I noticed while looking for war targets in my current P4 league that about half the teams I viewed were missing 1-3 members. I did a cursory search of plat leagues and Gold I teams. I don’t have hard quantitative analysis, but there were roughly twice as many teams below 50 members as I noticed there being a few months ago.
- All those people who disappeared were actually evil hax0rs, and the crack cybersecurity team at PG has finally brought them to dragon justice. We will now all live in a paradise of cheat-free gameplay forevermore.
(Obviously the correct explanation, I should probably stop listing alternative hypotheses right now.)
- They were all given too many free rubies from PG during the level-up experiment and quit in disinterest.
(Another really strong contender here, but we need to collect more data before we can say for sure.)
- The missing people were dragon-raptured. The dragon world we live in—with its crushing token costs for four tiers before the current final tier, payouts designed for gold tier being used to try to get through garnet, divine resists that unlock at player level 126, and scaling benefits reserved only for the top 20%—is dragon hell.
(A third compelling possibility.)
The above 3 probably just explain it completely, but were I to speculate about other causes:
- Midlevels are abandoning non-Atlas teams in favor of Atlas teams.
(Possible, but I don’t actually think this is the reason.)
- This is a temporary fluctuation and seems like a problem to me primarily because of low sample size.
(Plausible, but see below.)
- Being a midlevel in 2018 is both boring and unrewarding. The grind is the same, but there’s no hope of it actually getting you anywhere. Trying to climb through sapphire and garnet without any belief that this will ever getting you to the top of the game, while being hit by obsidians-harbingers, proves uninspiring for most. Leagues are stratified by progression barriers, so warring your way up is borderline impossible. Not too many people quit in outrage, but a lot of them do gradually lose interest; goals are too far away and too meaningless. Elements like hearing that the players furthest ahead are getting tons of benefits for free, and that when those finally become available to you you’ll be at a disadvantage for earning them, probably doesn’t help. When you can’t even build your base because the relevant currencies were removed from the game because high levels don’t need them, it’s frustrating. There are many, many factors pointing to there being no light at the end of this tunnel. Mid-levels are getting disaffected and quitting.
(Seems like the most likely to me. I find it difficult to explain why wouldn’t this wouldn’t be the case.)
Here’s what I’ve personally observed. n=small, but it’s concerning if widespread:
My own team has lost quite a few members over the past three months. They were mostly in sapphire-garnet; a few were in gold. (Might or might not be related.) I see no real pattern in previous activity levels; some were low-performers, some were high; some ran a single account, some ran four. It’s a consistently positive team in which everyone generally gets along, and we usually place top 5 in events. I checked a few group chats that we never got around to kicking them from, and they’re still teamless, weeks or months later; it’s not like they left for greener pastures and just wanted to spare our feelings. At first I just figured we were having a rough week, then it turned into rough weeks, and then I noticed we were probably having easier weeks than most of the teams in our leagues, and that this was just the way the game was now. We (and the other teams in our leagues) are still able to fill the gaps, but the need for recruiting seems to be increasing.
I’ve talked around with some other leaders and officers in my ranking neighborhood, and they’ve confirmed a need for more recruiting, and that recruiting is getting harder.
If this is indeed a generalized trend, I don’t think it would be very surprising. The issues in #6 have generally been issues for at least a year. Mid-commitment players aren’t likely to quit in outrage because they’re mad about bad PvP gameplay or whether scaling requirements are fair. They generally just don’t care as much as high-end players do, so this doesn’t viscerally upset them. But they do gradually get tired of these factors by means of them emergently making the game less fun, and when they do, they’re less likely to grit their teeth and soldier on.
I do get the feeling that some of this may be invisible to PG, though. Unless their data analysis methods are more refined than the average among Bay Area tech companies, they are likely to mistake (a) alts for real, new users (“growth!”) and (b) reregistered hackers for new users flocking to their cheat-free utopia. Pure speculation here, but I can see them noticing a sudden spike in new registrations in mid-late May and crediting it to positive word of mouth.