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Sleuth Costs/Money
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Sleuth Admin
Sleuth Admin
Tale Spinner

Oct-6-2004 11:35

Although I try to run Sleuth as professionally as I can, realistcally, it is more of a hobby than a business. Since I began offering subscriptions in April, it has made enough money to pay for it's recurring costs (advertising and hosting), with enough left over to occasionally invest in hardware upgrades.

So, the time I spend working on the game is donated, which is fine with me, since I enjoy offering this service and watching the community grow, and there is always a small chance that this will lead to something bigger.

Over the last few weeks, there have been a few interesting trends. One, rate of traffic increase, has sped up. We now are visited by around 200 new players a day, which is great, but it means there has been a cooresponding increase in my hosting charges since I'm now over my previous bandwidth limit.

At the same time, subscription levels have actually dropped significantly. I have no idea why that is happening, but it is noticeable.

Consequently, we're now in a place where Sleuth is actually losing money on a monthly basis. A situation I can't leave it in for more than a couple months.

So, I'm looking for ideas about how to bring in a little more cash:

1) Does anybody have any ideas as to why less people are choosing to subscribe to Sleuth, even as there are more players? This seems quite strange.

2) I'm thinking of carrying ads on Sleuth, at least for non-subscribed players. I can't just slap on Google ads because Sleuth requires a login, but there are other options I can look into. What is people's opinion on that?

3) Would anybody be interested in purchasing Sleuth merchandise (t-shirts, mousepads, etc) if I opened up a Cafe Press store?

4) Should I add further limits on non-subscribed players to encourage more of them to subscribe?



Oct-6-2004 18:34

I agree with just about everything other folks esp. jstkdn says about different levels of subscription, and also limiting the free play to one month. charge a higher rate for folks who want to run agencies?

Donations would also work for me.

I would worry about your getting stuck with merchandise if it didn't sell - though I personally like the idea of Sleuth stuff (and tshirts would be a great form of advertising for the site - that might be cool).

Charging for avatars etc is fine. I'd pay not to have ads so that could be a level of subscription. But if you decide to go with ads for all, I can live with that too

Don't like the peak hour limits much since it would hurt folks who do hunts if they couldn't be on line at key times.


Oct-6-2004 21:18

I must give credit where credit is due, Hak suggested the dry erase board. Also, on non subscribed players limit the equipment that is available to them, like nothing over 3+ for non-subscribed. The problem with limiting to a month non subscribed is could someone not just make a new player, especially if using public internet access? Peak vs non-peak hours would also be a problem since it is such an international community.

As far as incouraging subscriptions, I think the people who are subscribed might need to hype the benefits more, make comments on the newbie board about the benefits of agency life (since that is the biggest advantage). I also know you can currently stay in an agency even if your subscription expires, maybe give a three day warning and kick them out if they don't renew.

The only thing I would want is I don't think it would be right to be able to buy a competitive advantage other than subscribed. Just because someone can spend $20 a month should not make them get twice as many cases or favors as someone who only has the basic subscription. Make the perks such as an agency chat room, no ads, or something like that.

You could also limit the experience and reward for solving cases, no "little jobs" for factions etc. for non-subscribed members.

Dr. Falco Maltese
Dr. Falco Maltese

Oct-6-2004 21:38

1. Re: Fewer People Subscribing: I don't know why this would be, but I'm happy to share my reasons for subscribing, in case that is useful. After all, why not just keep playing for free?

I subscribed because:

I liked playing and wanted to play more than three cases a day.

Even though I could (and did) create five or six characters to experiment witht the different character types and to be able to play more cases, I soon realized that each character would not progress very quickly that way, and it would be a slow process to gain skills and get to solve the harder cases.

Treasure hunts sounded intriguing, even though I wasn't sure how they worked.

I thought being part of a social group in an agency might be fun (which it is!)

The subscription fee was /incredibly/ reasonable.

2. Ads. I would hate this. I like the look and feel of sleuth as it is and want to see it continue to be unsullied by ads, even though I am sure you would do it in the best way possible. If there must be ads, I would prefer not to see them as a subscriber. I would also pay a higher subscription rate to be ad-free. There could be two or more levels of subscription, which I think would be fine.

3. Sleuth merchandise would be fun! Who wouldn't want the ultra-hip black sleuth baseball cap? And I like the idea of the case file book, too. A form to fill out where you could put in names, alibis, attributes, research results, mark down who you've already asked the barber about, etc. And the sleuth commuter coffee mug - a true necessity for those who have been up all night in pursuit of justice and treasure.

4. How many of the non-subscribed players play for a long time without subscribing? I can't imagine doing that, myself. The game would simply not be so fun.

I'm not sure limits would help so much, as being unsubscribed is already fairly limiting, but not so limiting as to prevent one from getting interested in the game.

A time limit does seem reasonable - like a week.

Dr. Falco Maltese
Dr. Falco Maltese

Oct-6-2004 23:38

One bizarre idea I had based on someone's request on the message boards to have a tutorial or demo that showed what it was like to be subscribed was the idea of an agency intern or apprentice. This could be someone who is on the fence about subscribing. An agency could take them in for a day without worrying about their maximum number of agents. They could store cases, use the agency contacts, participate in every way. If there was a way to do this, then at midnight, or when 24 hours was up, instead of "turning into a pumpkin" they would be back to their unsubscribed status again, and back with whatever accessories they brought into the agency.

Another thought was that while rates could go up for subscriptions and they would still be reasonable, I think having another level of subscription would also be good - either to do with no ads or with new activities / accessories. A white glove to search a crime scene with to discover new evidence after it has been searched once? Things that this level of subscriber might be able to get or do that wouldn't be available at the lower subscription level? New kinds of hunts or favors? I am not in favor of being able to pay for skill levels, however....


Oct-7-2004 04:31

I think Dr. has a point here. I think people are more inclined to subscribe, if they see the benefits of being in agency. As you can not get in to an agency without being subscribed, set up a fake thing, with a locker, and a safe, where people can play a fake game, with fake money etc.

I want that dry erase whiteboard thingy. But a small one. Does that even exist?

Bella Luna
Bella Luna

Oct-7-2004 08:12

More information about being in an agency and participating in treasure hunts may incourage subscriptions.


Oct-7-2004 11:12

My own experience:
I did not hesitate to join when i chance upon this site as no email is required. i hate it when i got all sorts of junk mails. after that, the help section was good to help us get started. the only time that i was tempted to subscribed was when i click on the real estate button and wonder whats in it in an agency. other then that, it seems I can just play like anyone else. 3 cases per day?? no problem. At one time, I was playing with 6 ID!!! that's 18 cases and can last me 3 hrs. So why the hell should I pay??? After playing for over 4 weeks, everything seems to get bored. Either, I solve the cases or I quit them if i can't. thinking of quitting this site totally. there is not much info to tell me what I'm missing in an agency. whatever info I get, i got it from the message board. My curiousity get stronger and stronger.With no credit card, i had to tell my friend to register for me. what do I get??? A complete different world when you are in a agency!!!! It was much more fun!!!

But you see the problems??? There is no hints about what I'm missing except from the message board. More info around to remind users what they r missing. Not info from users which r scattered all over the message board. I had requested for the agency to be included in the tutorial. when they click around the agency it may subconciously remind them what they r missing.

This may be one of the reason why people are so quick to registered but didn't bother to subscribed.

note: this id is not subscribed, I subscribed with another ID and today only keep 2 ID.


Oct-7-2004 14:02

i think people who are not in active agencies leave after they get to a certain point because there seems to be no more for them. The agency is excellent as it adds the element of comraderie, competition of the hunt against other agencies and the sharing of case files - to name just some of the benefits.

Now I didnt want to be first to mention this, and I am not, Elvenwonder did, but i think the main reason people dont resubscribe is because they dont have to. By this I mean you can play the game for free. You basically subscribe for one of two reasons.

1. more cases
2. to join an agency

After a month or two, you probably find that you would like some of the time back for your partner or real life activities, so the cases arent important anymore, but it is the agency that keeps you.

Now this is the bit Elven alluded to, but people wont like us for saying..

Once you are in an agency, you are in. Subscribed or not. If you are in an agency and your subscription expires.. you still have all the benefits you subscribed for, but a few less cases a day and more of your life back..

So why re-subscribe?

I think this happens a lot. I almost did it today cos my subscription was about to run out.. but at the last minute i subscribed again.

To me that would be the number one reason. Right or wrong - that is my opinion.

So Elvens idea about only letting unsubscribed detectives stay in an agency for a certain period holds merit to me. Personally I would rather someone knew who is doing 8 cases a day towards the hunts etc..

I know this will cause some upset - even within my agency. but that is what i think.


Oct-7-2004 14:03

someone new even :)


Oct-8-2004 23:01

I have nothing new to add, except support. I agree with Elven and Deayts that unsubscribed players shouldn't be allowed to stay in agencies for extended periods. Also, I would fully support any ads or price increases. The game is well worth it.

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