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Complete Shop and Money-Spending Revamp. Rethink your marketing!

I’m going to attempt to put my Bachelor of Business Administration degree to use here and offer some feedback in the form of a complete overhaul of Gems of War shop. I have a feeling no one who can actually do anything about this will read it, but I’m going to put it all out there anyway. Maybe some of it will trickle up.

Goals

  1. When players spend money, they should always feel like they are receiving a valuable reward in exchange.
  2. Players should never feel confused by the in-game shop or overwhelmed in needing to do calculations to work out the best value
  3. Players should want to give some amount of money every month to the game, despite it being a free to play game. That means players should want to spend money how they can but also when they can.
  4. Players should not feel like they need to spend money to catch up to other players.
  5. New players especially should not be tricked or deceived in any way on the actual value of resources or items in the game.

First Appearance

What does this look like to you?

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To me it looks like someone made too much of something, couldn’t sell it, so they discounted it, but they still think it’s worth as much as they were originally selling it for. Ever go to Kohl’s and see their 80% off clearance section and all you can find is Extra Small and Extra Large? You have to dig through everything just to maybe find one thing that fits? Now you might think they’re losing money selling at the discounted rate. Think again. They’re probably breaking even selling at that rate and the ones they did sell without any discount, those were marked up tremendously.

But this is a video game. There isn’t a “shortage” of things. You aren’t producing “too many” things that you need to offload. Get rid of all of these “Value” and “Discount” signs. They are super tacky and mean absolutely nothing. If anything, they’re just deceitful. Where do you come up with $100 Value? It doesn’t make any sense. If it was actually worth $100, then how come in the nearly two years I’ve played, I’ve only ever seen it sold for the “discounted” $20? Surely if it’s worth $100 then at some point you’d sell it for $100 and people would still buy it. No, they wouldn’t. It has a $20 value. That’s why you sell it for $20.

In Game Resources

In the shop we find several tabs, and every tab except two sells things for $$$. Gems? Money. Subscriptions? Money. Weekly Event? Money. Specials? Money. But even the “Glory Rewards” actually lists the currency right there in the Tab name. Glory. Rewards. It has Rewards that cost Glory. It couldn’t be more precise. But then we have Gold & Souls. You get to Gold & Souls and it doesn’t cost money. It costs Gems. So now you’ve got to work out how much gems cost from the Gems tab.


But then I need to figure out how much it costs to level up a troop from 1 to 20 or how much it costs to level up hoard or a kingdom or donate to my guild’s tasks. So 18k souls is 500 gems, that’s enough to level up a troop I believe from 1 to 20, maybe? So 500 gems… uh, I can’t buy just 500 gems:

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So leveling up a troop costs… uh, let me do some math here, I get 18.86 gems per dollar with the Chest of Gems. That means for 500 gems, I’m spending $25. So that means to level up one troop, it costs approximately $25, and there’s… oh cool, only 809 troops in the game, so I can level up all my troops for $20,225. Perfect.

But wait, I’m also supposed to donate 1 million gold to my guild each week. Let’s see, Dragon’s Hoard gets me 75k gold for 300 gems, so I just need to buy that 13 times for 975k gold, that’s 3900 gems per week, so if I buy two of “The Motherlode” for $100 each, I’ll have enough. Awesome. I can fulfill my guild requirements for an easy $200 a week!

Alright designers, do you see how insane this looks?

Get rid of the Gold & Souls tab completely. Stop trying to sell gold and souls for gems. It looks horrible. The people who buy it are getting literally scammed (just like the people using Diamonds to make Souls in the Soulforge!)

Moving on to the other tabs though, we have crazy resource packs that apparently have time limits on them. I only have 2 days left before this exciting offer disappears!

These “Kingdom Packs,” Traitstone packs, this single Troop pack, none of these should exist. These are colossally bad investments and they make the game look bad. Just get rid of all of them. You shouldn’t be selling specific troops anyway for money. If I spend $50 on a legendary troop as a new player, and months later I find out I have 7 copies of it, well, now I want my $50 back, because I only need 6 copies of a Legendary troop to ascend it to Mythic. It’s incredibly easy to get legendary troops in this game once you get in a guild that helps you get keys fast through tasks and events.

But you’re not selling to those players, are you? You’re selling to the people who want things now and won’t stick around to notice how bad of an investment they made.

Then we have the even worse Typhoon of Keys Pack and Weapon Upgrade Pack, and the subscriptions themselves for daily gold, gems, and souls. These are all just awful. You’re selling an extra tribute every day for $5, but only for half the month. Weapon Upgrade pack? 250 epic ingots and 5000 souls for $25? What do souls have to do with upgrading a weapon, first of all, and second of all, who is using epic weapons at all?

What You Should Be Selling

So let’s talk instead about what you should be selling, because it seems like there is an awful lot of stuff you shouldn’t be selling that you are, and I’d like to get some positivity going instead. Here are some things I do like:

  • The Avatar Bundles. I haven’t purchased these myself, but I am saddened that there are only two of them. You claim cosmetics don’t make money. That is just completely false though and whoever told you that should be fired. Cosmetics are a fixed cost. You pay the cost of the art and the programming to get it into the game and eventually it recoups its cost and everything past this is profit. Notice how you haven’t removed the Avatar bundles from the shop in, well, since they were made available? It doesn’t cost anything “extra” to keep them there, and you just make money whenever someone buys them. But it doesn’t cost you anything more when someone makes that transaction.
  • Gems. I do think there should be some gems sold in one way or another. But you literally have so many gem options, it’s ridiculous trying to keep track. Daily Gems, The Motherlode, Chest of Gems, Chalice of Gems, Bag of Gems, Stack of Gems, Growth Pack 1, Growth Pack 2, Path to Glory 1, Ring of Wonder, Flash Offers, and the Guild Elite and Guild Champion packs. That’s too much! We don’t need that many different ways to purchase gems. Now, many of those are limited. Some you can only buy once. Some are weekly. Some are daily. Some are monthly. What do they all have in common though? Well, actually, nothing! Here’s what they don’t have in common: a fixed value per gem. That’s right. Every single one of them has a different value for gems. The Flash Offer you’re getting 50 gems per $1 for instance. Growth Pack 2? 26 gems for $1. Growth Pack 1? 23.33 gems per $1. How about The Motherlode? Well, for a player with VIP 0, it’s only 15 gems per $1. For me at VIP 9, it’s 21.75 gems per dollar. Path to Glory 1? Abysmal 8 gems per $1. That’s super confusing, especially because some of those have other rewards mixed in – in fact, they all do, except for the offers that are only selling gems. But wait, the ones only selling gems have some of the worst gem to dollar ratios. That’s right. The Growth Packs, the Flash Offers, the Guild packs – all of these give you more gems for your dollar than any of the shop offers, especially if you have a lower VIP level.
  • Monthly Deals. The Ring of Wonder is an awesome concept. I used to buy it every month. I haven’t for several months now, because I’m not comfortable with the direction this game is going to give my money to it, but if it turns around, I will get back into it. Here’s the thing though… you’re adding a whole bunch of stuff to it like the 200 gems, the 200k gold, the 10 gem keys, and the 700 glory, that isn’t needed. People aren’t buying it because of those. They’re buying it because of the bonus to gold/souls/xp. That’s what is selling it. You should be capitalizing on that. How? Get rid of the extra stuff on the Ring of Wonder and offer tiers, but make it affordable! You want to collect money from as many people as you can!

Ring of Wonder - 1st Tier - $10 monthly

  • +50% Gold, Souls, XP
  • +5% Mythstone Bonus

Ring of Wonder - 2nd Tier - $20 monthly

  • +75% Gold, Souls, XP
  • +10% Mythstone Bonus

Ring of Wonder - 3rd Tier - $30 monthly

  • +100% Gold, Souls, XP
  • +20% Mythstone Bonus

Shop… Offers?

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Why are these separated? Why are there so many different places to spend money, but not a single place to spend it? I mean, I know the answer to that – you’re bombarding players with reminders that they can spend money here, there, and everywhere. You’re selling things in the Shop. You’re selling things in the Offers. You’re selling things in the Flash offers. You’re selling things in the Guild. You’re even selling things whenever I get a new troop (stop that, seriously).

Now some of these “Offers” aren’t that bad. I already went over how awful the Event packs are though. Well, actually, under “Offers” they are called Bundles. In the Shop they are listed under Weekly Event. Either place, they’re bad. You don’t even get enough resources to upgrade the troop.

But the Growth Packs, Path to Glory and and Path to Power? Not that bad. Okay, almost all of them are bad actually, except the Growth Pack 2. That one is actually not so bad. You get a bunch of gems and a Mythic troop. The other ones though are really, really bad. The Path to Glory 1 features days that give me 25 gold keys and 8 treasure maps. Oh my god. And 8000 gold? I get that much gold and gold keys from one tribute. Why would I want to pay real money for that?

The Path to Glory 2 looks interesting because it gives you a Mythic, but then you realize that you don’t even get enough Traitstones (if you actually look at it!) to level up the Mythic. And the Path to Power? Truly bad. It’s aimed probably at newer players who don’t have enough ingots to level up their weapons, except you give them a minuscule amount of ingots daily, not enough to even fully upgrade a single weapon, and there are hundreds of weapons in the game! Gah, get rid of these!

Now I get that 505 or whoever has a fixation on these $50 and $100 packs. But remember the points I mentioned. Players shouldn’t feel like they could have gone on Steam and bought a triple A game for the same price. Want to really know what I would spend $50 on?

  • 5 Random Mythics
  • 5 Major Orb of Growth
  • 5 Major Orb of Wisdom
  • 5,000,000 Gold

Limit 1 per account. You’re welcome. You’d sell tons. Still want to sell your Typhoon of Keys Pack for $100? Actually make it worth that $250 you claim its worth! Right now it gives 240 Gold Keys, 120 Glory, 60 Gem, 30 Event, and 15 VIP keys. And there’s no limit!!!11 Here’s how many keys I expect for $100:

  • 5000 Gold Keys
  • 2500 Glory Keys
  • 1000 Gem Keys
  • 500 Event Keys
  • 100 VIP Keys
  • 2000 Guild Seals (100 Guild Keys)

Should it have a limit? Absolutely. When you put a limit on something, you artificially increase its value, because people perceive it to be an even playing field then. The person who has only $100 can buy the same amount as the person who has $1000. What kind of limit though? This one I’d set at being 1 per month. If someone really wants to spend $100 every month, that’s great for you, because I have a feeling very few players are actually buying that Typhoon of Keys pack now. But that would change. Compared to the previous pack, you’re paying twice as much, but you’re getting a “chance” at tons of different troops. The previous pack is aimed towards “guaranteed” things for one time (like Deathknight Armor is, and that’s probably their best selling item). This is aimed at gambling, which I’m almost certain no one does right now because it isn’t worth it.

Last but not least, as I mentioned very briefly, selling people the chance to upgrade their new troop for only $30 or whatever, to buy the souls and traitstones… man, I really hate seeing those pop-ups. They feel like you’re begging for a handout. “Hey, that’s a nice new troop you got, wanna give us some money for it?” No, I don’t…

40 Likes

All your business talk is well and good, but I think there’s a bit of disconnect here.

Your business explanations are built on the assumption GoW is a business that has to provide a good product at a fair price. GoW is more like a casino: they sell an experience and cater to expectations of luck. Also notable: casinos make more than half their money off the very small percentage of addicts who overspend: the majority of people in a casino are loss-leaders that provide legitimacy by helping the gamblers think, “People would leave if this place wasn’t hot.”

Almost everything you listed is textbook what an F2P does to tickle addiction hooks. The currencies are convoluted, so players can’t easily judge the value of any given item. All items are time-limited and rerelease is hard to predict, to create a sense of scarcity. Daily and hourly logins are considered vital to player income, so the game becomes part of their routine. Mythic pulls are announced in chat, this appeals to some cognitive flaw we have I forget the name of, but it involves misjudging the rarity of events we have witnessed recently. Finally, the Endowment Effect: once a player has made some progress towards any of the dozens of long-term goals in the game, they’re more likely to stay committed to finishing that goal, even if they aren’t having fun.

You’re describing a store. GoW is a casino. We all know getting a Nintendo Switch for 3,000 tickets is a bad deal because we’ll probably spend $500 to get those tickets. But that Switch being there is part of why we probably end up spending $50 plus drinks/food to rack up 200 tickets for a $6 desk toy or some other bauble that catches our eye. And if they make us leave with like, $1.25 left on our game card because it’s not quite enough to play another game, that loose card in our wallet reminds us to come back, reload it, and “get our money’s worth”.

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This is exactly why I stopped buying iTunes cards a LONG time ago, and I don’t ask for gift certificates for any store/service I don’t already use regularly. An iTunes card traditionally is a round amount - $10, $20, etc. but a song is $0.99. Those leftover pennies will tickle a lot of peoples’ brains into buying “just one more thing” to use it up, so that no money is “wasted”, even though you just bought another $0.99 item to use up the $0.04 left on your card. You spent $0.95 extra in order to not lose $0.04.

Sale culture (is that even a term?) in general is designed to capitalize on that kind of thing. “Regular price $100, sale price $20” on something you weren’t planning to buy still results in you spending $20 on something you wouldn’t have otherwise purchased. A local gas station chain sells a lot of their chain-branded products as “2 for $2, or $1.49 each” or “2 for $3.33, or $1.99 each”. It might only be an extra $0.51 or $1.34 for the second item, but if you really didn’t go out with the intention of buying the second item, marketing still made you spend more than you planned. That $0.51 multiplied by a thousand customers a day makes a noticeable change in the bottom line.

Last summer, one of the fast food chains in my area offered a special of “$1 for any size soda”. I would hazard a guess that the psychological feelgood of being able to walk out with a half gallon of soda for $1 caused a lot of people to purchase a lot more than just that soda, that they wouldn’t have otherwise purchased.

It’s just psychological tricks and mind games. The house always wins.

1 Like

I know. What I’m trying to say is: GoW is failing at being a Casino and should try being a legit business instead, because their current track record for content is failing (recent delve troops, future delve troops, changes to sunspear that had to be reverted due to backlash, current weekly event, making older events weekend events without changing anything…).

When I browse the shop in the hope of things being freshened up I find nothing that tempts me anymore. If I were to try for a mythic from one of the packs I’m so likely to get a duplicate I know it’s not worth it, and souls/gold are farmable. Gems are not worth purchasing outside of a flash sale. Everything that I think is wrong with the shop was covered succinctly, and I enjoyed the read :slight_smile: .

It would be nice, though, if the two ideologies could coexist in one store. A little from option A, a little from B, because without that I can’t see myself going any further than attractive flash sales.

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I 500% wish this was the case. Diamonds to Souls needs to be removed pronto for me to have any faith in GoW’s ethics (which is something I’d take into any purchasing decision).

Anecdotally speaking, I think starter packs actually do sell really well! Pay money to jump start your progress. I have, historically, seen new players come into Global asking what the best thing to buy is, among all the different packs and bundles, etc. I think this is hugely indicative. A new player doesn’t really know the value of all the different currencies, etc., they just want to know if they pay this money, they can get to the fun bit a little bit quicker.

I actually really like and agree with this thinking (even playing field, to an extent)!

5 Likes

The devs only like bite-sized feedback, and hate it when someone intelligently points out how crooked they are (like when their slow-down mechanic in adding a bunch of extra screens to go through between battles was put on display). OP is absolutely on point, and it’s going to get under their skin that someone succinctly put them on the spot for deceptive and manipulative business practices.

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I’m quoting you, quoting Ice…because there are too many instances of how New Players can be tricked or deceived by the resources in the game.

The first time I completed an arena run, and the game offered me to get the team for x amount of gems, I thought to myself “that’s a terrible deal”, and was skeptical ever since.

And yet, we had a new player purchase it once and then complain in our guild chat afterwards. I wish there was a way that I could review my members expenditures, to ensure they are not wasting their resources. “Gems should be used on events, gold put into Guild Tasks”. That type of thing. (once kingdoms/delves have been sufficiently upgraded). Call it a GM Audit. I just want to make sure other members aren’t being exploited.

The only time I visit the Shop tab is to unload Glory on the 10 weekly event keys and to max the Glory troop of the week. The rest of the “offers” are completely 505’d. Although I wouldn’t kick a member if they bought a Ring of Wonder or the DK Armor…

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While we’re at it - Ring of Wonder should last entire month instead of 28 days. I see it as a rip-off when I must buy 13 monthly Rings of Wonder to carry me through 12 months of the year (and I still end up a day or two short). If I buy it on January 1, it should be effective all the way to February 1 (and not January 29?); if I buy it on February 13 it should expire on March 13 and so on.

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I kind of skimmed half because I haven’t spent money on GoW in about four years or so, but I know that the shop is just BAD … and sells garbage that we should never ever ever ever buy.

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Good feedback, I agree on the vast majority of points. I think I would summarize it for to the developers in two simple points:

1- Don’t try to trick or scam your players. It’s disrespectful, makes you look bad, and immediately turns people off to wanting to spend money on the game. Not a good way to build a good relationship with your customers.

2- Put reasonable prices on items and people will buy them. Overall revenue will be greater because of increased units sold, despite the lower prices per unit. Find the equilibrium point in your demand to maximize profit (you are currently way off). Literally Economics 101.

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How many new players bought the Mythic sacred treasure for $9.99 thinking it was actually useful?

I got duped by it. I hadn’t even unlocked delves yet and they had it as a flash sale… It has atk/arm/hp and traits so I assumed it was an actual Mythic…

Just another example of the con.

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Please tell me you read the skill description?

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At the time I might have had 2-3 weeks into the game. I literally had no idea what I was doing. I’ve learned many lessons the hard way in my 42 years.

I was just blinded by the Mythic status.

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I’m still infuriated that those stupid things are made to look like troops. And kept with troops. And can be upgraded, ascended, and leveled, like actual freaking troops. They are CURRENCY, devs!! Learn it!

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At least they aren’t destroyed when you disenchant all troops! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I think this is less to try getting an extra month’s subscription per year and more the fact that calendar months are not of uniform length. Unless they change the subscription to be pro-rated per day, they need to use a round number.

Then again, I’m of the mind that the subscription shouldn’t even be a thing. I can buy DK armor for a one-time cost and get permanent bonuses, while 3 months of Ripoff Ring purchases not only costs more (for smaller bonuses) but the bonus disappears if I stop paying.

I’ve not tested it, but I take the bottom line to mean that the bonus does not disappear.

It disappears after 28 days of play, then you have to purchase another one if you want to get the bonuses back.

Apologies… I read ‘playing’ instead of ‘paying’ :slight_smile: