Hello Everyone and Happy 2017!
I hope that your new year has kicked off in a great way! We are already well into our 2017 schedule and have been working toward our goals without hesitation. Today will be our first update of the year, so I wanted to give more insight into the game and hopefully show off a bit of gameplay soon in relation to this week’s update content. As we finetune the AI, I want to discuss how the customer in the game will function.
To begin, we refine a lot of our processes over time as they are deemed necessary. Currently, at this stage of development, we are playtesting the different systems to make sure they both behave in a way that makes sense and most importantly—work in a logical fashion. This phase is entertaining as you get to see the Frankenstein come to life right in front of your eyes. For this example, I am referring to how the customers in the game behave. For all the customers in the game, we have an algorithm that simulates their decision making as it pertains to evaluating product options to making the final purchase decision.
Each customer has a profile that they fall into. I wish to share some of how this works for you, to help you get an idea of how they make their decisions. As in the real world, we make purchasing decisions for a variety of reasons. In many ways, we are subject to the products we know about. If we haven’t heard of a product, we most likely won’t go to the store looking for that product, but instead looking to purchase a product we have either read about, researched, or maybe seen a commercial regarding. Typically, unless you are very enthusiastic and engaged in the industry for the product in which you are about to purchase, you tend to be subject to the information you already have about the product or a small group of mainstream competing products.
Well, we attempted to capture this dynamic in the game. Every customer as mentioned has a profile, and those profiles are as follows. There are two tiers of customer groupings.
High Wealth, Middle Wealth, and Low Wealth customer grouping. As you can expect, the different groups have different product pricing tolerances. However, this is not the only purpose for this grouping. The different wealth level customers tend to have their ears to slightly different marketing outlets, so that marketing to them will require more of a focus on those outlets if you wish to reach their awareness regarding your products.
High wealth customers are less tolerant of certain things once they have purchased your product. High wealth customers, like most others wish to own the best of the best in performance and quality as well as the best service and support. Anything less than this tends to result in dissatisfaction. As in real life, just because they can spend top dollar, doesn’t mean they want to spend top dollar. If a product serves their need and is less costly, they will go for it. So, for those hoping to raise prices past the ceiling for a top of the line product to maximize profits might want to reconsider. Customers purchase products that makes sense and fit within their evaluated value and quality guidelines. You can price yourself right out of consideration in this game if the competition is there (and it will be).
Company reputation will also play an important part with this grouping. Companies who have tarnished reputations tend to be avoided by certain wealth groups. There are times when this may not be the case, however often, a great reputation along with a great product is a great recipe for becoming a household name for any of the groups.
Enthusiast, Standard and Casual customer groupings. For this grouping, there are different industry passion levels. Although self-explanatory, enthusiasts are very passionate to the point of researching and staying up to date on all things related to their favorite product types. Standard customers are those who tend to buy more on impulse or driven interest (marketing). Casual customers are harder to reach. They tend to buy only when the hype and buzz is very high for a product or group of products. When everyone else has it, that is when these customers decide that it might be a good time to own it as well. Word of mouth tends to impact these customers more. So, securing a loyal fan base can help reach this group when your marketing budget is not substantial.
Each group has different things that they desire over others when making a purchase. For example, each product will have a performance score which grades how well it does what it is designed to do. The next score is the product’s quality which encompasses its durability, user friendliness and customizability.
Durability – The products life expectancy and its tendency to break down and require repairs
User Friendliness – How easy is it to use and operate right out of the box
Customizability – Can the product be modified and tinkered with in a way that provides a sense of personalized ownership and operation. Enthusiasts tend to want the best but also the ability to make it “special” and unique to themselves.
These all combine to bring about the products quality. However, the different groups interpret these scores and attributes in different ways. So, in this case, the enthusiast tends to be more concerned with customizing and personalizing their products to fit their imaginative needs. Standard customers care most about how long the product will last (durability), as casual customers care most about how easy the product is to use, then how durable it is. Remember they all care about each quality, yet they are more concerned with one over another in different ways for different products.
So here is a basic list of the customer groupings together with basic profiles:
- High Wealth Enthusiastic Group
- High Wealth Standard Group
- High Wealth Casual Group
- Middle Wealth Enthusiastic Group
- Middle Wealth Standard Group
- Middle Wealth Casual Group
- Low Wealth Enthusiast Group
- Low Wealth Standard Group
- Low Wealth Casual Group
These groups fill each city in the game and there are a ton of them. So, as you can see the complexity is definitely present in the customer logic and this is only the surface. They will view each product and compare them to each other and make the best choice for their desires. This makes marketing a very key aspect of your company’s operation. If the customers have no idea about your product, then they cannot consider it when making a purchase.
When the game releases, the plan is to release a mini-guide to get you started if you find the mechanics challenging. This game is a pure strategy game at heart and will cause you to think things through when creating products, but more importantly, cause you to think about how you will manage the product and your company after the products have been created. Follow-through.
Thanks for reading this update and I look forward to sharing more with you as we ramp up to testing and release.