GW2: 1st Quarter NCsoft Earnings Call

And this is the reason we had 30 days of item sales in March.

The good news is that it has rather solidly and effectively masked the quote unquote “not as expected performance of HoT” – meaning presumably that other than the initial surge, few people were convinced or tempted to buy the expansion later in the following quarter. I figure that means the GW2 veterans picked it up the first quarter it launched, but subsequently, casual players of GW2 or hardcore players from other games were -not- tempted into following suit.

It’s good that the strength of the gem store and gem to gold currency exchange is such that it can provide a Hail Mary last resort to save an ailing quarter. Cos the last thing we need is NCsoft feeling that their investors are asking too many questions about why this title exists in their portfolio, while showing insignificant profit.

I admit to being very curious as to the lesson they apparently learned. 

Is it that they shouldn’t crank difficulty across the board too high, or try to institute too much grind in order to encourage retention?

Or over-focus on the hardcore subset at the expense of leaving the other subsets feeling unheard? Or focus overmuch on Achievers, while forgetting the other subtypes that also play their game?

Maybe they’ve decided that promising the moon in their marketing and under-delivering is a sure way of shooting themselves in the foot, a la O’Brien’s new resolution to deliver actual tangible results for players to judge?

Or that by opening up developer communication channels and inviting civil player discussion and feedback, they might be able to stave off much of the knee-jerk controversy and backlash that follows any sudden surprise change a vocal enough group of players -really- don’t like?

Is it that they’ve decided too concentrated maps and focused metas are no good and they should focus on quantity and more spread out maps like core Tyria?

Is it that they should cater to the seemingly unending call for more 5 man group content at an easy to moderate difficulty level not too far removed from present day dungeons and fractals?

(Mind you, I don’t personally agree with all of the above, especially the latter two, beyond the desire to have more oldstyle exploration and discovery and lore in the maps, but they seem to be somewhat common sentiments.)

Or maybe they took home a completely bizarre unimaginable-to-me lesson learned instead. Like, “raids were the most well-received and regularly played feature of Heart of Thorns! Let’s not bother making open world maps and make our next expansion a whole boxful of raids!”

Who knows.

Hopefully we’ll see more stability in the second quarter and decent enough gem store revenue post-mea culpa patch to take us to Living Story 3, presumably arriving in the 3rd quarter.

Time will tell as to what that lesson learned was.

GW2: The Psychology of Self-Motivation

The more I keep thinking about it, over the course of one work day, the more I think that Anet quite possibly got it right (or at least, more things right than wrong) with this latest patch.

To make sense of this, a little homework is necessary with this TedX talk on self-motivation.

In it, Geller talks about the factors that contribute to feeling empowered and motivated – competency, consequences, choices and community.

We can see that the feeling of competency took a hit with the original HoT difficulty levels, adding up to feelings of apathy and learned helplessness across a fairly wide swathe of the population, who walked straight into HoT zones or raids and got pasted on the ground.

The new patch adjusts quite a lot of this across the board, from making Adventures and waypoints slightly more friendly and accessible, reviving renewed interests in dungeons (which can serve as a stepping stone and training ground of difficulty) and coming up with a fairly creative solution to dps meters by adding an in-game one in conjunction with test dummies in a private instance off a raid lobby. 

(Given the growing need for one, this seems a fairly good compromise that tries to avoid as much potential toxicity as possible. One can use it in private as a personal yardstick for improvement; static raid groups can use it to train their members – that is, it’s consensual if you step into said instance with other people with the intent to measure dps, and way better than a random PUG just spamming Recount numbers out of nowhere. 

Speaking of which, it’s also inconvenient enough that it’ll be a -really- motivated PUG who would hound someone into displaying their dps (by the time they test everybody’s stuff, they’d probably have been better off just using the oodles of Legendary Insights “elitist” shortcut.))

Anet has also spread a very lavish hand where -positive- consequences are concerned, aka the “Is it worth it?” part of the self-motivational question.

In many cases, yes, it’s certainly much more worth it than before. Which has quite the inspirational effect on many people.

The part that’s been sneakily growing on me the most is the -choices- part of the equation.

With a broad sweep of the patch brush, many aspects of the game feel either more -doable- (aka competency) or more -worth-doing (aka consequences).

This leads to a sudden surplus of choices for what one might want to do in a game session.

With choice, comes more of a feeling of autonomy and control. 

Suddenly, I’m playing a dungeon or raiding because I want to be, rather than because there ain’t enough critical mass for a HoT zone meta or there’s no point trying to do an Adventure that is impossible to get to and has ridiculous NA-calibrated target times anyway or because there’s no new content or story available -except- inside a stupid raid instance. (Ok, the last is still a little hopeful, presumably Anet is finally revving up for actual new content now.)

Lastly, community. As much as I’m fairly disconnected at the moment, I see quite a lot of opportunities for community to occur in this latest patch (though I’m not sure how much was intended by design or just a happy coincidence.)

Introducing daily jumping puzzles or mini-dungeons is BIG. This is so totally what the GW2 community needed, the opportunity for small groups of randoms to encounter each other in a small area, help and be helped.

The raid lobby is a clever way to group the niche community of raiders together in one place. I presume it’s going to be similar to the PvP lobby, or a more compact Lion’s Arch pre-megaserver. It’s likely raiders will keep seeing similar names hanging out there, and that familiarity is what builds solidarity and community (which is motivational to many.)

Reviving dungeon interest is yet another source for strangers or guildies to encounter each other and potentially bond. Especially if some are motivated by the thought of building some kind of static arrangement to speedrun their 8 dungeons.

The impending attention to WvW is another potential spot for community building as well.

I’m not sure just how much effect all the above will have on me, presently existing in a sort of externalized MMO geological time scale. 

The latest self-inspirational idea to hit me is the possibility of reviving solo fractal or dungeon attempts. I avoided five man group content for a really long time, but a few days ago, I attempted some low-AR daily fractals with my raid necro and it was both doable (with a few repeated tribulation-style deaths here and there) and satisfying.

Of couse, any damn fractal with a mechanic that requires more than one person (dredge pressure plates, Old Tom in uncategorized) is an impossible problem… Or is it? Apparently playing two accounts at the same time is not verboten, as long as one keypress does not control multiple things at once. 

The idle thought arose of having a client open in each screen, and quick swapping windows to position supporting secondary characters, whose main purpose would be perform the necessary mechanic and not die, during the crucial time, while I mainly soloed the fight on the primary character.

So far, laziness and lack of time to experiment stands in the way. I’d need to figure out how to bypass the restriction on having multiple clients open (there are programs for that, but I’m not the trusting sort and would rather kill processes by hand.) I’d need to ressurect my second account and actually level up and gear a character. I might need a third free-to-play account if two characters aren’t enough for the mechanics…

… But it is a tempting thought nonetheless. 

Or I could work on finishing one collection or another.

Or I could work on a second map complete so I can build a third Legendary someday.

Or Fractals. Or dungeons. Or HoT zone metas. Or HoT zone solo exploration and adventures. Or WvW.

Or I could just not get so attached to the idea of various GW2 goals and work on other real life ones instead, which are also pressing for attention lately. (I haven’t caught up with half a year’s worth of hobby magazines, for example, and I’ve been buying a bunch of sci-fi books and anthologies off Humble Bundle with the intent to actually get around to reading them.)

They all sound like good ideas. Bottom line, I don’t feel like I’m in any particular hurry. Just gonna continue on in geologic time and squeeze in a bit of progress here and there.