A lot of games are just dirty cash-grabs like fortnite, but Dauntless really is a good game that cares more about its players than moneyExternal link →
Compare with any store bundle. It is a great plat-to-value ratio.
The reason you think it is a scam is that you compare it to Hunt Pass. Hunt Passes are, to put it bluntly, designed to keep you in the game by offering a deal the company loses money on. The hope is that you will spend enough (or add to the player count enough) that it will be a justified loss on the company's side.
Exactly the same mechanism as selling consoles at a loss.
Hunt Passes are, to put it bluntly, designed to keep you in the game by offering a deal the company loses money on.
No actually that's not how we designed them at all. We explicitly designed them to feel like great value, for only the reason that OP said. We deeply care about finding the best balance that keeps us afloat and provides a game that players find joy in playing with their friends.
Then I am truly at a loss as to what is the deal with Event Passes.
They only make sense to me as a "this is the real margin we would need to sell these cosmetics on". But that implies you either lose or barely earn anything on a regular Hunt Pass. Which you say isn't true.
I think I’m playing with different context set than you are. Can you explain more what you mean here? You’re talking about our margins and stuff without having an understanding of our cost structure. Perhaps use your perceived value to provide me a better understanding?
Okay, so I will put that through the lenses of an outside observer.
I see a ridiculously attractive Hunt Pass, which is 1k plat. Nowadays it even refunds itself. This means that the entire revenue of the Hunt Pass these days is that it makes a person put 10$ into Plat (of which you see some percentage after Epic takes their cut).
This player might very well never put any more money into the game, but will likely keep coming back for more Hunt Passes. If they come back for Hunt Passes consistently, they make the game more lively. That's an added value for the company/game. If they convert into a Store-spender, that's revenue.
When I compare this to the most successful game using a battle-pass model (Fortnite), the behaviour seems to be consistent. Offer a great plat-to-cosmetic value Pass, then bank on some percentage of people becoming spenders in the Store.
The only thing Dauntless didn't have, was a strong catalogue of store cosmetics to give people the opportunity to be spenders.
But then Event Passes come. They sell old Hunt Pass content at four times the original (Hunt Pass) price with no refund. Some quick math shows that this is actually better plat-to-cosmetics value than every store bundle we have, just in the form of a pass. If these become a stable addition to the game (appearing consistently across major events), then the problem of mediocre store offerings is solved.
So from an outsider's perspective, this falls in place like so:
- Hunt Pass generates only as much money as new players come to the game during a season and are willing to pay.
- Hunt Pass, through its value to the player, is fantastic at keeping people coming to the game. It generates engagement and retention. The refund leaves people with idle plat they might be tempted to spend. The stack of platinum you have to spend on it every season (thanks to the refund) creates familiarity with the concept of spending platinum.
- At this point, more realistically priced cosmetic offerings come into play, becoming a potential source of revenue from players already invested.
This is armchair marketing on my end, of course, but so much of this setup seems to be on par with standard monetisation practices in the industry that your response comes off as surprising. It is hard to believe the pricing is pure good-will. It is even harder to understand how Event Passes exist in their current form if Hunt Passes are meant to be such a great value just to be nice to players.
I might be wrong, of course. I don't know just how much money goes into creating any pass. I don't know your conversion rate from people playing to people paying. There's obviously a lot more that I am missing. All I am saying is... it is weird to hear that this isn't PHX simply following well-established practices of monetisation that are proven to work. To approach this scientifically, the claim that this is just the will to give people something good is more extraordinary than a mundane "a company does business the way companies do business".
Just to clarify, I don't hold this understanding of the monetisation because I believe PHX is "greedy", "evil" or any nonsense like that. I am genuinely invested in the game, and I have a lot of good stuff to say both about PHX as a company and several members of the studio that I had the chance to converse with.
I am simply trying to make sense of what I see.
I really appreciate the long and thoughtful response.
If they come back for Hunt Passes consistently, they make the game more lively. That's an added value for the company/game
This is pretty close. Our number one goal is to create an experience that players really engage with and want to play. We also believe in the long run (think 20+ years here, we see ourselves as a dynastic company) it's better to give good value to more folks than outsized value to fewer folks. That means leaving some money on the table, being a bit more cautious, and caring deeply about value over profit. This manifests in other ways such as; we NEVER under any circumstances use language like "Whales" when referring to players. We also don't differentiate between paying and non-paying player in any decision making processes related to core game systems (exceptions being things that would make sense, like store optimization, or purchase satisfaction surveys, etc)
it is weird to hear that this isn't PHX simply following well-established practices of monetisation that are proven to work.
Yeah, we're leery of best practices, to be honest. We originally were very lootbox heavy, if you remember, and moved away from it just before those became super taboo (even if it had a major impact on revenue) because we felt it wasn't Player Favorable. There's some details on the lootbox wikipedia page about that if you're at all curious. But I can tell ya, that was a "fun" conversation with our board of directors at the time :)
As for the new event passes, it really comes down to the team is trying new stuff and getting feedback, see what players like and dislike. We have a big catalog of content we've made over the years and want to find the right way to respect its value to older players while also leveraging it to help fuel our company.
edit: misclicked save
Thank you for shedding some light on the situation! This definitely makes it easier to understand why do we see so much bold experimentation in the monetisation aspect, and why it can defy expectations at times. I am excited to see what will 2021 bring, given the renewed focus on tighter contact with the community and the feedback it provides.
Best of luck in the new year!
I very much appreciate the great conversation! Thanks again for putting so much time into your responses.