The Apocalypse is Upon Us... Prepare for the End of City of Steam as You Know It... Pay to Win is IN!
Hi guys… evil CEO Jared here from R2Games. I wanted to take a minute or two to address some of the primary concerns brought up in a few of these threads. I think there are some definite misunderstandings about our publishing strategy for CoS, and hopefully, through open discussion with players, we should be able to get everyone back on the same page and excited for the upcoming open beta.
#1) Regarding the roles of publisher vs. developer
The main responsibility of developers is, believe it or not, to develop. The developer’s job (Mechanist Games in this case) is to design a game, its core systems, monetization, future updates, etc. The job of a publisher, on the other hand, is to ensure that a game is able to reach as massive an audience as possible. Publishers (R2) are in charge of hosting the servers, marketing, and customer support for their games. Publishers may, based on data analysis and interactions with players, make suggestions about the future path of the game but, in the end, the developers have the final say.
Now, why do game developers seek out publishers, you ask? Because in a perfect world, developers should be allowed to focus 100% of their efforts on making a fun, exciting, profitable game! Grunt work should be left to the publishers. Publishing a game is a monumental task in itself, and an incredibly expensive one as well. No matter how fun a game is, it is nearly impossible (Minecraft aside) to get a game in the hands of millions of players without a large marketing team and budget (we’re talking lots of millions of dollars). It shouldn’t be Dave or Andrew or anyone at Mechanist’s job to worry about that. Again, 100% of their focus should be on making a great game.
#2) Regarding R2’s current titles and a tendency towards Pay-to-Win
I will be the first to admit that some of R2’s current titles give cash players a competitive advantage over players who choose not to spend. Unfortunately, this is how the games were originally designed, and we only have a certain amount of input with the developers to get things changed. With that being said, for anyone who has had the time to look at both the Chinese and Western versions of our games, you will notice that the monetization has actually been tuned down significantly from the Asian versions.
While, by now, most of you have seen videos of my US/European GDC talks about monetizing whales, I actually give speeches in Asia all the time presenting a completely opposite argument, pleading with Asian developers to create more open, fair games. There is a fine line between keeping a game fun for players and profitable enough to keep our doors open, and I will admit that both R2Games as a company as well as the industry in general have yet to find a perfect balance.
#3) Regarding me being an evil money-crazy hellspawn
Yes, I was a gold farmer. This is now a pretty well known fact. Am I proud of it? No. Am I ashamed of it? No. Being a hardcore gamer for as long as I can remember who just so happened to be in China when the RMT industry was at its peak… the job kind of fell into my lap. It was fun. I got to make money playing video games. Can’t complain. Note: I did turn in my resume to Blizzard before getting started in the industry. I never heard back ;( It is important to note that I didn’t like where the industry was headed (with more and more focus on cheats, bots, account hacking, etc.), which was a major motivator for me to leave the space.
In terms of my work in the browser game industry, I tend to err on the side of players more than some of you guys who have played our previous games may think. We haggle with developers to reduce item costs and remove certain monetization systems much more often than we ask for new ones to be implemented. While I tend not to make public statements often, I do monitor the community and player feedback.
While I do understand and often talk about the Chinese model of game development, I in no way believe that it is appropriate for every game and every market. In the end, I am not Chinese, but an American who has been playing western games for a long, long time.
#4) Regarding the direction of City of Steam
City of Steam will not be a pay-to-win money-fest. Let’s get that off the table right now. Both Mechanist Games and R2 are very clear on the direction we would like to see CoS go, and that is to be the top 3D browser MMO on the market. From its core design, CoS was built by game-centric (primarily Western) designers, and much more resembles a client MMO than a browser MMO. The monetization design will emphasize fairness between paying and non-paying players, and you shouldn’t be expecting some guy who has spent $500 dollars to be able to run around town slaughtering newbies by the masses. The design of the game still resides in Mechanist’s hands, and we have no intention to change the path they have chosen to take. Dave is still steering this boat.
Our primary concerns right now are working to create a fun Steampunk MMO that will be accessible to a wide audience. We fully believe that, in the end, if players enjoy the game, whether or not we can put food on the table at night is not going to depend on $100,000 whales.
#5) Regarding the CoS community, moderators, etc.
The guys at Mechanist have done a fantastic job with community support. Expect moderators and devs to remain active on our forums and website over the coming months. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon!
I’d like to maintain an open approach to chatting with you guys about City of Steam and its future direction. I will do what I can to maintain a presence on the forums over the next few days to answer some of your questions, and will work with Dave and the guys at Mech to get an open IRC chat scheduled for later this week. Again, we truly see City of Steam as an excellent browser MMO with the ability to compete with some of the best client games out there, and we are committed to staying true to the integrity of the game and avoiding pay-to-win.
In the end, we are all hardcore gamers ourselves way before being businessmen. Our primary goal is to make City of Steam as fun and entertaining as possible for all players. We hope to be able to obtain your support, and rest assured that everyone from both Mechanist and R2Games are busting *** around the clock to ensure we can deliver a high-quality open-beta to you as quickly as possible.
-Jared @ R2Games