The Community, Kingsisle and Pirate101

September 2019

Ahoy there! It’s been a long time coming but we’ve finally got some news on Pirate101. As we enter the Seventh year of the game, a new Producer’s Letter has shined a light on what’s coming for Pirate101.

What IS coming?

Shortly we’ll be heading once again through the obsidian doors to an alternate reality where Bonnie Anne and Ratbeard are causing havoc as Black Annie Rackham and Vernimius Blightbeard. We’re stepping into the same dimension as the evil Old Scratch…so who knows what awaits us. If you defeat them enough times you’ll get access to them as a companion….through the crown shop!

We’ll also be seeing some much-needed updates to the First Time User Difficulty/Experience. Combats have had difficulty reduced, stopping players being defeated too many times early on. Additionally, it’s now much easier (50% easier!) to gain Nautical Levels! This is a huge breakthrough for all players. Gaining enough nautical XP to level up sufficiently through the game is a problem I see almost everyone face. This means that you should now be able to level up via main ship quests (or at least, it won’t require you to defeat more ships than needed).

Elixirs are being improved, with better effects for a longer amount of time, giving more bang for your buck..

What’s NOT coming?

Sadly, albeit expected, no new storyline content is coming.

Why?

After the Valencia Update it was made clear that enough interest was needed in Pirate101 for the game to continue to receive updates. So the community went into the update with everything they had, and it worked, in a way. We’re getting updates to the game for sure, as Leah said in the producer’s letter. It just looks like there wasn’t enough interest to warrant expensive storyline updates. However, there was enough interest to warrant some side content and lifetime improvement updates to the game. This gives us amore time to show how much we love to play the game but also hopefully enough time to help recruit more players.

The first clue to what Kingsisle is doing to help recruit and retain new players is the improvements to first time difficulty. They saw too many people being defeated too many times early on in the game and can cause players to stop playing. By making it easier to progress through the game in the early stages, it’s enticing new players to keep playing.

The new obsidian door update also provides max characters (ie. existing players) to play more, giving an engaging and strategic fight. Which is one of the best parts of Pirate101 alongside Broadside Combat and Companions) and gives the option to purchase new companions and explore their use over time.

What ELSE can be done?

Content Updates

There is, as always, more that can be done. For one, major updates to existing side systems like Ship PvP would be great to see – expanding Ship PvP beyond practice and entering the likes of PvP in Wizard101 would be a welcome update. But also new systems present in Wizard101 would also be great to see in Pirate101, things like Crafting, Fishing (both in water and from your own ship) or even something new, like Cargo Shipping quests/side activities/economy where you help promote trade between merchants, establish your own skyway shipping business and earn Scrip/Gold for doing it.

Payment Options

Besides actual game updates, changes to the Subscription system, I think, is needed. Paying for the games hasn’t changed since launch and it would be great to see newer options and ways of rewarding longtime customers.

First, back in January, there was a Free Weekend in Wizard City, opening up the member-only/crowns purchasable areas to anyone. This would be great to see in Pirate101 for Skull Island as it would give new players a better taste of the game at its fullest capacity. Possibly even offering a discounted membership rate for the first/first few months of play to these new players.

Currently, the only “Bundled Discounted Membership” available to players is if there are two or more active monthly subscriptions. There is no current annual/6 month bundle offer, only annual being discounted to 60$ during the sale period. The monthly discount offers additional memberships at a rate of 6.95, pre-tax. This equates to $83.40 for the discounted membership on top of the $119.40 for the full price membership annually. With a total of $202.80 spent on two memberships for the year, offering a saving of 15% (for monthly memberships). This isn’t affordable to all but works for those who don’t play every month.

New Membership Period

A 3-month membership is not currently available and is the perfect amount of time for new, flexible or returning players. A rate of 22$ for a 3-month subscription would offer a 26% discount against the full price monthly membership. Allowing new players more time to explore aspects of the game, like crafting, fishing and PvP as well as storyline. Something that’s not quite feasible during the monthly membership option.

2 for 1 (sort of)

A new bundled membership for existing annual members could be introduced for a limited time, a sort of 2 for 1, where you’d pay for 6 months membership (50$) and get 3 months added to your current subscription for free and 6 months subscription to the game you don’t currently have a subscription to (ie, if you have a Wizard101 Membership, you’d get the Pirate101 membership and vice versa), and the same for existing monthly subscribers, but only at a 1 month extension and 3 month new subscription at a rate of 25$.

This would entice players who haven’t already played Pirate101/Wizard101 as well as receive a benefit to the game they already play. After this, and for new subscribers, a new bundled annual membership could be offered for 100$, giving an annual membership for both games, offering savings of 37-17% depending on the price of membership (80$ vs 60$ sale).

Pay-as-you-play Improvements

Another important group of players within the community is Crowns Players! These players have decided to pay-as-they-play, purchasing areas as they progress through them and keep them forever. Currently, member benefits are not available to them. I feel this needs to change, they shouldn’t be treated differently just because they’ve chosen a different way to pay and play. Either existing member benefits could be opened up to these players if they make qualifying purchases: 15k Crown purchase and area purchases of 5k+ gives you a months access to benefits or 3 months of 15k purchases/month average and 10k spent on area purchases gives you 3 months benefit access. Alternatively, the same qualifying criteria can be applied but to “Crowns Benefits”, offering the same benefits just not as many.

This would hopefully encourage all aspects of “flexible players” to keep playing, entice new players who want more options of playing and allow the games we love to continue to be played.

Do you agree? Disagree? have more ideas? Let me know in the comments!

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