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Why isn't this game more popular?

JtW

Prince
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Aug 23, 2010
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I have been a long time player of the Civ series, going back to the original. I found myself abandoning Civ 6, and not playing any Civ games for the first time in my life about 2 years ago. Something about that game just felt clunky and wrong to me. Until I recently stumbled on Old World by accident, due to a Steam sales. Somehow, I had missed the memo when the game came out. And wow, is this game good. It's like an almost perfect blend of all my favorite parts of the genre: storytelling cranked up to 11, focus on the ancient era, limited micromanagement because of the order system, etc... I'm completely in love with the game so far (maybe except for the somewhat clunky, confusing UI. For the first time ever, I felt the need to go through the tutorial to figure things out). I'm not surprised seeing as it was created by Soren, and Civ 4 was the pinnacle of the Civ series for me.

Anyway, I've seen that this game has fairly low player counts on Steam, and this made me sad. I really want this game to be a success, because playing it just makes me feel so good. I'm wondering if anybody has any thoughts or insights on this topic. Is it a marketing issue (indie title with not much promotion)? Is it a UI issue? Am I just weird and what I want is not what the mass market wants?

EDIT: I also appreciate it immensely that the devs went through the trouble of making an M1-native Mac version. As a Mac user, I usually feel treated as a forgotten stepchild by game devs. It was refreshing to see Soren & co actually care for that portion of the market. And the performance on the Mac is pretty good, too!
 
Why isn't this game more popular?
It's an unanswered question for me as well.

Anyway, I've seen that this game has fairly low player counts on Steam, and this made me sad. I really want this game to be a success, because playing it just makes me feel so good. I'm wondering if anybody has any thoughts or insights on this topic. Is it a marketing issue (indie title with not much promotion)? Is it a UI issue? Am I just weird and what I want is not what the mass market wants?
Maybe we are a minority.
Maybe the long phase of being Epic-only hurt the general visibility of the game.
Maybe sales aren't as bad as they seem because people own the game on different platforms. More Marketing could help, probably - the game seems pretty popular with people who actually try it, even if it can't satisfy every single person.
I actually find the UI quite good, everything serves a purpose and I can see the info I need.
But there's no voice-overs, no short movies, no slick and shiny comic-like graphics. Maybe in that regard, this game lacks in appeal to the masses?

All we can really do is leave nice reviews and spread the word. :king:
 
I would say that the two biggest issues are probably the fact that a)its a new IP/game and b)by a not-well known studio so there is going to be a limit to how many people know about the game.

That said, as much as I enjoy the game and think it was one of the best historical 4X/GSG games I've played, I don't tend to play a lot of it, especially compared to Civ6. To me, this is because while the game has fixed a lot of issues that are in Civ6 (starting locations, access to resources) it has also lost a lot of the things that make that game fun (playing the map, district placement). A great thing about OW is that I don't have to worry about having low science because there are not enough mountains around but you also lose out on placing that +6 campus* or creating an industrial zone mega-complex. Events do make up for this to a degree but they lack the player input that, say, districts have. There is also the fact that the differentiation between nations is fairly weak, especially compared to Civ6, and families don't have a lot of impact outside the early game means that your games tend to up feeling very samey after the very early game. No idea how other people feel about these things but this is why I don't play the game that much even though I do think very highly of the game and am interested in the game future development. Its fun and enjoyable but does not have enough variety to keep me playing it for long stretches of time.

*It is a cheap dopamine hit and all that but opening up a city's production queue and seeing the +6 and the highlighted blue area where you would place the campus is an important part of this and something that OW lacks. Its just not as fun to see all of the modifiers I'm getting from placing a lumber mill or barracks because they are not highlighted in the same way. It also visually tells new players where to place things in a way that, again, is very rewarding.
 
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Getting back to the original question, I think the answer lies in the fact that it has been out for a while so many players have it form other sources such as Epic. Steam doesn't reflect time played elsewhere. I had hope when it started selling OW and allowing users like me that play on Epic to have the start connection through steam that it would now count the time played. No such luck. Still, I haven't seen any damning reviews anywhere. I suppose I could just buy it on steam, but I don't want to just throw away the money spent on Epic to get the game and add-ons on steam to have the hours counted.
 
What if what makes OW great in view of 4X fans is also what makes it less appealing to the mass market?

As a fan of Tolkien's work, I loved the Fellowship of the Ring in theaters and not so much the Return of the King. The opposite was true for the mass market.

I feel OW is mostly polished for experts of the genre but not made shiny to attract people outside, which is fine for me.
 
*It is a cheap dopamine hit and all that but opening up a city's production queue and seeing the +6 and the highlighted blue area where you would place the campus is an important part of this and something that OW lacks. Its just not as fun to see all of the modifiers I'm getting from placing a lumber mill or barracks because they are not highlighted in the same way. It also visually tells new players where to place things in a way that, again, is very rewarding.
OW has some nice bonus as well but that are less immediate with buildings placed next to each other, and probably scales less high than Civ 6 to avoid the massive snowballing effects.
 
OW has some nice bonus as well but that are less immediate with buildings placed next to each other, and probably scales less high than Civ 6 to avoid the massive snowballing effects.
I think that one of OW's biggest strengths and weakness is that is it a lot more consistent game than Civ6 so you never have the lows of a really bad starting location but then you also miss the highs of a really amazing starting location. Its a perfectly fair choice to make but it does have consequences, not all of them positive.
 
One takeaway for me is about the initial exclusivity on Epic. I had no idea about it, and it's possibly why the game flew under my radar: I don't have an account there, and no interest in creating one. It makes sense most people would've bought it there, and Steam data is meaningless in that case.

I just hope this game is successful enough that it's worth it for the devs to continue working on it (and possibly make a sequel down the line).

We can "fix" that for you. ;)
Please don't :D
 
I just hope this game is successful enough that it's worth it for the devs to continue working on it (and possibly make a sequel down the line).
I mean, they've released two DLC and have continuously updated the game since launch. I'm guessing its doing just fine.
 
One takeaway for me is about the initial exclusivity on Epic. I had no idea about it, and it's possibly why the game flew under my radar: I don't have an account there, and no interest in creating one. It makes sense most people would've bought it there, and Steam data is meaningless in that case.
I already had the anno games, which I like to play, from Epic. I read about Old World and liked what I saw so I ordered it there. Who knew when Steam was going to finally be allowed to carry it. I would prefer to move everything to Steam just to have everything in one place, but there probably won't ever be that option. Maybe if they have a supersale for these games on Steam, I might just buy it then. I mean, for under $5, it would be worth it.
 
Probably three things, which have already been touched on:

- New IP. It's not Civ VI, it's Old World 1.
- Mohawk isn't very well-known as a studio yet, at least compared to names such as Paradox, Firaxis, and Amplitude.
- Going Epic first makes it appear less popular on Steam, where it's easier to try to track popularity based on review numbers and sites such as SteamSpy.

The "great for 4X fans, less great for mass market" may or may not be a factor. Not that there's anything wrong with targeting a midsize market and targeting it well, however. For those of us in that market, that's a feature! And I for one feel like Firaxis has gone too far towards the "mass market" side of the equation for the past two iterations.

Epic did provide money for the development of Old World in exchange for the initial exclusivity, so we shouldn't judge that decision harshly, even if it did limit the initial audience compared to what a simultaneous Epic/Steam/GOG launch would have allowed. I expect Old World is the type of game that can have a long tail as well, especially if there is at least some sign of continued support for it. It won't feel old in a year or two. Unless maybe there's an Old World 2 available then. Not that I'm in a hurry for it... but I'd rather it exists someday than not.
 
The game is selling well - people here mentioned Steam and Epic, but we were also the third top selling game on GOG during 2022.

Is OW still less popular than it should be? I think yes. Going by online discussions, it's not mentioned that often, and I think many potential fans still haven't discovered Old World. Player reviews are very good so it seems most players do enjoy the game when they discover it!

We're of course a less flashy game. The reality of the market is that adding flashy stuff makes games sell better, whereas OW has no cut scenes, no voice acting, no fancy stuff like that. And in terms of gameplay, it is - by design - somewhat niche, or at least not maximized for mass appeal. It has a lot of complexity, with many numbers available. It can be unforgiving if you're not playing well. There's a lot of text to read. In this way, it appeals more to players who are looking for strategic depth and who aren't easily intimidated by numbers, lists and modifiers. It is of course a difference game from Civ6, which has amazing production values and rightly prides itself for being very accessible. Or from Humankind, which goes hard on the visual aspects and so the whole "build your own beautiful nation" aspect, while the strategy part is more of an afterthought. So all in all, even given equal exposure, OW isn't going to appeal to quite as many players as Civ, which is fine.

Non-game factors are stuff like Mohawk counting as a less known studio (Soren is much more famous than the company) and release timing. But hey, we have cool stuff like native M1 Mac builds and native Linux / Steam Deck builds!
 
Third-best selling on GOG, that is impressive! Congratulations! I always kind of wonder, how much is it worth it for games to launch on more storefronts, but aside from a few articles on Gamasutra it tended to be hard to tell. It sounds like it was worth it for Old World!
 
The game is selling well - people here mentioned Steam and Epic, but we were also the third top selling game on GOG during 2022.
First, let me say just how much I appreciate you guys being here and interacting with us.

Second, 3rd top selling game on GOG is no mean feat! Makes me confident in your continued success. Great job. :)

Is OW still less popular than it should be? I think yes. Going by online discussions, it's not mentioned that often, and I think many potential fans still haven't discovered Old World. Player reviews are very good so it seems most players do enjoy the game when they discover it!
A part of the problem is in the name. "Old World" is such a generic and often used phrase that it's hard to find discussions about the game even when consciously looking for them. I like the name, don't get me wrong, but it's not optimal for discovery.

We're of course a less flashy game. The reality of the market is that adding flashy stuff makes games sell better, whereas OW has no cut scenes, no voice acting, no fancy stuff like that.
If you ever make a sequel, take a look at CK3. It isn't much flashier than the Old World but I feel they found just the right amount of simplification and "beautification" to make the game a much bigger success than CK2.

And in terms of gameplay, it is - by design - somewhat niche, or at least not maximized for mass appeal. It has a lot of complexity, with many numbers available. It can be unforgiving if you're not playing well. There's a lot of text to read. In this way, it appeals more to players who are looking for strategic depth and who aren't easily intimidated by numbers, lists and modifiers. It is of course a difference game from Civ6, which has amazing production values and rightly prides itself for being very accessible. Or from Humankind, which goes hard on the visual aspects and so the whole "build your own beautiful nation" aspect, while the strategy part is more of an afterthought. So all in all, even given equal exposure, OW isn't going to appeal to quite as many players as Civ, which is fine.
The thing with mass market games is that they are always a result of tradeoffs because they try to appeal to too many people at once. OW feels like a game made specifically for me: it has the right blend of Civ and CK (both some of my favorite games), set in my favorite historical era, and with a focus on storytelling (which I always preferred even in Civ and would often make suboptimal decisions because they felt more fitting for the story). So thank you for addressing this niche, because I'm in it. ;)

Non-game factors are stuff like Mohawk counting as a less known studio (Soren is much more famous than the company) and release timing.
That's definitely true. I didn't even register the company name but Soren's name caught my attention when I first looked at OW (because Civ4 happens to be my favorite).

But hey, we have cool stuff like native M1 Mac builds and native Linux / Steam Deck builds!
As a Mac player, I cannot stress how much it means to me. Civilization uses Aspyr, it's always a secondary consideration for them, and Paradox hasn't even committed to ever making M1 versions of their games yet. Because of this, I immediately bought the full package instead of just the base game because I felt the need to show you guys some appreciation for taking care of that market.
 
Funny OW trivia: we released the M1 native build a couple of weeks after the initial Steam release, without having anyone on the team who works on a Mac. But the initial build wouldn't even run on M1 so we were forced to fix it quickly.
 
Funny OW trivia: we released the M1 native build a couple of weeks after the initial Steam release, without having anyone on the team who works on a Mac. But the initial build wouldn't even run on M1 so we were forced to fix it quickly.
How quickly you forgot our loveable community pixie Maddie. :(
 
She was only using Epic builds and therefore Intel mode. You know what I mean :p
 
"Old World" is such a generic and often used phrase that it's hard to find discussions about the game even when consciously looking for them
but Soren's name caught my attention
bit late, but ... SJOW! :D -- (just like SMAC game, this googles fine)

Intel mode. You know what I mean :p
One machine with genuine windows for gaming and another one with Ubuntu for the rest ?! ;)


Why isn't this game more popular?
I suppose, the game could be more accessible (especially for "casual players") by using easier default settings (eg. AI development) ... I mean, those seeking a harder game have a (much!) higher frustration tolerance (and will find out how to realize that with relatively fewer complications) than those seeking an easier game because feeling overwhelmed and consecutively being put off (worst case).


 
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