an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

City of Eternals: Most Boring News Ever

Posted by Rosepixie on February 13, 2010

One of the newer games on Facebook is called City of Eternals.  On the game’s website is a ticker that constantly updates with things that are happening in the game.  This ticker is also on the on-screen-display when you play the game, but this is the version you see when you visit the website.  These screenshots were taken more or less at random.

Here are some of my favorite entries:

“Satu was defeated by Wriggling Larva in Shadowy Worm Tunnels”

“Tony was defeated by Zombie in Hipnotique Hip Hop Room” (this one shows up twice)

“Tanya entered Commercial District”

“James entered My Home”

“Clifford sold 2 Tattered Hide to Theodore G.”

There were several updates about people redecorating their homes too, but I don’t seem to have gotten a screenshot of any (they were along the lines of “George redecorated My Home to Cool Ocean Blue”).  The “event type 39” updates are a bug and, since this is a fairly new game, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that it’s being/been fixed.  Bugs happen.

So, the reason to have tickers like this is to show potential players that the game is fun and that there are other people having lots of fun.  Basically, to show them what cool things they could be doing if they were playing the game.  It’s a great idea in theory.  The problem is that this ticker fails pretty spectacularly at it.

What are the most boring things you do in a game (particularly in an MMO-style game)?  Most people would say “travel and sell crap out of your inventory”.  And yet, quite a few updates on the ticker relate to travel and for some reason even updates about people selling crap out of their inventory (how else would you describe “2 tattered hides”?) seem to show up sometimes.  The updates about people defeating things, finishing missions and gaining levels are great.  That’s what this should be filled with.  And yet I see as many updates about people being defeated (dying) as about people succeeding!  Seriously, the promise of dying a lot is NOT going to attract most people to your game.

New games need to work hard to attract new players, especially small games like City of Eternals, but this is not the way to do it.  This ticker goes a lot farther towards showing the game is dull and not fun than it does towards showing that the game is fun and should be played.  And the sad thing is, I really haven’t seen much else in the way of real marketing for this game.  I have no idea where they’re advertising it, if they are at all, but it’s not where they should be.  I guess it remains to be seen what comes out of oHai for this game’s marketing, but this is definitely not a good start!

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5 Responses to “City of Eternals: Most Boring News Ever”

  1. Eva said

    They’ve done quite a bit of work to make the world seem huge and pretty and cool to explore. I’m kind of appalled that this is their ad campaign. There are so many other things they could have shared that would have been visually appealing and intriguing. Those event updates are so many kinds of not.

    I definitely agree with you that none of the things described would encourage me to want to play. They all sound like part of the “grind” that makes a game boring rather than fun.

  2. Susan Ohai said

    Heya,

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. This definitely isn’t our ad campaign 🙂 We’re still in very early (as of last week) open beta and there are a lot of things we’re currently improving. But thanks for pointing out how dreadfully dull these events are. These events are leftover from alpha and not indicative of what the world feels like today. Since you pointed it out to us, we’ll take this great opportunity to improve our feeds now.

    One of the challenging things to convey well has been the fact that we’re not a ‘traditional’ game and as such won’t have a traditional game launch – because we’re building MMOs the same way you would build a web service, we’re constantly making updates and significant improvements to the game (every day, and every week). As such, there’s no single marketing campaign that we’re aiming to launch around. There’s not likely to be a singular moment when the game is “done.” Although sometime in the next 30-60 days, given the volume of changes we have in the queue, there will be a moment when we’ll feel more comfortable that the state of the game is over that hump of being ‘early’ and better established. Then you’ll be seeing a lot more advertising and marketing from us.

    Thank you for your feedback. It was very helpful.

    -susan, ohai ceo.

  3. Chris said

    Thanks very much for the feedback. Though we feel the streaming feed gives a player some insight into the game, it’s very much a work in progress. We are currently working to refine the messages so as to expose the more compelling elements of the game, so stay tuned on that front. Also, it’s definitely not the core of our Marketing strategy, but a window into the world for someone to look in on.

    Cheers,

    Chris
    team ohai

  4. Chris said

    Thanks again for the feedback! We’ve revised and released an update to the feed that hopefully does a better job showcasing the cool stuff in the game. 🙂

    Chris
    VP, product
    team ohai

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