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Dooglause The Fresh

Pearl Shop, from a Data Analyst's Perspective. Part 1

How do you feel about the Pearl Shop?  

7 members have voted

  1. 1. Have you ever felt bad after a Pearl Shop purchase?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Never purchased Pearls.
  2. 2. Would you be willing to work directly with the customer relations team to improve the Black Desert experience?

    • Heck Yeah! Sign me up.
    • Eh, if it's convenient.
    • Who has time for that? Sounds like XP waste.
  3. 3. Would an in-game or external polling system, that allows players to drive real change in Black Desert improve player experience and increase the likelihood of referring your friends to play the game?

    • Absolutely, I want to make the game a better place for everyone!
    • Yes, but only if the developers commit to following-through on player made decisions.
    • Maybe, not 100% sure.
    • Not really, I just want to play the game.

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Hello @CM_Valtarra,

To provide a little background, professionally I work as a Data Analyst in the Automotive Industry. Specifically, we leverage data sets to help automotive manufacturers improve their market shares and develop strategies for dealerships to implement to improve customer retention, satisfaction, and dealership profitability.  In my free time however, I'm a nerd! I love spending my time with guild mates and friends, challenging myself to progress through the highest content games have to offer, and of course making MONEY! 

Now that you have picture of my background, I'd like to open a line of conversation for 3 reasons: 

1. I truly believe Black Desert has the potential to grow to be one of the largest MMORPGs in the market. Black Desert isn't just another MMO, you have dedicated players (myself included) who spend thousands of hours on numerous platforms enjoying their free time while exploring the gorgeous and exciting content that Black Desert has to offer. 

2. Your development and customer relation teams CARE. It's obvious when exploring the game that there was a ton of love put into this game, I don't think anyone can argue this! I've played the PC version (I know this was published by Kakao.) and I have watched as your team has worked diligently to address consumer concerns, especially with regards to the ability for players to play the game without investing further money beyond the purchase of the game when releasing onto both Xbox and PS4. Whether it's revealing the enhancement success chances  (Yes, this is not directly related to your monetization policies but I promise there is a tie in.), rewarding players free value packs for events/login rewards to enable them to take advantage of a limited timeframe to avoid a 30% increased tax on marketplace sales, or any of the other countless improvements you've made to improve player's experiences. 

3. I love Black Desert. It's a game that checks all my boxes. Gorgeous game, check. A great design for lifeskilling / crafting, check. ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING COMBAT, CHECK! I want to see the game grow! I've recruited/ am recruiting many of my friends and family to come try out the game because I want to spend time with them in the beautiful world you have crafted. 

There is however an asterisk to all of this, I don't believe your current monetization strategies are intended to improve your player's experience. As a Data Analyst (SQL/VBA/Python Developer) I truly do have an appreciation for the cost of server maintenance, developer labor, and localization investments. All of this said, I'd like to have a conversation on how we collectively as a playbase feel about the current practices for consumers to invest in your game, because at the end of the day, we are not just players, we are your investors. To date I personally have INVESTED around $1,000 between Black Desert PC & PS4. To the general playerbase I think I still fall a bit below whale status (love the imagery), so I'll go ahead and label myself a Manatee, and I definitely do not regret my investment. Your game's worth it. (to me and many others) I also understand that you are consistently developing new content to bring to your players, and that costs money. However, I believe there are ways to better to monetize your product while not leaving a bitter taste in your consumers mouth. 

I'd like to take a moment and summarize how many who I've discussed these issues with feel by using a metaphor. Sorry in advance for the terrible storytelling! (There is a reason that I didn't go into a field involving creative writing) 

Your 10 years old, and you get a birthday present, it's exactly what you wanted a brand new bike. Now you can finally ride your bike with your friends, but as take it out of the box you realize, your bikes missing tires. Now I don't know about you, but riding a bike without tires is a rather daunting process. Just getting it to stand upright while your sitting on it is near impossible, but still your ecstatic, you can see the bike, touch the bike, all you need is some tires and you'll be able to ride with your friends! So you decide to buy the tires, you gather up all the money your relatives gave you for your birthday, go down to the local sporting good store and ask the clerk where you can find the tires, he points up to a box behind the counter and says, "Well we have two packages, one is $10 and the other is $50, in the $10 box you can either get a the absolute best tire (singular)  there is for mountain bikes, a bell, and a decal. In the $50 box, you receive a set of the same tires, a helmet, and mountable bluetooth speaker for your bike! Cool right? So which would you like?"  You pull out your wallet and slowly count your money, you only have $33, but you really want to play with your friends! So you make the decision, "I'll take three of your $10 boxes sir! I can't wait to ride my bike!"  The clerk hands you 3 boxes and says, "Good luck kid!". Your so excited now you can finally ride your bike with your friends! All you need is a little luck. You open the first box, you get the first tire you need! "YESSS!", you yell right in the middle of the store,  "Halfway there!", you look up at the clerk with a big smile on your face, the clerk smiles back and says, "Congrats kid, you got this!". You open the second box, it was a bell, your smile begins to wane, but you pick yourself back up, "Well that's okay, now I have a bell for my bike!". You look down in your hands, it's the last box. Nervousness overtakes you as you begin to open the last box, as you finally get the dang tape off that is holding the box shut you slowly open the box to find a decal of a cat with laser beams shooting out of its' eyes, your smile fades. You look at the cashier, "Well at least I got one tire!", he smiles back and replies, "Halfway there kid". Dejectedly, you look at the clerk, smile back and reply, "Yup I'll get it next time!"  When you get home, you set down your tire, bell, and decal and quietly walk to your room, close the door, and lay down on the bed staring at the ceiling. As you stare up quietly, you think about your day, and you realize you've started to cry. Your excitement is gone and a sense of disappointment washes over you. You pick yourself up off your bed, exclaiming to yourself, "Well, I'll try to get that tire as a Christmas present.". 

The takeaway, RNG based systems involving monetary transactions may feel exciting in the moment, but many are left with a sour taste in there mouth. Sure, there are definitely people who are more than happy to pray to RNGesus and roll the dice (myself included), but the question you should ask yourselves as developers is quite simple,

"Do our monetization policies leave our consumers happy they invested in our company?" 

I’m going to go ahead at this point and snatch a story from “League of Legends Origins”, because I feel like it embodies my point perfectly, while the issue at hand may be different, I believe the overall narrative of the story is a perfect example of how developers can prove themselves to be player-centric. 

The developer were in a meeting and were talking about Annie, how she’s all built with fire. They were talking about Blue Annie, and how she would use frost. Maybe Frost Annie would have like a slower attack rate, but a little bit more damage rate, and we’d sell that. They see Steve Feak, a developer, king of sitting there a little down about it, so one of the creators, Brandon says, “Steve you haven’t said anything. What do you think?” Steve looks up and he’s like, “I don’t like it, but I’m having a hard time saying why.”  And Brandon says, “Does it—Does it feel bad?” and Steve’s like, “Yeah, it just feels bad.”, so they decided early on that they wouldn’t sell power.

I love this story for a simple reason, I truly believes this embodies the experiences I and many others have had when investing in Black Desert, there’s not one particular issue that stands out above all others, it just feels bad. For me this was crystallized when I recently decided to purchase $200 in Pearls so I could get my Golden Hedgehog. As I read through the rules of the event one particular clause in the event notes stood out to me,

“You can participate in this event by ‘spending’ pearls. If you do not spend pearls after opening a pearl box, you are not eligible to participate in this event.”

Now, I can understand that this may be due to concerns that players would purchase the pearls, receive the rewards, and then request a refund either through your game client or the PlayStation Store, and that removing the event items from these players accounts, who are intentionally cheating the system, would be an arduous and costly task to say the least. So I let it go, purchased the Pearls and was happy to have my Golden Hedgehog (even though it was originally supposed to be a t4?). The following week, I check the new Pearl Shop items and I see the Memory Pack, which boasts many of the materials that would have beneficial to help my account progress. To be honest, it just felt bad. Why wasn’t this released within the Pearl Payback event? However, I held my tongue, thinking, ah well, missed this one but at least I still got tons of cool stuff most of which was 20% off!”

Then I logged in this evening,

“Pearl Shop Update, December 11th”

50% off all your favorite classic costumes

Arctic Rare Chest

Limited-time winter themed costumes

Again, I felt bad.


Truly, I love Black Desert and want it to thrive! But it’s not just me, many others in my guild had the same things to say, none of us are quitting, some of us are angry, but all of us have one thing in common.

We felt bad.


First and foremost, Black Desert offers a wonderful world where friends, family, and strangers can come together, explore and have fun. I just really believe that there needs to be some serious introspection within your organization on how you can open up dialogue with the community to fix these issues and leave your player base happy to invest their money in the game they love.

I’ve invited my guild and will actively communicate in game through server and world chat, out of game through YouTube, Facebook, Discord, Twitch, etc...  to share their own experiences and how their investments in your game make them feel, because I truly believe that the first step to improve upon the situation is to better understand how your decisions directly impact your playerbase.

A great starting point would be finding an active system that would allow player feedback to drive real change in the way that Black Desert Operates, whether through in-game play polls, the Black Desert Companion App (might take 50 development hours to setup the database, build the front-end, and add this feature to your application) that would allow players with little-to-no inconvenience to weigh in on the important issues that will shape the future of Black Desert, hopefully for years to come!

Thank you for taking the time to read this, in addition to this first post I will also include further information regarding how transitioning to a more player-centric Pearl Shop would be mutually beneficial for players, the community, and of course for Black Desert!


Dooglause The_Fresh

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