HoDA: Exit Survey of a Mega-Whale

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  • HoDA: Exit Survey of a Mega-Whale

    Greetings!

    I'm Shelix. I'm one of the elusive whales that social media companies chase with freemium games. I just uninstalled HoDA. The point of this - my last post on the CG forums - is to share the following:

    -Definition of a whale
    -Why are whales important?
    -What attracts whales?
    -Capital Games Image
    -HoDA progression
    -Exit Survey of a Whale

    Whale: Definition
    whale 1 [hweyl, weyl]
    noun, plural whales ( especially collectively ) whale.1.A person who spends exorbitant currency through microtransactions in a social media game.


    Contrary to rumor and speculation, whales do not usually have highly addictive personalities, gambling addictions, nor do we max out credit cards to fund our habits. Rather, we are typically highly successful business people who value time more than money.

    How do I spend $15,000 through microtransactions in a game? $100-$250-$500 at a time. Whales are highly organized, and microtransactions get a budget like everything else in life, pursuant to negotiations with spouses or checking accounts. I want to spend $1,000 on a special event. My wife wants a new car. We both get what we want.

    Decisions for microtransactions happen the same way that business decisions are made. Two weeks of conference calls and e-mail exchanges to fix a $20,000 mistake is more wasteful than shelling out the $20,000 to just FIX the mistake and put it behind me. In a freemium game, spending a few weeks/months/years competing with people doesn't provide instant gratification, and if throwing money at it will put me on par, I'll get out the debit card. Justification is easy, if we even need to call it that. $100 for a gem pack? That's half the cost of my lunch bill on Tuesday. We're not filthy rich - just successful. Like most elites, we have our own circles. An IT director. A small business owner. A senior project manager. In some freemium games, we make our own guilds/clans/groups to completely dominate a server. If not, we respect each others' boundaries.

    But one and all, we make measured decisions that the money/fun tradeoff is worth it, and so we spend.

    Why Are Whales Important?

    Whales pay for games. We're the post-production investment. Developers don't create games like this to advance the art of an intellectual property. They are not stewards of culture, nor philanthropists. They require paychecks, and a game release is a calculated risk to attract customers.

    Call me the brinksman of blunt, but free games are not designed for free players. Whales pay for these games. Free players are the unwashed masses that exist for whales to gleefully trod upon to get our fun. Forums like this are full of free players complaining about having to "Pay to Win" to succeed. Their whining is only relevant insofar that without free players to stomp, beat down, and tread upon, whales wouldn't arrive.

    Capital Games Image:

    Whales are intelligent. We read.

    Forbes has a great article about EA being voted the worst company in America in 2013. They beat out Bank of America and received a golden poo award. DLC abuse, lawsuits, server closings, and the disastrously abusive foray into freemium games titled Dungeon Keeper Online make us wary of offerings coming from any EA studios.

    I'm an avid Dragon Age fan, and picked up HoDA with tremendous trepidation - how do you balance a game being offered against your favorite IP with that game being offered by the most predatory and untrusted gaming company in America? My solution: Drop $100 into it initially, then play the "Wait and see" game for a few months to see what develops.

    HoDA Progression

    I started in February. $500 and three months later, I hit what whales call the "barrier reef." Either we start plunking down serious money or we walk away. I won't list all my heroes - I have some nice tier IVs, and particularly thought the new keeper and the fast LC made vicious additions to my blue team.

    The problem is HoDA is devolving. The opposite of evolution. Capital Games has been so careful about not nerfing the "Blue AoE" team out of concern for upsetting whales - but have either implemented or neglected enough other unfriendly design decisions that they have still upset the cart.

    For example - the new PvP events system. Capital Games is proceeding under the auspice of "Testing a myriad of new event formats." I can get behind paying to win for legendaries. I'm a whale. It's a point of pride to be able to outspend other people.

    Here's the barrier reef: Characters and faction are horribly unbalanced.
    If I don't already have the best team, there is no way to spend to the top.
    If I spend my way to the best team, the top rewards are irrelevant.


    In one fell swoop of a design decision, being a whale is now irrelevant. PvE has a fixed progression, and a defined end, so there is no viable path beyond spending in PvP events to succeed in PvP events, which brings us back to the text in bold.

    Adding insult to injury, PvP events now causes a banner loss.

    CG: You can always give. You may *never* take away without alienating your customers.

    PvP events had legendary awards. You took them away.
    PvP events had fixed character rewards. You took them away.
    PvP events had no banner losses. You took them away.

    "Testing new ideas" is irrelevant. You can never take away from a customer. Sell them more - you may never sell them less. I have zero faith in a return to sanity. This is the most abusive gaming company in America.

    I repeat - this design has invalidated spending. Winning: 8 banners. Losing: 16 banners. Without the best team, I cannot progress up the ladder. If I spend to get the best team, the ladder awards are meaningless.

    Exit Survey of a Whale

    I'm sure that there is a SQL database that has me listed as a whale for having spent $500. My point is - anyone who isn't freemium player can spend that much. In the elusive whale-hunting circles, we're $10,000+, and you get that at $100-$1000 per month. A game needs the longevity and progress path to justify expenditure.

    HoDA has a fixed progress path with a definite end (Map 9), and a Tier IV cap on heroes (longevity). What tempts someone with Tier IVs to keep spending? Tier 5-9. When I look at what another $500 or $5000 would get me...it doesn't get me anything I don't already have, nor does it enable me to do anything I can't do now - for better or worse.

    And thus, at this whale's barrier reef, I turn away instead of breaking through.
    Last edited by Shelix Anakasian; 05-18-2014, 09:35 PM.

  • #2
    HoDA: Exit Survey of a Mega-Whale

    Greetings!

    I'm Shelix. I'm one of the elusive whales that social media companies chase with freemium games. I just uninstalled HoDA. The point of this - my last post on the CG forums - is to share the following:

    -Definition of a whale
    -Why are whales important?
    -What attracts whales?
    -Capital Games Image
    -HoDA progression
    -Exit Survey of a Whale

    Whale: Definition
    whale 1 [hweyl, weyl]
    noun, plural whales ( especially collectively ) whale.1.A person who spends exorbitant currency through microtransactions in a social media game.


    Contrary to rumor and speculation, whales do not usually have highly addictive personalities, gambling addictions, nor do we max out credit cards to fund our habits. Rather, we are typically highly successful business people who value time more than money.

    How do I spend $15,000 through microtransactions in a game? $100-$250-$500 at a time. Whales are highly organized, and microtransactions get a budget like everything else in life, pursuant to negotiations with spouses or checking accounts. I want to spend $1,000 on a special event. My wife wants a new car. We both get what we want.

    Decisions for microtransactions happen the same way that business decisions are made. Two weeks of conference calls and e-mail exchanges to fix a $20,000 mistake is more wasteful than shelling out the $20,000 to just FIX the mistake and put it behind me. In a freemium game, spending a few weeks/months/years competing with people doesn't provide instant gratification, and if throwing money at it will put me on par, I'll get out the debit card. Justification is easy, if we even need to call it that. $100 for a gem pack? That's half the cost of my lunch bill on Tuesday. We're not filthy rich - just successful. Like most elites, we have our own circles. An IT director. A small business owner. A senior project manager. In some freemium games, we make our own guilds/clans/groups to completely dominate a server. If not, we respect each others' boundaries.

    But one and all, we make measured decisions that the money/fun tradeoff is worth it, and so we spend.

    Why Are Whales Important?

    Whales pay for games. We're the post-production investment. Developers don't create games like this to advance the art of an intellectual property. They are not stewards of culture, nor philanthropists. They require paychecks, and a game release is a calculated risk to attract customers.

    Call me the brinksman of blunt, but free games are not designed for free players. Whales pay for these games. Free players are the unwashed masses that exist for whales to gleefully trod upon to get our fun. Forums like this are full of free players complaining about having to "Pay to Win" to succeed. Their whining is only relevant insofar that without free players to stomp, beat down, and tread upon, whales wouldn't arrive.

    Capital Games Image:

    Whales are intelligent. We read.

    Forbes has a great article about EA being voted the worst company in America in 2013. They beat out Bank of America and received a golden poo award. DLC abuse, lawsuits, server closings, and the disastrously abusive foray into freemium games titled Dungeon Keeper Online make us wary of offerings coming from any EA studios.

    I'm an avid Dragon Age fan, and picked up HoDA with tremendous trepidation - how do you balance a game being offered against your favorite IP with that game being offered by the most predatory and untrusted gaming company in America? My solution: Drop $100 into it initially, then play the "Wait and see" game for a few months to see what develops.

    HoDA Progression

    I started in February. $500 and three months later, I hit what whales call the "barrier reef." Either we start plunking down serious money or we walk away. I won't list all my heroes - I have some nice tier IVs, and particularly thought the new keeper and the fast LC made vicious additions to my blue team.

    The problem is HoDA is devolving. The opposite of evolution. Capital Games has been so careful about not nerfing the "Blue AoE" team out of concern for upsetting whales - but have either implemented or neglected enough other unfriendly design decisions that they have still upset the cart.

    For example - the new PvP events system. Capital Games is proceeding under the auspice of "Testing a myriad of new event formats." I can get behind paying to win for legendaries. I'm a whale. It's a point of pride to be able to outspend other people.

    Here's the barrier reef: Characters and faction are horribly unbalanced.
    If I don't already have the best team, there is no way to spend to the top.
    If I spend my way to the best team, the top rewards are irrelevant.


    In one fell swoop of a design decision, being a whale is now irrelevant. PvE has a fixed progression, and a defined end, so there is no viable path beyond spending in PvP events to succeed in PvP events, which brings us back to the text in bold.

    Adding insult to injury, PvP events now causes a banner loss.

    CG: You can always give. You may *never* take away without alienating your customers.

    PvP events had legendary awards. You took them away.
    PvP events had fixed character rewards. You took them away.
    PvP events had no banner losses. You took them away.

    "Testing new ideas" is irrelevant. You can never take away from a customer. Sell them more - you may never sell them less. I have zero faith in a return to sanity. This is the most abusive gaming company in America.

    I repeat - this design has invalidated spending. Winning: 8 banners. Losing: 16 banners. Without the best team, I cannot progress up the ladder. If I spend to get the best team, the ladder awards are meaningless.

    Exit Survey of a Whale

    I'm sure that there is a SQL database that has me listed as a whale for having spent $500. My point is - anyone who isn't freemium player can spend that much. In the elusive whale-hunting circles, we're $10,000+, and you get that at $100-$1000 per month. A game needs the longevity and progress path to justify expenditure.

    HoDA has a fixed progress path with a definite end (Map 9), and a Tier IV cap on heroes (longevity). What tempts someone with Tier IVs to keep spending? Tier 5-9. When I look at what another $500 or $5000 would get me...it doesn't get me anything I don't already have, nor does it enable me to do anything I can't do now - for better or worse.

    And thus, at this whale's barrier reef, I turn away instead of breaking through.

    Comment


    • #3
      Interesting read. Inciteful. If $500 was the limit then I would be considered a whale but I'm not. You easily pointed out some of the other issues people are having with this game. And personally, I do t mind whales getting ahead and stomping us little guys but something still needs to give on that area. Been playing since January I should at least be able to compete a little and it doesn't seem like I can.

      But maybe CG will read this and take some things into consideration. Or maybe they'll wait till the money stops coming in.
      It's only a game..........right?

      Comment


      • #4
        Well written and thought out post Shelix was a pleasure to read, posts like these are unfortunately becoming a rarity on these boards.
        Last edited by Greg Wallace; 05-18-2014, 10:08 PM.
        IGN : |OG| Cynicism

        Comment


        • #5
          You raise some interesting points. I'm no whale, I spend within my budget. It takes an awful lot of people like me come close putting into this game what you do and I've spent more than many. To hear that guys like you fund the game and have hit a ceiling is sad, because it could mean the end of the game.
          I guess this all leads to the question of will more whales migrate to our HODA waters to take your place?

          A question for you though Shelix- if more legendaries became available to all, but the bar was raised and higher tiers were introduced, or were a new hero power above legendary to be released, would that encourage you to play and pay more, or have you lost faith?

          PS good luck wherever you sail mr whale

          Comment


          • #6
            CG, is about to lose another "whale" I agree with OP!
            I don't even feel like being in the top of the rewards, by spending 1000 of gems. After you hit 3000 trophies its like OP says. MAX 10 for a win, and 10+ for lose! I only manage to win with my A team, which is Wynne Tier IV, Fiona Tier II, Merrill Tier I and Merrill Tier III, with HD Tier II all maxed out. And still sometimes lose to worse Heroes.

            Spending 1000 Gems, to be in the top 100? for a Isabella??? No thank you.

            Only motivation for spending money, and keep playing are my subscribers and because I LOVE THE THRILL.
            CG do not care about "Whales" they care about $$$

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mikel Musial View Post
              CG, is about to lose another "whale" I agree with OP!
              I don't even feel like being in the top of the rewards, by spending 1000 of gems. After you hit 3000 trophies its like OP says. MAX 10 for a win, and 10+ for lose! I only manage to win with my A team, which is Wynne Tier IV, Fiona Tier II, Merrill Tier I and Merrill Tier III, with HD Tier II all maxed out. And still sometimes lose to worse Heroes.

              Spending 1000 Gems, to be in the top 100? for a Isabella??? No thank you.

              Only motivation for spending money, and keep playing are my subscribers and because I LOVE THE THRILL.
              CG do not care about "Whales" they care about $$$
              Spending 1000 gems to be in the top 100 is a pretty drastic overestimation tbh, most people I know who were in top 100 in last few events spent somewhere in the 200 gem region

              200 gems for a Legendary isn't a bad deal when compared to the pack prices
              IGN : |OG| Cynicism

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Greg Wallace View Post
                Spending 1000 gems to be in the top 100 is a pretty drastic overestimation tbh, most people I know who were in top 100 in last few events spent somewhere in the 200 gem region

                200 gems for a Legendary isn't a bad deal when compared to the pack prices
                I spent 213 gems to get Isa (ended #23). Minus ladder rewards (48?) and final 40. My peeve is the time spent on this pvp events. Not sure I want to invest so much on them in the coming months. Will see...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Okay I am sorry... I think you need to spend gems right away to keep being in the top for that low of Gem use..

                  I do not no why, but as soon I see a PVP event, there are people with more than 1500 trophies already. Already there I give up by pursuing for top price.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Pretty Solid analysis of the Freemium Doublebind.

                    Although I'd argue the unwashed masses are more valuable as a resource for collecting game data than as a door mat on which your purchasing power wipes it's feet. If you get my drift...

                    I agree that there is far too heavy an emphasis on "fairness/unfairness" by the free player community, but that doesn't exclude the argument that some balance in content generation could be positive for all. And you touch on that in the sense that they are alienating a variety of players through their drastic changes to how content is delivered (although there is an argument here they are trying to refocus on premium currency and packs, and less on simply giving units away on the ladder).

                    I feel they've made inroads in terms of how they are servicing the middle of the road customer, spending small amounts, but you are correct that they have yet to do much to entice the whale to linger beyond competing in competition for completions sake.
                    Last edited by The_Dude ★; 05-18-2014, 10:24 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mikel Musial View Post
                      Okay I am sorry... I think you need to spend gems right away to keep being in the top for that low of Gem use..

                      I do not no why, but as soon I see a PVP event, there are people with more than 1500 trophies already. Already there I give up by pursuing for top price.
                      I only caught up in top 100 after 24hr in. Didn't rush first. Like Tetsu said, it's a marathon, and different strategies can apply to running it. Dash first, middle, later, it's all personal and in my case, on the time I decide to spend checking phone. Which is little on weekdays. This being on a long weekend for me made it possible in a much easier way.

                      And I'm not posting this to convince you and change your mind, only to get facts straight.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Can't say it was particularly insightfull aside from the "Free players are the unwashed masses that exist for whales to gleefully trod upon to get our fun." If people haven’t figured out the importantce of whales, a well writen post won’t do them much good.
                        Good luck with your next venture.
                        Jack Storm, Ally Code 748-531-454

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by fantazy View Post
                          I only caught up in top 100 after 24hr in. Didn't rush first. Like Tetsu said, it's a marathon, and different strategies can apply to running it. Dash first, middle, later, it's all personal and in my case, on the time I decide to spend checking phone. Which is little on weekdays. This being on a long weekend for me made it possible in a much easier way.

                          And I'm not posting this to convince you and change your mind, only to get facts straight.

                          Thank you very much for the information! I made a mistake my giving a number on 1000. Maybe for the next run Ill go for top price if its ONLY 2xx gems. Thats a good deal specially this last one, where u get 40 gems, isa, and all the epics.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Responding to Mega Whale

                            In my opinion, HoDA is a mobile game. It is a "sidekick" game that couldnt even exist if not for the success of the Dragon Age franchise (DA1, not 2 ). And for a collector game like this, i would try to spend as little as possible to get the most out of it. One of the biggest thrill for me is to get cards where normally u have to spend hundreds and thousands (!) to get, and that requires patience, and self-control. I did paid for diamonds twice - once for diamonds to compete in events, and the other one for the one time special pack (where i just got my 1st GEF! yay!)

                            Now i would understand shelving out a one time large sum for a long anticipated game like DA inquisition. I even understanding paying subscription for big MMORPG (too bad ES online is a flop, glad i dont play that). But for mobile games? Seriously? Angry Birds? Candy Crush?

                            My point is, if u spend exorbitant money on a "little" game like this, ur like burning the candle with a blowtorch. i have played the game for a maybe 2 months now, i have 3 leg, 20+epics, and i still couldnt master all the maps ( i cant even beat the last special quest, even with runes) but im working on it. and i bet by the time i could master all the quests, they would have chunk out new content.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              So what u are saying is that u spent so much you dont have anything left to spend on huh? Lol i gotta say then if thats the case, CG is not money grubbing enough so they dont fit EA's description. I mean this guy wants to spend but the offer isnt there...On the other hand i think its nice to put a limit on insanity.

                              Comment

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