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An Open Letter to the Gaming Industry: Page 2

Dear Gaming Industry:

Previously I listed 5 problems you face in the current market. Should you require a refresher, follow the link.

Promising to continue on, I bring you Page 2 and 5 more examples.

1. Your business degrees do not matter to the userbase.

More often than not we gamers see very puzzling decisions made by bigger developers and publishers. In fact, these decisions are more and more puzzling the bigger the developer or publisher is and whether or not they are a publicly traded entity. Suits, as many have been wont to call executives for decades in any industry, have the titles but so very often don't have the slightest bit of insight or knowledge into what gamers expect or want. All your business degrees have taught you are how to look at profit margins, spreadsheets, and market trends. Doing business in this way has been a proven failure in gaming. While true that there are some bigger entities in the industry, you'll find that gamers are a fickle bunch, with an ire very easily earned and slow to fade. Doing anything and everything you can solely in the pursuit of money creates vast dilution in the quality of your products, showcasing an obvious risk aversion attitude and the sterilization of experiences in favour of what amounts to assembly line development. A happy customer is a returning customer, and most gamers who've been doing it for longer than the online gaming craze crave a bit more than yearly rehashes that focus solely on stable multiplayer and cannibalize everything else in favour of it.

2. Stop telling us what we want.

I am a fan of the Assassin's Creed series in general, even though the sharp decline in quality can't be argued, and I remember very vividly how a former lead developer at Ubisoft once told fans "You wouldn't want an Assassin's Creed set in China or Japan, those locations are too played out." I'm paraphrasing of course, but the point is clear. Fans have, since Assassin's Creed 2, practically begged for locations such as Egypt, China, and especially Japan to be the locales for future iterations of Assassin's Creed. To tell us that we wouldn't want it presupposes that said lead developer knows what we want better than we do. If we are telling you we want something, that should translate into $ for you. You do yourself no favours by telling us what we do and do not want. That is a level of arrogance and hubris not only undeserved, but very dangerous to your bottom line. I'm quite certain that you could pick a gamer at random and hear a tale of a developer telling us what we want or don't want in games with absolutely no communication with us. If YOU don't want something, be clear on that. Don't put that on us.

3. Communication = Respect

This is the age of information, where everyone is accessible and nothing is hidden. The wise take advantage of this and foster communication with the userbase and are usually rewarded for it. The old and stagnant continue to maintain their secrecy and the opinion that they know what's best and usually pay for it. Japan is the worst in this regard. So many companies following old, outmoded methods of doing things. No one talking to the userbase but the community managers on forums, who know nothing about anything going on. Then, as a consequence of following the first 2 points of this page, expected metrics of success are not met and sequels or even whole franchises end up dying. No one expects you to listen to everything fans say an implement it in game, but we do have ideas that could prove beneficial to you. Talk to us, prod our minds, see if anything sounds good and you may end up surprised. Fans love interaction with creators and typically become much more loyal to those open to that kind of interaction. This is why Sony has, at least until recently, been killing it in terms of market presence. Executives on Twitter and on PSN, talking and playing with the userbase. This has done nothing but good for them. Conversely, you look at a company like Square Enix with their closed mega theatres, or Nintendo with pretty much anything they do, or Konami who sees themselves above the peasant class gamers. Ask yourself how well they are doing, either financially or in perception.

4. PR talk fools no one.

This is going to be a simple point. Put plainly, public relations does not equal the kind of communication spoken of in point 3. PR speech is sterile, protective, and really annoying. In all honesty, we respect a "no comment" more than obvious PR rhetoric. No gamer believes a word of PR speech, and any shareholder who does has more money than sense. Blunt honesty, straight talk, an a direct approach to any situation will earn our respect. And believe me, respect does equal money. Users that feel like they can trust a company to be forthright, also trust a company to deliver something worth their money. The Big 3 are notoriously bad at using PR speech for anything, or even outright silence where a statement is desperately needed. The most recent and best example is the situation with mods for Bethesda games on the PS4. Bethesda did not use the standard PR fare we are used to. They were direct in their blame and the ball was put in Sony's court. Sony has decided to remain silent on the issue, leaving fans to come to their own conclusions and many are agreeing with Bethesda. This is simply the result of a direct statement to users. Now, I have seen many users state that they will not be purchasing the Skyrim Remastered game for the PS4, as it is known as the inferior version to the PC and Xbox One versions. This is a stigma no company should want, but perhaps a complacent company who feels they can not lost doesn't care to address.

5. Stop with the review embargoes

This point is specifically referencing those games and developers who place embargoes on reviews until the day a game launches. Users see this as a lack of faith in the product, and history shows that this is for good reason. Review embargoes of this nature encourage people to wait before purchasing the game. This is good for consumers in one way, bad for business in general. So often we hear that games rely on that first month of sales the most, and that month determines whether or not a sequel is viable. As stated, said embargoes do not engender faith in the userbase that a product is good and worth buying. Many games have used these embargoes deceptively, knowing their product is flawed. In all cases, public perception plummeted. A creator must have faith that their creation is worthy of merit, and must see that merit tested by the market. If said creator does not feel that way, then said creator musn't release an inferior creation and attempt to sell it as one of quality.

These 5 points are merely a continuation. There is much yet left to say and another page to turn. Stay tuned.


If any of you have ideas of what should be included in these letters, please feel free to post them into comments. Thank you.

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TankCrossing1716d ago

PR speak totally works. Just look at N4G to see how many people hang on every word the PR machines put out.

That's not to say I disagree with your letter. It'd be great if devs took note of this stuff. I just don't think gaming is so distant from every other industry as far as money goes. As I said on the 1st part, I think Activision stand as proof positive that suits can forge a fine and lucrative career in the industry. To the detriment of all of us.

DragonKnight1716d ago

Well with everything there is always a chance of an outlier. Activision capitalized on the online, but COD won't last forever. Afterall, the latest game does have the most downvoted trailer on youtube.

wolokowoh1712d ago

Which only proves they're still on the mountain top. If the next Cod wasn't going to do so well the video wouldn't have gotten views let alone dislikes.

1716d ago Replies(1)
Tetsujin1715d ago

I will say this is much more constructive than some of the previous posts you've been a part of.

Coming from someone who is currently in college to enter the gaming industry AND from someone who gamed back in the 90s (not born in the 90s, RAISED in the 90s) there's a few things I have realized I should point out. I am under a semi NDA so I have to be careful of what I say just in case.

1. "Your business degrees do not matter to the userbase."
The bigger issue I've noticed is the majority join the gaming industry because it's one of the easiest to join. Almost anyone these days can put out something and make $. The root of the issue is investors telling the bigger companies what to do, which is make $. As long as their $ goes up per quarter, that's what matters. Yes the fans know what we want, but without the resources plan B has to be cashed in - meaning cheap labor from either college students and/or free lancers who will work for almost nothing but a portfolio booster.

2. "Stop telling us what we want."
Again, the investors are at fault here. The other problem is listening to the wrong crowd on certain topics. The wrong crowd are actually just as vocal (if not more) than the fans who actually are the reason certain companies are where they are today. The wrong ones have a louder voice, therefore they are listened to first because they "act" passionate about something they know little to nothing about.

3. "Communication = Respect"
This one is touchy because these days whatever someone says can (and most times will) be taken out of context, which then leads to apologies, and sometimes misinformation which can lead to legal action. The whole fiasco with Bethesda and Sony with mods I'm staying out of until Sony actually has something regarding why one game has mod support but not another. There's also a thing called "too much communication" which is something a certain company is doing at the moment, which is just as bad because then it sets expectations which later will backfire and put said company in hot water.

4. "PR talk fools no one."
This goes back to the third comment.

5. "Stop with the review embargoes."
This one is touchy because one of two outcomes always occur from this.
1- People use scores as a way to purchase a product. High scores to the mass = good game. The game sells well only for the public to be disappointed because the product is flawed and/or bad.
2- Someone will argue the score was "paid for" whether it's high or low, so again people don't listen to the reviews since some are bought to either raise/reduce sells.
The root of the problem with reviews is those reviewing games aren't fan of the series/genre. You ask a fan of fighting games to review a fighting game since there's certain aspects to look for, not ask someone who's into shooters to review a fighting game. Fighting fan will give an unbiased, fair review. Shooter fan will downplay it and nit pick.

DefenderOfDoom21712d ago (Edited 1711d ago )

Reply to Tejison . I can back up you first point because i personally knew a developer helping a well known developer working on his new game for free for a little bit a couple of years ago . And in the past he had done level design for 'BioShock Infinite' and 'Red Dead Redemption' working on salary. He stopped working for free, because he was working on his own indie game for EA.

Good blog Dragonknight .

drizzom1714d ago

Not sure if this is the right topic to place this but I think there needs to be a return to political agnosticism in games. Too much of a focus on politics or political correctness takes away from the idea that games are primarily made for entertainment and fun and not a political agenda.

mixelon1712d ago (Edited 1712d ago )

Return to? Games haven't ever been politically agnostic.. Examples? I'm having trouble thinking of many overtly political games anyway? :) GTA satirises everyone and everything.. "not politically correct" games exist by the barrel load..

If anything the military fetish rah rah Tom Clancy / COD / Battlefield / pesky foreigners are a right-wing wet dream come true, too.

I'd like to see more games commenting on stuff, like every other medium - entertainment is allowed to say things and reflect whatever the message the creator wants. :D

You can always avoid playing a game you don't like the "agenda" of, but by no means should you will it's non-existence. Someone else may be enjoying it.

mixelon1712d ago (Edited 1712d ago )

Good job again DK, in full agreement.

Particularly the review embargoes, they frustrate me. I guess the only time I can understand them is when they're expecting to do day one patches etc so any negative backlash against the game would be based on an unfinished version that wouldn't necessarily be fair.

DragonKnight1712d ago

Day one patches are a problem that should be discussed in reviews imo. Those patches should not exist and we should not be so accepting of what is literally an unfinished product. Patches have definitely upped a developers tendency towards laziness or cutting corners to meet a deadline. Symptoms of games as a business as opposed to art I suppose.

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