Proposal for problem of Inactive Players

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    • Proposal for problem of Inactive Players

      Everyone has experienced the problem of players going inactive - in many cases so many quit it really destroys the game. I have read several threads about this problem and it seems it has several causes:
      1. New players don't know what to do and quit from frustration
      2. New players are just checking the game out and for whatever reason lose interest quickly
      3. Players make serious mistakes making their position untenable.
      4. Players get bored because the pace is slow.
      5. Players are intimidated by nearby coalitions or high level players
      6. Real life intrudes.

      Since I prefer the 100 player games, I am not as aware of how bad the problem is in others, but my guess is that is pretty bad, judging from other posts. It is very bad in the 100 player games - the game I just joined lost 31 players by day 2-3 and another 8 players on day 4. Since there is a two day grace period before a position goes inactive, this means these players quit playing on day 1 or day 2. Very few of them are the result of serious mistakes as there wasn't sufficient time to reap the consequences, and it is doubtful that very many are because of real life issues. This means the majority quit because of confusion/frustration, lack of interest or commitment, or from becoming bored or intimidated. All of these categories could be summed up as not having sufficient incentive to remain.

      I know a lot of people have put in a lot of thought about what to do: how to solve the problem while still running a profitable business. I don't know that I have any better insight than anyone else but I do have some ideas that I have seen partially expressed but not completely the way I plan to set them out.

      I think the problem should be addressed in three ways, of which one is already partly implemented for 100 player games in restricting them to players who have at least a little experience:
      1. Players need to have some "skin in the game", that is, something to lose if they drop. It shouldn't be so harsh as to run them away forever and lose a future customer, but something that increases their commitment to play. One thing that would do this would be to have a "buy in" to get in the game. I realize that attracting new players to try out the game would be much tougher to do if they can't try things for free, so I would suggest an expansion of the idea already in place for 100 player games, and that is to make two separate sets of games - one set is free to join (like it is now) and would therefore serve to allow new players (and anyone, really) to play for free, to try out the game without the commitment I'm talking about. But the second set would be for those who are willing to put something on the line, for example a buy-in of 20,000 - 50,000 gold. Gold is obtainable at different rates, depending on the quantity purchased at once and if a special offer is involved. If an average value could be determined, I think for a 100 player game a buy-in of around $10-$20 would be reasonable and would represent a $1000-$2000 revenue amount to Bytro for each game. Additional revenue would result of course from the way gold is bought and used now, which would continue to function the same way. This would mean a player who dropped in a day or two would lose their entrance fee, meaning they would presumably be less inclined to leave for trivial reasons.

      2. With the stick, offer a carrot. Players who continue active in a game would receive a gold reward each day. It could be small, say around 500 gold, but it would give them a reason to hang on. To prevent gaming the system and just logging in and doing nothing much, the gold reward could be connected to achievement in the same way a player's level is determined, meaning activities such as conquering provinces, completing structures and units, etc. would make the reward go up while nothing happening would make it go down, even to zero. Even in a losing position, showing real effort to play would earn gold that could be used to improve the position immediately; or, if the player chose, simply reserved for use in other games.

      3. For the positions that go inactive anyway in spite of the above incentives and disincentives, make it so an inactive position can be claimed by anyone for free - the entrance fee was already paid remember, so now players can play for free in an ongoing game by taking over an inactive spot. Probably it would be best to not allow players to rejoin the same game since that could upset the politics, strategy, and diplomacy in that game. Since they can get in for free, and then earn the daily rewards as stated in #2 above, people might be much more interested in playing such positions than they are now.

      I offer this proposal to the community for comment and to Bytro for possible future implementation. I'm sure others can come up with some good additions or changes to these ideas.