Letters From Logress: We are PR!
Written by Logress   
Sunday, 25 August 2013 00:11

We are PR!

And now, a very special episode of… Letters From Logress


We are PR! -- Anyone remember VR Troopers?  Old Saban show trying to capitalize on the Power Rangers craze, although many felt it didn’t have the sophisticated acting or clever writing of the original. That theme song though, was hard to get out of your head. Anyway, I’m here this week to talk about PR, not VR!

We’ve contracted the PR or Public Relations firm Triplepoint, which is well known in the gaming industry. They’ve represented a little game called “Pokemon” some of you may have heard of.  They will be managing our public outreach, and getting us interviews with and mentions on mainstream news sites, among other things.

This, as you may have guessed, is another aspect of Logress’ “fix everything, more or less all at once (forever)” plan. It’s a key part of our serious commitment to improving things in a real way, putting on our big-boy pants and doing what has to be done to give Alteil and its player base the advancements they deserve. The most important “feature” of Alteil, or any other dueling based game, is not graphics or balance or advancement, it’s other players to play against. Pretty much any aspect of the game works better with more people, and worse with less.  The more players there are, the more new stuff is tried in Folrart, the faster new Files show up, the faster old super-meta Files are countered, the more likely you are to play someone at your skill level, the more likely you are to play someone with a comparable File, etc.

Now, before I go on, let’s go over some backstory of the history of getting new users for Alteil. At Media Blasters, we kept things relatively stable by taking out cheapish pay-as-you-go banner ads. (for the record, most advertising requires very high minimum buys, meaning if you get unlucky and have a banner add that doesn’t pull in users, or happens to run at the same time as a much more exciting add for like a WoW expansion or something, you’re out a giant chunk of change with nothing to show for it).  With these small ads we were able to keep new users coming in at about the same rate as they left, freeing us up to do conventions and major events around certain holidays in effort to ‘upgrade’ the user base in terms of average numbers.  This worked okay, but the cost per user was a little high.

Over time, this didn’t get better. A new generation of companies moved into the scene that were able to get a lot more ‘value’ from each new user. And the thought here is, “Alteil has been pretty expensive, I don’t see how someone else is getting more money per user.” Well, just the fact that awareness is high of exactly how much Alteil has cost (note, changing the entire pricing structure is part of the “fix everything plan” which is why I’m phrasing things that way) means Alteil is pretty poor at this. A lot of games are now focused on making it so users don’t “feel” like they’re spending much at all, even as they drop 100’s on a free-to-play game. In any case, companies like GREE and “games” like Wrath of Bahamut are able to get so much value out of each user – a combination of getting their users to spend and making it impossible to progress without recruiting your friends, which multiplies each user by something between 2 and 5 – that they are able to pay a lot of money per new user from banner ads. This effectively “prices out” everyone else from buying adspace.  I did a test earlier this year, where I spent $500 a month for a few months to see how effective banner ads were… total new users, zero!

Obviously, it’s time for a new plan to get new users. One thing we kept hearing when showing our game, even before the whole “graphics are from the late 90’s” bit, was “If this game is good, why haven’t I heard of it already?”  Of course, Alteil got a little press when it launched way back when (when dinosaurs ruled the earth), and it was periodically mentioned on blogs and small gaming sites of the years, and got a regular mention on Ain’t it Cool’s Anime/Videogame page, it never was big enough to crack the front page of any major news outlet except ANN (and an anime site is not necessarily the best demographic for a video game, although in our particular case it wasn’t bad).  Basically, the whole “I think I’ve heard of that before” is missing. And although that sounds pretty minor, with the constant onslaught of great games to try the interwebs is parading before potential players, it’s become quite the roadblock.

The answer, is PR. Triplepoint will focus on getting us in front of major news sources, getting us interviews, and coordinating them so that we get mentions at the exact moment when exciting things are happening on our site. Like, for example, the upcoming Alteil Horizons re-launch. In fact, this is also the reason why Horizions is a “re-launch” or a sequel… and not an upgrade or whatever. It’s also the reason we want to implement as many changes at one time. It makes it a lot easier to get news outlets to take notice and lets our PR agency do what they have to do.  It’s a key part of our commitment to get a surge of players in here and provide the number one element to an online game like this – a wide range of opponents to play against.

One side effect is that Triplepoint will have their own “master plan” to give us the best success in the next few months, and will advising us on a lot of what we say (everywhere, including our own site – although yes, they are focusing on news sites and new users, not existing users, which is still going to be handled by me and malikai). I know it’s annoying (for me too), but it’ll only be for a few months and they are only doing what’s in the best interest of Alteil and getting a big player-base in the medium-term – they are the experts. For example, I can’t necessarily post announcements in an official capacity on the forum and site until “the media” has been alerted. They want to have a story that’s not readily available on the web in an official form, that can be linked to. So, to keep you guys up to date on the behind the scenes stuff, I will be relying a little more on the email newsletter, and telling individual players I trust in chat, in game, etc. I’m sure the rumors will get around the forum in no time (and already have, about some things). I’ll also be doing a more formal chat Q and A next week, so keep an eye out this weekend for the date and time.

I hope you’ll all join me in welcoming Triplepoint to the Alteil team. I think that having Folrart full to bursting (preferably with all manner of murderous assassins, lava-vomiting wyverns, head kicking-fighters and other forms of pure fun) is something we all can look forward to together.