Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

imageA very long time ago, like, a million years ago, Stardock made a game called The Corporate Machine.  Like all of Stardock’s games, it was played almost exclusively single player.  But unlike our other games, it was surprisingly popular in multiplayer.  How come?

For The Corporate Machine we did the following:

  1. Start-Up Watcher: A little system tray app that monitored for available games and let people launch it.
  2. 7 multiplayer only keys that people who owned the game could share with their friends and included the Start-up launcher.

Last week, we released Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation.  People seem to really like it but, like our other games, it’s mostly played single player. 

When we designed Ashes of the Singularity and Escalation, it was our expectation that about 95% of players would play it single player, 5% multiplayer.  In reality, it’s been closer to 97% single player.

For multiplayer fans, this stat could be bad news but there is a silver lining: It becomes economically justifiable to release a multiplayer-only version of the game in the future.

Here would be the limitations:

  1. No single player support at all. No skirmish, no campaign, etc.
  2. Cannot add AI bots to multiplayer hosted games.
  3. Would have to have a Stardock ID (so that we have some direct control over issues of griefing, ,cheating, etc.).

Time frame

Not yet.  There are a couple of features that are pre-requisites. 

  1. The replay feature for version 1.5 of the base game (2.1 of Escalation) is absolutely a requirement. 
  2. We also need to create a new system tray app that will make it easier for people to jump into games.
  3. We need a scheduling app that will let people set up games and remind others to join in when the time comes.

Eventually, this Tournament edition would be available on Steam for $9.99 which would allow people to get the benchmark as well (since a lot of people just want the benchmark).  We don’t plan to make it free-to-play except for friends of those who have the base game.

Post your thoughts below on what you think of this concept.


Comments (Page 2)
on Nov 23, 2016

I have observed that there is a strong correlation between marketing and user behavior. If the goal of Stardock is to create a viable multiplayer community, then one way to do so is to increase the visibility and appeal of multiplayer. It definitely won't hurt people that prefer single player and it will help those who enjoy multiplayer.

on Nov 24, 2016

Great_One

I have observed that there is a strong correlation between marketing and user behavior. If the goal of Stardock is to create a viable multiplayer community, then one way to do so is to increase the visibility and appeal of multiplayer. It definitely won't hurt people that prefer single player and it will help those who enjoy multiplayer.

I'd have to question that, because nothing about the marketing presented Ashes of the Singularity as a predominantly singleplayer experience, yet according to Stardock, 98% or more play singleplayer exclusively. I'm not saying I want them to hide the multiplayer button. But it's definitely not hard to locate, it's the same size as literally every other button on the menu - singleplayer included. I don't think it'll make one iota of difference to change the multiplayer's button.

Now, if you're suggesting making it so the multiplayer button absolutely dwarfs all other buttons, or you have to opt-out of multiplayer first, I disagree with those vehemently. You won't build value by frustrating to majority of your user base.

on Nov 28, 2016

philothanic

As someone who almost exclusively plays RTS in multiplayer, I really like this idea. And am glad to see ideas to support the multiplayer community in Ashes.

Personally, I'd prefer if Tournament Edition were a bit more expensive and had more features (MP bots, ability to buy DLC, skirmish if the MP community dies). But if Tournament Edition owners can upgrade to the full Escalation game (minus the cost of Tournament Edition), then this move makes sense and seems like a good one.

As someone who is on the fence about buying it, and thinking of waiting for the new factions to be released, I would purchase the tournament version if it had the features philothanic mentioned. Also I have a group of 5 friends who regularly get together for RTS games on a monthly basis and it would be far easier to convince them to buy a multiplayer only version to at least try the game for less money than the full game would cost.

on Nov 29, 2016

Update:

We are getting close to putting up a Tournament Edition on Steam.

Here is how it will work:

  1. There will only be a Multiplayer button and a tutorial button.
  2. Players will be able to play ranked and custom games (and the future quick match games)
  3. The custom game will not let them start a game unless there are other players in the lobby (i.e. you can't just create a bunch of AI players and play it single player).

Initially, we'll be PMing active members of this forum (look for the awards and pips under their name) with free keys to give to their friends.  

 

 

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