Over on the reddit forums, an official FAQ went out on the new Builders talking about their decision making process for adding Builders to the game. One particular nugget of information though was that they also admitted that they were not immediately working on an HQ 23, although in the future they might. What does this imply?
Adding the subscription based Builder to Boom Beach immediately sparked speculation on the possibility for a near future update in terms of upgrades (most notably an HQ 23). However, Supercell themselves shot that rumor down with the following quote:
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE?
We have no plans to increase build times or make any fundamental changes to how Boom Beach works. The Extra Builders were meant to go into the previous update (Forlorn Hope), but the implementation took longer than we initially expected. We’re not currently working on HQ 23 (but maybe one day!), nor are we planning on making it more difficult for players without Extra Builders.
For many players (especially max level ones), this probably seems like a massive disappointment. I’m sure people who’ve been with this game from the start might feel a slight stagnation in terms of the end game and not having anything to spend their resources on. However, we have to examine the situation with a broader lens.
First, as I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post, I believe that the vast majority of players are casuals and low to very low at best. The Builder update, in my opinion, has been directed primarily at them in an attempt to hopefully encourage people to speed up the process of bypassing the lower stages of the game where most people probably end up losing interest due to the overall slowness of the grind. While the general speed of the grind never truly changes, it’s usually around the mid-game point (say HQ15+) where the game seems to pick up a lot of speed and where I believe players can make a better decision whether to stick it out or not.
I think that the Builder subscription idea is mostly an experimental one in terms of diversifying Supercell’s monetization paths in the game and gives a different opportunity for players to speed up their build process depending upon their needs. They specifically talked about the economics in the reddit post in terms of using Diamonds to pay for the Builders vs subscription. Like for a player such as myself, a Builder could be viewed useful when hitting a situation like HQ 20. Here, in my case, the Builder becomes useful due to the three new buildings made available and plethora of upgrades. While I probably won’t need Diamonds for the upgrades because the resource cost is low, having that second builder will allow me to pursue a path of major/minor upgrades for a single month.
Now, going back to the HQ 23 rumor denial, I feel that because most players still probably are at the low to low mid ends, Supercell does not feel the need to create a completely new level for an HQ. Why is that? Simple: most people won’t even get to that point for a while and possibly even after this update.
Here’s another way to look at the situation. Take World of Warcraft as an example. The game’s grind is not the leveling process (especially these days) but the end game content with raiding, PVP and gear grinding (especially this!) It no longer takes months to get a max level character but even a solid day for those dedicated enough. So the bulk of the player base (not characters) will most likely be at max level. That allows Blizzard to continuously push out expansions as they set the level bar higher and higher.
Contrast that with Boom Beach where the leveling process IS the game. Forget Operations and leaderboard climbs. That’s just the 1-2% doing min/maxing. The game is squarely making money from the leveling grind. The more Supercell can push out the players from hitting a max level base, the more money they have the opportunity to get. A maxed out base serves absolutely no monetary gain for Supercell.
So wait you might say. Wouldn’t an HQ 23 imply the potential for more Diamond purchases or even a Builder? In reality, most likely not. Again, not every player has a maxed out base and most probably fall off around level 10-11. Creating content exclusively for 1-2% is generally cost prohibitive (go check out World of Warcraft Burning Crusade’s Sunwell raid or Wildstar as key examples of how aiming your target audience at 1-2% leads to failures).
However, what the Builder does is possibly elevate say 5-20% of the player base a little more with the potential for future upgrades. Remember, the goal is to try to move the players higher overall where the majority can achieve that higher end content in order to create content that most people can enjoy. If Supercell were to create the HQ 23, even if it sounds cool, this can unbalance the game in a variety of ways.
- The revised VP structure will be affected due to the new HQ level and thus making people under that point struggle more
- Only those maxed out really would be able to enjoy that benefit immediately and provide ample feedback
- Creating a new level wall would most likely discourage players getting constantly raided to quit the game, leading to more economic fallout
- New units, buildings, upgrades, etc. require a whole review in terms of balancing the game out. Go ask Blizzard about dealing with game balance at the competitive levels for why this is not the best use of placing one’s resources.
In addition, there’s probably bigger fish to fry in terms of where Supercell can put their resources. More than likely, Supercell can focus on 1-2 smaller updates in the very near future such as a single new building, prototype or unit without having to deal with the re-balancing act of an HQ 23. Even things such as a single building can warp the game big time. Just look at what Grapplers have done to the T-Med meta.
For myself, I’d prefer smaller, more frequent updates rather than a huge update that causes massive changes to the meta. The problem with upsetting the meta too drastically is that you still have to contend with all the bugs. Look at how the Imitation Game still contains the resource bug. Supercell claims that they won’t fix that bug until the next major update. But it’s a huge, outstanding issue. Who knows what other bugs can be introduced through a major update?
And if you think that we deserve a massive update, you have to understand how software works. Even if they manage to get more people on the team, Supercell cannot guarantee quality, bug free software that we can enjoy. You can’t expect a company to consistently be putting out huge patches within short time spans without a massive sacrifice in quality. It’s far better to have a stable product than something riddled with bugs, which is what huge updates can lead to. Instead, frequent, smaller updates with constant communication/feedback with the community are the ways to go. That way the company can react faster without upsetting the existing product too badly.