Table of Contents
Part IV: Prospective Direction
List of Sources
Welcome to the last part of a detailed report on Alganon and Quest Online, the company behind it. Today, possible solutions to QOL’s current situation will be discussed as well as an outline of an optimal direction that the game could take.
Previously, we have discovered some of the decisions and choices that developers had to make in order to present Alganon in its current incarnation. Quest Online has realized the potential pitfalls of not ensuring that competencies are developed in all relevant aspects of a business, rather than concentrating on just the ones where effectiveness has already been achieved. The company has recently undergone a process of change where core strategies and competencies were aligned to a direction chosen by the new leader.
However, QOL decided to operate in a very competitive market where the major players do their very best to keep current customers happy, as well as attract new ones through regular content updates and scheduled promotions. Due to their success and profitability, there was an increase in MMO funding as investors were eager to enter the market space. This has resulted in a wide variety of titles of different quality and design available to consumers, as well as a rise of free to play titles that generate revenue through micro-transactions rather than through retail purchase and subscriptions.
Most of these titles can only succeed by filling a gap that big players such as Blizzard and Turbine have missed in their pursuit of the mass market. Alganon does not have the time as well as the resources to compete with these established franchises so the move to the free-to-play market was a smart decision. The main challenge facing the game at the moment is the need to establish its own image, one far different from the game it attempts to copy – World of Warcraft. In the words of one reviewer, William Murphy, ‘the reason Alganon has quickly gone from a subscription based game to a F2P is that it simply doesn’t compare to the game it tries so hard to replicate other than in appearance.’
Using the Generic Strategies model developed by Michael Porter, which outlines four basic approaches to market positioning, it is evident that the most beneficial route for QOL is to pursue focused differentiation where the emphasis is on concentrating on a narrow segment and attempting to differentiate the product from similar titles. In this particular market of F2P games that utilize the micro-transaction payment model, the barriers to entry are very low and it is relatively easy to attract new customers; but so are the barriers to exit. Therefore, Alganon will need to create its own distinct art look as well as allow for its unique design and game-play elements to become the distinguishing aspect of the game in a market filled with titles utilizing very similar mechanics. Specifically, the team needs to enhance and expand the features that are new to the market. This includes Alganon’s Dual Role system which creates different paths of progression for players and the Library system that serves as an in-game database that players can access without having to exit the game client.
The company also needs to concentrate on the community focus of the game as that was one of the main unique selling points that generated initial interest for the product. The company is certainly moving in the right direction with the addition of a social networking platform called ‘MyAlganon’ where a user’s game account is also linked to the forum as well as the game’s website. In theory, this allows for a flow of communication between players as well as reduces barriers to human interaction and the formation of player communities such as guilds. The management can also encourage open dialogue with the existing community in order to determine the impact that the shift to a new payment model had on the game. This is often one of the main aspects of an F2P title that potential customers judge a game on. Alganon’s Tribute System, based on micro-transactions, must be fine-tuned with the input from testers and regular players, to allow for a balanced mix of gameplay and financial investment. The company will need to make sure that using the Tribute System is a quick and intuitive process in order to encourage customers to spend money on offered items and services.
The importance of marketing and its effective means of keeping the product on the radar of potential consumers should not be underestimated. There has been a lot of media attention drawn to both the company as well as the game it is developing due to the departure of David Allan as well as Alganon’s subsequent change of a business model. The new leader has been pursuing the right strategy by giving out interviews as well as making press releases and this attitude should be preserved for the coming future. Alganon needs to be in the spotlight in order to be noticed among its rivals as well as spark the interest of players drawn in by curiosity. This can be achieved through effective use of the various media available as well as directly engaging with the potential player base through forums and relevant community websites.
This report has come to an end and in order for it to be complete, some form of a conclusion must be presented. The future of the game largely depends on the way QOL will manage itself during the times of controversy and confusion it inevitably has to go through in the process of organizational and strategic change. The success of Alganon will also be determined by how it re-establishes itself after re-launch phase as well as its ability to fill a unique enough niche and survive in a market that is rapidly becoming saturated.