Foo2rama Game Operations

E-Commerce

Focus Groups gone wild!

by admin on Apr.01, 2010, under Blog, Customer Acquisition, Customer Retention, E-Commerce

25 years ago Coca Cola released New Coke, one of the biggest marketing errors of all time.  Of course when they decided to do it the focus group testing that data said go right ahead.  The NY Times has a great little article describing it.
NY Time Link

This reminded me of some focus group testing where we showed the same game to multiple groups.  When told the game was subscription based we received positive reviews, when told it was Free 2 Play we received negative reviews.  Regardless of when in the testing we revealed it was Free 2 Play the users started to have a negative outlook.  Now that Free 2 Play is becoming more accepted and the Maplestory kids are growing up this is less of an issue in the Western Market.

Also on this project we found out that players wanted something different than WoW.  Once we released the game we had many complaints that it was not enough like WoW.  This was not related to some of the recent discussions that WoW has made MMORPG’s too expensive to create by having a massive feature set.  In our case it was a whole new control scheme that offered something different then any other game out there.  This game allowed for the player to control 3 characters at once, having  tank/healer/cc characters all at the same time and allowed a wonderful scale of management depending on player skill or the situation the player was in.  We gave players what they asked for, and in return they did not adopt the title in the numbers we would have liked.

In hindsight our guts told us what to expect, but we still followed the focus group data.  Talking to other people I have heard similar stories where Focus group data is misleading.  Is this a failure of the way the groups where run, or a problem with people not really wanting what they think they want?  It appears that CCP will allow players to walk around stations in EVE as players have been demanding it for years, the issue is it brings nothing to the table in terms of gameplay for that title.  So now CCP has the problem of making a new engine, some type of mechanic to create a reason for this, and generally anger the population because of the delay on this feature.

Users who needs them?

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Lessons to be learned from other E-Commerce companies

by admin on Mar.18, 2010, under E-Commerce, Game Support

Often times we can analyze other companies or industries to  improve the way we operate our titles.  In this case eBay has had 2 high profile issues in as many months with car dealers.  Both of these cases involved the apparent failure of setting a reserve or minimum bid on the cars.  You can read about the current one Here.

These are always interesting, as the seller does create a legally binding listing.  Good faith and intent enter into the picture.  Although with the potential for an eBay system issue the problem gets murkier.  This time it appears that the eBay rep admitted that this can sometimes happen…

This seems fishy if eBay had a known problem with this then you would think that any transaction over 5k would be accompanied by a clarification email that reiterated the change made giving a paper trail and a chance to fix the issue if it was not correct.  This would serve to back up ebay’s position as no error on their part because they sent a confirmation email, this also serves to protect the seller from miss-keys and eBay error.

If eBay does have a system issue they appear to be liable at least from a good faith position, so they do not chase other customers away or end up with a flood similar issues.  So what can be learned from this as it applies to our industry?  How many repeat issues is your support or billing department handling that can be avoided by altering a process or sending some sort of confirmation email?  As support costs are at a minimum $1.00 a issue just for manpower how much money can be saved per month and per year for removing these issues from your support/billing queue?

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