I've been discussing DoS with a couple casual players on a forum I use often. I thought I would use the thoughts I had there and put them in a blog/discussion post for the wiki.
Sony has been really bad actual advertisement. If there's going to be a new event, tease it a few days or a week in advance. Going from the light event to the dark one, there was pretty much 1 day before it started. And aside from that, it's a pretty stupid idea to put Joker of Light at level 98, since it pretty much means anyone who wants all 4 jokers has to spend every possible second raiding, which, if they do it that way for every raid, will burn hardcore players out fast. The game is still young, reward players for playing, don't drive them away by presenting a very tall wall to climb.
It kind of feels like Sony said "let's jump on this f2p thing, but do nothing more than cursory research on how today's f2p games play." Like, they have a few game systems that really stand out: having HP heal slowly is nice since you can technically play endlessly, the world map is a lot more interesting than the typical "menu of numbered chapters" method, and gameplay based on global region was genius, in my opinion.
But then there are so many flat-out stupid ideas.
F2P games need to constantly allure players into playing more or wanting to pay money; 3-week events are way too long, and 1-month is also too long a time for limited summons. The thing about events is that they make people want to play, because they only last for a limited amount of time. However, if it's only one event that lasts a long time, there's conflict between "I need to participate in the event more before it ends" and "wow, this event is still going on? When does the next one come out?" This fatigue causes players to stop playing or stop caring. Have events last for 14 days. Announce them 3 days in advance, and have breaks between events. This keeps interest high and lets people "charge up" and/or prepare for an upcoming event. Adjust the rewards accordingly. Eventually, you might want to have something really cool/valuable as a reward that requires players to spend all their time running the event. But, since the game is not even 2 months old, lower the difficulty so that players remain excited about participating in the next event.
For that matter, make different kinds of events. The raid is fine, but it's just taking on bosses over and over again. Do something that uses the world map, like a scavenger hunt. Maybe have an escaping boss that goes to a particular area, summoning that area's spirits as its minions. Make a giant floating egg with ridiculous HP or ridiculous armor that slowly orbits the planet and only allows players to attack if they have unlocked that part of the world, and you can only attack it X times per day. If the players kill it before a certain amount of time passes, they get a super prize, otherwise it hatches and crazy demons invade all areas, which can be killed for kill-count rewards. There are a lot of cool things that can be done in this game.
1 month is too long of a window for a "limited" summon. 2 weeks, again, is good, since it gives players time to evaluate if they want to buy or not, do some research, but it also puts pressure with "this is ending pretty soon, better decide quick!" This also helps the trading market since the overall number of limited spirits in the pool is lower, which keeps trading interesting.
Grinding for points and stones is boring. Look at Diablo and Borderlands; people enjoy having items drop, even if they're all crap. It's the excitement of finding something interesting that makes grinding bearable. Yes, stones are used to summon stuff, but the act of grinding for stones is boring since you just amass a ton, there's no goal to aim for. Halve the droprate of stones and double or triple spirit drops. This maintains the amount of leveling fodder that players get, but allows them to farm certain spirits for teams they want to make, which keeps the game interesting. It will also drive up the value of summonable rares and SRs, which helps keep the trading market from getting stale.
The bonus point system is pretty nice, I think, a very elegant solution to oversupply. The problem is that it doesn't actually solve oversupply, it just marginally raises the ceiling; because it's so easy to get summon stones and get tons of rares, bonus points just makes the few exceptional rares so much harder to max (since everyone wants them) and every other rare in abundant supply (since everyone is summoning for the exceptional rares and no one wants the rest). Right now, max bonus spirits are the norm. There's almost no point in leveling a spirit to max since you might as well put in a little extra effort to max its bonus points. I think the way the game *should* be balanced is for max bonus point spirits to be a luxury, work well-earned. Reduce the amount of max bonus points for each rarity, to lower the discrepancy in power between non-max and max spirits. Combined with the change I suggested above, to lower summon stone drops and raise spirit drops, this will create actual decision-making when leveling a spirit - do I want to focus on getting the marginal-but-still-significant bonus points for my rare, or should I trade that rare for another to balance out my team? Max bonus point uncommons are currently as good as or better than non-bonus max level rares, so there's essentially zero motivation to make a level 50 rare and ignore bonus points.
Last, there's the issue of all the server hiccups and emergency maintenances that keep coming up. Yes, this is a game you, Sony, are providing for free, and hoping that people pay you afterwards via in-app purchases. However, consider street musicians: someone who plays good music will elicit smiles and hopefully lots of tips; someone who plays poorly or just repeats the same songs over and over and over again will annoy the passersby and not get many tips. Based on my observations of the game over the last month, it's pretty clear you have some serious server issues that you don't have a handle on. Instead of being that poor musician who just keeps playing, hoping that maybe he improves a little bit every time he plays the same song, just pack up your case and go practice. Stop rushing to get the servers back up and running. Yes, you might be losing customers every second the game is down, but you're also not doing yourself any favors by continuing to run a broken game. Announce that you're taking the servers down temporarily. Stop updating us with when the next update is. Just take down the game for a week. Maybe you fix it after a couple days - good, that gives you 4-5 more days to actually test the servers and make sure they're working. In the long run, losing some customers who probably wouldn't play for a long time anyway is nothing compared to satisfying your core audience who are more likely to play more, for a longer period of time, and subsequently spend more money during that period of time.
Well, in the end, these are just my thoughts. I've grown rather disinterested in actually playing the game between the long raid and all the downtime. I still enjoying hunting for spirits, but I haven't actually cleared an area in a very long time :/ Any comments, questions, additional thoughts? Feel free to comment below!