. Whales whale so that they can go “hey look at this shiny new thing” to the plebs. When the plebs are gone they have no reason left to spend, and move on to another game. And yes, whales leave every game eventually. The way that games combat this is player replacement. Some retire, more join. The circle of life.
This game has an almost self-replenishing well in that it’s tied to the TWD franchise and thus when a new season rolls around, interest picks up and new installs occur. I’m telling you now, if I joined up and saw a minimum milestone of 150k while I’m flailing about getting 16 points per level on my 3*s, scraping together what small amount of food I could from my 3 level 4 farms, my first thought would be “They don’t value me as a new player”, and not long after would be the uninstall. You’re not only not enticing new players, you’re actively driving them away.
Look at the forums. Listen to the crickets chirp in older regions’ GCs. You’re losing long-term players, whether P9 or P13, hand over fist. You can lock, unlist and delete threads all you want and delude yourself with whatever gimped metric of “player engagement” you’re currently using [which I’m 90% sure is based on scores from Russian hackers] but that won’t change anything. In fact, it’s just going to engender more ill will.
This is not an expletive-laden, “prizes suck!!!1” tantrum. This is a calm, reasoned, and very long-winded attempt at some constructive criticism and feedback that will benefit both you the company, and us the players. You may label the community toxic, but break the habit of a lifetime and stop showing us open contempt and you may well be surprised at how quick the proverbial swamp gets drained.