I mentioned a while ago that a game council meeting was up and coming, but then Klas went ill so we had to postpone it. After that we’ve been forced to postpone a few times more because of different circumstances, but this Tuesday we managed to pull it off. Finally!
The subject in the biggest focus this time was the user numbers, quite naturally. Now the GC are not in charge of marketing or site improvements (even though both me and Johan are part of the marketing team); GC are in charge of the game and the future game development. But there are of course game related issues to user numbers, in the end it’s the quality of the game that matters.
There are naturally a lot of reasons why user numbers are falling. The perhaps biggest one is because we’ve been successful, if I’m allowed to say so. It’s impossible to keep an eternal growth, sooner or later there will be a decrease. However, this fact is not a reason for me (or any of us) to sit back and accept the current situation. Hell, no.
Opposite to what people may believe, the stay rate among ‘older users’ is better than for a long, long time. So, the falling numbers isn’t about old managers leaving the game in masses, quite the contrary. What is the problem then? Well, most significantly that we have a harder time these days to keep new users (who just signed up) in the game. So, while the marketing team looks on how to make the most of front page (you will probably see us exploring different designs of the front page in the coming months) and the sign-up pages, the game council decided that first prio now will be to improve the game experience during the first month in the game.
Happily, we’re already well prepared on this area as this was already in our plan. As you know (if you read this blog earlier on at least), I’m working on creating a new game introduction (which will replace the current manager license challenge) and have done so for a while now. While we went through this new game introduction plan we also came up with some new ideas, and I must say a few of them were really oustanding – if not divine – and will certainly lead to a more fun game experience when starting a new team.
Apart from that we also discussed the new staff system which is in the making and how to make the match/game feedback better in general. And we also have a lengthy discussions about different strategies in the game; what strategies that we want to be part of the game in the future and which ones we feel we need to promote more (and how) – and naturally also if there are some we want to promote/motivate less. But just so you know, we’re rather interested to motivate the strategies we really want the game to be about than setting limits for other strategies that may be way too overpowered. This doesn’t naturally exclude such actions to happen, but I think you get my point. Rather motivate the behaviour you want.
How did the meeting affect the game plan then? Not that much for the coming season or so, top prio is still the newbie introduction (which perhaps got an even higher prio). For the current game itself game feedback is first off, which means improvements in the match report and also to the ratings. And the next new game feature as such will be the new staff system.
Keep up the good work guys, keep evaluating the situation. I never thought this game would still grasp me after more than 7 years, so I trust you do the best for the game. 🙂
One thing that you have not comment is if the number of new players joining the game is falling.
Only you that have the data will now that, but the web has changed quite a lot in the last few years and I am not so sure if HT has keept the level up on this.
Having a quick look at the games that are quite successful on the Internet we can find loads of games in social network sites and a movement from text based games to more graphic interfaces and a faster pace achieving results.
I like the text based HT interface and I like that it does not take a massive amount of my own time with it’s weekly schedule but I am not so sure what new joiners will think about it…
This is important stuff and you need to find a way to stop people wrecking their chances at their first login. Very often people will start off by rebuilding their arena and spending all their cash on new players before they even have an idea of a training program. You should certainly make it impossible to expand the arena in the first season and try and guide them towards getting a coach and trainees before they hit the market.
2nd Dec @ 9:40 Hattrick gone down again…
A few comments:
User numbers: I have faith that the CHPP 2.0 will have a big impact on staying rate for users. Making it possible to provide apps for smart phones is a smart move, a move you really should have made a long time ago. Furthermore, I think it’s a smart move to change the manager license. Please make sure to inform new users of all the fantastic users on HTs forums. The vast society of Hattrick (regular forums. feds, chpps) is its biggest forte so more focus should imo be put on that. Ratings should also be better explained to new users. A better match feedback would go a long way.
Match feedback: Please, no pretty please, no pretty please with sugar on top make it so that the match report shows which kind of events happen in the match. Make it crystal clear which chances are SEs (and which SE), which is a normal chance and so on… Right now you have LAs describing regular chances using words like “using his head player X put one in for the home team” creating a lot of confusion as the chance has got nothing to do with a player having the specialty [head]. Also rewrite the rules, right now it’s all very messy and counterintuitive.
Finally, please fix NTs and HM stop providing incentives (in the form of achievement points) for hoarders. If you also bump up the starting skills of YA players (or speed up the training a tiny bit) and get rid of cards and injuries in the YA we’re almost there.
Keep up the good work and please continue to share your thoughts in this blog.
I think Hattrick has improved a great deal since I started to play, especially in the last two or three years. Many things are more logical and intuitive (like stamina training and stamina effects, the new lineup page, the new design at all, increased training speed with reduced effect of player age, transfer comparison, HT-ReLive, the Youth Academy, etc.), and there are less quirks in the game overall.
I recently relaunched my HT team after letting it alone for about a year or so, and I became fascinated again by the simple, but challenging game design. But most of all, I noticed what makes me love Hattrick: it’s the things that really make me want to login to my team, the highlights of the Hattrick week. That’s three things: 1. The weekly training on Thursday/Friday, 2. Pulling a youth player on Saturday 3. Viewing my series game on Saturday.
At this point I noticed that all these highlights basically take place within two days of the week, while nothing special happens during the other days which would stir the urge to log in in me like that. This lead me to see two new ways of improving the Hattrick experience:
1. Try to distribute these highlights within the week (e.g. Youth pull on Tuesday).
2. When thinking of new features to be added to the game, try to create something that has a similar effect on managers, because the more of these events you have the more often people log in, and the more they will occupy themselves with the game, which creates a stronger bond and will make the game seem less “slow”…
Welcome back (kind of at least), and thanks for feedback! Those highlights, or weekly events, are as you say very important and we will indeed strive for finding more of those.