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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.