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.