We all know there are problems with eRepublik now, but the thing that none of us really grasp is that Plato, and the rest of the admins, all know that too. They are painfully aware that what people want is a better economic and political module, and that PvP and other military module upgrades, whilst interesting, are definitely a secondary thing for most players at the minute.
The problem is gold. Obviously the eRepublik team relies mainly on gold buyers as their source of income, and they need that people to keep buying if they’re to keep running. I saw an interesting cartoon recently in another paper which depicts Plato as an oil guzzling oligarch whose only concern is consuming more and more income. But financially that doesn’t make any sense.
Everyone who has ever managed a company knows that the goal is to keep your bottom line as tight as possible during the first few years. Yes you want to make an operating profit and build up a war chest for emergencies, but mostly you reinvest any money you make into expanding your market base and making your product better. Obviously the admins have seen a big increase in income over the past few years, and with many players quitting (the active playerbase today is 25% of what it was in V1 at best) the demand on their servers must be less too.
Yet the game hasn’t improved. The changes we have seen are mostly cosmetic, mostly just changes which either simplify the coding (moving from flash to html with the map) or change the interface (like with the war module). Sure changes like divisions in battle were revolutionary, but it required no investment from the admin, other than the coding time and any loss of income from the downtime when it was getting inserted into the game.
So what have the admins been spending money on?
My theory is that they’ve been spending it on their debts. We all know the game was founded way back in 2007 my Lemnaru and Bonte, who both put their own money, plus investments from a few small companies and their families money into the company to get it started. You can actually find the full investment list for the game online, from the first few rounds from small investers, to the massive 2 million euro investment by IDInvest, formerly known as AGF Private Equity. The investment came shortly before the launch of V2, and you can see the company representative here talking about the new features expected to launch ingame before the end of the year.
For those of you who don’t know, V2 was a beta version of eRepublik which completely changed the game. New “skills”, new battle map, new company working ability. It was basically a totally different game. To most of us it was very exciting, but it was pushed through with minimal testing and the bugs totally put off the community and as a result it was a massive flop, and most of the features were stripped out, leaving us with V1 once again.
Shortly after this massive failure, both Bonte and Lemnaru left the eRepublik team, along with some of the developers of the original game. The eRepublik labs made an announcement that there had been a “PTO” in their headquarters and the team was now more than 50% eRepublik players. Somehow this was supposed to be a comfort to us. The game had passed from the hands of experienced web developers and investors to amateurs who were recruited as “community officers” from the game playerbase.
If you view the web portfolio for IDInvest, you’ll see a fairly common trend. All their companies have either pay2win, pay2play or pay wall schemes. It’s obvious that they invested in eRepublik based on the V2 business plan, and were expecting the game to explode in membership, and make a lot of money for them. As a board member, they and the other owners are expecting a return on their investment. It isn’t the admins who decide the future of the game, it’s people like this guy who really have no personal investment in the company at all.
So basically the admin team are a mixture of ex-players like Plato whose job is to keep us reasonably placated, and developers whose sole job is to devote 100% of their time to making money. The development team pretty much have to justify every moment they spend coding to a board of directors who only see the bottom line. The original game founders took their money and left. Basically, eRepublik is in administration. They’re recouping their investment, then it’ll be straight into the bin.
What’s frustrating about this is that the economy and political modules are what makes eRepublik a unique product. Without them we’re a poorly coded version of “fling the monkey”. You just mash fight with all your friends until you win, then you lose again the next day and have to start again. It’s the other modules which give it flavour, community, outside interest- especially to new players. Unfortunately the game’s owners, the board of eRepublik, seem to only be interested in milking the existing “whales” (read, big spenders who somehow haven’t come to the same conclusion as me yet) dry.
So yeh, what we’re relying on now is either the admins convincing the board that investment in those modules will increase the game income by attracting new buyers, or a new angel investor swooping in to buy the game and put right the balance (come on Romper, you know you want to). Without these options, prepare yourself for “update” after “update” slowly smoothing the path from your wallet to the game owners insatiable maws.
Ps. As this may be deleted, I encourage you to Publish this article in your own paper. All my articles are open source and freely distributable. Just don’t post the link in the comments please, that would be silly. Feel free to PM it to me ingame if you want me to shout it.
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