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Old 06-11-2018, 12:33 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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The following is an excerpt from a discord conversation. I cut out unrelated conversations and my requests for when the thought was complete. I understand this is a strange reply to a discord thread, but I think there are a lot of feathers to catch and I want to ensure that the points are properly addressed.

Krainz: race-specific fanbases aren't the targeted public of any of blizzard's actions

Grimtale: Which is something I've come a long way to learning and accepting as well.

Me: Not in isolation, but in a game that asks you to select roles that contour to different characteristics through the operation of the mimesis effect, I don't see how you gain people by explicitly going after certain subsets. I think you just end up lopping off parts of your fanbase doing that.

Krainz: wrong.
they can't invest in all possible subdivisions of their fanbase
blizzard is clearly investing in the ones that give more return: the most invested players

Grimtale: Granted, they tried to tell a story about all the classes in Legion, though I'd consider that mixed success

Krainz: players who play more than one race, who play end-game content, who actively play throughout an expansion
those players add value to the game and bring more players

Grimtale: I'm an example of that kind of player tbh
That's the kind of player I'm going to be in BfA

Krainz: so kyalin, more often than not, players within the race-specific fanbase fraction of the playerbase don't engage in most of the end-game content and aren't likely to keep an active subscription throughout the expansion cycle
they often play for a week or two when content patches come out and then retire

Me: I'd like to know where your basis in that statement comes from. That said, is that the end of your thought so that I may reply to it?

Krainz: yes
you're free to ask any person within race-specific fanbases (I believe you're more in touch with them than me) to check if what I said was correct
but I say that based on what I see in their characters' bnet profiles when they discuss racial content in the forums

Grimtale: I think being biased to one race makes you more bitter and inclined to quit if the story doesn't cater to the race you're interested in

Krainz: diehard endgame players are even willing to pay for race changes to min-max their guild performance

Grimtale: I think at most, Blizzard should cater more to factions as a whole than to singular races. For example, more guilds preferring to play Horde and Horde having a much stronger raiding community is something that I think the devs should actually do something about, and step in to help make Alliance a good choice for raiding as well.

Krainz: yes
which is what they seem to be starting to do in bfa

Grimtale: People switching for races is fine, but switching to whole factions is something I can see as a problem if you feel like you're playing one that you don't really gel with

Me: I have disagreements, mostly in how you think I define subsets of the playerbase with respect to people who play multiple races and switch races for various things. (Spoiler alert: it has to do with the Mimesis effect and cross-appeal), but the ability to organize thoughts on a platform like this I don't see as working out.

Krainz:
because you believe that less-invested players contribute as much to the brand as the more invested ones
while you believe that, it's no use having that discussion

--------------

To summarize:

- Claim 1: You can't invest in every fanbase.
- Claim 1a: You should invest in what gives you the greatest return.
- Claim 1b: Therefore, you should invest in the parts of the fanbase that will result in the greatest return.

- Claim 2: Race-specific fanbases aren't the targeted public.
- Claim 2a: Players who play more than one race add value to the game and bring more players.
- Claim 2b: Players who play end-game content add value to the game and bring more players.
- Claim 2c: Players who actively play throughout an expansion add value to the game and bring more players.
- Claim 2d: Players within the race-specific fanbase fraction of the playerbase often don't engage in most of the end-game content and aren't likely to keep an active subscription throughout the expansion cycle.


Claims 1 and 2 overall I partially disagree with. Claims 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, and 2c I agree with.

Claim 2d I dismiss entirely, partially because of my partial disagreement on 2 (more in a moment), and partially because no strong evidence was presented to demonstrate this. At best we can only say that we don't know in regards to the actual numbers, and I'm not going to say or accept anything more definitive than that in absence of more concrete information.


Now, responding to this point requires a bit of a tour into my mind, which is why I was reluctant to try and sneak this in over discord while multiple conversations were going on and multiple participants were trying to contribute. The log above was moving rather quickly and I wasn't about to fight that.

One of the first terms you'll learn in microeconomics is the concept of Ceteris Paribus, or "with all else being equal". This, contrary to knee-jerk criticism, is not a statement that only one thing changes at once, but rather a tool to isolate the effect of one thing changing. An example might be that if all else was held equal, a regulation would impair the supply of a given service, and from that we can derive that the regulation has an effect that would drive prices up. If demand simultaneously collapses, thus driving the price down as well, that's a fine thing to observe, but the effect of the regulation is still buried in the overall price change. Again, we use Ceteris Paribus simply to isolate said effect.

I bolded that piece because I see shades of that criticism in the discussion that I pasted above. There's an idea that when I discuss issues presented earlier in this thread that they are relevant only to players who exclusively play one race or are as invested in that race as say I would be - and I disagree with that notion entirely. It's one of the reasons I bring up the Mimesis effect - to denote that ceteris paribus, the presentation does result in a decline in quality. How much of a decline in quality that actually is will depend on the player, but, leaving aside players whose interests are explicitly averse to Night Elves, I am confident in calling that impact negative based on the applications of the framework earlier presented.

Next we get into marginal effects. A truism in microeconomics is that the profit maximizing level of output is the moment when the marginal cost of producing a unit is equal to the marginal revenue received from that unit. Because marginal costs increase after that point in a relationship that looks like the graph below, this is the point where you should not produce additional units.



Economics of course is the science of the allocation of scarce resources, some of those resources being time, mental energy, effort, and of course currency - and the expense of those resources being reflected in the marginal cost. In the case of WoW, the marginal revenue is expressed in enjoyment of the game - an enjoyment that as I just explained is partially impaired by role presentation in a role playing game that plays adversely to the framework I discussed earlier.

So when do we reach a tipping point? When does the marginal revenue derived from a month's subscription as well as the time, effort, and energy slip below marginal cost? That's different for everyone, but the result of a feature that impairs the enjoyment of the game is going to result in a number of people leaving. Obviously that impact is going to be greater for some people. To rank order several possibilities:

Greatest Impact
1. The person who only cares about one race
2. The person who only cares about two races
3. The person who only cares about three races
4. The person who likes all of the races
5. The raider who literally does not care about the races
Least Impact

This is why I partially disagree with claim 2. Of course Blizzard is not targeting people who only belong to group 1, but groups 1 through 4 at least are impacted in at least some way, and an amount of people greater than zero from each of those groups will leave over that marginal diminishment in quality.


Claim 1 is a much easier thing to tackle, for two reasons. First - especially in the specific case I'm bringing up, the problem is not that Blizzard isn't investing enough - it's that they're investing a ton and that investment is designed to make the experience of taking on the role of the playable race worse. Second, the investment doesn't have to be massive to give the impression that a given playable race is effective and competent - I've in fact gone out of my way for that reason to usually outline how small changes and even cutting content would result in something better.


The question I haven't answered though, and this is implied, has to do with cannibalizing from one facet of content (in this case, a race) to improve other facets of content (other races, or the overall story), and whether the negative effects are balanced out or overcome by the positive effects. If you tell Night Elf players to pound sand and leave the franchise, but this nets you twice as many Orc players, then you've made the right decision. But has that been the result?

Looking at Blizzard's decisions since Cataclysm, they seem to have taken this idea in multiple directions. Night Elves have been abused, yes, but the philosophy has often extended to gameplay (PVP and PVE, anyone?), other races, and depending on who you ask, entire factions. There has been a consistent trend, not shared by earlier installments, to make these sorts of sacrificial decisions - neglecting or dissuading minority parts of the playerbase.

…. and this trend happens to coincide with a prolonged trend of falling subscriptions. Most currently, we had a quarterly report where the Blizzard segment was reporting net revenues realized from deferred income in the same quarter that they had just launched a highly publicized and much hyped pre-order. (Pre-orders should have caused the deferred revenue account to increase, but it didn't, meaning that they only mitigated a larger decrease) So, would I say the tactic has been working? The current trends don't suggest it.
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Last edited by Kyalin V. Raintree; 06-11-2018 at 06:33 AM..
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