I'm following up my naysaying post on Sony's new superhero game, set to launch in November with some positive ideas on how the game can be steered to success.
DC Comics and Cartoons
One wonderful thing this game could do would be to take previous MMO relations with IP holders to the next step.
Generally games companies have simply licenced an IP, gaining permission to use it sometimes in somewhat grudging ways. So Lotro could use the Lords of the Ring story, but not stuff from the films nor could it use stuff from Silmarillion.
What I think DC should do is take the IP holder - MMO publisher relationship to the next level and make mutual promotion part of the business strategies of both businesses. You buy a comic, there's an ad for the game. You watch a cartoon, there's a competition to win a MMO minipet. Play the game and you can win free comics or DVDs for certain achievements. Even weave the storylines of new DC comics into the storyline of the MMO. Make them mutually supporting products so kids reading comics or watching cartoons are reminded about the MMO and MMO players are alerted in-game to upcoming graphic novel storylines.
This would be a wonderful, synergistic way for both lines of product to buttress the popularity of the other formats and would, I think, increase revenue for all concerned.
Consider free to play
Free to play Lotro and free to play Clone Wars Free Realms launch in the same month as DCUO. It has to be a big ask to use the traditional pricing model of box purchase plus monthly sub for DCUO. We may be nearing the end of the era in which you can launch a game with that pricing model.
The gameplay of DCUO seems to favour F2P. It's fast paced twitch. I think it would be great fun for a couple of hours but I think you'd get really tired of it playing it 8 hours straight like people play WoW and Eve. Not to mention for us older players the wrist pain.
Consider Station Access
DCUO should go straight into Station Access with no additional fees. Station Access is very attractive - SWG, Vanguard, EQ1, EQ2, Pirates of the Burning Sea - but it's not quite attractive enough to be an amazing deal. It costs approx 2 games worth for a set of games from which most people are only going to pick 2 anyway. However add DCUO without raising the price and suddenly Station Access is really worthwhile as many people will want to play DCUO plus a couple of those older games for the price of 2.
If SOE decide to adopt my earlier suggestion and use a DDO like F2P scheme put the sub version of DCUO in with the Station Pass.
The Station Pass is aging and needs fresh blood to give it value. Doing this also allows you to revitalise older SOE games that deserve a wider audience.
Consider a sub-title
I've gone on record earlier with what I think of DCUO as a brand. At least make it DCUO - Batman and Superman need you! to get your best known Unique Selling Points to your market.
Put Batman and Superman on the DCUO homepage
OK, even if you can't play them they're around somewhere aren't they? Last time I looked all the images on the site are of generic costumes, nothing that anyone who played Champions for 15 minutes hasn't already seen. Now there's a little purple Superman but he's barely noticeable because a) he's tiny and b) he's purple. The main character used as background is Poison Ivy who, frankly, no one gives a shit about. You have the best pair of caped heroes in the genre - use them!
Plan a second hype cycle
Plan an expansion of some kind for October 2011 and really hype it. That way you'll pick up the burned out WoW players who didn't give you a look on launch because you launched against Cataclysm.
You'll need it. I really think the key is developing a partnership with DC. If when people read DC comics or watch DC cartoons they're reminded about your game you'll have a steady stream of new players.