Now this years sales are over we can look back at the good, the bad and the missing. Were SOEs and our hopes the same?
My aims this year was less weapons and more swag myself/my rides. This year offers far better player studio buys than last christmas and the SC sale was a perfect opportunity to snag some.
Lets just look at SOEs Aims first:
Due to changes in accounting rules SOE need us to spend our SC as soon as possible after exchanging real money. They cant just sell SC and call it profit any more, its tied in. Ideally initiatives such as SC promotions are coupled with well planned sales to extract the most possible back from us to see the dollar profit.
Tempt us with so many good deals we spend all our bonus SC and end up buying more SC for the latter part of the sale!
Make a profit! (clearly).
To achieve those every single opportunity to make a sale must occur (without devaluing a brand or line). Seasonal sales allow us the former without the latter. SOE designed depot items had all development costs paid at the design stage so even a dime there is gravy. F2P games make a lot of their income from transitory players (ones who join, play a few months purchasing 1 or 2 lots of game cash then move on to other games). This means marketing styles such as false scarcity only really works on long term players, the volume player SOE really need to catch on their journey through is far more important to the bottom line and full-on seasonal sales do this well. Push push push!
So, pockets filled with bonus SC, minds occupied waking every holiday morning thinking 'I wonder what the category is today' lets compare what was and what could be (mostly the same items but with thought behind placement).
Day 1 (Launch Day): What was: Implants.
Thats almost a non item, terrible choice, why? We get multiples every day, maybe slower than desired but its a maintenance item not an xmas 'treat yourself in the sale' item. While some bought packs to get T4 sets thats your diehard player segment who will wait for whatever day implant sale was.
What could be:
HORNS! What do people have the most fun with? There are no player studio horns, its all profit for SOE! Second. Youve a new depot item, BANNERS! Theres not much choice yet, players arent used to them yet and it was a perfect opportunity to promo the consumable item they are, tempting us to start spending our SC stash unexpectedly on phase 1 artwork.
(Also why werent last years Xmas horns in the Depot? You still make available those ghastly haloween noises, what the hell SOE? dont you want to make money?)
Day 2 (Xmas eve): What was: Bundles.
Noooo! 1.Why give away jewels before the silver? Do individual weapons first, then catch those on the fence with the bundle items later on! Bundles can be such a good deal to the right segments, keep them for the end sale as a secondary 'spent all my SC but ima buy more' enticement. 2.Bundles dont appeal as much to established players who own individual bundle items reducing the days sale segment to more of a new player appeal.
What could be:
With the big day approaching we need a volume item appealing to everyone, to aid retention, aid ingame progress, something to tempt SC out, INFANTRY WEAPON SALE. Another 100% profit item for SOE. Everyone shoots a gun and all model, art and placement work is already paid for. Since most weapons can be bought with certs selling them for real money must be like selling sand in a desert so any profit SOE can get from selling weapons they must take!
So instead of a honking, bannering, shooty fun xmas for people we had a handful of surprised implant geeks and some pleased newer players getting a bargain on some bundles.
Day 3 (Xmas Day): What was:
HELMETS! Perfect. I would pick that too.
Day 4 (Boxing Day): What was: Boosts:
Hum. There was a couple of good deals (half price heroics/7 day resource boost) in there but its another item where the people likely to plan for major savings would wait for the day so save it for the slack end of sale week.
What could be:
This is your catchment day! People are on server playing all day! Theyre showing/talking about their deals to other potential buyers and its still a main holiday day so it has to be big - and we need to have those last few saved up SC drawn out so VEHICLE COSMETICS!
Day 5 (a saturday): What was: Voice Packs:
Hum (again). This now is you stalling not going for broke. Are these really such a good seller we need a day for them alone to give away? Voice actors arent cheap and I would rather sell these at full price so put them in a category with other things and hope people miss them.
What could be:
Theyve swagged a bit, but now after vehicle gear we need another SOE day, someone spending on swag may feel like a shiny new weapon with any leftovers, do VEHICLE WEAPON SALES!, another 100% profit day (and hurry up with the gold/chrome furys already).
Day 6 & Day 7: What was: Vehicle Weapons/Infantry Weapons.
Finally. Why now even? Xmas is over, its the slack part of the sale and you put these mass appeal items out, but its items which can be bought with certs - so when someones low on SC does this encourage them to buy more? Not really, its back to grinding, the default alternative.
What could be:
We can wind it down a little, create a dwell as this is the slack/boring part of the week, toss in less interesting categories such as BOOSTS then IMPLANTS here.
Day 8: What was: CAMOS.
Odd day to put them, its not a holiday day, its not a weekend, there seems to be no planning at all, things are just being dumped out with little thought.
*What could be: *
Today with the slack/boring bit behind us and the build up to NYE this is now time to tempt people who didnt buy weapons individually with BUNDLE SALE!
Day 9 (New Years Eve): What was: Lumifibre.
Ending as it started, with a whimper and not a bang. Sure, its obvious the last category and daily deals were in lieu of the missing Vehicle Gear day, but why not include super low volume 100% profit for SOE items such as underlighting, or again the new banners (which didnt go on sale at all, what a missed opportunity).
What could be:
CAMOS (+BANNERS again, push push push!). Last day item totally, everyone wants a camo. After swag and gearing up rides/loadouts in the 'what could be' week many will have lost patience and bought camo (at full price) to complete their seasons swaggery during the holiday not knowing if camos will go on sale, so absolutely keep camo as a "thank you farewell" item. After spending all their SC, both great value bundles yesterday, every camo reduced today is absolutely the best encouragement to buy more SC SOE has available.
Its now over and was it a success? To be fair it was 50/50. The helmet sale was great and I bet some were really happy for bundles, the weapon sales came finally but no (non-flag) decals, no vehicle swag, I hear echos of opportunity lost. Its left SC in players pockets which is entirely useless for SOEs finances and hinders our Planetside game team in justifing more dev spending this year. Already posts (in both places) are appearing with customers angry over no vehicle sale so what does that tell you about demand SOE? Where 5 people post theres a magnitude silently feeling let down.
This is not critisism in a 'I want everything for nothing' manner, I personally have bought almost everything I want, I just (dont we all?) want both the business and the game side to succeed and slack sales isnt success. I hope they consider the need for well planned sales and optimise the order next year.
Player Studio items: I can hear the cogs turning in some minds and we know SOE has to share profit with designers, but people think that creates an issue for SOE and it doesnt (or doesnt have to, if SOE are stupid enough to record SC with the computing equivalent of an abacus thats their problem). Its not a case of SOE having to say 'we pay based on full price always and make nothing in a sale because we are too stupid to track sc' no, its SOE who dictate the terms, its SOE who record an items sale price, they have far enough power to track when and what SC was used to buy what item, at what rate, for all royalty payments at any price. If they dont its not a new idea to tag each SC sold with a GUID and recording its use FIFO style isnt rocket science any more. Bitcoin manage, RFID management isnt new and given the complexity of accounting needs these days I would even say its a required step for responsible reporting now.
TL;DR soe dun goofed, sold us sc and then dribbled out sale items like they want to keep the good stuff leaving SC in our pockets and a nightmare for the accountants and our game team.