The latest major content update isn’t even two weeks old yet, but the team is already eyeing the next, even bigger milestone: Free To Play.
As mentioned before, we had our annual simulogics team meeting last weekend. At this event, we usually work out the overarching roadmap for the following year, setting commercial and development goals. But after more than three years of Prosperous Universe development (after all this is devlog #190), commercial goals clearly stood at the center this time.
While we greatly enjoy the current First Access operating mode with its small community and practically non-existent technical issues, PrUn eventually needs two things: A lot more players to get the game’s economy up to a size we have envisioned and a lot more revenue to start recouping its development cost. Both objectives are of course different sides of the same coin, so the first step to achieving both will be the long-awaited launch into Free-2-Play.
Before you panic: F2P to us means just that… one can play for free. We will not be introducing micro-transactions or any kind of pay-2-win mechanics. It will be a “freemium” model in which we will limit access to some advanced features (see Michi’s post below) and yet-to-be-introduced tools to non-paying players, but we will do our very best to keep the impact on the in-game economy to an absolute minimum.
Ideally, with the hard paywall out of the way, we will see a constant influx of new players that will help us to slowly grow the size of the game. And as soon as the F2P release is taken care of, we’ll jump right back into actual feature development.
After the release of ‘Locality’ and the team meeting at simulogics HQ last week, the calmness of my office was very pleasant. After finishing some organizational work, I had time to reflect and think about the things we discussed, planned and decided on the weekend. One of the weekend’s outcomes is that we want to have the Free-2-Play release as our next big feature release. There is probably going to be a small issues / bugfix release in between, but the road to F2P is set.
One of the biggest features (at least code-wise) is that not all of the game’s functionality will be available to non-paying users, i.e. companies without at least a
PENDING rating. So I am currently adding restrictions and their visual representations. Here is an example of a component that is completely restricted for
UNRATEDcompanies (obviously, the
FLT command will not be restricted in the final version):
Only the name of the component is shown but no content or data. Clicking on the banner will lead to a new site that explains what is going on and that will allow to upgrade to a tier that has no restrictions.
If only parts of the component or its actions are restricted, we only show a small banner at the top of the command tile:
Here is a not yet complete list of the functionalities that will be restricted:
- FX market: post limit order
- CX market: limit orders are only allowed within a narrow price band
- Local markets: Posting ads
- Creating a corporation
- Building or contributing to a corporation project
- Building, voting or contributing to a CoGC
Like the other two, I’ve been dealing with some of the measures we decided at our meeting and especially with Free-2-Play preparations this week. Although the release is still several weeks or maybe months away, some marketing measures are already late, especially the new trailer we’ve been cooking up. (Remember that it took us a year to finish the previous one? :D) I’m working on a storyboard and script right now, and I’m trying to get it ready for production soon.
Another thing I’ve been doing (and will continue to do throughout next week) is finally reaching out to some more YouTubers and Twitch streamers. I made a long list of interesting candidates last year, but I was reluctant to contact some of them in the past. We didn’t know for sure that the basic game worked at all, and I didn’t want to blow our chances with some of the bigger influencers by reaching out too early. Of course, many features are still missing now, but the world is a few months old and people are still actively playing. In fact, we’ve been at a pretty stable 250-300 weekly active players since April, so it’s safe to say that the core loop works. If you are or know a content creator that is interested in playing Prosperous Universe for their audience, go right ahead! (And feel free to send us links to your video or stream, we’d love to have a look at it ourselves.)
As always: we’d love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!