I represent a group of leading names from various high profile companies within the Gaming Industry.
It has come to our attention that with your current ongoing project, “Mount & Blade” you are following practices which are not consistent with the best interests of the gaming industry as a whole. It therefore falls to me as spokesperson for our conglomerate, to point out the error of your ways in the hopes that you may exercise a little more common sense than you have shown thus far.
In order to expedite this issue we have chosen to ignore for the moment many errant aspects of your strategy or lack of, and focus your attention instead on three “key areas” in which your practices need to be immediately and radically revised.
1/ Pricing and Pre Market Hype.
Putting aside for now the ridiculous price which you have chosen to charge early subscribers to your “Open Beta”, the planned price for the eventual final release needs to be re-thought as a matter of priority.
Computer game design and sales has (as you should know by now) very little to do with what games players would actually like and everything to do with ringing as much cash from their worthless hides as is humanly possible.
There are distinct guidelines laid down with regards to the correct cycle of events and in which order they should unfold. This strategy takes us from “accidental” leaks of project information to help stir up anticipation for the title, through to its eventual decline into non profitability.
Beginning as a full priced retail release, a title should then be re-released on a number of occasions at various price points. Somewhere during this retail journey the title will of course be on sale for the price it is “actually worth”, but by then our collective backs will be aching from carrying buckets of cash to our banks, so we don’t particularly see this issue as a problem area.
With a careful marketing strategy it is possible to “milk” a title for everything it is worth and by flaunting your product at such an attractive price right off the mark you are not only foolishly denying yourself an opportunity, but more importantly you are threatening to destabilise an economic cycle proving over the years to be beneficial to us all.
It’s only fair to warn you that we take a dim view indeed of this practice and we cannot stress strongly enough that you should desist and revise immediately!
2/ Talking to the Fanbase
While we actively encourage creating the “impression” that you are listening to your end user, we have observed on a number of occasions that you are actually “doing” it! This is quite simply unacceptable! Once again the tried and tested method is in plain view as an example of what you “should” do.
In the first instance it is often a good idea to distribute “Fansite Packs” to selected individuals to help them create websites. This action serves a dual purpose in that it gives the impression of benevolence in the first instance and then if properly co-ordinated with the divulgence of certain release information as mentioned above, helps enormously with pre-release hype and provides invaluable advertising for next to no cost.
Once this infrastructure is set up it is easily maintained by the assigning of a “Net Liaison Representative.” This individual (who is usually best recruited from your in house pool of office juniors or in the case of smaller staff levels a tea boy will do just as well.) should be actively engaged surfing the various sites and contributing to specially selected threads with pro company propaganda.
By contrast you have been observed not only dealing with individuals on a one to one basis, but actually responding to customer base problems and suggestions with changes to code! Perhaps you consider the mortals as pets? This sets a dangerous precedent which we are not at all keen to see you continue.
You must try to understand the true and rightful relationship between ourselves and the customer. They hustle and bustle beneath us in a state of perpetual awe of our capabilities. They worship and revere us and stand with eyes turned heavenward and mouths open, in gratitude for whatever gaming crumbs might drop from our table.
We in turn float above them, enigmatic and godlike. We revel in their adoration and of course their cash. We must strive at all costs to maintain this web of mystery and wonder which your actions threaten to unravel!
3/ Releasing an Unfinished Title.
Here at least we felt initially that you were on solid ground.
Releasing unfinished games is nowadays of course a staple of the industry, but on closer inspection we discover that once again you have taken something beautiful and twisted it into something ugly.
Not only is your “beta” code more stable and considerably more bug free than many full priced retail releases, but it also boasts one of the best “mounted combat” models that we have seen. What on earth are you thinking?!!!
In stating up front that your game is “unfinished” and then offering a FREE TRIAL before charging a pittance for the full version, you seem to have completely misunderstood the point of and advantages to releasing an unfinished game. Namely that there is no earthly reason to waste expensive development time in a fruitless struggle to complete a game, when you have a mass of waiting proletariat, eager to accept it in whatever form you see fit to deposit it upon them and then to act as unpaid play testers. This product is not pitched at a reduced price but rather shipped at full retail!
With the customers money safe in your coffers, it is the of course entirely up to you whether you choose to issue “patches” on a regular basis until the program approaches some semblance of playability, or simply maintain the illusion of support until it suits you to abandon the project completely.
The more astute among us of course will not miss the opportunity to release fixes and “improvements” in the form of “add on packs” for which we charge separately. Not only is this practice widespread, but the muted acceptance of the public gives us tacit permission to keep on doing it for as long as we like! It is a thing of beauty… why would you want to threaten it?
In closing then, let me say that it gives me no pleasure to administer this “slapped wrist” and to add that it is my own hope that you take it in the spirit it was intended and change your business practices accordingly.
But it goes without saying that your “approach” cannot be allowed to continue and should you decide to continue on this course, further action will need to be taken. The games playing public are of course for the most part unthinking, uneducated and unwashed, but only a fool would completely underestimate them. Given enough exposure to your program and with unlimited time to think it through, it is inevitable that eventually they will start to wonder about what is and is not possible within the gaming industry and surely you must agree that this situation would be desirable for no-one.
Ultimately it would be wise for you to bear in mind that the masses are like any other resource, there to be exploited and used to further our plans. To think of them in any other way gives them ideas above their station, threatens the status quo and courts disaster!
If you won’t reconsider your approach for your own benefit and that of your company, then please consider the fate of the man I just ordered my new “Porsche” from. He has a wife and kids to feed and without my order it’ll be they who ultimately suffer. Do you really want that on your conscience?