State of the Universe Address 2014
MindArk is happy to report great progress achieved in many areas of Entropia Universe in 2013. The MindArk team spent much of the year improving the user experience and upgrading infrastructure to improve performance and accommodate more simultaneous users.
Entropia’s 10 Year Anniversary
2013 began with MindArk celebrating the ten-year anniversary of Entropia Universe. Special events were held, and hundreds of special TEN Edition items were looted throughout the year to celebrate this exciting milestone.
A series of major infrastructure upgrades was performed during 2013. These upgrades have helped to improve server capacity and stability, and allowed for faster and smoother deployment of Version Updates, patches and hotfixes. These upgrades also help our developers and partners to more efficiently develop new content and systems by streamlining the internal development pipeline.
MindArk vastly increased its marketing efforts in 2013 resulting in a more than 110% increase in the number of new participants compared to 2012. Those marketing efforts also resulted in a very encouraging 57% increase in the number of new depositors. By all significant measures such as average simultaneous users, new accounts, and daily economic turnover, overall activity in the universe was at an all time high during 2013, due in large part to the MindArk’s latest marketing efforts.
New Player Experience
Additional improvements to the new player experience were implemented in 2013, carrying on the focus given to this area in late 2012. These efforts have synergized well with the marketing efforts described above, and have contributed to the improvement in conversion rates and participant retention. A series of player-contributed YouTube tutorials were also created in cooperation with MindArk, and new participants were encouraged to view those informative videos to get off on the right foot in the Entropia Universe adventures. The new player experience is an area that will continue to have MindArk’s attention moving forward, as it is an essential component of the growth of the universe.
Many participants were thrilled with the addition of Paypal as an official Entropia Universe payment processor in the second quarter of 2013. In addition, new participants have the option of purchasing special starter packs via Zong, Paypal’s mobile payment solution.
A major overhaul to the avatar graphics and creation system was implemented early in 2013, resulting in incredibly realistic looking avatars and enhanced avatar customisation possibilities.
A new type of estate management opportunity was offered in 2013. A group of participants pooled their resources and bid 1.5 million PED to acquire the rights to manage the first such estate, which subsequently was launched as the Monria moon estate in May 2013.
Several exciting new exciting features were introduced to Entropia Universe in 2013 which have been widely approved by participants. Those features include mission and skill progress trackers modules, as well as new types of consumable items that buff avatars in various ways. In addition, weapons and other items introduced in 2013 sport interesting new abilities, for example: life leech, faster reload speed, or damage blocking. New convenience items were also introduced toward the end of 2013, including portable trade and repair terminals and auto-loot pills.
Veteran Appreciation/Cost to Play
As promised in the 2013 State of the Universe Address, MindArk implemented several changes and features that helped to reduce the overall cost to participate in Entropia Universe, including:
Average TT returns were increased across the board for hunting, mining, crafting and other activities.
Removal or lowering of many unpopular fees, such as the armor equipping fee.
Increased the unlimited item tiering speed.
The minimum condition of most items lowered to 3%, freeing up a large number of PED, especially for owners of older UL weapons.
Reduced the volatility of many activities, especially for lower level avatars.
Decay and ammo consumption were removed when using a weapon not aimed at a valid target.
MindArk has ambitious plans for the development of Entropia Universe in 2014, with planned primary focus on the following areas.
Social Interface - A completely overhauled and improved social interface has been under development for the past several months, and is getting close to implementation. This upgrade will bring several long-desired features, including offline messaging, custom chat channels and much more.
Affiliate System - An affiliate system is under development which will allow participants to earn PED by referring new Entropia Universe participants.
Premium Accounts - Still in the early design stage, MindArk is planning to offer premium account upgrades for a small monthly cost. Benefits of the various premium account types are still being decided, but may include such features as increased storage limits and increased number of simultaneous auctions. We are also considering making premium account upgrades available via daily mission tokens as well as special lootable items.
Citizenship & Housing System - Development of these systems was unfortunately delayed in 2013 due to the critical infrastructure upgrades taking quite a bit more development time than anticipated, along with several other projects receiving higher priority in the second half of 2013 and early 2014. This project now is now tentatively planned for release in Q4 of 2014.
PVP - Lots of improvements and enhancements to player vs. player (PVP) combat are planned for the second half of 2014. More information will be made available in a future Entropia Buzz developer notes article.
New Player Experience - Among MindArk’s highest ongoing priorities is improving participant conversion and retention, and one of the best ways to accomplish that is to continually find ways to improve the experience of new participants. As such, we plan to continue working closely with our planet partners in 2014 to implement systems and features that make Entropia Universe as exciting and user-friendly as possible for new participants.
Legacy Systems - Progress is ongoing for the reimplementation and refinement of various legacy systems.
New Systems - Several other interesting new systems are in the early development stage, and are planned for release in Q3 and Q4 of 2014 depending on prioritization of the other projects mentioned above. More details and teasers will be released throughout the year, so be on the lookout!
MindArk plans to continue to expand and refine its marketing efforts in 2014 in order to maximize the number of new participants joining Entropia Universe. As outlined above, our marketing efforts in 2013 were very promising and we plan to become even more aggressive in 2014.
MindArk was excited to bring its newest planet online last week. Though still in its beta release, Planet Toulan promises to bring exposure of Entropia Universe to a previously untapped sector of the online gaming audience, and add a unique Arabian theme to the existing planet partner roster. Full release of Planet Toulan is expected mid-2014.
Cost to Play & Balancing
Continuing with the improvements made in 2013, MindArk plans to further improve average returns for many activities. One example would be the removal of the clothing equip fee in an upcoming platform release.
Infrastructure & Development Tools
Additional improvements to the Entropia Universe infrastructure and development tools are planned, which will allow MindArk and its planet partners to more efficiently develop and deploy new features and content, while minimizing server latency and downtime during patches and version updates.
Deed and Estate Management
Several new deed and estate management opportunities are planned for 2014. One of these will be announced in the upcoming planet partner release scheduled for early March.
Several major public and private organizations have expressed interest in making use of the Entropia Universe platform and collaborating with MindArk for future projects.
In conclusion, MindArk is looking forward to an exciting and productive 2014 for Entropia Universe and hopes all our participants will enjoy the improvements and efforts we have planned.
CEO MindArk PE AB