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How to save Starvault: for the board of directors and all investors.

psykobillypsykobilly NYC, NYPosts: 338Member

 

Here is my open letter to the board of Starvault.  

Right now, according to all the financials, the company is in trouble.  Clearly based on share price, the company is not being successfully run.  Your current leadership is not returning value to investors, and that is the number one priority of a CEO.

I have a simple plan to turn the company around, and return some value to investors.  It requires a major philosophical change in the way business is handled currently, but it is fairly straightforward and can be executed with the right leadership.

Here is my plan:

1.  Change the revenue model.  Lower monthly subscription fees to reflect the status of the game as a non-triple-A game.  If the model was around 7-8$ a month the public as a whole would be more forgiving of the flaws, and we might see a decent population jump.  Population jumps lead to more in game activity and that leads to more new customers.  You should add a cash shop for purely cosmetic upgrades like dyes, guild banners, custom tatoos, tweaked armor, housing skins, pallisade skins, keep skins, etc. which would compensate for the lower monthly subscription revenue.  Nothing in the shop would give any advantage whatsoever, but there are lots of ways to make money there.  

 

2.  Change the current development model.   The development cycle should be geared towards lots of small patches, with a balance between bug fixing and new content.  Move away from the expansion mentality.  The player-based testing team should be constantly testing a new feature.  Sandbox games need a sandbox development approach, not a triple-A 'hype the epxansion' approach.  Players will appreciate content released more quickly, even if the content comes out in smaller amounts.

3.  Change the approach to bug priority.  For example, if shields can cause players to crash, remove them from the game until you can fix the issue.  Allowing game breaking bugs to fester for months is unacceptable.  When a game breaking issue is identified, an appropriate counter measure needs to be released even if the bug cannot be immediately identified.  This new approach will help retain players, as historically many players have left the game because of a lack of bug fixing.

4.  Publicly acknowledge the current pool of bugs.  New players need to understand what is and is not a bug, and there should be a 'state of the game' thread on the official forums that both acknowledges the known bugs and gives a developer response to the issue.  This requires humility, which is sorely lacking over at SV.  Players, however, will applaud this source of information.

5.  The strict IRC and Forum moderation approach needs to stop.  SV doesn't realize how many people it turns off to the game based on what happens on the forums or on IRC.  I understand people act immature, but deal with it as a business who loves its customers.  Don't deal with it like your customer is a red-headed stepchild.  Customer retention is important.

6.  Develop a game manual.  It's cool to have an old-school game manual that explains the in's and out's of the game in one location.  Throw in the lore and some city maps and you have something that would be hugely appreciated by new players.  Mortal is pretty tough on new players, and the tutorials don't help much.   A downloadable PDF with cool art work will go a long way to keeping new players in the game.  Starvault needs to make it an easy as possible for a trial player to become a paying customer.

So there you have my 6 point plan to save Starvault.  Put me in charge, and I will increase share value and make money for the investors.  Or stay on the same path, and watch your year-over-year value dwindle into nothingness.

Your call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  • MordragMOMordragMO PdamPosts: 136Member

    Yup. Considering you're still trying to help them although they "outsource" postings of this kind to other forums shows that you probably love StarVault more than Hendrick Nysströum does. I'm also convinced that you could be a better CEO than him. Anyone could (no offense to you intended). But your daddy probably isn't half as rich, and this won't lead anywhere. :P

     


    Originally posted by psykobilly

     

    SV doesn't realize how many people it turns off to the game based on what happens on the forums or on IRC.  I understand people act immature, but deal with it as a business who loves its customers.  

     

    Me too. What nobody understands is, how did they find the ambition to found a whole company based on that trait?

  • BiskopBiskop AvalonPosts: 709Member

    You make too much sense, Psykobilly. Your analysis is of course 100% correct but that will not make SV listen to you.

    I mean, if they had listened to reason, the situation would be totally different by now.

    Sadly it's way too late for them to turn the ship around at this point. They've done so many fatal mistakes - coding mistakes, design mistakes, implementation priority mistakes, QA mistakes, PR mistakes, CRM mistakes - it's not even funny.

    They started off badly and it has only gotten worse over time. The game is a mess and it will take nothing less than a total overhaul, made by a different company in a radically different way, to save it. And tbh I don't think that will happen any time soon.

  • JakdstripperJakdstripper logan lake, BCPosts: 2,126Member Uncommon

    the only thing this game needs is bug fixing. there are too many and a lot fo them game braking. they dont even need to change anything else. just fix all the damn bugs, and make 95% of what is already in the game work well. that's it.....just fix the coding.

    exploiting is the next biggest thing but the majority of exploiting is due because of poor coding to begin with.  

     

    even just doing that would turn the ship arround and make this game a small success. not popular or hugely profitablel, because lets face it the fan base will always be niche, but it will be a good game for those that want ffa full loot sandbox. the game, when it works, it's very very fun.

     

    80% of people that have played and left MO did so because they got fed up with all the bugs and exploits.

     

     

    just...fix....your....damn.....coding! 

     

     

     

  • username509username509 beverly hills, CAPosts: 635Member

    The idea that lowering the monthly fee would bring in more players is just plain wrong.  They could actually increase there monthly fee if they really wanted to.  Right now with the exchange rates I believe Mortal Online has the highest monthly fee of any MMO.  

    If Mortal went f2p it would have more players, but no one wants that.  Most Mortal players hate item shops.  

     

     

    The very idea that SV is in financial trouble is wrong.  The numbers they release from time to time are just that, numbers.  It really isn't that expensive to keep a game server up and running.  The only real problem is the cost of continued developement.  If SV gets more subs that would generally mean more developers, less subs, less developers until its just Henrik and Seb sharing a cubicle.  

    Since Mortal Online is about to release the next major expansion and number of developers in SV hasn't significantly changed in the past year I think its safe to say that SV will be around for a long time.  

     

     

     

    Never trust a screenshot or a youtube video without a version stamp!

  • w4ffl3w4ffl3 Gainesville, FLPosts: 36Member

    Originally posted by username509

    The idea that lowering the monthly fee would bring in more players is just plain wrong.  They could actually increase there monthly fee if they really wanted to.  Right now with the exchange rates I believe Mortal Online has the highest monthly fee of any MMO.  

    If Mortal went f2p it would have more players, but no one wants that.  Most Mortal players hate item shops.  

     

     

    The very idea that SV is in financial trouble is wrong.  The numbers they release from time to time are just that, numbers.  It really isn't that expensive to keep a game server up and running.  The only real problem is the cost of continued developement.  If SV gets more subs that would generally mean more developers, less subs, less developers until its just Henrik and Seb sharing a cubicle.  

    Since Mortal Online is about to release the next major expansion and number of developers in SV hasn't significantly changed in the past year I think its safe to say that SV will be around for a long time.  

     

     

     

    I agree that lowering the monthly fee won't actually do much to MO's numbers.  The problem with MO isn't price, it's public interest in the game.  There are just too many bugs and too much of a learning curve for your typical newbie for a really healthy population within the game, even if you only charged $5/month.  As far as current subscribers, they buy into the MO concept enough and are strong enough fans that they'll pretty much pay any price to play the game.

    And I agree with your second point to a degree--obviously SV has been operating for quite a while on a shoestring budget, and may be able to for a bit still.  But, financials are nothing but "numbers"--at the end of the day, you're going to need to make moer money than you spend, and they have yet to actually do that except for the quarter when MO released. They've got to turn this ship around eventually, they can't always operate in the red.

  • BiskopBiskop AvalonPosts: 709Member

    Originally posted by Jakdstripper

     

    just...fix....your....damn.....coding! 

     

     

    Easier said than done.

    MO's code is such a horrible mess that it would take a professional team of programmers considerable time to "fix" it - they'd probably have to redo most of it from scratch. Since SV have gone by the "let's throw this new complex stuff in and see what happens"-approach to game design, the code is probably all jumbled up and the uncountable bugs, exploitable systems, placeholders, non-working "features" and poorly optimized shit all tie together throughout the game, making quick fixes impossible.

    But that doesn't matter, since SV has no professional programmers anyway, and couldn't afford to hire any. In other words, MO will never be "fixed".

     

  • CroniteLoreCroniteLore EnglandiumPosts: 99Member

    The words 'cash shop' make me want to vomit on my keyboard and if SV introduce this I with a lot of other people will leave.

    Playing any game with your bank account is sooo meh, I don't even know where to start.

    Also given your current status in the game I'd be suprised if anyone would pay note.

    "In MO, even the haters are hardcore!" - ltank

  • MordragMOMordragMO PdamPosts: 136Member

    edit: nah.

  • realnasterealnaste LondonPosts: 98Member

    " You should add a cash shop for purely cosmetic upgrades like dyes, guild banners, custom tatoos, tweaked armor, housing skins, pallisade skins, keep skins, etc. "

    And swords and armors. Also metals and other resources, and allow pvp ONLY in restricted arenas.

    Yeah, this is a terribad idea, sorry.

    Maybe you could make a good pvp game, maybe not, but most definately you would fail at a sandbox just as hard as AV did.

  • ToferioToferio RandomPosts: 1,403Member Uncommon

    I honestly don't understand rage against cosmetic only cash shop. What's wrong with allowing people to buy different look, and look only, as long as it makes your favourite game survive?

  • MordragMOMordragMO PdamPosts: 136Member

    Originally posted by Toferio

    I honestly don't understand rage against cosmetic only cash shop. What's wrong with allowing people to buy different look, and look only, as long as it makes your favourite game survive?

    Nothing imo.

    (Just informing you that you aren't alone with that point of view. :p)

  • AethaerynAethaeryn Kitchener, ONPosts: 1,971Member Uncommon

    It is not the cost that has me not playing currently. . more the bugs and the cycle of releasing broken updates and fixing them just as you release another update that has something broken in it.

     

    I won't pay $8 for a game I don't want to play anymore than I would pay $15 or $30.

    If they fixed the issues they had I would certainly be back even if it was $20 etc.

     

    I get the point about making people more lenient on the flaws but it also devalues the game too much as a product and good luck bringing those prices back up after without a lot of outrage.

    Wa min God! Se æx on min heafod is!

  • JoeyMMOJoeyMMO SomewherePosts: 1,326Member

    Originally posted by psykobilly

     

    *snip*

      Change the revenue model.  Lower monthly subscription fees to reflect the status of the game as a non-triple-A game.  If the model was around 7-8$ a month the public as a whole would be more forgiving of the flaws, and we might see a decent population jump.  Population jumps lead to more in game activity and that leads to more new customers. You should add a cash shop for purely cosmetic upgrades like dyes, guild banners, custom tatoos, tweaked armor, housing skins, pallisade skins, keep skins, etc. which would compensate for the lower monthly subscription revenue. Nothing in the shop would give any advantage whatsoever, but there are lots of ways to make money there.  

     Do you really think that lowering the subscription fee will cause a population jump? Do you think that people look for the MMO with the lower subscription fee, especially when you're adding a cash shop? I doubt that a lot.

    I think the FFA full loot niche is so small that nothing will save the genre. There are a lot of people that talk big about full loot FFA games, but when push comes to shove they're, more often than not, unwilling to put their money where their mouth is.

    imageimage
  • SHOE788SHOE788 Ankeny, IAPosts: 700Member

    Originally posted by JoeyMMO

    Originally posted by psykobilly

     

    *snip*

      Change the revenue model.  Lower monthly subscription fees to reflect the status of the game as a non-triple-A game.  If the model was around 7-8$ a month the public as a whole would be more forgiving of the flaws, and we might see a decent population jump.  Population jumps lead to more in game activity and that leads to more new customers. You should add a cash shop for purely cosmetic upgrades like dyes, guild banners, custom tatoos, tweaked armor, housing skins, pallisade skins, keep skins, etc. which would compensate for the lower monthly subscription revenue. Nothing in the shop would give any advantage whatsoever, but there are lots of ways to make money there.  

     Do you really think that lowering the subscription fee will cause a population jump? Do you think that people look for the MMO with the lower subscription fee, especially when you're adding a cash shop? I doubt that a lot.

    I think the FFA full loot niche is so small that nothing will save the genre. There are a lot of people that talk big about full loot FFA games, but when push comes to shove they're, more often than not, unwilling to put their money where their mouth is.

    The fatal flaw is definitely not considering the change in the MMO market before identifying requirements. This game will never be played or accepted by a PVE crowd because there are tons of better PVE games out there. Back when ultima online was at it's peak there were only a couple games that were even MMOs, funneling customers who didn't like FFA Full loot games into a game where there was this aspect. Secondly, the teenagers and early twenty crowd who played Ultima are now into their late twenties and early thirties. They probably have wives and kids now and don't devote a large portion of their time to gaming anymore. If they game at all it's in games where casual play is supported.

    I've said it before but Mortal Online was created for a market that doesn't profitably exist anymore.

  • Darth_OsorDarth_Osor Mt Laurel, NJPosts: 1,089Member

    Originally posted by psykobilly

     

    Right now, according to all the financials, the company is in trouble.  

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Did they release their Q1 financials?  Their stock has been worthless for at least 6 months.

  • TalonsinTalonsin Posts: 1,468Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by username509

     

    The very idea that SV is in financial trouble is wrong.  The numbers they release from time to time are just that, numbers.   

     

     

    Are you actually saying that the numbers reported by SV to the government dont mean anything?  I think the American automobile and banking industries felt the same way a few years back. 

  • ToferioToferio RandomPosts: 1,403Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by username509

    Since Mortal Online is about to release the next major expansion and number of developers in SV hasn't significantly changed in the past year I think its safe to say that SV will be around for a long time.  

    They are down to 6 developers from what, 20 at the point of release? So much for no significant change.. 

  • ilivesilives Fort Dodge, KSPosts: 418Member

    Originally posted by Toferio

    Originally posted by username509

    Since Mortal Online is about to release the next major expansion and number of developers in SV hasn't significantly changed in the past year I think its safe to say that SV will be around for a long time.  

    They are down to 6 developers from what, 20 at the point of release? So much for no significant change.. 

     Aren't  they farming it out now?

    Where have all the "good" shills gone?

  • psykobillypsykobilly NYC, NYPosts: 338Member

    Originally posted by JoeyMMO

     Do you really think that lowering the subscription fee will cause a population jump? Do you think that people look for the MMO with the lower subscription fee, especially when you're adding a cash shop? I doubt that a lot.

    I think the FFA full loot niche is so small that nothing will save the genre. There are a lot of people that talk big about full loot FFA games, but when push comes to shove they're, more often than not, unwilling to put their money where their mouth is.

    I didn't mean to say that lowering the fee _alone_ will cause a jump in population.  What I meant is that if all 6 points are executed... then yes there will be a jump in population.  As CEO, I would personally hype the game and explain all the details I just outlined.  That includes bug fixing and explaining bugs that are not fixed.

    I believe people would take a second look and jump in the game.  And they would have a fucking manual to start from.

    You're right the FFA niche is small, but I think its big enough to make money if you run the business right..

     

  • tawesstawess LkpgPosts: 2,532Member Uncommon

    Also i like to point out that it is A LOT easier to sit down as an outsider, unbound by any constraints and wish up a nice solution to all problems, and a entire thing entirely to make said solution work within the constraints that is usualy found within a organisation, having to work with old baggage and split vision.

     

    That being said input is always input and only a fool ignores it.

  • psykobillypsykobilly NYC, NYPosts: 338Member

    Originally posted by tawess

    Also i like to point out that it is A LOT easier to sit down as an outsider, unbound by any constraints and wish up a nice solution to all problems, and a entire thing entirely to make said solution work within the constraints that is usualy found within a organisation, having to work with old baggage and split vision.

     

    That being said input is always input and only a fool ignores it.

    Henrik (and friends) have majority ownership.

    A big part of my post is (subtly) pointing out the fact that you can never have real change when there is dictatorial control over the direction of a company.  Hence my 'open letter to the board'.

    The sad part is that this is a company on the Swedish market that is pitched as a 'public company'.  It is not a public company in any true sense and no investor could ever excercise any rights that made a difference.

    I still stand by the idea that I could take control of the company and turn a profit in spite of everything done so far.

     

     

     

  • sakkdaddysakkdaddy SandnesPosts: 45Member

    I agree with the OP on every point really.  Lowering the subscription rate and having a cosmetic-only shop is also a very good idea for a game like this where so many people want multiple accounts.

     

    One of the reasons I am hesitant to resubscribe is because I know that I would want to have two of my accounts active if I did, or neither.  Just simple things like trading items across characters is real a pain in the ass with a single account.

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