Battleplan to save the Battleborns (PC version)

Before anything else, I’m not sure if I post in the right section so if an administrator or moderator needs to move this, please do.

Also before the real subject, here are some of my stats, to know the perspective I’m writing this from:
. 171 hours played
. Got all global achievements except for Solus War Hardcore Hero . Otherwise, all I miss are lore related achievements.
. Command rank 100
. Haven’t played the beta but played since day 1.
. My most played Battleborns are : El Dragon, Reyna, Kelvin, Ghalt and Miko.

So, the issue I want to address is the fact the PC version, more precisely the PC (Steam) community, is (I wouldn’t say dying but at the very least) struggling. As I write this, there are 554 people in-game.

Now that I stated the issue here is my goal with this thread, to simply have a discussion about solutions and plans to get the community back on its feet. I’m not pretending to bring anything new or anything the Devs and people at Gearbox don’t know or don’t follow but maybe we can find what are the roots of the problem with the help of the community and come with a solution that would benefit us all.

Back to the subject, the PC community is small and declining. Here are the players count: http://steamcharts.com/app/394230 A few weeks ago, the average number was around 900 and we even reached 1400 with the Play with the Devs event but it keeps dropping.

One thing I noticed and the charts don’t show it, the player base is actually rotating. Sure there are others level 100 and you can be matched with 2 or 3 regularly but in the past few weeks, I’ve often been teamed, both in Story mode and PvP, with players under level 30! Here is a picture of a match yesterday evening : http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=722798201
While I agree that 1 match isn’t a tendency and I should post more to back my point, it still shows that there are new players coming to the community.

So , player retention might be a bigger issue than “player attraction”.

Back to the Play with the Devs event, if you look at the chart and dates you’ll see that a few hundreds came just for the event and left when it was over. It shows that there are more people interested in the game than the active players count shows but those persons may simply be waiting for new and steady challenges to commit or make a comeback. Note that by challenges I’m talking about events, maps and game modes not characters.

I don’t want to derail the subject but the issue with the characters is one part of the community thinks some are broken (unbalanced), one part thinks they’re fine and one part doesn’t care at all. One thing is common though, a good deal of players would rather stick with the 26 Battleborns we got right now and play new modes and missions than see 4 others Battleborn come out and change the meta/balance of the game for 1 month each time because they’re gonna see them in every single match they play for that period.

Another point that may affect player retention is the matchmaking system. I’m not gonna bash it, criticize it or do anything like that because it’s obvious it has flaws but it’s even more obvious from all the recent changes that the issue is being worked on. Can’t accuse them of not trying. Yet, one thing should be slightly more taken into consideration, the Command rank. Sure a higher rank doesn’t always mean a better player and many of us won games versus a team that had higher Command ranks but at this point in time and as we get further from the release date it gets more polarized, the higher level players do tends to be better (from experience mostly) than new players. Usually at level 100 you mastered at least 1 Battleborn and have all the items to make him/her a killing machine while under level 10 you’re probably searching for the right match while hoping to get the locked characters soon.

About 2 weeks ago I got matched with 4 others level 100 and while it was fun to play with people who know what to do and played as a team, I’m willing to bet the house it wasn’t as fun for the opposing team whose top player was level 50. They also had 3 under level 10. We won 997 to 0 (because they surrendered), we had only 1 death (mine) and our kills and assists counts went through the roof but halfway in only 3 of them were coming out and one left (ragequit or other reason) and didn’t came back. This kind of matchup (probably) doesn’t make the experience enjoyable for new players, especially if you consider how small the community is and how that makes the chances higher that you face this situation again. Maybe the average command rank on each team should be taken a little more into account.

Now that 2 of the biggest issues of player retention are covered let’s talk about “player attraction”.

Again, the community is divided in 2 camps. Some thinks going Free-to-play is the way while others try to find other options.

On PC, with the Steam platform, Free weekends might do the job if they’re well planned. Going from Thursday night or Friday morning through Monday morning it could bring a lot of potential players. If such event would coincide with the release of a new Battleborn or new maps it would show how the unlock system works so people wouldn’t be surprised if they buy the game. With a big header on the store page it could get a lot of attention.

Going Free-to-play might be an option but there is still the question : what is needed ? More players or more “serious” players ? While it may boost the numbers it could also divide the community at the same time.

As of right now, it seems there is still a core of players who stick with the game. The only question is for how long ?

Thoughts ?
Suggestions ?

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Your exactly in the right section. Thank you for the detailed analysis as well as your thoughts and opinions. Threads like these really do help developers get in touch with what their community is feeling and thinking.

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@phat_farmer4,

I agree with your sentiment and a few of your points but I have a different perspective.

PVE is working.
It takes half as many players to form a team.
It allows for more freedom in maps, gear, characters.
But more importantly, It plays to your strengths, Story, FPS, Character development etc.

In PVE you have the kernel of a great game.
Let’s build on that.
More great maps, storylines, gear, helix choices, levels etc.
I (and many that I have spoken to) love the PVE experience.
We love the maps, characters, the dialog. The gear needs some work but hey.
We are really enjoying the game.
And we want more.

We are not going to be lured into the windowless white-panel van that is PVP by lore requirements.
I have consulted with my fellow wizards. We have watched the videos and twitch streams.
We are not going to come over to PVP.
It’s not you.
It’s PVP.

I get it, sunk-cost bias is a b!tch.
But play to your strengths.
Be great again.
We will be here.
Waiting.

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3 posts were split to a new topic: Chodespode alt posts

The moderators said a lot of times that they only close threads when the OP did it in a disrespectfully way and breaking the forum rules.

I know how to save it…

F2P
It’s easy as, 1 2 3
As simple as, do re mi
F2P 1 2 3 Baby, you and me girl

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Would you rather the player base get smaller and smaller until you wait hours for a match? I paid the full $125 for digital deluxe and I’m still all for F2P. I’ve easily gotten my moneys worth, now I just want more players.

[quote=“madness420x, post:7, topic:1540717”] would be cool if they could make it free to play but limit the characters you get/missions you can do, until you buy the full version.
[/quote]

Yeah that’s probably what going F2P would entail. I didn’t mean just give everything we paid $$$ for away for free.

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I’m PC, and I can still find people running PvE (admittedly, this requires a minimum of 2 people instead of 10 so it’s a lot easier). I can understand the PC consternation.

It’s important to realize that, for PvP, the low population is something of a positive feedback loop: fewer players means it’s harder to get a PvP match, especially for one of the less popular modes, which means that fewer people are going to PvP which means etc.

Also, I know that a few of my friends have said they’re taking a short break before the LOOTPOCALYPSE this weekend, which they fully intend on farming for a good long while. Might explain some of the current doldrums.

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@jYorkElder

We have different viewpoints on this, but I’d like to add:

There are lots and lots of people who really enjoy PVP, who in fact, only like Battleborn because of the PVP (I’m not one of these people, I like both).

The fact that the average queue time on PS4 still hovers around 3-5 minutes (the same as it has been for months), and actually drops to 1-3 minutes with combined queues, shows that at least on that console, there are plenty of people playing PVP.

There are times it’s actually more difficult to find five people to play PVE than it is to find 10 to play PVP (there are a lot of reasons for this, that might have more to do with matchmaking than demand).


While I think that some additional attention should be directed towards PVE (like the upcoming story missions, and more focus on providing new ways to learn more about our characters), I fail to see why flipping the focus to PVE would save the game.

I do think it’s easier to populate a game which is more focused on 1-5 person teams,

That being said, it’s also much more expensive and time consuming to produce enough content to keep PVE players happy in the long run (and even the mid-tern).

A non-exhaustive list of resources required to make a single level:

  1. Voice actors
  2. Level / Scenario Designers
  3. Writers / Editors
  4. Scripters / Back-End Folks
  5. Artists
  6. Designers
  7. Storyboarders

There is a reason that the DLC missions aren’t out yet, a reason beyond the fact that the teams focus is split between the two modes. That reason is that it simply takes a ton of clock time to create a new level, even using the hub/spoke model that Battleborn uses.


@phat_farmer4

I tend to agree much more strongly with your assertion that tactics to improve player retention is where we should focus.

Some ideas:

  1. Providing a free trial / demo period to give people a low barrier method to actually learn the game.
  2. Continuing to do substantial events to improve the engagement of the current base.
  3. Finding ways to segment matchmaking, so that platforms with different player populations can still find games in a reasonable amount of time.
  4. Providing better in-game tutorials, so that people new to this game style can learn more easily.
  5. Providing more missions, lore, skins, dialogue, customization options, taunts, emotes, voice packs – just about everything to allow people to have more ownership over their characters.

I’m not sure if free-to-play is the right approach, even on the PC.

I do think that additional characters will help with retention. People like new characters, it gives them things to do, even though it does change the meta.


Ultimately, I think there are two core problems that Battleborn faces.

  1. Difficulty for the average player to keep it up and play at a reasonable level of skill.
  2. The vicious cycle that the PC faces where low initial population leads to bad matchmaking, leads to players leaving, leads to even worse matchmaking and so on.

The second can be solved with a large (very) large influx of new players, through some kind of low barrier to entry event.

The first is a bit more complicated.

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Off-topic, but what you’re describing is a positive feedback loop. Change in a stock causes that stock to change at a higher rate, repeat. Negative feedback causes the change in a stock to slow down/stabilize.

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@jYorkElder

I do enjoy PvE just as much as PvP. While I agree that the Story mode is great, I’m not sure where you’re getting at with the PvP. You’re saying it’s a kind of trap? You said you and others watched the videos and streams but how about your experience in that mode ?

Maybe we’ll have to agree to disagree but I do not believe lore challenges are required to enjoy playing a Battleborn or simply playing the game. Sure completing all 5 challenges award you an item with a special ability but I can’t say all of those items are worth it.

So far I completed the challenges for Ambra, El Dragon, Miko, Kelvin, Reyna and Kleese.
I don’t have Kleese’s item due to a bug (an issue some other players have) so I can’t talk about it but El Dragon’s item is a double-edged sword and I don’t use it because there are better things for him out there and Miko’s one is also somewhat underwhelming compared to others. Reyna’s item is nice but its specific ability doesn’t bring anything new if you picked the healing at level 4. Ambra’s and Kelvin’s items are pretty solid though.

I would agree that some numbers required in PvP are far fetched. Getting 10 First blood kills with Ghalt is challenging, yet possible but killing Ambra 25 times as Alani is not realistic with the small community on PC and taking into account that there are 25 others Battleborns that can be picked each game.

Despite all those issues, I still do not think PvP should be neglected. Maybe it’s just me but whenever I see players, on my team or the other, with a “rare” title I check their profile to get an idea of the kind of player they are. I haven’t seen the titles that requires 10K kills or assists yet but I’ve seen a few Predator, Always late and Obliterator. You don’t get those by playing PvP just a bit. You would be surprised to see how many persons who have such titles haven’t even finished the game on advanced yet. I even saw the Nope Nope Nope title once. It can be done in both modes, yet I’m willing to bet some of the kills were made in Incursion since it’s in that mode that I saw it.

I can’t say the numbers because I don’t have them but I’m pretty sure that neglecting PvP would reduce even more the size of the community.

@sbspalding

While we may not agree a 100% on everything it seems we do share a "common view " on some aspects.

You got some great suggestions.

I would add to number 2 that “solving” current issues could also improve the engagement of the current base. I do read the Battleplans, so I know the popular issues are being working on but one that may affect both player retention and attraction is the lack of consequences/punishment for quitters.

Even if some efforts are put into finding a solution it does give arguments to the bad reviews.

The way others and I see things, the long term solution should indeed be exclusion (mostly from PvP) for a short period of time but that’s not viable option right now. With such a small community we can’t really afford to exclude and potentially lose more players.

The short term solution should be reduced rewards, both in Coins and XP earned. That way it wouldn’t be too harsh for those who leave for “good” reasons but it would still punish those who just leave because they don’t care. It would also remove the need to approach the issue on a case by case basis.

@DevonS3

You’re right but the problem is the overall numbers are still dropping while the player base is rotating.

The cause(s) is(are) in front of us but it seems we can’t put our finger on it.

@phat_farmer4 - Oh, I was just pointing out that the theoretical feedback loop given above was a positive, and not negative, feedback loop. (It was gonna bug me if I didn’t).

But, since I’m here, I actually do find it likely that the retention rates are at least partially due to matchmaking times, though there’s obviously more going on than that. I mean, most dynamic systems have multiple feedback loops going on at once.
The rotating player-base is likely keeping the player-base (on PC) from completely bottoming out. (Though, it’d be nice to see the actual user graphs for that, and they’re not currently in front of me). I also think another likely mitigating factor for why the game is still losing players, but nowhere near at the rate it was, is that the current base of players who have been around a while like the game enough to either put up with the wait times (for now), or to find pre-mades to play private modes with.

Anyway, there are plenty of ideas going around for how to increase retention (and why retention is dropping), so I’ll leave that for now. Also, I was woken up by my dumb dog (whom I love), so I’m not exactly firing on all cylinders at the moment. Lol.

Yeah, new players are playing, we just need retentton and to recapture those who already left. If they announced a new mode and that almost every character changed, and then when they opened the game they also found out there’s a new limit on Command Rank, we’d get a lot of players back. We really need more marketing effort from 2K though.

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The game is both great and fun to play. I paid top dollar of the Deluxe edition and I was hoping to see BB thrive for years to come. Unfortunately, the management made two critical errors.

First, they did not advertise the game enough to create a sufficiently large initial player base. A large player base, even after time decay, would have left a viable core of players.

Second, the management elected to go with “micro” transactions on a full price game. No matter how you spin it, you left a fraction of the player base with a bad taste in the mouth. Demoralizing part of the already small group of online players and sending of them away was not worth the thirty pieces of Platinum.

In other games, some people walk way after a single side quest gets bugged because they can’t get the complete experience. How did you expect for people to behave after putting content of a full priced game behind a paywall?

Best of luck to all. I still hope a miracle happens, but I am not holding my breath. Oneitis is overrated anyway.

[quote=“nllsq, post:16, topic:1540717, full:true”]First, they did not advertise the game enough to create a sufficiently large initial player base. A large player base, even after time decay, would have left a viable core of players.
[/quote]

There’s not much they could have done with the constant looming presence of Blizzard and Overwatch. That’s a lot the problem: Overwatch’s release schedule was pretty obviously aligned to directly interfere with Battleborn, especially at release (Overwatch open beta started on BB’s release day, iirc).

When you’ve got the market share and marketing power of Blizzard actively trying to impede your success, you’re gonna have a hard time no matter how hard you try and how good you are.

For the record I fall into that camp. I’ll never be an ex-Battleborn but after 786 hours (PC) I do need a break from the long wait queues that no longer reward me for waiting and from RNGesus denying me the Vow of Vengeance.

This has been a very interesting thread that brings one particular point up I’ve never considered. You will always be able to play PvE with friends, no matter how bad the player base gets. This shows the particular contrast that PvP requires the ability to find a match with strangers. You can’t get a group of 10 people together (as far as I know) to play in PvP. You could face a team of bots but they’re awkward and not really worth the time at the moment. So what are some options?

Due to the nature of that positive cycle, you are more guaranteed a PvE player base over a PvP player base in the future. It’s very important to take care of that PvE group because they are ultimately your life line. If you lose them before you can reestablish your PvP base, I fear it may be a point of no return. So some suggestions for PvE:
-Dynamic missions (which the dlc is doing). Give them more variety to keep it fresher
-More difficulties (mainly for private. Don’t want too many queues)
-More gear that does new things. Keep adding that variety.

This brings us to PvP. What’s the point of a new mode if you just can’t get your players back? That will add a new queue and thus longer wait times. We need to recapture the players that left. They left for a variety of reasons: quitters, bugs, exploits, cheaters, performance. Performance, bugs, and exploits all have been fixed for the majority of the old complaints (like Marquis cheesing on Overgrowth). Cheaters and quitters will hopefully be brought down with this new report feature. Almost all of their biggest complaints will be invalid, there will be new maps, 2 new characters to play (including alani) all by the end of this month. How do we get them back though?

Marketing.

Seriously, no bigger mistake has been made for this game than bad marketing. Release a new trailer that was of the quality of those skill videos before launch. Hell put the intro cinematic as the trailer (EVERYONE loved that) or even hire that team to make a new cinematic. Don’t make vague, confusing, poorly dramatic, trailers. Make trailers that make this game look as awesome it is. People need to know that this game is FUN more than anything else.
And start off the trailer with “From the creators of Borderlands”. Do a big sale (50% off) and include that in the advertising trailer. Mention new characters and maps available for free. And plaster it all over tv and YouTube and twitch. Do a blitzkrieg advertisement campaign. Don’t half-@ss it.

Sorry for the rant. I just remember the only advertising I actually saw was an occasional ad banner on a website.

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This is an excellent post, but my reason for stopping isn’t listed, and most of my friends stopped for the same reason.
Battleborn has some pretty bad optimization. many of the maps run at 10-20 fps on reasonable rigs, moreso for AMD Gpus. I’d like to see some better framerates and less performance issues, and I know many other people also would.
This really is a fun game, but not at 10fps. :confused:

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…PvE player here with nearly 600 hours and I was active in the beta.

As I post this there are 408 Steam players with a peak over the past 24 hours of 776.

Here’s a short list of what my friends and I believe are hurting the game, PvE specific:

  1. Far too much of the loot drops are utter trash, good only for selling and at that the sell value is much too low.
  2. Players like myself, with 117 Legendaries, can’t give any of them to our friends. No trading or sharing.
  3. Steam drops. Happened again just now, lost our entire game/team. Happens every Tuesday on Valve updates.
  4. Continued attack on PvE characters and gear due to changes in PvP.

This isn’t a Gbox problem but it does kill Battleborn, happens far too often, second time today so far:
image

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[Update]
I FINALLY got the Vow of Vengeance and it was max roll to boot! :grin: It happened last night and if that’s all the Lootpocalypse manages to deliver I consider it a resounding success because I’ve been farming for that item since the game was released!