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New Player Retention! (Warning: lot o' words)


Aheael
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This is quite a lot of words, I've tried my best to be concise as possible so if you do manage to read all of it, thank you very much! 

 

There is a serious issue with new player experience that needs to be addressed by DE. I'll begin with the steam charts: 

https://steamcharts.com/app/230410#1y

We can gather that pre-huge updates, there is a drastic sign-up however after the update is launched... well it speaks for itself. Whilst we aren't provided with the % of how many of those are new players, or returning players, I think it's in the most likely case that a majority are new players attracted to Warframe as a result of it's ever growing influence on social media, Youtube and other platforms. 

However, I wouldn't be confident with just saying I have a chart therefore this is all the evidence I need. What's far more reliable is the consistency of the words of experienced players, reviewers and new players. Nearly everybody, if not all, agree that the new player experience is terrible in comparison to the rest of the game. There is a variety of criticism from how new players are left with no guide to an overwhelming amount of content. None of this is what I want to address. These are topics that have been going on for years that have been praised for it being the game's strength but it's weakness. What I want to talk about is the newer ideas being brought up that the new player experience is in itself designed badly and severely incomplete and in addition something I have not yet seen anybody mention at all!

That is a criticism of DE's overall perspective on their game. From watching the noclip interviews, and documentaries, and twitter, and streams for the last year or so DE strive to make the game fresh, roll out new content, rework old systems and keep the experienced players happy. This is great... right? Not quite, everything has it's catch. 

As a result of this, the new game experience has been left to dry and starved of that "fresh" touch that DE tries so hard to maintain. In an analogy, I could use the idea of a bridge. Initially, the bridge 

Spoiler

2D5FF6D000000578-3270916-image-a-86_1444

 looks like the image in the link. Pretty terrifying but not too bad? Add a 9,200 ft drop to it and that's more like it. It's just built badly yet as we progress through the game the bridge becomes sturdier, then all of a sudden a change of materials, and so forth. But this comes later on, So what you have in the end is this disproportionate game where the beginning has none of the thought put behind it in comparison to what is to follow that seems to be on steroids. 

     To be more fair, I will stop beating around the bush with analogies and overall explanations and get down to some of the specifics. These are the newer ideas/critique I mentioned that have been brought to light lately from quite a lot of people. (Subjective)

1. You are expected to have in-game context when choosing your Warframes in terms of the descriptions of their abilities.

2. You are not aware that there are dozens of Warframes WHEN choosing them.

3. You are not made aware that you can acquire any of the Warframes later on. 

4. You start off with weapons that are bad without any clue of the market, or being introduced to the fact there is a world of weapons waiting for you. 

5. There is a repetitive formula for the first few levels that brings no idea of diversity to the table and introduce a very static setting when it comes to enemies.

6. A lackluster first boss fight that is very static giving false impressions of the game.

7. Thrown into a story with no real incentive other than generic bad guy attacking you. This is nothing like how interesting the story dynamics actually get.

I'll stop there 'cos 7's my magic number but there is a lot more ideas bashing the design of the new game experience/design! I would like to repeat that these ideas may have been around, and you may have thought of them but they're really gaining traction now on Youtube and I am sure the new player design bashing is sure to gain more views and attention.

This is misleading, unfair to the game itself and above all else dumb. To put it simply, DE need to take a simple and short break from rolling out huge updates for more experienced player and further down the line in-game content and bring the same level of quality they do everything else to the new game experience. We have clearly been seeing Warframe attracting players completely new to the sci-fi world simply because this game is amazing with what it brings to the table, and obviously the fact that it's free! But the failure to keep such a large majority these players (we're talking in the tens of thousands) is a huge sin, and not something you can just ignore especially not with Railjack coming next year. 

As a product, once you are meeting those targets and hitting those numbers you can't be surprised if you're losing a lot of the traction you gather because you are not paying attention to what is going on initially but set your eyes on the future and taking place for players already pretty deep into the game.The very same attitude that can be said to be the result of DE's success is, in my eyes, becoming the invisible thorn in their side. Bleeding them internally without them truly realising. It is one thing when you can't keep a few hundred players but comparing that to the lost of over 30-40 thousand players if the steam charts are correct then there is a real problem that needs to be addressed and fixed with the help of the community.

 

Thank you for reading if you made it this far!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Aheael
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@Aheael   Should probably check the forum, there are some other threads about the same thing.   But Ill repeat myself anyway.   Removing the short highs and lows.   Highs being new content.  Lows being extended droughts, transfers of players over to Switch, introduction of other big titles (or other titles new content drops).   The baseline seems to me to be on a slow steady rise overall.   At worst breaking even.  Then I am pretty sure this also does not account for non steam players, regardless of platform as well. 

That being said, anything that makes it better for new players and old alike, is good.

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5 hours ago, _Vortus_ said:

@Aheael   Should probably check the forum, there are some other threads about the same thing.   But Ill repeat myself anyway.   Removing the short highs and lows.   Highs being new content.  Lows being extended droughts, transfers of players over to Switch, introduction of other big titles (or other titles new content drops).   The baseline seems to me to be on a slow steady rise overall.   At worst breaking even.  Then I am pretty sure this also does not account for non steam players, regardless of platform as well. 

That being said, anything that makes it better for new players and old alike, is good.

I have been checking the forums, I haven't seen anything addressing the behaviour of DE towards their goals. I've been on the forums for a good year and a half. All related topics are specific demands for changes to take place, never the root of the problem. 

A steady but slow rise indeed, however that's exactly the problem. It's evident it could be even better, and that's the criticism I'm offering. The current new player experience is highly inefficient and low in quality in leading to low player retention. 

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3 hours ago, Aheael said:

The current new player experience is highly inefficient and low in quality in leading to low player retention. 

The only thing I've heard mentioned regarding this is it is unclear, at best, that a "good" NPE would keep more people playing the game. At worst, DE spends time and energy on improving it and they get nothing out of it, retention wise, and could have spent that time on other things that get more people playing.

3 hours ago, Aheael said:

A steady but slow rise indeed, however that's exactly the problem.

An actual problem for DE and their game or a problem that you imagine they have?

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23 minutes ago, peterc3 said:

The only thing I've heard mentioned regarding this is it is unclear, at best, that a "good" NPE would keep more people playing the game. At worst, DE spends time and energy on improving it and they get nothing out of it, retention wise, and could have spent that time on other things that get more people playing.

An actual problem for DE and their game or a problem that you imagine they have?

Indeed, at worst. But just as using "at best" as a counter-argument is pretty much useless. It's not constructive. There are objective criticisms to be made about the NPE. That's what I explained in the post, the what's and whys. Not hows. I'd rather leave that in the more than capable hands of DE and players with good ideas on level design.

I imagine they have. I, clearly, am not a member of DE. Please don't cut out what I said after that. I explained the sentence right after I made that point. This is the 2nd or 3rd time you've came at me with a cut-off quote and a pretty rude out-of-context question. I'm just trying to have friendly civil discussion.

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I feel like DE is careful to let Noobs access the modern open world areas early. They can at least do the main quest, see stuff they can't do yet, and move on to come back later.

I feel like the current introductory mission is good. The cinematic quests being locked away behind 100+ hours of gameplay is kinda their trademark and why they are so impactful.

DE_Steve said in the Noclip doc, that there's very little they can do to better hook new players. It's simply a big commitment to get into Warframe, just as it is to get into similar living MMO style games. 

The game is successful enough, and having to work to get into it is healthy for the community.

That said, the game desperately needs an updated help & tutorial system in the Codex. Just today I got a riven that requires me to equip a "hobbled dragon key", and without an external, fan maintained wiki I would have absolutely no clue what that is. 

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5 minutes ago, (NSW)Kaffeebohnson said:

I feel like DE is careful to let Noobs access the modern open world areas early. They can at least do the main quest, see stuff they can't do yet, and move on to come back later.

I feel like the current introductory mission is good. The cinematic quests being locked away behind 100+ hours of gameplay is kinda their trademark and why they are so impactful.

DE_Steve said in the Noclip doc, that there's very little they can do to better hook new players. It's simply a big commitment to get into Warframe, just as it is to get into similar living MMO style games. 

The game is successful enough, and having to work to get into it is healthy for the community.

That said, the game desperately needs an updated help & tutorial system in the Codex. Just today I got a riven that requires me to equip a "hobbled dragon key", and without an external, fan maintained wiki I would have absolutely no clue what that is. 

Last point you made, definitely true. But I can't agree with you on the current introductory mission being good. Like I said, a lot of the information is misleading and not that it's leaving you in the open like most people claim Warframe does. That's what Runescape does and it's the only game I can think of with a similar game model for new players. There's a difference between giving wrong impressions to new players on how the game will be versus letting players find out what the game IS like. 

The game could be a whole lot more successful, in my opinion. It's a great game. 

Edited by Aheael
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You get negative numbers like this, not because of patches and Warframe content. You get these numbers due to the 800lb elephant in the room (WoW) and the release of its expansions (August, 2018 was BfA's release)...

September 2018  51,794.3  -17,097.4  -24.82%  86,984
August 2018        68,891.7  -7,703.2   -10.06%  107,100

Legion expansion release (August, 2016)...

October 2016          20,888.6     -1,887.3     -8.29%        34,094
September 2016     22,775.9     -3,772.5     -14.21%      39,037
August 2016           26,548.4     -1,977.8     -6.93%        46,268

You get numbers like this due to PR (like Twitch Prime loot -- I haven't played Warframe for years and saw the offer, and it's let's see how the game has been since 2016 curiosity)...

November 2018  61,486.6  +11,768.3  +23.67%  131,766

Biggest peak of players playing in 6 years (Amazon Prime is very popular in the USA, and even people who don't use Twitch [other than to download WoW addons], saw what was the loot and came to or back for it).

You get numbers like this due to patches and dissatisfaction of how so many frames were nerfed and reworked (Mag and Trinity were radically changed)...

May 2016     26,598.0    -547.6       -2.02%      44,091
April 2016     27,145.5    -6,602.0    -19.56%   47,242
March 2016  33,747.6    +1,838.3   +5.76%     66,308

I left Warframe after that update. The very frame I came back to play changed ... as I'm still leveling (and it's a starter toon even!). Got the Loki parts, hanged around, and then left. No inspiration to play. Mag was a one trick pony, but God she was queen of the Corpus killers!

Edited by Kevyne_Kicklighter
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8 hours ago, Kevyne_Kicklighter said:

You get negative numbers like this, not because of patches and Warframe content. You get these numbers due to the 800lb elephant in the room (WoW) and the release of its expansions (August, 2018 was BfA's release)...

September 2018  51,794.3  -17,097.4  -24.82%  86,984
August 2018        68,891.7  -7,703.2   -10.06%  107,100

Legion expansion release (August, 2016)...

October 2016          20,888.6     -1,887.3     -8.29%        34,094
September 2016     22,775.9     -3,772.5     -14.21%      39,037
August 2016           26,548.4     -1,977.8     -6.93%        46,268

You get numbers like this due to PR (like Twitch Prime loot -- I haven't played Warframe for years and saw the offer, and it's let's see how the game has been since 2016 curiosity)...

November 2018  61,486.6  +11,768.3  +23.67%  131,766

Biggest peak of players playing in 6 years (Amazon Prime is very popular in the USA, and even people who don't use Twitch [other than to download WoW addons], saw what was the loot and came to or back for it).

You get numbers like this due to patches and dissatisfaction of how so many frames were nerfed and reworked (Mag and Trinity were radically changed)...

May 2016     26,598.0    -547.6       -2.02%      44,091
April 2016     27,145.5    -6,602.0    -19.56%   47,242
March 2016  33,747.6    +1,838.3   +5.76%     66,308

I left Warframe after that update. The very frame I came back to play changed ... as I'm still leveling (and it's a starter toon even!). Got the Loki parts, hanged around, and then left. No inspiration to play. Mag was a one trick pony, but God she was queen of the Corpus killers!

To be fair, stating that there is correlation between two vastly different games and environments with just statistics and not including evidence of what is said around the time on social media and other platforms and even more evidence is a pretty fatal error. People can very well relate two different entities fairly easily if you look purely at gain and fall. It's definitely where I disagree with you in terms of logic. 

Edited by Aheael
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