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Trioptical avatar 9:13 AM on 07.19.2010  (server time)
MAG and the Power of Double XP

A new Double XP promotion in MAG aims to fix some long queuing times. Will it work?

6 months into MAG, many people have pretty much settled into the game mode that they want to play. Valor player mostly stick to Sabotage and to a lesser extent Domination, Raven players stick to Acquisition and Domination, and SVER with Domination (good thing everyone plays 256 player Domination) and basically also stays away from Acquisition. This makes the wait times for Acquisition and the new DLC mode Interdiction much longer than those of the other modes.

Was it Call of Duty: Modern Warfare? I can't remember. I do know that Modern Warfare was the first major game to implement a perks / killstreaks / rewards system to keep people playing months after months on end after the game's initial release. Who'd have thought a carrot on a stick would be so powerful? You know what would make it even more powerful?

A carrot on a shorter stick.

Or in non-metaphorically terms, in this case, Double XP. A simple, yet again, very powerful way of getting players back in your game, and with the high player requirements for many of the modes in MAG, Zipper Interactive was smart enough to allow for the possibility of Double XP promotional periods in their massive action game. On such occasions, player counts jump, queue waiting times drop, players level up faster and everybody wins.

Especially SVER. They win a lot. Anyways...

Last week marked the beginning of a new kind of Double XP promotion for MAG. Instead of awarding more points to anyone in any game, this one rewards players for picking Directives at the game type selection menu, an option which essentially places a player into whatever game mode most urgently need more players to keep wait times to a minimum.* At this point, Zipper has said that the promo period will go on indefinitely.

To my knowledge, this is the first time Double XP incentives are being used to actually re-balance a game. In the case of MAG, more players of a given faction in any given game mode tends to mean more Shadow War victories for that faction. This promo looks to level that field a bit. It's a interesting idea.

If this is what I think it is, it's pretty clever. Double XP brings in more players, and only offering it to those players who allow themselves to be automatically placed in queues shortens wait times for every game mode. Also, it encourages players to try the different game mode or give them second chances, if perhaps, someone had a bad experience in a certain game type in the past. For me, it's even gotten me to thing more carefully about each of my five loadout slots and try different equipment and weapons to be better prepared for the various game types I might find myself in.

It's a bit early to tell whether or not Zipper's "experiment" will work. I've seen that many people are not yet aware that the promotion even exists. Other times, I have noticed that my scores in these randomly selected game types are lower than what I would be getting in my game type of choice, even with the Double XP, so the change in playing habits may not benefit all players.

Still, I am interested in seeing where this carrot might take us, and I am very interested in seeing what lures game developers come up with next.

Maybe shrimp wrapped in bacon on a stick. Mmmmm...

* I think.

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