This is a personal ramble from Mike, the thought process of a browser game developer :)
Up until the other day, I spent a good amount of time thinking about why players stop playing Gangster Nation, what I can do to stop them from leaving, why they are perhaps no longer happy with the game and how I can encourage old players to come back and give the game another go. In fact, I would say that a lot of my efforts and thoughts went into considering old players, people that didn't even play the game anymore.
Then it hit me. People don't just stop liking the game, people (generally) don't leave with any kind of bad feeling against our website. They probably aren't even going to play another browser game. This is people getting on with their life, finding that they no longer have time to play a game like Gangster Nation which demands hours each day to really get anywhere far. It was always personal to me in the past, if a player stopped playing, why? How can we stop them from leaving? How can we retain players? Sure, it's important to retain players, it's important to keep existing players happy but really, should a lot of efforts be going into attracting people who have stopped playing to come back? Perhaps a bit, perhaps in the form of an automated "we miss you" kind of e-mail (sent only once of course, to save annoying people). On the whole though, probably not.
Many people know that I started developing this website at quite a young age, 14 I was. The year prior to this I was in year 8 at school and as much as a lot of people in my year were doing, I spent my breaks and computer lessons playing a browser game not too different to Gangster Nation (of the same theme). I loved playing the game, I really got into it and would play it at home too. In fact, it was that browser game that inspired me to build Gangster Nation. I think that I only played it for a few months before I decided to build my own take on it, so my life as a player there was really cut shorter than most. The thing I realised just the other day though is that I never stopped playing that browser game because I disliked it, there was nothing I had against it and the people running it hadn't done anything to upset me. It was simply me moving on to spend my time doing something else. I'm now 21, coming up to 22 and there isn't a thing in the world that would make me play that game again. I don't dislike the game, I just have no interest in playing it and have other things to do with my time - such as work, my job. So I've only just realised that this is the same kind of thing which must happen to other players here at our game. It's a no brainer too, a lot of the players we have around here are teenagers or young adults with a lot of spare time... that is until that gap year is over or until that job application comes back positive.
Players are not running away from Gangster Nation, on the whole they are leaving on a good note - that they enjoyed playing this time intensive game and are now moving on to do other things. The things I need to keep a check on are 1) keeping the existing players happy with the game, keeping the game fresh for them and 2) breathing new life into the game, bringing new players to the game to replace the players who are leaving. Trying to bring players back who have left is not really a good use of time on the whole because they are so unlikely to come back, or if they do, it will simply be to check on the website and see how it's going - they are never going to stick around and play like they used to.
This coming round has always been about growth for Gangster Nation. The plan for the first round was to spend a round sorting out the major issues in the new version, testing it out, seeing how things go. The plan for this round was to grow the game to make it more popular and therefore more fun. The game is constantly evolving so there is always website development to be done, plus we still have some existing features to build out but it's this round where it's time to try some new promotion techniques. I'm going to look at different ways to bring new players in, both free and paid. It will really take some work, it's hard to convert somebody from a visitor to a registered user, it's hard to convert a registered user into an actual player. I'm hoping this will be easier than what I've been doing for many years though, sat here wondering how we can convince previous players to come back... asking existing players to tell their friends who have left to come back.
It's two months in to the year and I can't say that the game has grown but it's not time for giving up yet, in fact I'm only just getting started. If the website traffic only increases slightly this round, I'll be happy. You guys can help bring new players in too as always, just remember to always vote for us and share your referral link around (you can get free bullets from people who just click on your referral link, so it's well worth it). More players equals more fun, lets do this!