Nexon has promised shareholders to renew its focus on quality this week as its first quarter results show revenue and profit growth have slowed.
Part 2 – Strategy and Vindictus
The Call for Quality
Let’s Face it – “QUALITY ” isn’t exactly what we’ve come to know Nexon for, specifically in the North American region. Though they’ve brought the gaming world blockbuster MMO’s such as DFO and Maplestory and Vindictus, their reputation in NA and EU exactly as revered as Blizzards. It is not surprising to find players swearing with disdain to “never play it, ever!” at the mere mention of Nexons name in associate to a new game. Its all to frequent to see quips that start with things like, “I like the game but…” and then ending with a slew of sorted tales of “Pay-to-Win”, “greed” and “horrible service” across blogs and YouTube channels.
Those of us who play do continue to play do so because we like what their development teams, such as DevCat, have put together. Whether its a MMORPG, FPS or Mobile game – we love our games, and a there is a resounding sentiment among players that we wished Nexon [NA] did too.
Well listen up!
The Morrighan, Goddess of Erinn has been paying attention and might have just found time to answer our prayers.
This week Nexon has announced that they will be “Focusing on Quality.”
Quarter 1 results are in and while profits are on an upswing, the new CEO has a vision, and he’s steering his company into it with simple, clear and direct orders.
“Going forward, we will sharpen our focus on quality across all platforms. At our core we are in a creative industry, and the only way to succeed is to create high-quality games that deliver fun and unique gaming experiences to our players around the world.”
And this doesn’t seem to be just lip-service. In regard to being a creative entity, he’s looking at the games as if they are works of art (we know Vindictus is). He’s backing his vision up publically. He also took to Bloomberg TV for an interview where he is quoted as saying:
The way you create art is by focusing your efforts on things that you really believe in. If it’s fun, and if it’s differentiated, the game tends to do well in the market, because if you know that it’s fun, other people tend to see that as well.
What were doing as a company strategy is to cut off all development in games that we don’t believe heavily in that we don’t think we’re going to be proud of five years or ten years from now. We’re taking those resources and we’re focusing them on the games that we’re most proud of. The ones that we think we’ll be playing again five or ten years from now.
Whoa wait, what!?! Cutting off development? This could spell trouble.
Lets review what he said in terms of Vindictus before we panic.
- Game must be fun – I wouldn’t play it if it weren’t
- Game must be unique – Vindictus is one of a kind – Action MMORPG, Hack and Slash, with real Physics and brutally sexy elegance
- Game tends to do well in the market – in Korea, China and Japan Vindictus/Maginogi Heroes is mainstream, in the West…not so much. But there is hope! Check below for some ideas.
- Game must have longevity – Well ours is 4 years old, so far so good. As long as its kept interesting there is no reason it can’t go on infinitely with the exception of running into the Mabinogi storyline – this one is on you DevCat.
I think everyone can agree the game itself is fun and unique in its class. We wouldn’t be playing otherwise. But if Nexon is serious about improving quality, having long term immersive games and retaining customers there are some things they can do immediately to fix their image.
Specifically for Vindictus we’re starting to veer on the right track. We’ve received a new support team, we know what is in the Pipeline, and are anxiously waiting to see what Season 3 has in store from DevCat.
What they can do in the meantime:
- Advertise this game – For goodness sakes, we need players! 1 week notice for new characters is not enough. Having a review about new a content drop the DAY BEFORE is simply lazy Marketing. Tell people about the game and in turn they will play it to at least give it a chance.
- Post notices on the Homepage and Forums – this goes for all things relevant to the player experience in game (Events, Patch Notes, Updates, Outages, Scheduled Maintenance etc.)
- Be accurate – Those notifications and posts that are put out often have incomplete information, bad information or just don’t make sense. Time Zones matter.
- Over Communicate – in a community that has needed it so badly over communication is a good thing.
- Bring back some of the other Communication methods – because these were fun.
- Get the Players to the Forums – By making them logical and useful, utilize announcements (on the forums and in game), bring back good forum events, label forum sections so that they are logical and make the sections relevant to the game.
- Play the Game – Having a CM with only a low level character doesn’t really understand the challenges of end game and getting there successfully. We need our CM to get us, so LEVEL-UP!
- Ticketing System – Sigh, I almost don’t want to address this. It needs a complete
No Troll Zone in Customer Service
overhaul. Re-work the whole queue system. Clear out the backlog and don’t just close tickets because they are old unless you are compensating for your failure to address it.
When addressing tickets remember the players keep the lights on. When they are happy, you should be happy too. Track and address problems globally so that if one player has it there isn’t other in game that just walks away out of frustration.
Open the line of Support. Auto closing tickets and requesting that players create forum posts in designated sections is full of so many holes its doing no one any good. This process prevents you from capturing problems, frustrates the player and is just bad in terms of “Service”. So get rid of that practice. Allow players to create tickets when they have issues, you know – the basics. Those tickets should enter a queue routing system such as Jira or MQC (now owned by HP).
- Whoever thought asking for help from a GM on a Game forum was inappropriate might want to rethink the purpose of Customer Service and Support team. Inappropriateness should be deemed by content not by the act of requesting help.
- VFM Program – Volunteer Forum Mods are a relatively new concept on the Vindictus Forums. Aside from Nexon making no attempt to select actual Vindictus players to man our own Community, these resources don’t exactly make NexNA look any better. The problem with unvetted players being given authoritative status on the forums when they display zero knowledge about our game, drive more interest in playing Mabinogi than Vindictus and aren’t even adequately doing the job of moderation – is that ultimately, it makes NexNA look incapable, which bad for business.
If revamping their image is going to take a front seat, the VFM program needs to move itself to the back. In this players opinion, the forums aren’t better off with their presence (aside from pron removal). If getting the right resources is too tough a challenge, they should be reassigned somewhere where they can be productive and out of the limelight. Their activities should include helping players in Bug Reports and Technical Issues. Nexon should support them by giving them the tools to respond out there and support the player base. Each problem out there should have a response, if Nexon can’t afford to do that themselves, then the VFMs should.
If nothing will be done about them then please teach them Moderation Etiquette for Gaming. There are several official sources for this education.
- Drop rates – please fix them. It seems that they’ve been improved since the server rebuilds in January, but could go one step further. Rework this system so it fits Vindictus NA and EU’s smaller player bases.
- New players have a tough time understanding Season 1 vs Season 2 and when to start it and what to do with it. Clear that up a bit.
- Bring back the challenge for end game players. As in the game should be challenging to beat, but PARTICIPATING in the game shouldn’t be. We made this major leap from 60 to 80 level content and didn’t really provide much in between. Give the end gamers something to play that they can grow into over the long term to take the stress off of having to meet Attack Req. boats which leads me to…
- Support your position on Attack balance. Nexon has previously stated that they wanted to reverse the fact that Attack was on the forefront for most players. They haven’t done much to support that claim. Bring back skill. Add in things that make having supplemental skills a “good thing” rather than just being optional.
- Reward players for a job well done – there are a ton of milestones in the game that can be rewarded including level achievement, title attainment, AP completion, Transformation completion and many more. Simple acknowledgement on all of these things can be ways of cheering on a player that don’t include NX giveaways.
- Bug Squash – once a quarter we should see major bugs disappear. The worst bug plaguing the Support team is that we STILL have a Mailbox Runtime error that causes us to dc when hovering over a mailbox item….quickest way to lose a player – make it hard for them to play ~ FIX THIS!
There are a ton of other ways to improve the game and start working on that image with us players. Check the Suggestion forum if you ever happen to run out of ideas. If you are a player and you’re reading this – tell Nexon what you think in the comments.
Don’t forget to read the about the Q1 – Financial Results