It's not a secret that the genre is bleeding players because of compromising game play and utterly brutal development decisions these days, and Turbine is almost at the front of the line.
Rule number 1: Listen to your players - we know your game better than you do, and we know what we like. We don't want easy, we don't want instant grat, and we don't want solo ghost towns. That's why we're here and not playing Skyrim. If you have 5 or more pages of negativity (examples being the random loot gen outrage in beta, and now the TR debacle), you don't know how your game works.
We're at an all time playerbase low right now for several reasons, and I'll list the major ones for the zillionith time, as many players have already:
- No End Game: Means nothing to aspire towards, lowers motivation
- The Random Loot Disaster: When that one dev stepped in to make several "improved named loot" after our first outcry, most of them were even worse
The above 2 issues fold into one: Less content to run, no loot to farm, no shard/seal/scroll system to keep players socially playing together through lengthier carrot systems and grouping together (just lolbuy it), and no incentive raids worth doing
- Don't marginalize loot so quickly: Some of us didn't even finish farming eGH yet when you made 90% of it obsolete. It's far better to offer side-options than to drastically increase quality (really, +3 stat upgrades in one update?)
- +5 tomes in the store: Extremely hard find in-game, not to mention the best currently. Less raids being run for them and another mark on the reasons-to-quit player belt
- In-your-bloody-face-everywhere-you-look-spend-turbine-points: Guys, you're a company that needs funds to continue. We know, but this shoddy advertising is getting ridiculous. Everything these days is image and perception, and you're looking grabby when you go to the lengths you have in-game of late. I'll gladly pay for the good stuff, stop shoving bad stuff at me every turn. If you want your numbers to increase, stop making ******** decisions in game design.
- Quest Quality: Long gone are the beautys like Wiz King and Crucible (quests on such a grand scale that really did "wow" me my first time through). The funny part is, if the loot is good, we'll do any quest... (HINT HINT)
- Your desire to land new players since motu has chased more paying veterans away than gained new f2p recruits: Stop listening to the suits and go back to the basics. We lost half our raiding/TR guild between motu and shadowfell, and recruited several more (from other vet guilds that collapsed, not new players to the game). DDO players know what they like, this is a niche game. It's unlike Lotro where they saw the movie, read the books, and heard about the game so it should appeal to everyone (another issue with mmo's these days - multi-directional/zero focus/no identity). Don't try and wow-ify it - we already have Neverwinter, Rift, GW2, and soon ESO for that type of gameplay. For Pete's sake, LET ddo stand apart.
I'm not an expert on the subject by any means, but the above is my perception over time. In my opinion, your focus should be dignity and keeping the players you already have, and keep doing things right. Lately you've been selling out, chasing long-time paying players away with bizarre off-the-wall game decisions, and turning in new directions. Your game has no focus anymore, it's all over the map (AC in ee).
Time and time again I see companies making these same mistakes, such that it can't be the devs calling the shots when it damn well should be, with a bit of player input on the side. Remember, we're in this together..