eRepublik releases major relaunch to increase gamer power and retention

eRepublik logoYesterday afternoon Alexis Bonte, Founder and CEO of eRepublik emailed to tell me that Russia had attacked Washington, with 662 soldiers defending the capital. Today Russia took over Washington. Good thing it’s just a game.

Of course, it’s not just any game now that eRepublik, the web based social strategy game, boasts 1.8 million registered users. The game is essentially a browser-based virtual world where users can take on professions, start companies, run political parties, govern countries, foster alliances or declare war. Today eRepublik launches a major new release, eRepublik Rising, that’s just entered public beta. The new generation of the game is a complete makeover not just in terms of the visual interface which goes from flat to a much more graphic rich backdrop, but also in the strategy eRepublik has taken.

According to Bonte, the company polled over 14,000 players, studied behavior, online forums and constant flow of feedback to come up with the new version. Rising allows users to decide exactly how the game will evolve. The platform becomes the players’ playground, where they influence, create and make the wheels turn.  One of the features that thousand were asking for is more focus on military action. This new version allows up to 90,000 simultaneous players to fight in user initiated battles for enemy territories with machinery and weapons produced by other users. Rising has also introduced more professions for users to chose from. On the economic front, because this is a strategy game, users who are running companies can decide on products that they want to sell, based on supply and demand.

Essentially, with Rising, eRepublik wants to take social strategy gaming further, providing new tools and power to chose to it’s users against a more colorful backdrop.

Bonte also admits that another key change has been right at the start at the game, where they were losing a stunning 50% of thousands of daily signups. They’ve slimmed down the process, based on their analysis of massively successful Facebook based games, “there is a lot browser games can learn from Facebook games and vice – versa,” says Bonte.

eRepublik closed a $2 million Series A round last year and has experienced exponential growth, growing from 138.000 visits in November 2010 to 120 million total last May.