Youth squads beta and ad-free subscription

Bubbles, FC Sunnyvale Developer 14 February 2020, 15:03

Youth Squads Beta Registration opens tonight

The time has come to being the next phase of youth squads development. Later this evening, all premium clubs will be able to register for the beta test.

On Monday, we will start by letting 10% of those signed up, who will then be able to set up a youth squad, and get access to a separate discussion forum.

When the first batch of testers can't find any more bugs, the next waves of testers will get access, increasing the number to 25%, 50% and finally 100% as the feature gets fixes and improvements.

New mood system

When you create a youth squad, all your players will start using the new mood system.

The new mood system has been through a lot of iterations in the closed test to find the right balance.

In the current version, the total mood loss is approx. the same as before, simply implemented in a different way. Previously, it required participation in 1 match to raise the mood by 1 level - in the new system it requires 90 "mood points" in the player's mood tank to raise the mood by 1 whole level and the player gets 1 point for every minute he is on the pitch.

In the old system, mood loss is implemented as a percentage chance of the player losing 1 whole mood level each time they sit out a match. In the new system it is implemented by the player losing a certain percentage of a mood point for every minute they're not on the pitch. So if a player before had a 50% chance of losing 1 mood level by sitting out a match, then in the new system he would lose 50% of 90 minutes instead.

The percentage of mood loss is based on the player's age and their current mood. The mood loss gets slower the further down it falls. Players who are on the youth sqaud lose mood points as if they were 5 years older, otherwise it would be trivial to keep them at maximum mood all the time. 15-year-olds never lose mood points, even if they are on the youth squad.

Ad-free subscription

Can we all agree that ads stink?

I think we can, but at this point they are necessary, as Virtual Manager would otherwise be running a deficit.

Over the years, it has often been suggested that we should introduce a slightly more expensive subscription, which in turn is ad-free, which has also been repeated here in recent days.

It's an idea that has been discussed for several years in a row on the annual crew day with our volunteer crew, who have supported the idea and made their suggestions on what it should cost.

GDPR was painful

When the GDPR went into effect in May 2018, we saw a drastic decline in ad revenue. Below are the payouts at the beginning of 2018 from our English advertising provider, how provide all the advertisements shown to non-Danish users:

January 2018  $655.29
February 2018 $671.18
March 2018    $627.79
April 2018    $606.35
May 2018      $690.99
June 2018     $440.38
July 2018     $391.20
August 2018   $286.64

The figures are in USD.

I used the figures from our English advertising provider, as our Danish provider does not give as good access to historical monthly data, but the turnover of the Danish banners had a similar decline. If you multiply the foreign ad revenue figures by 8x, you are very close to the Danish banner revenue, which lines up with the distribution of Danish vs. non-Danish users.

It is quite clear that revenue fell sharply from May to June and continued downward. The latest figures from this year are around $200 a month.

The only solution the ad providers could offer was more, larger and more disruptive advertising. Boo.

VM Pro

So there are several things that indicate that it is finally time to implement an ad-free subscription. The subscription will be called VM Pro.

The price

The idea is that it will cost £4.59 per. month if you buy one year at a time, and £5.59 if you buy it on a monthly subscription. Initially there will be intro offers, so you can buy the monthly subscription for £4.59 as well, probably for a period of 3 months.

If you buy VM Pro, your existing premium days will be converted to VM Pro days based on a formula corresponding to the price difference between the two types of premium.

What does this mean for Virtual Manager's finances?

Unlike a normal premium, the discount for buying a full year of VM Pro at a time will be quite hefty. Therefore, many of those who buy VM Pro will probably switch from the current monthly premium subscription to the annual subscription of £4.59x12, giving us an extra £1.1.

Once Danish VAT has been paid on the £1.1, that leaves us with £0.88 left, and that is enough to cover the loss we'll incur by turning off the advertisements for a Pro user, compensate for the loss that GDPR has resulted in and then leave us with around 10 to 20 pence extra.

So it won't move mountains, but the important thing is that it will make us less dependent on ads and that users get a better game without advertisements that make the game uglier and slower.

Youth squads and VM Pro

If you switch to VM Pro, you need to feel that you're getting something for your money. Therefore, I think it is necessary for Pro to contain something extra, in addition to being ad-free, and it need to be something significant. If if doesn't give you anything else, then the subscription is not much better than an adblocker.

Now that youth squads are right almost done, the obvious choic would be to make that a VM Pro feature, since it's a cool new feature that we don't need to develop first and which won't distort the balance between regular Premium and Pro.

VM Pro will never be pay-to-win, and neither are youth squads. Youth squads allow for slightly increased earnings, but they are naturally limited in that the youth players will never be able to achieve the same sporting results as a senior team, and thus not the same prize money or ticket sales. It also requires extra work by the manager and the youth squad comes with costs to build and maintain their own stadium.

My approach to in-game purchases has always been that we will only sell opportunities; not results.

What do you think?

I would like to hear what you think, so I've made a post on the forum, asking these 4 things:

  1. In general, do you think it is a good idea with some kind of ad-free subscription?
  2. What do you say to the idea of ​​letting youth squads become part of the subscription?
  3. Do you think people will buy the ad-free subscription if it doesn't contain anything "extra"? Would you?
  4. If you don't think that youth squads should be part of the ad-free subscription, do you have any ideas for other things we could add to the subscription instead?

The shop needs to support it first

Right now, the shop only supports normal premium, so the option to sell VM Pro must first be added. We'll start implementing that after the youth squad beta is over. Until the store is ready to sell Pro, youth squads will be available to anyone with normal premium.