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Who is Splatoon Targeting? (A Marketing Graduate's Argument/Rant/Review)

Discussion in 'Regular Discussion' started by kunoichi squid, Feb 15, 2018.

?

In regards to Splatoon, generally speaking, I am more of a...

  1. Casual Gamer

    18 vote(s)
    40.9%
  2. Hardcore Gamer

    26 vote(s)
    59.1%
  1. kunoichi squid

    kunoichi squid Inkling Cadet

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    It seems that Splatoon is trying to appeal to everyone and not doing a very good job at it, imho. They need to make lots of improvements no matter who they're trying to appeal to and they really need to pick an audience; maybe the reason I'm saying this is because of my background in marketing/corporate communication (that was my major in college/university). My background tells me that for a company, product, etc. to succeed it needs to pick one major target audience/market and one sub target audience/market. Should they have picked one side over the other? Or did they do the right thing in trying to compromise? Read on to see my thoughts and maybe you can offer some of your own (if you like). Keep in mind this is only my opinion and point of view.

    Let's go ahead and try to guess at this point two distinct audience groups for Splatoon and see where this puts them/the developers and what they could or should do to improve. (Keep in mind that these improvements could even help if they'd add them in and make them optional and under a sub-menu.)

    First audience is the casual gamer audience. These people try to enjoy the game in its current state, but because of the lack of support for them, they get frustrated and either leave the game all together or rage whenever they play. If the developers want to target this audience they need to create aim assist so as to enable players who maybe don't have such a steady hand, but want to know what it's like to play a sniper or similar weapon. (FYI, I would be such a person because I have carpal tunnel, but would like to know the feel or appeal of a sniper. I just can't do such a thing due to my inability to keep my hand steady.) The casual gamer audience also would enjoy it if there were AI for disconnects and to balance teams. The level/handicap could be set or determined based on which player(s) were disconnected or dropped from the game. Lastly, voice chat could be added to help the casual gamer audience to learn and understand more about the game and its various mechanics.

    The second audience is the serious or hardcore gamer audience. These people, from my POV, seem to take the game as a killing game and don't push the objective of the stage quite so much. For these people they don't want aim assist because they can keep their hands steady and/or would argue "What if I don't want to aim at a player; what if I want to paint turf, etc.?" To these people I'd say this is why you'd turn off the said feature, if it ever were to come about, in the sub-menu. The addition of AI would, for this target audience, make battles unfair or unbalanced and become boring because now the players would be unable to push the opposing team back to spawn or make it too easy for the opposing team to then make a comeback; again I say this could be turned off in the sub-menu. Lastly, I've heard why (and I'm sure you have all mentioned and read about) voice chat is a problem so I won't even mention it.

    One random improvement I can think of could be maybe to add a comeback mechanism similar to Mario Kart's spiny, blue shell or a bullet bill; for example you could make it so when you die you cover the turf in your color not your opponents and that your own special would either stay the same level or you wouldn't lose as much.

    I'm done. I'll now open the floor up to all of you and your thoughts, opinions, etc.
     
  2. MindWanderer

    MindWanderer Inkling Commander

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    They're trying to make a game that appeals to hardcore gamers while still being fun for casuals, and I think largely they've succeeded.

    They're never going to make it super-casual, with additional random elements, because Turf Wars is already plenty random. Only the last 45 seconds in a Turf Wars match really matter, so a rubberbanding mechanic is unnecessary. Matchmaking could be better but honestly could be a lot worse--not every match is balanced, but I notice on streams that players with a wide range of skill levels still approach a 50% win rate overall. AI would be insanely difficult to code well (the Octolings in single player are their best effort, and not only are they a poor challenge, they can't push any strategy but kill kill kill); better to just make the passive buff for having a player down be stronger. And auto-aim sniping? They'd need to nerf chargers into the ground to make that balanced.

    And they're not doing half bad by hardcore players. The minute balancing they're doing each patch is proof that they're trying hard. They could improve netcode, sure. And as for voice chat... well, clearly they know it's wanted, but have no idea how to go about it without compromising their core principles and without losing their E-10+ rating.

    I do think, with as bloodthirsty as Turf Wars ended up being in Splat2 as compared to Splat1, that for Splat3, either they need a new casual mode or settings, or they need to change rewards so that hardcore players will have less incentive to participate. But otherwise I think they're largely on target.
     
  3. Sifu

    Sifu Look Behind You

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    I don't think I need to explain why auto-aim is a terrible idea
     
  4. Padre

    Padre Pro Squid

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    I think they are going towards hardcore, but as an casual, this game works for me too.
    This game has that old fashioned fun element every single modern shooter lacks otherwise.

    I still play for fun mostly. Switch was a godsent as I have been a PC player now for 15 years and in that time I kinda forgot what gaming was all about. Cs, CoD, LoL, DotA and all strategy and simulation games were just a grind and I will never go back. Sure Splatoon has grinding aspect too with its multiple mini-goals, but that never got into me as much. The core gameplay just works right.
     
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  5. Elecmaw

    Elecmaw Lord of the Squids

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    This is and is still one of the main problems i have with this game. It seemingly cannot decide whenever it should be oriented towards casuals or tourney-players, and as a result kind of fails to attract both.

    The specials in the first game were definitely oriented towards the causal side. A single kraken or inkzooka could wipe an entire team, especially in solo queue where the lack of communication would mean you have no method of warning against such threats. It's somewhat random whenever someone will pop a special in your face, and serves as a wild card to create a more chaotic playing field. It somewhat indirectly functions as the blue shell in your analogy.

    So they probably figured that a single special that could shatter an entire team would be kind of broken, so they revamped them to be less effective. This is (if you ask me) more of a move to appeal to the more serious crowd. Now teams have to be a bit more coordinated to get the most of their specials. However, it will no longer carry teams which are being outplayed... which is of course, no fun for casuals especially because the matchmaking in this game is just bad making curbstomps and spawncamps all the more common in solo. You no longer have that inkzooka to dissolve a spawn camp. Gone is the blue shell, now we have what is more akin to a tool to help you win. The battleground is a lot less chaotic and a bit more stable.

    But here's the other catch: at a 'hardcore' level this game can get boring quick. The entire meta consists of picking N-Zap/Forge/Blaster/Machine and that's it. N-Zap in particular is really easy to use, just run around the map and spam armor and you win. Say about the S1 .96 Deco whatever you like, at least you had to aim. You had to learn where to place your walls and make the most out of them. At least with E3K you needed to learn how to aim to actually make it the destructive presence that it was. In N-Zaptoon 2, All of the top meta weapons are low-risk high-reward, and everything at the bottom is high-risk nothing-reward. The meta in this game is really bland.

    And if you were a few patches behind it was all about the Tri-Slosher, which consisted of double-tapping next to the enemy team and watching them all die. Then you can activate armor-cheese and do it all over again.

    Is this game fun? Yeah, sometimes. Does this game improve on aspects of Splatoon 1? Certainly. But is far from flawless.
     
  6. Drew Sebastino

    Drew Sebastino Inkling Cadet

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    Probably better than Smash 4, and 100x better than ARMS.

    I think you and I have very different definitions of "certainly." :p Well, jokes aside, I actually agree with most of what you said. I actually really like that they removed the old specials (except Echolocator, although I guess you could argue that it was just as broken as everything else), but for every right this game makes, it does something else wrong. The unviability of weapons that require higher-skill is what really annoys me the most. The E-Liter should theoretically be the best weapon in the game. In practice though, nobody is going to land %100 of their shots, which makes it much worse in practice. The Splatoon 2 E-Liter though, isn't even that good in theory.

    I'm actually one of the most "hardcore" gamers I know, having beaten most all "hard" NES games (except Battletoads, because getting through all that with only 3 continues is just absurd), having 1cc'd many arcade games for the hell of it, and beaten F-Zero GX's damn near impossible story mode on "Very Hard." I also love Super Smash Bros. Melee, even though there's no one else I know who is that good at it, so I don't have much competition. Splatoon is a bit of an anomaly for me; I actually thought it looked like the stupidest thing ever when I saw the infamous "Squid Kid" commercial, but I went over to a friend's house and saw that he had gotten the Splatoon Wii U bundle, and I was surprised, because I actually really enjoyed it. Then I got to play Ranked Battle, and that's when I knew I had to shell over $300 for a Wii U.

    I actually think It's one of the most hardcore shooters since military shooters infected the market with Modern Warfare, no joke. There's no bs camping, you can run in more directions than a straight line, you can't randomly kill people half way across the map because of bullet penetration and, quite honestly, even Specials in Splatoon 1 are nothing compared to the nonsense you get from kill streaks which end up having a snowball effect on the outcome of the match. Not to mention that there's no aim assist, although a lot of the weapons have terrible RNG, so... I'd still love to see a more hardcore version of Splatoon where Inklings are faster and more durable, putting a bit more emphasis on actual combat (Quake Splatoon, lol) but I realize that Nintendo is trying to be as inclusive as possible.
     
  7. kunoichi squid

    kunoichi squid Inkling Cadet

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    I want to take time to thank everyone for their comments, etc. I really wish that the makers/developers would have made up their minds about who they wanted to target because that would make for better game play than it is already. If they wanted only hardcore gamers they should have targeted them more, but if they wanted more casual gamers they also should have done better; again this is just my opinion. I originally got into the series thinking that it was going to be casual, comic game play. I didn't know so many people were going to take it so seriously and focus solely on kills. Anyway, this was only my opinion and I'm glad to see what everyone else thinks. Keep the thread going and discuss more freely what you want to see or don't want to see. (For one: I know that for a lot of you aim assist is a bad thing, but I still wish to some degree I could have it so I could feel what it's like to wield a charger since my carpal tunnel won't allow me to hold my hand steady enough to main one. :( )
     
  8. Padre

    Padre Pro Squid

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    I got past Battletoads. I cant really recommend it to anyone. Its the most sadistic game ever.

    Splatoon 2 is really different, on every possible level. :)
     
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  9. MindWanderer

    MindWanderer Inkling Commander

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    If I wasn't clear before: I think they have made up their minds exactly. Target hardcore gamers as much as possible while keeping it approachable to children and casuals, and retaining the characteristic Nintendo charm.

    Did they succeed? Not 100%. Much of this is due to the new Turf Wars meta, which is hard to explain and not really Nintendo's fault. And some of it is their inexperience at online gaming. But their intention seems clear and decisive to me.
     
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  10. ThatOneGuy

    ThatOneGuy Inkling Commander

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    I think that this game series was always geared towards casuals. Just because casuals make so much of the playerbase, and for a good reason too, they don't have to invest hundreds of hours of gameplay and analyse the game critically. The Casual playerbase doesn't have to pay attention to what weapons are the best to use and what strategies are the most effective to win. As long as they're having fun with the game, casuals are accomplishing their goals.

    I also believe Splatoon was designed for casuals because of the single player mode (it helps people learn the game), splatfests (an entire day of the casual turf war mode), and turf war since it's always available in every rotation (unlike all 4 ranked modes).

    Splatoon 1 was probably geared more towards casual play, like @Elecmaw said, the specials were forgiving to use and could make monstrous plays. Splatoon 1 Specials remind me of final smashes from Super Smash Bros, extremely powerful moves that could turn a fight around without much effort. And there were plenty of "Easy weapons" that could be effective as well.

    However, Splatoon 1 had something for competitive players as well, including multiple balance patches, a couple ranked modes, and a good ranking system. However, the dependency for being on Nintendo's Network killed it's potential to become a big esport with LANs. To be fair though, Splatoon at its release was never seen as a competitive game, mostly just a game for 12 year olds trying to replace CoD.

    Now, Splatoon 2 did a lot to please both sides of the playerbase.

    For casuals, the mode Salmon Run was added, which is a fun, low sodium Player vs AI event. And with the recent 2.0.0 patch, casuals get to stay in turf lobbies as they can switch weapons after every match now. Not to mention new amiibos and the return of splatfest.

    For competitive players, the rng was taken out of gear with the new chunk system, allowing for much easier pures. LAN connections and Spectator mode were added into the game (Which is huge for becoming an esport), making the game fun to watch (instead of just one POV) and eliminating lag for future competitive events. Gameplay wise, specials require more coordination in this game to be as effective as the old specials.

    However, with all these great things, the competitive community still finds some problems, and rightly so.
    First of all, the metagame for this game has been extremely bland weapon wise. As @Elecmaw said, Top tier weapons in this game are often low risk, high reward. Meanwhile all the bottom tier weapons are high risk, low reward by comparison. Which makes spending time on learning and mastering a "hard" weapon almost pointless since it's most likely outclassed by an easier weapon.

    Maybe once the slow dripping of new weapons finally stops (I'm looking at you, Custom Range Blaster), the game can finally have that diverse metagame of splatoon 1. But for now, it's been somewhat bland.

    The last problem I'll call attention to from the competitive scene is the current state of solo queue (or solo ranked).
    It's absolutely pitful. A disgrace. You would think that with a big focus on e sports, and with a player base that's learning and becoming better each and every day would come with a ranking system that would help test that. I've ranted about the current system multiple times, and I don't want to nitpick every thing I despise about it.

    But the summary is:
    • The system is extremely forgiving now, as you can maintain your rank in S+ with a mere 33% win rate. Meanwhile Splat 1 C- wouldn't let you advance with such an awful win ratio.
    • The system is extremely inconsistent when it comes to skipping ranks and assigning cracks. As Nintendo have not shed any light on how the system works and don't seem like planning to change it as of now.
    • S+ 50 is not a meaningful achievement like S+99 proved to be, as the aforementioned rank skip is extremely inconsistant and S+ is filled with people who do not deserve the rank now.
    • Finally, the new ranking system doesn't give the player a measurement to base their skill off of. The best guess we can get is the power level score at the bottom left hand corner before every ranked match. However, individual power levels are assigned in Splatfest (a casual event), so why can't solo ranked be measured with that?"
    So I believe Splatoon 2 is mostly catered towards casuals, as it is far easier to please them and make profit out of them. Since they are a vast majority of the player base.
     
  11. MindWanderer

    MindWanderer Inkling Commander

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    I think we have different ideas as to where the divide between "casual" and "hardcore" is. Perhaps it's a false dichotomy, and there should be at least three categories:
    • Casual, who play single player and Turf Wars, maybe Ranked at the C-A range, and play with whatever weapons they think are fun. The kind who play "For Fun" in Smash Bros.
    • Medium-core, who play mostly Ranked at the A to low S+ range, using weapons they feel are pretty good--they may be based on personal experience or the meta, but may be deliberately trying to buck the meta even if it costs them wins. The kind who play "For Glory" in Smash Bros.
    • Hardcore, who are all S+ 50 or close to it, but play a Lot of league and private battles, and either use meta weapons or have very specific strategies for why they don't. If they play Smash Bros., it's for tournament practice or bust.
    If Nintendo really wanted to cater to the "casual" audience, they'd do things like put canned specials in multiplayer and make ranks completely invisible. Have the weapon selection be minimal and let you just plain choose your subs. Have it all be a big ol' party unless you went through hoops to restrict and balance things in private games. Instead, they put in a ton of features to appeal to the hardcore gamers, especially over time--if the hardcore audience wasn't a target, they would have zero support after day 1 except for Splatfests. When they spent so much time showing a hypothetical Splatoon 2 tournament in a huge theater, they weren't targeting the casual audience.

    I don't think it's "inconsistent" at all about skipping ranks and showing cracks. It's just invisible. It's a strange, very Nintendo way of doing things, that sure, won't appeal to Hardcore players that like to know how everything works. But it's based on an algorithm that would work the same way every time if you had the exact same battle results.

    And as a "medium-core" player myself, I don't think it's "extremely forgiving" or that "S+ 50 is not a meaningful achievement." I'm older and don't have a dozen hours a week to practice games, but I've been around and I know in general what I'm doing. Ranking up for me is difficult and time-consuming. I've ranked down, even from A to A- once. I'll never reach S+ 50. Sure, it's easier to get there than it was to reach S+ 99 in Splatoon 1, but achieving that was murderously difficult and even the best players couldn't maintain it consistently.

    Here's a thing I think they learned from Smash Bros. Brawl: Catering to the hardcore audience is important if you want the bulk of your customers to take you seriously. Brawl bombed. Consumers know that Melee was the objectively better game. Even if most of them only played in modes and in ways where the shortcomings of Brawl didn't make any difference, people still avoided it because of the poor balance, added randomness, etc. There's a reason Smash 4 makes a big deal out of letting people know there's a "tournament friendly" mode even if that's not the mode they push you toward when you turn on the game.

    The hardcore audience are influencers. Especially in the era of Twitch and YouTube. Imagine if Splatoon 3 came out and DUDE said it was garbage. Bye bye sales, better luck next sequel. But at the same time, they need to make the actual gameplay approachable to everyone. It's tough, and they're not all the way there. But it doesn't mean they're not trying.
     
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  12. Flammie

    Flammie Inkling Cadet

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    It would be better for casuals, if the lobbies didn't drop you off where the lowest leveled player is 50... in turf that is.
    When i was level 10, i was dropped in level 40 - 50 lobbies, before they updated it to level 99...
    Level 32 now, and i'm still dropped off in rooms that has twice as many levels as me.

    I think a lot of players are getting discouraged when they get paired up with or against players who have spent 500 - 1000+ hours in the game already, while they just started or have only 3 hours in the game.
     
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  13. kunoichi squid

    kunoichi squid Inkling Cadet

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    Yes, you made your point; I guess I just disagreed initially, but I'm beginning to slowly understand and still wish they had picked one target audience instead of trying to focus on two. Thank you again for your insight! :)
     
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  14. Drew Sebastino

    Drew Sebastino Inkling Cadet

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    Even a random number generator is based on an algorithm, so I don't get your point. You could even argue that with enough insight, nothing is random (except maybe quantum mechanics); what makes something random is not knowing what outcome something is going to give you, even if it does technically have a pattern.

    When I'm the only one who has scored in Clam Blitz and has 14 splats while the rest are 8, 3, and 1, and I get a crack, while having multiple losing games where I don't get a crack despite having the lowest number of splats and probably also score the least because I'm using (well, more like practicing with, lol) the Squiffer, I am going to question the rank system.

    And Brawl didn't "bomb"; selling 13 million, the most in the series and of any fighting game ever, is far from a failure. I'd like to say it did, as I consider myself a "hardcore gamer" and am not a big fan of Brawl, but I know that "casuals" are going to make up more of the sales for every game. Even the large number of people who still play Melee competitively today is only a fraction of the people who bought the game, and Nintendo is not making money off of them for still playing the game. Many believe that Nintendo could have done a lot more for Smash 4 to make it more competitive (even competitive players; no one likes rage) but that isn't necessarily appealing to the majority of people who are going to buy the game, which is what Nintendo cares about because that's where the money is.
     
    #14 Drew Sebastino, Feb 20, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
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  15. MindWanderer

    MindWanderer Inkling Commander

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    Hm, you're right, I'd heard all the critical criticism of Brawl and didn't check its actual sales figures (although it's hard to compare due to console sale discrepancies--see below). This makes the changes to Smash 4 all the more noteworthy, since they did in fact make it more appealing to competitive gamers. Again: they're trying.

    Some numbers (game sales from vgmdata may not be 100% accurate but should be in the ballpark):
    • N64: 5.5 million sales of Smash Bros. 1, 33 million consoles = 16.7% market penetration
    • GameCube: 7.4 million sales of Melee, 21.7 million consoles = 34.1% market penetration
    • Wii: 13.25 million sales of Brawl, 101.6 million consoles = 13.0% market penetration
    • Wii U: 5.32 million sales of Smash 4, 13.56 million consoles = 39% market penetration
    • 3DS: 9.16 million sales of Smash 4, 72 million consoles = 12.7% market penetration
    So other than Smash 4 for 3DS, which is probably because it's a bad fit for handheld, Brawl sold the worst as a function of how many consoles were out there. And that's the most casual-friendly game in the series on the most casual-friendly console Nintendo has ever made. I don't think it's unfair to call that a failure. In contrast, the sales of Melee and Smash for Wii U are so high they suggest that many people probably bought the console to play those games specifically.
     
  16. Maave

    Maave Inkling Commander

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    I think Splatoon handles its wide audience rather well. First point - there's a huge spectrum between 'casual' and 'hardcore'. Some people are carefree. Some people go hard. Some people go hard and still totally suck but enjoy the game anyway. Reminds me of my friend who played League of Legends for years and never broke out of the very bottom rank. Ranked games like League and Overwatch are really good comparisons - the devs balance the characters as much as they can and let the players find their own skill level.

    Second point - Everybody plays for different reasons and it can be really specific. Take a snippet from this GDC talk (19:20 to 20:10).


    Third point - I think Nintendo wasn't expecting the highly competitive market. At least not to this degree. It feels like they intended the game for casuals but designed it well in a way that supported everyone. Now they're (awkwardly) working with what the game has evolved into.
     
  17. ThatOneGuy

    ThatOneGuy Inkling Commander

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    Even if it is "consistent", being invisible is incredibly toxic for the game's competitive development. Since other games (that cater to competitive players) will actually give their players an accurate indicator of where they place. Games like Overwatch and Dota 2 give you a number as to where you stand and group you appropriately.

    Splatoon 2 S+ is a cesspool of players of almost all skill levels. And it's the highest rank to have in the game. So you can't really call it an "ELO hell", it's more of a level up kind of achievement. Not to mention, staying in the highest rank of the game, with a 33% win rate is disgusting. No real competitive, esport game would let that happen in even in their middle ranks, let alone their highest rank.

    And getting to S+50 is far from consistent. I don't know your personal experiences, but for me and a good deal of my friends, the ranking system has been very inconsistent. Especially when it comes to assigning a crack, filling up the bar, or skipping ranks.

    Oh wait, that's literally everything that happens after Judd tells you the results and you collect your experience. To my current knowledge, this bar system is random, and rather forgiving when it comes to merely getting S+0. And inconsistent rank skipping is the biggest problem with calling S+50 a worthy achievement. As it varies heavily based on the player's luck or tolerance to solo queue. In splatoon 1, a game that was (heavily designed for casuals) made players who got to S+ 80 win +2 after a game, or lose -5 after a game. Making it a hard climb that required a massive win streak.

    This game?
    "Yeah, cross your fingers that you'll get some rank skips. If you don't, 49 bars of rank for you."

    Making the highest ranked achievement either just a couple rank skips or a grueling grind does not help the Competitive community. If this game was designed for "hardcore players" like you said, they would have fixed this already. Or at least addressed their concerns about the matter.

    I get it that it's "The Nintendo way of doing things", but a competitive game can't be built upon so much uncertainty, with absolutely no words from the developers. Nintendo is famous for having the casual audience anyway. Big Esport titles don't even appear on Nintendo's consoles. Even if they have a ps4 or XBox port.

    So it's hard to see why this game is for the Competitive crowd, while the casual community makes so much of splatoon.
     
  18. Sifu

    Sifu Look Behind You

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    The ranked system is not random. I've been collecting data on it for 5 months, and there are consistent patterns. If you suck, you get cracks, and rank down. If you consistently win, especially against higher power teams, you get way more meter very quickly. Rank skips are in no way random- again, if you consistently win several games, you get a rank skip. That only happens to players who actually know what they are doing, and very much deserve to be in higher ranks.

    Finally, I'm not sure that it would harm the truly competitive scene even if ranked was broken. The truly competitive circle of players play in private battles and tournaments, not in solo queue. The ranking system has no impact there, so it's not like it's ruining the competitive scene
     
    zzmorg82 likes this.
  19. Dessgeega

    Dessgeega Squid Savior From the Future

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    Show your work then. That's a hell of a claim to make without any evidence.
     
  20. Flammie

    Flammie Inkling Cadet

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    I can confirm that the game does have a pattern, it's just that it's completely blaff when it comes to determine where it derrives it from.
    Even if Sifu has data, i wouldn't believe it, cause every time i try to measure anything and think i have something, the next match just throws everything i have in the garbage bin.

    I can win 5 matches and rank up from it during the A section from it. It also disregards everything you've done in the past too for some reason, so all the data you have to go by, is through the current match you are playing, and even if your team have all the Plus on it, you can still get a monster load of points by winning, the only consistent thing i know about the points, if you win the match by point or by time out.

    Everything else seems just... waaaay to random to be translated into proper math at all.

    While a lot of speculation does give a brief tell of what kind of players will be attracted to Splat2.
    Obviously most everyone who played Splat1 who can afford Splat2.
    Casual gamers who think the game might be fun.

    Except i am more interested in what happens AFTER a game is released.
    And in this case, the casual gamers seems non-existant, and it's like my statement before, casual gamers join in a regular game, and then they fight against randomized level 30+ opponent from the get go, so if the first impression matter, they should have gameplays to at least catering people below level 10 preventing themselves from joining a too high leveled lobby.

    Otherwise i feel that the high level of game display Splatoon can offer, will be too long or steep for the newcomers to WANT to keep going.
     
    #20 Flammie, Feb 23, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018

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