Critical Crossroads for WWII Online & We Need Your Help

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RAFTERThis year The WWII Online project will mark the 13th year since it began life as design notes in a binder and the 11th year of continuous live game operations. It has outlasted virtually every other MMO ever published and has passed many milestones since we launched in June of 2001. WWII Online is now at critical crossroads in it's life as the greatest WWII MMO sim ever made.

For those who don't want to read the entire article, here's the short version; The community of players- past and present will now ultimately choose the path for the game. The roadmap for future development (shaped with the help of this community) depends of getting a vote of confidence from players by keeping, upgrading or re-activating a subscription.

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"... we have long struggled to push that giant rock up the hill towards the pinnacle."

CRS and it's small development team (currently fewer than 6 actual code/art staff) have long struggled to push that giant rock up the hill towards the pinnacle- that of the ultimate WWII MMO simulation. These expectations were established in the frenzy days of pre-release where literally tens of thousands of potential players swapped thoughts and dreams about the upcoming game. The development team back then set the bar very high for what was to become the WWII Online roadmap. From the disastrous and forced launch of the game until today, we have lived and breathed the goal. This couldn't have been done without community involvement and support.

Of course the road has been long and windy and from time to time we wandered off the path- always with the best of intentions. For many years, we focused on repairing what was broken and trying to fill most of biggest holes in the undelivered design and sometime in '06 or '07 we probably came to a place where the game resembled the initial design premise. But something happened or rather didn't. Our subscriber base didn't grow. Not with reduced time to battle (depot spawning and later mobile spawns) not with new game mechanics (Brigades and AOs), not with updated graphics and effects, not with new weapons and vehicles, not with new training tools and most recently not with the addition of American units and weapons in events. Despite attracting in the neighborhood of 100 new trial players each day, over the years the size of the WWII Online player base has slowly but surely gotten smaller.

"1.34 was the real blow."

1.34 was the real blow. Despite our very best efforts to roll-out a smooth upgrade and introduce U.S. forces for the first time, we stubbed our collective toes badly. All our goals for subscriber growth fell short and the server stability issues drove many (re)subscribers away. We also experimented with new campaign styles by rolling out "Bloody Battles" with more emphasis on directed gameplay which we hoped would appeal to more and new players. We've gotten the majority of stability issues sorted out and the last remaining should be killed in the next release. But the damage was done.

What about Rapid Assault? Our decision to move forward with Rapid Assault was primarily a bi-product of needing more revenue, more quickly for our studio. We need to tackle a different type of customer with RA. This also lets us sharpen our focus by sticking to the roots of WWIIOL and slow our roll on trying to make it something it was never meant to be- a fast action game. Some good has come from those efforts- we're running a Founders Beta and we hope to move into a public release soon. We've been able to add some content to both projects like the U.S. forces and we expect that to continue. Ultimately the revenue from RA and WWIIOL goes into the same pot and helps fund the studio.

"Lets get back to hardcore."

So we're trying to get off the mat, dust ourselves off and refocus on our core WWIIOL players- those of you who have stuck with the game since it started and those of you who have come and gone over the years. The mantra up and down the halls of Rat Central is, "Lets get back to hardcore".

The first thing we've done is go back to the players and ask for their wish lists, then created a development plan that tackles many of those and is achievable by our team in cycle or two. If you haven't read the plan for 1.35 and the roadmap beyond, here's a list of items on deck;

read the full article


The next thing we're doing is spreading the word to former subscribers that WWIIOL is back on track. In the coming days, thousands of players will be getting a special newsletter that outlines the development plan and sweetens the deal with a special "old school" price of $9.99 if they re-subscribe [clarification- first month back is $9.99, then users choose any plan].

"WWII Online will be in your hands and the hands of thousands of former players who will vote with a subscription"

At that point the development plans for WWII Online will be in your hands and the hands of thousands of former players who will vote with a subscription. That's the bottom line. We need the support of the WWII Online community in order to keep fueling the engine.

The current team and those who played a part since 1999 have enjoyed being employed for a family-feel game company where we consider each other a member of our extended family. We've been thrilled and invigorated by our community and we've been often amazed at the highs. We've spent nights drinking beer with players and endless hours fighting alongside and against them. We count each of you as part of what makes WWIIOL special.

3 WAYS TO SUPPORT THE FUTURE OF WWII ONLINE

Choose a pre-pay/easy-pay plan. Being able to predict our revenue for the months ahead is enormously helpful to our planning.
Become a Builder!
We have Builder plans that range from $200 to $2,000. This is the ultimate show of support and you get some pretty cool stuff too.
Send this link to your buddies!
www.battlegroundeurope.com/recruit


Spread the word to former players! We'll try and contact as many former players as we can but nothing will have the same impact as an email from a buddy that asks them to come back to the battlefield. Here's a link to the special newsletter that you can e-mail to your former squaddies, friends and foes alike.

www.battlegroundeurope.com/recruit

We remain as committed to the future of WWII Online as ever. We are trying to get back to our roots and what our players want. We need your help to keep making WWII Online the greatest WWII MMO sim ever made.

Sincerely
The Rats