I've been trying to think about how the steam WO could be successful especially in light of both WU and existing WO, the concerns around unjust moderation and of course the changes around what content made it to WU compared to what was promised.
A few observations apply to both WU and WO:
- New server rushes are very popular
- The time from first login to building your deed tends to be where the Wurm appeal is strongest for many
- The feeling of living on the edge of life versus doing chores in complete safety tends to also line up with the second point
- Usually once people build their deed then their participation starts falling, slowly at first and then building up steam overtime until they've moved on to the next new server
- Not everyone can afford the massive amount of time needed for 1x WO or 1x WU so many look for a logical ending point, often when a deed or building is built to some arbitrary level
One advantage WU has over WO is the ability to find a server that is different, it's not the same experience everywhere you go. Custom mods, custom maps, even custom themes exist and can be experienced relatively easily by everyone who wants to do so
One disadvantage of WU is the ease at which "cheater mods" can be written and used with no real control over them. This makes things like PVP next to impossible.
WO has the advantage of being perceived as having the most likely chance of a server being there for the long haul. In reality it's a business and like all businesses the decision to turn it off can happen at any time. Things like back-ups etc aren't really any secure on WO then on WU. I've had high usage servers running with 30 minute backups while I think I read that WO runs at 3 hour intervals. Really depends on the admin decisions more then anything.
WU has the advantage of being able to pick whatever level of server hardware you want. Again, I've run on server hardware that was much better then whatever WO is using.
Advice for making this successful on steam?
1) Give people multiple experiences to choose from. Don't make every server the same in terms of grind, map, feature set etc. Experiment with a no-deed server, a snow server, a hunting server, extreme survival server, a roaming pvp server and a pvp deed destroying server. Go for 1x, 5x , 10x to capture those with limited time. Introduce different concepts to let people enjoy Wurm in different ways
2) Capitalize on the "new server" syndrome. Make a server time or event boxed. When something key happens the server ends or perhaps after x amount of time. Maybe the island sinks under a massive volcanic eruption and everyone has to flee from the approaching lava after building a ship so they can run to a new server that in some ways is another new experience when they arrive
3) Put some clear rules around moderation and follow them. Be transparent, be honest. No-one wants to feel like they can be banned for whatever reason someone comes up with out of the blue. There are a lot of people on steam who left WO and the most common thing they cite is the "fear of unreasonable/unfair banning". It doesn't matter if it's completely true or not. The problem is you are entering an environment that is under less WURM control then this forum and if enough people think this way (and they do) then it's a real problem. (BTW - To be clear I am blaming the poor policies on what has happened rather then saying any particular staff are a problem. In my few encounters with actual moderators or GM I have nothing but good things to say. When people have absolute freedom to do whatever they want then they often do).
4) Keep your promises. You will be going up against anyone who cares to review on steam. If you say you are going to do something then do it. Otherwise when you introduce this shiny new game the doubters are going to start calling out what happened before, the broken promises etc.
5) While the focus is often on giving people a better endgame, one clear winner might be to figure out how to keep the grind reasonable while extending the portion of the game that happens between when someone is brand new and when they get a new deed. Some WU servers have experimented with very, very minimal starting gear which dramatically extended the initial parts of the game.
A second product launch on the same platform where you have an existing product is hard especially if you don't have a clear and distinct advantage for the new product over the old one. In light of my comments above it's unlikely to be enough to say "Managed by Wurm staff" as the difference, it will have to be something way more significant then that.
Personally I wish you well with what you are attempting to do.