Months ago, Gamasutra published a piece about the long-tail of game development – basically, how to keep a video game selling copies and/or attracting players long after it’s faded from the front page of every website and dropped out of Steam’s top 10. The specific suggestions are simultaneously obvious, depressing, and irrelevant: make a game that doesn’t suck and does get good reviews early on, make a game streamers want to play long-term, and get your game in a sale or Steam’s roundups. The most useful-to-MMOs bit came when the author homed in on an alternate path to success, which is to focus on retaining the players you have instead of spending all your effort chasing new ones.
This again seems obvious, but you have but to look at MMO studios over the last two decades to realize how many of them legitimately do not do this. Like, Star Wars Galaxies’ NGE is probably still the most catastrophic example of a game collapsing specifically because a company was fixated on all the players it didn’t have at the explicit expense of the huge playerbase it already had.
So for this morning’s Daily Grind, I wanna talk about long-term MMO retention. Obviously, the most important way to retain players in an online game is to publish more content that your players (including lapsed players) want to play. So let’s focus on the other stuff. What’s the most important thing an MMO can do for player retention – other than more content?