I believe that EA has initiated a new era in TSTO. It started with the Monorail event and continues with the Where’s Maggie? game. What is this era about?
Finding the Pattern
When the Monorail event concluded we were granted a permanent addition, the Rail Yard, that continued the event indefinitely. The biggest change from the event itself was the inclusion of 5 Donuts rewarded for completing the week.
This was a huge change to the game. While it was not an official expansion (being that it is only available to those who played and completed the event), it marked a change to what we expect from TSTO. When the Where’s Maggie? mini-game was also turned into a permanent addition, a pattern started to emerge. The latest important (possible) addition is the Deep Space Homer rocket launch “game”.
The pattern is that of an added game play element that “requires” the player to play nearly every day in order to complete the mini-games and have a chance at winning donuts. 5 Donuts a week for the Rail Yard, up to 3 Donuts every 3 days from finding Maggie (up to 9 Donuts in the span of a week), and a good chance at winning debris from the rocket launch every 12 hours.
The debris is being counted here because of its less than 1% chance at being rewarded a donut for cleaning up debris. Throughout the week that comes to 14 chances. Note:
Debris is currently not being rewarded due to a glitch. Debris is now rewarded properly.
I believe this to be a strategy to get people to play more and to desire more donuts. (This applies to borderline freemium/premium players, not to premiums or whales. It might apply to fully freemium players.) The more donuts we get, as long as they are less than most purchases require, the more we “need”. If we only ever have a small amount, like 20, then pining for a 250 Donut item is unfathomable and therefore not something to worry about. But if we start collecting 10 a week, we can end up with, let’s say, 100 Donuts over time. That’s enough for one low priced character or building, but not for two.
Couple this with the normal offer by EA of at least a few new items each event, and it becomes clearer that we are being “primed” to want to spend real money to get more donuts. Without doing so we will miss out on limited offer items. Since we will be getting used to making these purchases it won’t be as nice to get one item but miss out on another.
A long in play component of daily play mechanics is that of the Daily Play rewards. Every 5 days there is a chance at a Mystery Box item, a small chance at donuts or other items. This is usually superseded during events.
The daily play has been replaced by a daily challenge system. It doesn’t appear to guarantee donuts, like the weekly challenge (below) does but the chance is there and the requirement to play almost daily is there.
The last “addition” I’m going to point out is the weekly challenge. These are often part of events and reward 20 Donuts each week. This is the more temporary version of the mini-games, but the effect is the same.
As you can see the trend is strong. Do you think this strategy will pay off for EA? Has it already had an effect on your freemium status? Do you have a different take?