TO: Ubisoft, Community
SUBJECT: Situation Analysis and Suggestions
Because of the “Narco Road Fiasco” and because I like GRW, I pretended that Ubisoft told me to evaluate what went wrong and what can be done. Here is my result and I hope it’s understanding and entertaining, although I am not a native english speaker.
The following is just a concept and ideas. The implementation depends on different aspects. I don’t know what can be done. Ubisoft specific and technical. This is just my try to take a neutral look on the current situation.
MY INTENTION AND MOTIVATION
I was looking forward to GRW and in more than hundred hours, most in singleplayer, I’ve had a great experience. But I also question myself, how the future of this title will look like. Ubisoft tries to deliver, but many customers seem to be disappointed and it feels like GRW is staying far behind it’s possibilities.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.1. Current State
1.2. Required State
2.1. Community Analysis
2.1.1. Demographical Aspect
2.1.2. Social Aspect
2.1.3. Individual Aspect
2.2. Product Analysis
2.2.1. Ghost Recon Wildlands
2.2.2. Narco Road
2.2.3. Future Content
2.2.4. Positive View
2.2.5. Negative View
Need for Action
1. SITUATION ANALYSIS
1.1 CURRENT STATE
GRW was released on March 7, 2017. In summary it has an above-average rating. In addition to the good reviews, the game also experiences a lot of criticism. After the first DLC “Narco Road” the negative criticism has risen. A second DLC “Fallen Ghosts” and PvP are announced, but haven’t released yet. Ubisoft fulfills the roadmap and is keeping the game up to date with weekly challenges and content packs.
1.2 REQUIRED STATE
GRW should satisfy the expectations of it’s player base, while securing the interests of Ubisoft.
The product seems accepted, but also strongly criticized.
- Identifying the source of the problem
- Identifying Chances and Risks
- Keeping interests of all parties
- Evaluating Solutions
2. DATA COLLECTION
2.1 TARGET GROUP ANALYSIS
Players are (should be) 18+.
Despite it’s title, GRW meets the expectations of different player types.
The target group is coming from different titles of the shooter, open world and adventure genre. Players often compare GRW to existing games like The Division, Arma or GTA V. Even if these games are different in gameplay, content and scope.
Due to internet, youtube, social media and other channels, the target group is well informed and connected. The relation between gamer and games is emotional. Because of the variety and possibility of previous games, some are very skilled and creative in creating own content, while others are just consumer.
This significant differences in the target group results in very different expectations on gameplay and content.
2.1.1 DEMOGRAPHICAL ASPECT
Because of a demographical change, the target group of GRW is a mix of Generation X and Millennials. Each generation has it’s own influence and characteristics. While some are playing shooter games since two decades, others have little experience and for some it’s their very first step in this genre.
2.1.2 SOCIAL ASPECT
The community is split in different subgroups. Each subgroup is following it’s own needs and content. These groups are defined e.g. by personal interests, gameplay or content. Sometimes these groups are acting and discussing independently of each other.
Due to today's communication, everything is measurable and evaluable. With e.g. likes or upvotes, there is an instant feedback. This is nothing established. It’s a development of the last decade and a change in communication. We are still learning to deal with that.
2.1.3 INDIVIDUAL ASPECT
Each person is an individual and not always rational acting. The very own imagination and needs directing the acting and behave of most people. Someone who doesn’t encounter a problem, will probably not look into reports or discussions.
2.2 PRODUCT ANALYSIS
2.2.1 GHOST RECON WILDLANDS
GRW is an open world sandbox game, placed in the military shooter sector. Because of it’s open gameplay, it fits for different subgenres e.g. stealth, action, milsim
GRW has a diversive and big open world. There’s a large number of realistic weapons and equipment. The character's loadout and appearance can be customized. The game provides a solid amount of vehicles, yet. Basically it is a very large sandbox to play around in.
The story is about a Task Force that has to strike down a cartel in fictive Bolivia.
The game can be played in Singleplayer or Coop. There is no limitation on how, what or when things are done.
The customization is limited to the player's character. Factions cannot be chosen, which is due to the story, but not necessary after the story is finished.
GRW has a solid 7/10 rating:
Steam: 70% positive Reviews
2.2.2 NARCO ROAD
Narco Road adds a new title to GRW. While the main game is sticking more to Ghost Recon and it’s military flair, the new addon is bringing another aspect to the game. Fast and fancy cars and a new kind of story and challenges.
The implementation out of the main game is avoiding conflicts, but is also strongly criticized. The minimized map, creation and preset of a new character and the minimized loadout are the most reasons of disappointment.
2.2.3 FUTURE CONTENT
With PvP and Fallen Ghosts, competition and survival should be implemented. With challenges, the game gets weekly updates.
2.2.4 POSITIVE VIEW
GRW has a wide community. Because of the 70% positive user ratings it can be assumed that most players have simply fun with the game. Let’s plays on e.g. youtube represent the different gameplay and methods the game offers. From tactical milsim to people who just fool around in the open world.
2.2.5 NEGATIVE VIEW
When it comes to criticism, most is about missing or wrong content and the lack of adjustments, customization or endgame possibilities. While some have fun with Narco Roads, others want more military options and vehicles. There are plenty of discussions on reddit and other forums, about the individual needs. The sandbox seems more like a parented and restricted environment with more limitations than freedom.
3 NEED FOR ACTION
As long as not all of the planned content is released, there is actually no urgent need for action. The game has just released, has a good rating and gets weekly updates.
GRW is designed for and played by different people in the shooter genre. While the gameplay has a high grade of freedom, the content and story is limited to the scenario GRW is set in. The gameplay and experience depends on each player and his own restrictions. The lack of pretensions is criticised e.g. by some who expected a more tactical experience.
The formation of subgroups with own forums and discussions results in different cognition and requirements. This can lead to various considerations on the game, its content or updates.
Not only the difference in age and preferences, also a generational conflict has to be considered.
The problem is not new content or new DLCs. The problem is the difference in expectation, perception and wish that everyone’s needs will be heard.
GRW struggles in acceptance, since it’s announced. We have evaluated, what GRW actual is and who is playing it. The result is, that GRW is providing exactly what it needs to fulfill the expectations of different players. But despite its possibilities, GRW is restricted to a typical story based game and the sandbox concept only affects the gameplay. The game has no editor or tools to play with and the endgame is restricted to enemy occupied locations.
To avoid a turmoil like it happened after Narco Road, the community and publisher should consider some changes.
Even if your opinion is the most important for you doesn’t mean, that you have a right to get what you want. GRW is designed for different people and step by step the roadmap will be completed. It’s pretty sure that future content will be different to Narco Road.
Don’t complain about the content of a season pass. This is something you don’t need to play a game and can be purchased later. If you buy a miracle bag, you don’t know what you’ll get. Don’t be disappointed with the publisher, just because you are buying a pig in a poke.
You have designed a sandbox with lot’s of opportunities. But you make restrictions in content, story and end game possibilities. My advice is: THINK BIG!
Take advantage of your whole creation and what is possible. I am sure, that the game has more potential than a few DLCs and tactical PvP.
Don’t limit the size of the map/playground. It’s a good idea to create new regions like in Narco Road. But keep the possibility to travel the whole map. Even if missions are restricted to a region, there are still plenty of Unidad, Santa Blanca or other units to hunt.
The same for weapons and equipment. Don’t take away anything. There was no need in Narco Road to limit the arsenal. And for some it feels like you have taken away the toys in the sandbox.
Some are developing a bond to a created character. Emotional or just in view of progress. Let them decide, if they want to start over or import an existing character.
Consider to make the players faction selectable. This will bring a roleplay aspect to the game, especially in PvP.
CUSTOMIZATION / COMMUNITY CONTENT
Take advantage of your community. Because of mods or integrated editors in previous games, the community is skilled, experienced and willing to create own content.
Even if multiplayer is restricted to 8 players, it would allow more modes than 4v4.
In my opinion GRW has two options. It can be an above-average game that will have a good place in shooter games history. But with a few tweaks from Ubisoft and a more thoughtful and respectful communication within the community, GRW can be more than a shooter with a couple of DLCs. It has the potential to work for a couple of years.
I highly recommend to overthink the planned lifecycle and roadmap of GRW. The open world concept needs user created content to unleash the potential of the game and to hand out, what a diverse community needs.
Personally, I like what Ghost Recon Wildlands is. But despite it’s original purpose, it can be more than just a game about the implemented story. It can be that sandbox, everybody was waiting for. It can be a successful long term title with hundreds of hours of gameplay.