[MUD-Dev] Attracting players

Koster Koster
Sat Sep 18 15:49:38 New Zealand Standard Time 1999

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Petri Virkkula [mailto:pvirkkul at iki.fi]
> Sent: Friday, September 17, 1999 8:18 PM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: Re: [MUD-Dev] Attracting players

> 	While I was calculating BatMUD's statistics for first half of
> 	1999 I started thinking how to measure success of a mud. The
> 	thinking was triggered by the statistics report I wrote and
> 	that is also included below. My interpretation of our
> 	statistics was that our players play more that they used to
> 	be, but at the same time the player base smaller than it used
> 	to be.

The trend you seem to describe, of lower peaks but longer average play
sessions, would be a warning bell for UO or any commercial mud service. It
would mean that the more casual players are leaving. You can count on the
hardcore guys to stay forever (retention times in years are not uncommon on
any sort of mud for this type of player, who are typically also early
adopters of the mud) and their characteristic signature is extremely long
play sessions. So if your session average rises while your peak numbers
fall, then you are probably seeing the average rise because the players with
shorter play sessions aren't playing anymore. This equals low to no growth,
and since there's always attrtion of even hardcore types, shrinkage and thus
loss of revenue.

> 	The questions that I thought about (and almost sent to the
> 	list) were something like:
> 	- is peak or average online players a good meter for a mud
> 	- which is better, growing peak player count or longer 
> play times
> 	- is it enought that existing players like the mud, or should
> 	  we seek (actively) for new players
> 	I did not find any definitive answers to the questions. Have
> 	others thought that kind of questions? 

So in the commercial mud world, we think of it in the following terms:

- churn rate (amount of new players and return players who had left, vs
amount of players who are quitting)
- player retention (what is the average amount of time a player keeps
playing before quitting)
- active accounts (of course)
- peak usage (of course)
- avg hours played per week by avg player

The Holy Grail is retention. For us, it's a lot more important that someone
keep paying month after month, and a lot less important that they play a
lot. (In fact, since we pay for our bandwidth, we love those players who
play almost no time a month but keep paying :)

On a text mud, where there is no way to detect when someone has *left*, it
is very hard to measure churn. Which is unfortunate, because it is the best
indicator of all sorts of things, especially if you can assess how quickly
new players leave. So for example, since early adopters tend to be diehards,
you tend to see lower retention figures for more recent additions to the
game, on average. But if the trend accelerates throughout the life of the
game, it probably means your game is not accessible enough.

Personally, I strongly believe that a mud needs an influx of new players
regularly, and should strive to keep growing at all times. Its inflow of new
players and its figures for players who are returning after an absence
should be higher on a monthly basis than its totals of departing players.
Otherwise, there's numerous risks that can occur:

- cliques tend to develop. This makes the mud less accessible.
- Shrinkage and migration and splinter muds. Cliques are more likely to
migrate off the mud, causing shrinkage. Remember, it's easier for groups to
migrate than individuals, in the case of long-term players.
- rules are likelier to grow lax, which may limit public appeal. Example:
"We're all friends here, why does it matter if we let slip a cuss word on a
public channel?"



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