Revisiting ship interiors in light of Frontier’s recent stock woes.

Context: I work in marketing at a travel company and was in a strategy meeting. Some of my coworkers (who are also gamers) and I were just talking shop before the meeting started about what it means to have "a profitable game as a service" especially when a brand's reputation is on the line. I used the Odyssey launch as an example, someone else used Actiblizz, another EA with BF2043, you get the idea. I then ironically saw Frontier's share prices as a news feed alert on my phone about an hour after that discussion, and for whatever reason had an idea that I am curious how the community will react to. You're either going to add to the idea, or tell my I am an idiot. Let's roll the dice…

(I mainly play Elite at about 750hrs with lots of ships but I also have a Cutty Black in Star Citizen with maybe 50 hours in that ship)

TLDR: Don't entirely scrap but just halt whatever roadmap is planned and instead build various ship interior "kits" alongside ongoing quality of life improvements. Charge IRL money for each interior kit, but allow users to mix and match their kits in a modular way. These kits would come with tools and other elements you can interact with that add depth and purpose to game play elements like trade, exploration, or combat, and can be mixed and matched along with some simple visual user customization tools like color usage to create cohesion of your ship interior and exterior to your liking. Start small with the best selection of ships and scale up from there while revisiting the old roadmap.

The idea:

– Don't scrap the current Elite dev plan, but just delay anything new and in concept stages. Continue to refine whats in game now with the community like they are with engineering focus on quality of life. Using resources and teams in a focused way, integrate a quality of life roadmap path alongside one about building tailored ship interior kits for trade, exploration, combat, etc. that have purpose beyond aesthetics. For instance, have in ship lab tools like microscopes for explorers and sample containment storage for things taken off a planet on foot or by SRV that are contaminated or unsafe. You could have armories and engineering stations in combat kits that grant buffs and benefits to gear and weapons before combat. You could interact with the mining refineries to overclock them and ramp up production while your friend mines. Give these tools to users in a way that their purpose in the existing spheres of the game are impactful on the overall experience that's already there. Start small with a few of the most popular ships so it's realistic to develop the initial launch and find a groove for making more if it's successful in adding more.

– The hard pill to swallow: Charge IRL money for each individual kit associated with a ship. But, give incentive to multiple purchases for the same ship like making cross kit customization so that you can mix and match the kits elements you purchase for an individual ship. You want multipurpose, you got it (hey they could even charge bundled discounts like they already do in the ARX store), you want to be a mix of exploration and combat, or trade and mining? Go for it. Make the elements of the interiors scalable based on the size of the ship and thus scale the prices (make tools based on the number of seats available so each player has a stronger reason to play especially together). It would give deeper incentive to ship specialization, existing engineering customization for both on-foot and ship gameplay modules, more reason to grind to those bigger ships etc. etc. etc… If there's anything to learn about space sim success and the $400m USD Star Citizen has generated so far, the ships built in Dual Universe, etc. it's that gamers can identify as deeply with the brand, look, feel, and character of a virtual video game ship as equally as an their smart phone choices (A Carrack alone in Star Citizen is roughly the cost of a high end current gen iPhone). I get it that keeping certain tools from the game behind a paywall may be alienating but to my marketing brain that's arguably the best way to make it work for the effort it would take anyway.

– Here's the kicker to me that would make something like this move really successful given the Odyssey launch and current brand state: Instead of Frontier coming up with the interiors all by their lonesome and without input, take a hard 180 degree bold move and do something like letting the community influence the interiors concepts as a competition. Farm the community's creativity and it's passion in the game to design their own versions of ship interiors. Let people vote on it. Make them grand Twitch events. Then let those designs inform how the devs create the interiors. This community and adjacent ones like SC crowds would flock to the idea just by sheer data that shows how gamers clamor at these kinds of opportunities to have a voice in the future of a game. Shit if you even want some feel good marketing and to be inclusive, pay the designers that have winning designs a small fee and give them a free copy of every ship interior made for that ship. T-shirt design companies like Threadless are notoriously profitable for models like this.

Just think about your own time spent in the game. What's the pie chart look like? I'd be curious how much time you're spending in your ship in game in supercruise.

There. Revenue problems solved. Chris Robert's yacht money level badge achieved. Change my mind, commanders. Would you not fork over some extra cash to build out your own personal ship interior for your most coveted ships? I sure AF would.

P.S. The only other alternative I could think of working if ship interiors are truly a lost cause then is to just to go back through this and replace ship interiors with "build your own personal planetary settlement" like what No Man's Sky just did.

*Edits were made for grammar and removing an irrelevant point.


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