UPDATE on Community Authors Gem Choices Test


#1

Hello Episodians,

When we talk to them, many authors mention dreaming of spending more time writing (even full-time) for Episode and wish it was easier to get into Writer Payments. One of the paths we have been exploring to help meet these requests is giving more creators the option to use gem choices in their stories.

Our plan is to enable authors who choose to use gem choices to earn a bonus on top of their Writer Payments, qualify for Writer Payments sooner, and have additional potential opportunities to be featured when readers really love their choices. We hope these additional opportunities and higher compensation will enable authors to spend more time writing on Episode. Already, we’ve been able to identify 5 authors doing so well that our editorial team has started working with them to potentially promote and feature their stories. An additional 50+ authors have received bonus payments!

We are in the middle of our second round of gem choices testing with community authors and have learned a lot. We’ve heard a lot valid concerns raised by our readers on phone calls, Instagram and the forums. Some of the more common worries are:

  • Authors might abuse gem choices by adding too many choices in each chapter.
  • Authors might make choices too expensive.
  • Choices might be low quality, poorly written or not worth it.
  • Authors will be forced to include gem choices.
  • There aren’t enough ways to get free gems.

Based on what you’ve shared with us, we’ve been thinking a lot about how to make community authored gem choices work for both readers and authors. Here are some of the ideas we have been brainstorming to help address the shared concerns when the feature initially launches:

  • Capping these gem choices to a max of 2 per chapter.
  • Capping their prices at 15 gems or less.
  • Giving newer or undiscovered stories with smaller number of reads even lower gem costs. Gem choices would potentially range between 2-15 gems.
  • Having the first gem choice in every community story be free so readers can ‘sample’ an author’s gem choices without spending gems.
  • Updating the in-app story reporting tool to allow readers to report a bad or low quality gem choice. Reporting a story or choice flags it for review. Our review team would get some new tools to more closely monitor reported gem choices and stories.
  • Offering refunds (via messages to Support) for reported choices that are low quality.
  • Gem choices would be an optional feature (like text effects, weather or overlays) that authors can use or not use as they choose.
  • Adding new ways to earn free gems. Besides gems you can earn by reading Episode featured ‘E’ stories, we are also currently testing 2 new ways for players to earn gems:
    • Earning a gem every day just for logging in through Choice of the Day
    • Reader Rewards that give gems in addition to passes.

Our goal is to more widely introduce gem choices in the first half of this year and we want to make sure to incorporate your feedback. Over the next two weeks, please comment below or send a message to our support team to share your thoughts on the ideas above or any new ones you may have.

With love,

The Episode Team


Community Author Gem Choices are here for everyone!
#2

Interesting ideas! :thinking:


#3

I just want to say how amazing these ideas are!


#4

I think it’s cool, but people don’t really like gems choices


#5

It’s a way for Episode to make money -_- the app is still free and you don’t have to choose the gems options


#6

I agree


#7

@Liz, if I turned off gem choices I am assuming that they will still exist in ‘E’ stories, but the bigger question I had, would that choice still be there if I turned off gem choices? (or would it be hidden?)


#8

This is a great question! Can you tell me a little bit more about the scenario you have in mind?


#9

Thank you for listening to readers’ concerns. I think that the ideas which the Episode team have come up with are really good ideas, especially letting the first gem choice be free so that readers can sample an author’s gem choices, and letting readers report unsatisfactory gem choices. I’m also looking forward to being able to earn more gems! Can’t wait to see them implemented!


#10

Sure


Original (with gem choices) :

choice
“Stay the Night / Free”{
goto path_NIGHT_female_1
}“Head Home / Free”{
goto path_HOME_female_1
}“Go to that killer Party! / 10 Gems”{
goto path_PARTY_female_1
}


Original (User turned off Gem Choices)

Note, it looks exactly the same

choice
“Stay the Night”{
goto path_NIGHT_female_1
}“Head Home”{
goto path_HOME_female_1
}“Go to that killer Party!”{
goto path_PARTY_female_1
}


Or would it look like this

Altered (User turned off Gem Choices)

Note, the Gem Choice is now Hidden from the Reader

choice
“Stay the Night”{
goto path_NIGHT_female_1
}“Head Home”{
goto path_HOME_female_1
}


#11

Ah, gotcha. Currently gem choices are activated by using a piece of donacode. So it would be up to you to decide if you wanted to include the gem choice option or not.


#12

So for those who don’t currently qualify for the Writers program, how would the choices go towards qualifying early?

Also, will this option be available for all authors eventually?


#13

Thank you guys for your explanation and proposal but I still have some issues with the concept that I’d like to explain. This is coming from an author who has been writing for Episode for about a year now and has been a reader for years.

  1. Finances: I would absolutely hate it if my readers felt like they were missing out on something awesome because they aren’t financially able to access it. Having a premium choice show up would be awful in two different ways: they wouldn’t be able to afford it, and they are reminded of the fact that they can’t afford it because they are seeing that they are missing out. They see that if they had more money, they’d be able to access something really cool, but they can’t. I don’t like that. The beauty of Episode is that everyone has a chance to use the app regardless of their socioeconomic status and I feel like this would seriously alter that.

  2. Reader Retention: I feel that there are many Episode readers who completely avoid featured stories because they don’t like gem choices. If we apply the same logic, why would they want to read my story if it had gems in it? Once they saw gems in my story, they’d stop reading. I know that I don’t often read featured stories because of this, so why would I expect my readers to? I wouldn’t want my reader retention to drop. I understand that this is an optional program, but I know that any author who opts to include them will face criticism on this front.

  3. Reporting: You mention in this post that we are allowed to report a bad choice, but my question is how would we know? We wouldn’t be able to see the other choice, so how would we know if the choice was bad? We can only assume it was bad because we didn’t get what we expected. I feel like this sounds like a good idea in theory but this would have to be cleared up.

  4. Branching: In my stories, I already do an excessive amount of branching (the reader can choose their sexuality, I use the point system, etc.) However, it seems as though the only branching being rewarded here is the kind that charges readers while disregarding other forms of branching. I don’t know if this point makes sense typed out like this, but I’m just saying that you guys already have so many talented authors that do amazing things with branching and I think they should be rewarded based on their hard work, not just on their gem choices.

These are just some concerns I still have after this post. Some clarification on these topics would be very much appreciated.


#14

I absolutely LOVE this. Completely happy with how you’ve researched and how you’re capping the price. I personally would never spend over 20 gems so having it capped at 15 is awesome! I really hope I can include gem choices in my stories some day. I would definitely put a lot more effort into my choices and branching knowing that people have put money into reading that side of my story. I can’t wait to see how it goes for everyone :slight_smile:


#15

Seems interesting…and cool! Maybe someday I’ll be able to do them! :thinking:


#16

This is what I’m curious to know, too. How would gem choices benefit authors not currently in the program? And would there be any benefit at all for authors aged 13-17 who aren’t allowed to join the program?


#17

As an adult working full time I still do think this is too much.
The choices should be priced 2 to 5 gems tops for a choice. This would have more positive outcome as more people would be able to afford them and buy them.
I personally won’t be using this feature.


#18

I’m very curious to see what’s going to happen when this is released to everyone going forward.
Personally, I can see it being very popular initially then dwindling down over the months. I’m not really sure how this will benefit younger authors (who aren’t 18) or authors who aren’t in payments and I’m curious to know how including gem choices will make getting into the program easier.

Are stories with gem choices going to be looked upon more favourably than stories without? As in, does this mean stories without gem choices will be overlooked when Episode starts looking for stories to feature on weekly shelves and things like that? Will it hurt an author’s chance of potentially getting picked up as a featured story?
Will a lack of gem choices impact a contest entry story?

Will authors get any say on the price, or will it be allocated based on a story’s popularity?

I do think some of the rules/ideas are good and I’m very curious to see how this plays out.
If gems DON’T need to be included in every episode going forward, then I probably will use them in my stories for things like bonus points, clues, do-overs etc since my stories are very choice based with different endings and I’m more than happy to let readers “pay” to achieve/guarantee a better ending.


#19

Those are good questions. It wouldn’t really be fair if a story was picked just because it has gem choices, as not everyone is older than 18.


#20

@Liz you probably don’t recall talking to me, I’m Booklady1017 aka Michelle. I think you took a lot of time to listen to my concerns and address them properly. I like how you guys added the Choice of the Day and updated the way you allow users to earn gems, although I think you should make earning gems a little easier. Maybe give that option on the third day instead of the 6 and 7th days. I think the ideas you guys are putting in place to regulate the gem choice option properly are good ideas and I think that will help alleviate concerns and fears regarding this matter. Thank for your time and update.