The recent release of
style="font-style: italic;">Need for Speed
has had racing fanatics in a tizzy, exploring the game world and
putting on races like mad. Ten Ton Hammer heard that big news was
breaking this week about style="font-style: italic;">NFSW,
so we slipped into EA’s racing garages (warehouses filled
with high-end cars and equipment!) to talk to Producer Jean-Charles
Gaudechon about this big news and what’s next for style="font-style: italic;">NFSW.
Ton Hammer: I understand that you have some news coming out this week.
Gaudechon: Two big news...
We've broken over one million users and we are removing the level 10
cap! That’s right everyone can now get to level 50 for free.
We’re doing this for two reasons. We want more people at
higher levels enjoying the present and future content, get access to
the whole world, cars, race events etc... The main thing we realized is
that people paying to get past level 10 didn’t get as good of
a multiplayer experience as we wanted because there are less people to
play with thus fewer opportunities to race. We also listened to our
community, who kept saying that they wanted to see more. People wanted
to be able to play the whole game (surprising ?), and not spend 20
dollars to be able to acquire and spend SpeedBoost, but instead pay 20
cents if that’s their budget which is something they can now
do at level 1 if they want to. The current starter pack holders
shouldn’t be worried, there’s a lot coming
specifically for them as they will remain privileged users.
The starter pack is going to remain the same, but you’re not
going to have the 10 cap removal since that is being removed.
It’s still going to be the best value bundle for you to buy
in terms of getting a special car, a set of power-ups, and all the
offers that go with it will stay as-is as a premium package that you
can buy if you want to. But it’s not now mandatory to get
past level 10.
Ton Hammer: When is this set to go live then?
Ton Hammer: A lot of companies are getting their feet wet in the
free-to-play market and trying to figure out what works and what
doesn’t work. It’s good to hear that
The big thing that we’re trying to tell our users is that
we’re seriously spending two hours a day reading forum posts
and that we’re listening to them. We realize that a lot of
people stop at 10 and are waiting for more features, which is
legitimate. We have great new features coming up, and it makes sense to
open it up to everyone. The experience right now at level 5 is
excellent in that you get an instant match-up and fun and fair races.
You do a dozen races and you’re done. You’ve played
for half an hour or 45 minutes and had a great time. We want this
experience at higher levels as well. Continually listening to feedback
and adapting is crucial in this space.
Ton Hammer: You’ve mentioned that you’re taking a
lot of things into consideration based upon player feedback. How do you
prioritize what’s being said to you?
Well, we have our own release plan obviously but we always confront it
to our gamers’ feedback. That’s the best way we
found to remain as close to our users as possible.
There are three levels. Level one is fixing what’s broken.
Level two is general improvements to the live game. Level three is
adding new features. Past the beta stage we don’t need users
as much for bugs as game masters can witness it themselves and get our
QA team on it. Our philosophy is that new features should really be
pushed by users. These people who play the game much more than we do
sometimes, we have to remain humble and listen to what they have to say.
As an example, one of our users created an awesome post where he
compiled all the feedback from the community so far. It’s 125
lines of consolidated suggestions and he’s linking each
question to the user who posted the idea. I can tell you that
it’s in our creative director and designers’ hands
every day. I call that cloud designing.
Ton Hammer: It sounds that the community as a whole are really getting
into it and developing as a community. I know that there are no tools
to tell you this thing, but where are your core players coming from?
Are they racing game fans? Are they MMOG fans?
I believe that our core players are style="font-style: italic;">NFS/PC
online gamers. I think both casual and hardcore gamers are playing style="font-style: italic;">NFS World.
That said they usually don’t play and judge the game the same
core fans are very critical (and I thank them for that), while PC MMOG
fans are a bit more used to this type of games.
Anyway I wouldn’t really say that there’s one
community stronger the other, but there is probably more MMOG/PC gamers
at the moment.
Ton Hammer: Getting back to the player feedback, have you found that
the player feedback is the sort of stuff that you were expecting to
see, or have there been more surprises in what people are saying?
We spent a lot of time on the creative aspect of style="font-style: italic;">NFS World,
we were generally not surprised by what people brought up. Most of what
the community has been requesting so far was already in the pipe. There
is always the random genius idea on forums but I make sure to get
credit for it... Just kidding. :)
Surprises came more from the way gamers were using and experiencing
some live features, quite differently than expected. There are already
improvements in the pipe for that too.
Our main push right now is to make the game more accessible. I
don’t want people coming in and asking “how do I
race?” on chat. That means we didn’t do a good job
helping new users understand the game. We’re going to push
quite a bit on the tutorial aspect of it.
Ton Hammer: So, that’s Dolby Axon technology then?
Yes. We’ve just announced a partnership with Dolby to
integrate the Dolby Axon technology in style="font-style: italic;">NFS World.
We had VOIP planned for quite some time, but we were pushing it back as
there weren’t any gameplay elements in need of VOIP, now
there will be and it’s a great addition to the game.
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