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Developers Good & Bad

Discussion in 'Random Nonsense' started by booman, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    I read this blog on Worthless Customers to game developers: You are Worthless
    Very interesting points about the gaming industry and how developers interact with their customer base.

    I wanted to comment here instead of reddit...

    I understand his point on supporting customers when they purchased a game for $1.00
    Time is money and supporting games requires a lot of time to troubleshoot different systems, hardware, drivers and operating systems. So I can definitely understand the frustration of spending several thousand to make a game and then selling hundreds for $1.00

    I almost wonder if it would be better to not support customers at all? I know that gives developers a bad name, but if their game works fine in most instances, then the few people who don't know how to update their hardware or drivers would be left to buy games elsewhere.
    This way developers won't loose so much money on support...

    But the real problem seems to be selling games.
    If your game is worth $10-$15 at release, then it should be sold as such.
    If your game is worth $50-$70 at release, ten it should be sold as such.

    If your game is selling for $1.00 several months later from bundles, Steam or GOG... that is related to your business model and marketing strategies.

    Indie developers will never have the same budgets as big publishers when it comes to marketing.
    So they have to resort to advertising on moddb.com, desura, Steam, GOG and the like.
    Of course, at their own risk.

    Publishers and Developers for games, movies and music have dealt with this for a long time. When you release a product, your largest profit is always at the beginning. Depending on the industry, the product looses value and people spend a lot less. Those statistics are usually not included in the marketing strategy.

    For example, when movies are released you have to spend $7-$10 to see it in the theater. Within a year, you can just rent it for a $1.00

    Back when all games were retail, publishers charged the most money for the game on the shelf at release. Meanwhile, people like me waited until we saw the game at a second-hand store and purchased it for $8.00

    I almost never see movies on the first weekend or buy games when they are first released. I actually waited a year before purchasing Skyrim. :p

    I understand the frustration and do not have a solution, but this is the way competition works. Some games just go viral like Minecraft, other games spend years in development to end up selling for $1.00

    Writing a blog about customers being "worthless" isn't helping their company, reputation or industry in any way.
  2. allenskd

    allenskd Active Member

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    I don't think that the title should be taken at face-value.

    Not exactly. Steam sales have affected a lot of indie developers, imho. What do you think people do when a new awesome indie game is out? They are going wait for the next steam sales to see it go on sale. Yet, that $20, $10 base price becomes nothing. You'll be selling your game possible 50% or 75% off, almost as if it were a mini mobile game you pay for $1.

    The thing is that too many people feel like they are somehow entitled to decide how much they want to pay. And it's becoming a trend as of late to see that sort of behavior thanks to HumbleBundle, etc. If the customer knows you can get games as cheap as $1 then why pay the full price? Screw the creators! I want to save money!

    Later on, he finds out that the indie studio closed because they couldn't continue.

    I read the article when it was out. I wasn't surprised by it at all. I think that deep within me I knew what he really meant. I agree with most of his points, except Phil Fish because honestly he dug his own grave.

    I honestly don't know how are indie developers going to sustain themselves in the future. It's becoming more of a fleeting dream to develop games and start a game company. Probably because the market has hit such an over-saturation, god knows how it will impact the industry in the future.
  3. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Yeah I see what you are saying. There has to be another realm to sell games other than Steam. I guess its loose/loose for indie developers. They could try Desura and GOG, but I know they would probably make more money on Steam even if there are $1 sales

    The trend seems to be "get my game on Greenlight" to get publicity, at the same time loose to Steam's deals and sales.
    If you don't go Steam, you can choose how much to sell your game, but won't get the publicity.
    You know what I mean?
    Developers are using Valves tools for publicity instead of their own. But what other choice do they have?

    Here is one example I don't understand...
    The game Overgrowth never seems to be a part of a Steam sale. Its developed by two people and its been years in the making.
    They do some really good advertising on their website, moddb.com and other realms and yet their game is still $30.00
    I know its not paying their bills, but they should be able to release the game one day and get a lot of publicity.

    In the end, I have a feeling it will be like the music industry. Indie developers will have a day job and develop at night. Some games have been successful at this other have not. I know this is already happening, but how else can you put food on the table while making games?
  4. Gizmo

    Gizmo Chief Site Administrator Staff Member

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    Having been a professional developer, and having dealt with abusive customers in the past, I completely understand the sentiment expressed here. Fortunately, in my case I was working in an industry where even a small sale was still several thousand dollars, so the situation was a bit different. But we still had to deal with the crap where the customer expected us to fix their broken computers, their broken networks, their broken internet connections, and on and on.

    Pretty much all of these people didn't understand that it wasn't OUR problem, it was their screwed-up system. "But Word works just fine!". Sure it does; that's why you have to restart it every 15 minutes when it locks up. Oh wait, that's Microsoft crap, so that's expected behavior. Forgot about that. "But my computer works just fine when using Internet Explorer!". Yes, but when you're using Internet Explorer, you aren't also trying to download a multi-megabyte file in the background, listening to audio in the foreground, using a control device that interfaces through your game port or usb port to control the playback via your sound card, and typing into a document using speech recognition that is synchronized to the audio, either, all on the cheapest POS computer you could find at Joe's Used Cars and Computer Emporium. But that doesn't matter, they just expect it to work. To be fair, though, it's not really their business to understand. They have a tool, they need to use it to do work; they have a reasonable expectation that it will work.

    I did have a couple of situations where I told the owner of our company that there were some customers we should just walk away from: one high-profile customer was FAMOUS for trying to get as much free stuff as they could by dangling the prospect of a large sale (which would magically move to 'next quarter' whenever you tried to get a real commitment). (I'm not going to name names, as that could have legal implications)

    Fortunately, when you have customers that pay 5-7 figures for systems, plus a support contract that typically amounts to 1/3 the cost of the system per year, you can put up with a bit more grief, and afford to walk away from those who are just being unreasonable.

    We finally, after much pain, came up with a set of requirements for exactly what we would support and what we wouldn't, and if you ran on hardware we didn't support, well, that was on your head. We'd try to help you, but we couldn't be expected to fix it.

    If I were to get back into development in a serious way, that's exactly what I'd do: establish requirements right up front, "Here's what we know works, if you are on something else, that's your problem". I might not make a lot of money, but I'd certainly reduce my headaches to a manageable level.
  5. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Man, if working in a large company or corporation has established requirements for support teams, imagine how hard it is for Independent developers.
    specially a small group of people developing a game say for... Linux
    I couldn't even imagine testing the game, optimizing the game and supporting it with all the different hardware and distros out there.
    That is crazy!

    But, I just had a crazy idea! Maybe someone has already done this, but what if a company was created to be support for Independent software companies?
    I know they do this in other countries (cough India cough) for big corporations, but what about these indie teams that just want to have fun developing games and not spending their days helping customers?

    There could be a web-based company that developers pay a flat rate to support their games. Kinda like a support center where employees use chat rooms, email, remote software and phones to troubleshoot client bugs and errors.
    Then as the "middleman" they communicate with developer teams on the bugs and fixes.

    This way developers do not have to focus on customer support and pay a monthly fee instead, meanwhile they can work on their passion!
  6. Aryvandaar

    Aryvandaar Active Member

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    People are weird. There was a customer at my workplace who asked me if she could just take the laptop and go, after we had done a lengthy diagnose. When I told her that she had to pay for the diagnose she looked at me in shock. o_O

    I can understand if dealing with customers can be hard, but as the say the customer is almost always right (not always).
  7. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    What I hate is the "entitled" attitude where people are all "high-n-mighty" about their service. I know they paid for service, but even professionals make mistakes. Be patient, they will get it fixed.

    I really believe patience is where things get done right:
    • If you have to wait another 15 minutes for your food, it will probably be cooked right.
    • If you have to wait another year for that game to release, it will probably be bug free
    • If you have to wait another day for your car, it will probably be fixed right
    Of course "probably" is the key word. Just because something took more time doesn't mean it IS absolutely done right, but there is a higher chance it was.
    People have a lot of doubt in services because they get burned once and then assume everyone is out-to-get-them and rip them off.

    Hence why I try to fix things myself and if I can't, I'll call a friend to help me.
    Aryvandaar likes this.

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