Ubisoft Game Designer Stanislav Costiuc has an interesting piece out on Gamasutra today analyzing four of the online games Ubisoft shut down last week, including The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, which we covered in Not So Massively for a few years. He decided to play all four before their closure (he wasn’t involved in their design) and found them somewhat lacking, particularly in their newbie experience.
“Introductory experience is important in any game, of course,” he argues. “But it can be vital for a free-to-play title – with absolutely no monetary barrier of entry there’s also absolutely no barrier of leaving the game, never to return. In paid games the margin of error is more lenient, as even if there are hinks in the first user experience, or it gets a while to get going, the players are more willing to go through those hinks due to the fact that money were paid. So in free-to-play title, first moments with the game have to really grip players enough so they’d want to stay and keep playing (and later even pay if they want).”
The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, he contends, does the best job of the four of setting up the world, demonstrating long-term goals, and teaches the player how to actually play. Ghost Recon Phantoms, by contrast, buries the player in “upgrade to access X” interrupter screens, leading Costiuc to conclude — and I suspect our readers will overwhelmingly agree — that in particular, “push[ing] monetization from the get go” is a huge mistake.