Diablo creator and Gazillion CEO David Brevik used his Develop 2015 session to outline the lengthy struggle of overhauling game systems and mending bridges between studio and players in the wake of the company's MMO Marvel Heroes two years ago.
The game was poorly received on launch, with Brevick stating the original 58% Metacritic average was "well deserved. [The original release] was not very good". He explained how reaction to the initial model hinging around paying for in-game characters was largely negative ("it wasn't seen as fair") and that he and his team learnt "it all comes down to community" as the studio invested in an extensive rebuild of the game, one problem at a time. "Within one month of launch we radically altered our business plan and model," with the game eventually allowing you to buy characters through collecting in-game currency, with real-world payments reserved for cosmetic items.
"There's been a lot of experiences of this in the past," he explained in managing to convince investors that the team should take time to fix rather than ditch, highlighting the launch of Diablo II in particular, saying it took the team two years to make that better, and how League of Legends started to take off after the same two year period.
The most important thing you can do? "Listen to your audience," he stressed as the team went from little interaction to proactively talking to the community to answer their problems. Keeping players on-board, involved and invested as the changes rolled out paid off ("every week they saw it getting better and better. Everyone - or at least the remainder of our community - were onboard with that").
The CEO says 60% of the game's revenue today is still generated by those that bought into the experience the first month. "The people that come in the first mont are going to be your most rabid users. They're going to spend the most money, more than anyone else throughout your existence... making sure you're addressing that community and taking care of it and getting them back are all important."
Brevik now coins the game as "community-driven free to play", exampling the team switched exclusive costume content from limited numbers to a limited time release due to negative feedback.
The game relaunched under a 2015 banner, with re-reviews pushing it to a higher 81% Metacritic average.
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