As we have previously mentioned, one of our major focuses for the 1.5 update is to improve the replayability and challenge in the core economic gameplay loop, and the main purpose of the Companies feature is to do just that by encouraging countries to specialize in certain industries and develop competitive advantages against other nations. Companies are also intended to add more flavor and differences in gameplay between different nations, as well as giving players more of a reason to care about prestige and their position in global national rankings.
Before I go into the nitty-gritty, I should mention that this dev diary is going to be focused mainly on the Companies feature in the form that will be available in the first open beta release, with a fairly narrow focus on achieving the above design goals for economic specialization, flavor and prestige. However, Companies is a feature that we consider to have near limitless potential for expanding on and hooking into more parts of the game, so I’ll wrap up the dev diary by mentioning some of the ideas we have for building on this feature in the future. Also, please note that this is very much a feature under development, so expect placeholder/WIP art, names, numbers and interfaces!
But enough preamble, let’s get into the details. Companies are national-level entities that are established by a country, with each country being able to support a certain number of companies based on factors such as technology and laws. The vast majority of countries will not start with the ability to support any companies, but will need to reach a certain level of society tech before their first company becomes available.
Each Company is associated with a certain set of building types, for example a Company specializing in metal mines might be associated with Iron Mines and Lead Mines, while a more agriculturally inclined company might instead be associated with certain types of plantations and/or farms.
To establish a company, you need to have the technology and resource potential to construct at least one of their associated building types - it’s currently possible to establish companies without having any of their associated buildings built, though this is something we will be actively looking for feedback from the open beta on how it feels, as it’s something of an immersion versus gameplay question. Flavored companies (more on those below) have other more specific requirements to be established in addition to these basic requirements.
Once established, a Company will have effects on all buildings of their associated building type in their parent country. These effects are twofold: They increase the throughput of the buildings, as well as the construction efficiency when constructing new levels of the associated building types. The degree by which companies boost their associated buildings is partially scaled based on the Prestige ranking of their parent nation, with the 3rd-ranked nation gaining a larger boost than the 4th-ranked nation and so on. While somewhat abstracted, this is meant to represent competitive benefits the company enjoys from the international status of their home country. The purpose of this effect as a game mechanic is to give players a direct economic reason to care about their overall prestige ranking versus other nations.
It’s also worth noting that in conjunction with this change, we have increased the base construction cost of all buildings and, through the change to local pricing, somewhat lowered the base economic efficiency of most buildings. The overall intent is that the baseline economy should be less efficient, with companies allowing countries to make up the difference in select areas, providing the incentive for specialization and competitive advantages mentioned above. However, one exception to this is that base construction production was increased from 5 to 10 to ensure the baseline slowdown of construction did not make small nations entirely unviable to play.
Established Companies also have Productivity and Prosperity ratings. Productivity is simply the average Productivity (yearly average earnings per employee) of all its associated building levels. This is compared against the global average Productivity of all companies in the world, with companies that are doing better than average gaining Prosperity over time, and companies below a certain threshold (which is lower than the threshold for gaining Prosperity) losing it instead.
If a Company reaches 100 Prosperity, its Prosperity modifier will activate, granting a company-specific bonus to its parent nation. This is intended to add an additional dimension to the selection of companies - do you simply want to focus on whatever resources are going to be most profitable for your nation, or aim to build up a specific industry for the bonuses it can give you? As an example, a player that is planning to play a particularly aggressive campaign may want to focus on building up an arms-industry related Company for the military advantages it can grant.
As we hinted at earlier in the dev diary, Companies come in two varieties: Standard and Flavored. Standard Companies are ones that are available to all nations unless replaced by a Flavored Company, while Flavored Companies tend to be restricted to a certain culture and/or geographical region. For example, a North German nation that owns certain parts of the Rhineland will have certain historical German companies available to them.
Flavored companies are mostly historical (but not always, as sometimes we have to go a bit alt-history), with a set of building types based around their real-life historical business focuses, and tend to have stronger or more interesting prosperity bonuses than the standard companies. Flavored companies may sometimes replace very similar Standard companies, but this is the exception rather than the rule, most Flavored companies do not replace Standard companies.
Alright, that’s the general gist of what Companies will look like when you first get your hands on it in the 1.5 open beta. As I mentioned at the beginning though, there is a lot of places we envision taking this feature in the future, so here are a few examples of that, though you definitely shouldn’t expect all of this be in scope for the 1.5 update:
- Having companies ‘level up’ beyond just a single prosperity bonus, possibly in a way that ties into diplomacy/rank and replaces the current company bonuses from prestige
- Having pops, specific buildings in specific states, Interest Groups, and/or characters more directly associated with Companies instead of them just being a national-level entity
- Companies having political and/or geopolitical ambitions (for example, a certain fruit-company might wish to create some, ahem, fruit-focused republics)
- Multinational companies that aren’t limited to a single country