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User Driven Content and Video Games

In 2013 Jagex Games Studios, the creators of RuneScape, a massively popular browser-based computer game was in a tight bind. Subscriber count was dropping off and they needed a new way to generate revenue. By picking the minds of their players the company realized that several updates over the past couple of years had driven away even some of the most die-hard fans of their game. In order to remedy this they came up with a unique solution: bring back a 2007 version of the game and allow the players to decide what is updated and added to the game.

Old School Runescape or 2007Scape was released in 2013 and immediately provided an influx of subscribers. The issue now was coming up with a way to keep these players. Jagex decided that every piece of content added to the game would need to pass a poll that 75% of players supported and have made a specific effort to introduce player-suggested ideas into the game. The staff regularly monitors social media such as Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook in order to analyze player feedback and to get new ideas of what to introduce to the game. Over the last 4 years since this game was released the subscriber count has steadily risen and now surpasses the amount of current subscribers to the still alive original version that doesn’t have player feedback as a core driving mechanism. This has proven that user driven content and user feedback can be tremendously successful in the video game world.

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Taco Bell and their App

Taco Bell has something that McDonald’s, Burger King and Arby’s all don’t have and they are capitalizing on it in a big way. What does Taco Bell have that’s making such a difference? The simple answer: an app. A few years ago Taco Bell rolled out an application for both Apple and Android that allows customers to place orders ahead of time. One of the largest influencing factors encouraging new users to try out the app is the customizability. Customers are able to add or remove a selection of items to their food including cheese, lettuce and numerous sauces, among other things. These options were previously available in store but the customer had to specifically request them whereas now with the app they are able to know exactly what options are available for each individual food item.

Taco Bell has reported an increase in sales as soon as the app rolled out and specifically has noted that the customers who use the app seem to be buying more because they have learned of new customizable add-ons that can be chosen, albeit at an increase in price. Overall, the app has been received well and Taco Bell has greatly benefited from it, encouraging other restaurants to step up.

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Sheetz and Online Ordering

One name you can’t escape as soon as you enter western Pennsylvania is Sheetz. Sheetz is a convenience-store retailer that doubles as a MTO food establishment. Sheetz provides customers with highly  customizable food options and is best known for this attention to detail.

Online ordering, which allows the customer to skip the line and have food ready for them has only recently been introduced at Sheetz after several failures with service partners such as OrderUp, which allow third party apps to orchestrate order and delivery of food. Unfortunately Sheetz’ vast, customizable menu led to issues with orders so Sheetz created their own online ordering service. Now a customer is able to order ahead and have their food ready as soon as they arrive, and this time they know they’ll be getting exactly what they wanted.

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Netflix and International Expansion

Netflix has quickly moved to the forefront of many major American homes over the last few years as consumers become more interested in content they can choose for themselves. A rising issue, however, has been a plateau in the growth of subscribers in the United States.

In order to remedy this Netflix is now focusing on international growth. Initially, international subscriptions made up only 30% of Netflix’s estimated value. These days Netflix has expanded into over 190 countries and grew its internation subscriber base by 5.12 million, considerably greater than the 3.75 million estimate. This is proof that by expanding internationally Netflix has accessed a previously untapped market and is poised for tremendous growth.

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Ark: Survival Evolved and Early Access

Over the last year and a half Ark: Survival Evolved has rocketed to the top of the Steam charts and has managed consistent sales, even though the game is Early Access, but what does Early Access mean and how does it affect sales of the game?

Several years ago Steam allowed game developers to begin distributing games that weren’t quite finished yet in order to gain feedback from potential players and develop the game properly. Many of these games start out free during the Early Access period but in the case of Ark the game actually initially went on sale for 60% of the cost when it is completed and fully comes to market. This isn’t conventional because your average buyer isn’t willing to risk spending their money on a game that isn’t finished. Instead, by providing a steep discount on the cost the developers of Ark have incentivized their potential customers.

The developers have been actively involved with Early Access players and many of these players see the Early Access period as their chance to influence how the game develops

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