For the past few years we have seen the speed of expansion of Stellaris, claiming much territory in the 4X genre, playing wide. It has been good. We have quite a good room to do our depth-expansion.
Now the first high-level Governor, Wiz, has died (not biologically dead but dead in game terms since we can't place him back to his old role), and the new Governor has rooms to improve (not to undermine you, Daniel, but we may just associate familiarity of the game to the Leader's Level). We have also hit the Admin Cap and seeing quite some severe penalties.
So, instead of going further wide, I think it is time to give a pause and play tall a bit.
Playing wide means to claim more territories – diverse gameplay, new contents, story packs and so on.
Playing tall means to use what we already have and improve the infrastructure. Features need to interact well with each other. Paid features should not impede players who haven't bought the DLC. Fundamentals of the AI have to be improved. Even, some fundamental game logics should be revisited and expanded in depth (instead of in width).
Pausing the contents doesn't mean you stop going forward. We are still going forward. Just that the next path forward should be in height, not width.
If playing tall is fine with the game, then playing tall should also be fine with business.
But you may ask, "Playing tall doesn't generate new revenues."
Firstly, actually it does. Compare your new sales of the base game. You are constantly getting new players. Your whole player base is expanding, not just old players buying new DLC.
Secondly, just pause for a moment and imagine the multiplayer experience you have tried so hard to build. Once the AI opponents are competent and all the features becoming so solid, you may be escalating Stellaris to something towards e-sports, loads of spin-offs and whatnot. Getting the name of Stellaris out to be THE 4X game of choice is much more profitable than just some random sales of DLC. Because you are bringing in new players, buying the base game and a few old DLCs.
Thirdly, do you know what hurts business? The whole community talking about your game, but they are all talking about bugs, glitches and problems constantly. You want public attention and discussions, but you don't want these discussions to be exclusively about problems. Look at the Witcher 3. That Polish game is still generating income despite being 3 ~ 4 years old and they have stopped producing DLC for ages. Heck, they only have 2 Expansion Packs and that's it. People just keep cosplaying the characters and posting new screenshots due to nice graphics, and talking about choices made in the game. But have a look at Stellaris, even your fans don't talk about the graphics. Most posts are about bugs. That is actually embarrassing…
Edit – the Witcher 3 is 3 to 4 years old.
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