WWII Online/Battleground Europe has managed 7 years of action, and still going. On the scale of things, we’re a tiny fish, but we’ve managed this long on a largely $0 marketing budget – word-of-mouth has been our staple and mainstay for most of the last 6 years. To my mind, that speaks volumes about the underlying game.
As we work with the Chinese company that approached us seeking to launch WWIIOL in the PRC, maybe next year will see a turn around in income that allows us to begin actively marketing the product. Whenever we have gotten some significant marketing, like the Giga TV spot earlier this year, the game sells itself. But without coverage, it’s all been WoM.
I still see great potential in this game, but to ever acheive significant growth we’re going to need investment: either cold hard cash or manhours — e.g. being bought out by someone with their own developers that can tackle parts of the engine that someone with the right experience can probably fix with a snap of the fingers. China might bring in the money we need to push some real marketing, and it may bring in the money to hire-up again.
But it’s hard not to wish we could hire-up again before China; when I started there were 24 Rats. Admittedly, CRS were in Chapter 11 and struggling after having been majorly screwed over by their original ISP, forcing them into an incredibly expensive legal case. Not long after I joined several rats were laid off. Today there are 14 of us.
Some of those lay offs … I think were mutually for the best, guys that first year had eaten up; some of them were tough calls. There was one that the programming team and Toto quietly celebrated.
On the odd occasion when I’m looking at a job offer from a head hunter or someone who’s read my blog and thinks I might like to move to somewhere in the EU(*) to work on elves vs transformers, or when Thunder is trying to convince me that Blizzard wants me … The first thing that always comes to mind is “But what will I play if there’s no WWII Online?” (* I’ve no inclination to work in Europe. In order of preference: Texas, Seattle, Chicago, California, Boston, Holland, England. And yes, I said Seattle ;-P)
We still have lots of plans for this game, even when people are burned out here there is still a sort of underlying devotion to the game; it just has that kind of a quality to it. Heck, we even have a pretty exciting plan for a “BE 2.0” that takes a lot of the lessons we’ve learned and repackages them with some of the best aspects of BE 1.0.
We’re running a bunch of promos and free trials and stuff this next week, there’ll be a fair amount of Rat activity in the game. I hope to see a few of you in there ;)