Progress Report: Sword of the New World
Before the Austin Game Developers Conference, back in leipzig, Jon Wood had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Peter Cesario, the Director of Product Development for K2 Networks. The two talked about Sword of the New World, and what's been going on since the game launched.
Now that we have added our AGDC Sword of the New World interview, I wanted to go back in time a little bit to uncover an interview that I did with Peter Cesario, the Director of Product Development for K2 Network previous to the show.
We had a fairly interesting conversation about what's happened with this game since its launch. The biggest news being that when the game launched, players had to pay a monthly fee (subscription model) whereas now, the game is entirely Free-to-Play (they did have a limited Item Shop before, which was populated with cosmetic items only).
Free-to-Play, to me, has always been a misleading statement. Sure, you can play the game without paying monthly, but with an Item Shop, you're also spending money... But that's a rant for another time.
K2 Network's core philosophy has always involved the Item Shop business model, and really that's what they do best. Making the change for Sword of the New World can be seen not as a radical shift, but more as a return to what K2 does best.
They also wanted to make sure that the Item Shop is handled properly, making sure that none of the items in the shop are game-breakers.
"It's not a good idea," he said, "to sell advantages."
With that in mind, I asked him about the way that the game's players have responded to the change. He told me that so far, the player feedback has been fairly positive. That being said though, he also added that it's "hard to please everyone, no matter what you do."
Still, according to Cesario, they didn't run head-long into this decision without discussing it with their players. They ran polls of their player base, and the free-to-play model won "overwhelmingly". Cesario attributes it to K2's previous reputation:
"K2's customers have come to recognize that K2 is Free-to-Play."
That being said, and going back to the fact that you really can't please everyone all of the time, K2 had also decided to compensate their players for such a large shift in the way that things are done, offering players 1,000 gold each, which is equivalent to about $10 per unused month that had been paid for.
Moving past the whole business model change, I wanted to know what else has changed since the game's launch.
He told me right up front that they hadn't added any new content to the game as of yet... But that really didn't surprise me, the game launched very recently. This month though, they are introducing more events and unlocking dungeons that were previously locked to players. They also plan to run a number of GM events of which they have a number of different kinds. The first is the PvP tournament, pretty cool if you're into that kind of thing, but my rally piqued my own personal interest were what Cesario described as "random events".
Random events might see GMs spawning monsters somewhere... anywhere really, so long as it makes sense in the overall story. These events can happen at any time and are totally unannounced, but could provide players with a little bit of extra fun from time to time.
I've always liked the idea of GMs being more of a fixture in the day-to-day of a game, and I've always been a fan of random, live events. Further to that, Cesario said something that really interested me:
"It's important to us that we don't treat our GMs as just police."
Whether you like Sword of the New World, or you don't, or whether or not you approve of the "free-to-play" model you have to admit that, with opinions like that, K2 is certainly doing something right.