Saving the Persistent Browser-Based Games

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Unknownhero
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Saving the Persistent Browser-Based Games

Postby Unknownhero » Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:13 am

The pbbg genre is dying. What use to attract hundreds of players is now only getting dozens. Acivity is dropping across the board, forums are growing silent. Players are abandoning games and going to play popular games on their phones or on their consoles. Games are shutting down or staying dormant with tiny player bases.

Where are the players going? Why aren't they playing browser games? That is problaby the biggest question around to ask. Why aren't the players on the games? They didn't just retire from gaming did they?

Here is my best guess. Players have moved on to other popular games that aren't playing in the browser because browser games are stuck in the past. Browsers are getting faster every year and a few days ago Firefox released a new version of the even faster browser. And what is the new inventions are browser games have? text messaging and social media login. They aren't recording videos because the gameplay is lousy. Its click here and click this and click click click.

PBBG's are stuck in the past with old mechanics as well. They are not pushing the limits. They are only doing more of the same. Why play a browser game when you can play overwatch or game on your console. Players have choices now and they are choosing not to join in. Browsers have no limitations on what you can or can't do anymore. Browsers can play first person shooter games or RTS or MMOrpg if you so choose. Yet we have turn based breed/battle/raise your own pet deal. It is almost 2018 that is not going to work anymore.

A lack of players also contributes to a lack of funding meaning there isn't money to sustain development of better games using the old gameplay. Stagnation is setting in and the improvements are coming a little at a time. Not enough to stem the tide.

Why play a text game if you can play Overwatch instead. In the next post will be about how the Pbbg genre can be saved.
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Vulpini
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Re: Saving the Persistent Browser-Based Games

Postby Vulpini » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:43 am

I think another aspect is owner involvement. One thing that PBBGs do more than most other types of games is community. This means they are much more prone to dying when there is a low number of players, but also players are less likely to want to stay on a game that has few or no updates. Of the few PBBGs that remain, most have had active staff involvement over time, and regular updates. I can think of one main exception to that, but that game is also one of the oldest PBBG that's still running, and has a very self sustaining community.
We had a big boom a few years back, where there were dozens of new games coming up every couple of months, and this split the community, as user chose games that best suited their interests. However, PBBGs have a tendency to spiral into death when there aren't enough players to maintain a community.

The mechanics are definitely another big issue. Plain text-based games just aren't engaging enough in the on-demand world we live in now. Simply breeding pixels and pitting them against other pixels gets old after a while.

I also think PBBGs suffer from a lack of marketing. Even when there were multiple popular and active games, most sign-ups came from other PBBGs. For such a niche game style, not bringing in fresh players was always going to lead to a major decline in popularity. There are so many easily accessible gaming sites out there, such as Steam and Itch.io that if you aren't shoving your game in people's faces, they will probably never even know it exists. There are so many games out there now, especially with all the indie devs putting out their own novel ideas, that it doesn't take much time to find a game doing pretty much anything you want. Less time searching means less likely to find other games, and if you're not even advertising there's virtually no chance someone who hasn't already played a PBBG will find it.
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Sam
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Re: Saving the Persistent Browser-Based Games

Postby Sam » Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:57 pm

I largely agree with what @Vulpini said.

There are plenty of PBBG's that still have thousands of active members. Howrse, Flight Rising, Lioden, Pottermore - just to name a few. Those are all 100% browser-based, and largely text-based games of varying sizes.

It's not the genre that's dying, it's individual games. For years, there has been this idea that because some games are closing and others open and aren't instant successes that the entire genre is knocking on death's door, but that's not how it works. There was a huge boom in development because everyone wanted to bring their dream game to life, but the unfortunate reality is that most of those games never actually dropped because the people developing them either lost interest, didn't know what they were getting into, or there were unsolvable problems along the way.

Plus when no one pulls in new members and only advertises in places like this - how can they expect their game to grow? The vast majority of people on these forums are not prospective players, they're developers in some capacity, so they're not interested in playing a different game. Other game genres have MASSIVE advertising campaigns and also rely on the stores that sell their games to advertise for them, because more than one party is profiting from the sale of said games. With games like ours, the only person profiting or advertising is us, and usually the budget is chump change compared to huge gaming companies.

Not to mention that these games rely on a constant flow of new players and the community staying active, because their life cycle is constant. It's not the same as a console game like Overwatch, because those games have a finite life. Even when they're designed with an MMO aspect in mind, they still have a finite life, because a few years later the sequel comes out. If you considered the decline in sales and people playing those games, as a game "dying" though, then they die left and right. But that's how they were designed. Comparing an indie PBBG to a console and PC game from Blizzard is comparing apples and oranges.

And they certainly aren't comparable to mobile games, because those are designed to generate a ton of micro-transactions and advertising revenue overnight, and then fizzle out. When is the last time you played Temple Run, or Fruit Ninja, or Angry Birds? They're already moved on and come out with multiple brand new versions of the games. They're not designed to be operated and played over a span of years.

I don't think it's fair, or even helpful, to compare the successes of games in other genres to the successes of the games in this one, because they're not even measured the same. We're not selling however many copies of the game, or aiming for however many downloads. We're largely aiming for daily active users, and subscriptions - and the amount of subscriptions it takes to maintain a pet sim is MUCH smaller than the number of WoW expansions Blizzard needs to sell to maintain their servers.

My game, HP, isn't even in the top rungs of PBBG success - BUT it does have hundreds of daily active users, with multiple paid subscriptions, and dedicated players who have been with the game for years. I'm not rolling in money over here, but I have generated enough income to live off of for 8, almost 9, years now, which in my book is a success even if I'm not pushing 100,000 or even 1000 people online at any given moment.
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Unknownhero
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Re: Saving the Persistent Browser-Based Games

Postby Unknownhero » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:26 am

Sorry I gotten busy with stuff in real life and it makes it hard to find time to make a good post. What I am talking about is the genre as a whole. It is not healthy and games that don't make it have a negative effect on genre has a whole. The genre isn't booming as it was years before and really that is the issue. The competition out there for players is fierce and its getting worse every day.
Not to mention that these games rely on a constant flow of new players and the community staying active, because their life cycle is constant. It's not the same as a console game like Overwatch, because those games have a finite life. Even when they're designed with an MMO aspect in mind, they still have a finite life, because a few years later the sequel comes out. If you considered the decline in sales and people playing those games, as a game "dying" though, then they die left and right. But that's how they were designed. Comparing an indie PBBG to a console and PC game from Blizzard is comparing apples and oranges.
You are competing against other games wither you want it to be or not. Back 10 years ago, consoles were barely getting online with the internet. Smartphones weren't around and tablets didn't exist. PCs were still somewhat expensive to buy and own so if you wanted to play multiplayer online with others all over the world. What did you play? PBBG! Now? You can jump on Overwatch on console and play with people from around the world. Can you tell how many players on your game would seeing that your site is down, jump on Overwatch with their friends and play that instead? What I am really saying is players have choices now. They aren't stuck to one or two games anymore. They can always move somewhere else. They are playing your game because that is the game they want to play. Their choices are killing the PBBG genre because the genre isn't offering them anything they can't get anywhere else. If that doesn't scare you or make you think then you're missing the whole point. Players don't need your game, but your game needs your players to survive. The market has switched and its now the players who make the choices. They can jump ship at anytime.

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