games industry

$100m, guys. Stop whinging about a blogger.

Nicholas Lovell reveals all in Page 3 Special…

His recent post about the top ten “doomed” games-industry projects/companies/things attracted a lot of attention … and some snide commentary. It was “traffic-chasing”, “doom-mongering”, “gutter-press”, “tabloid journalism”.

Even if all the above were true and fair, it would still be wrong to focus on it.

The games industry has real problems right now.

I can think of 100,000,000 of them off the top of my head, floating in the air above Dundee. For instance, the industry at large had plenty of opportunities to see that RTW was in big trouble. But no-one said a word. Without naming names, go and ask a few publishers how many of them were approached by an increasingly desperate RTW over the last few years, and what terms were on offer; research some rumours.

But, overall, get a sense of perspective: you should be celebrating Nicholas’s call-out, and begging him to write more. Because otherwise there’ll be another 50,000,000 of them, quite possibly starting in Southam and rapidly spreading to Guildford, before leaping across the Atlantic, swinging down the east coast, doing a little tour of Texas (via Austin), and then finishing up with a round of bankruptcy parties in San Francisco.

Provocation in Blogs…

I thought about commenting, but decided against it. IMHO the post was fine. It wasn’t exactly “detailed researched professional journalism”, but it wasn’t presented that way – and it was perfectly reasonable throughout.

Any intelligent reader would quickly see that he backed-up his opinions and clearly had thought about the topic – it wasn’t simply tossed-off in a spare few minutes.

I suspected (because I’m a cynical game developer) that most of the complainers were either looking at a slow news day and needed something to comment on … or were feeling bitter that they’d (implicitly) been denigrated by their OWN failure to speak up about these failures.

At the same time … IMHO, Nicholas knows exactly what he’s doing – I’ve been following his blog and tweets for a year or so, and I’ve seen his tone gradually change to become more and more provocative.

So I was pleased to see Nicholas’s followup today, in which he states of *some* aspects of the post:

“That was traffic chasing. But I wanted people to read my blog post. And it worked.”

Excellent. I’d said it privately to one or two people who asked – and not in a derogatory sense – but I wasn’t expecting such a frank admission. Most smart people tend to back down when told-off for being negative.

My own blog (t-machine) is regularly (albeit infrequently) denounced for being argumentative, blunt, and full of outrageous provocations. It got that way because I learned (on the MUD-DEV mailing list back in the 1990’s) that reasonable, qualified, objective statements *do not trigger debate*. Great times, great people – but if you wanted a decent discussion, and insights from smart people, you had to include just enough bite to your words to get them to hit the Reply button…

And debate is something this industry is sorely lacking in when it comes to introspection and “what went wrong”.

7 replies on “$100m, guys. Stop whinging about a blogger.”

hmm I guess I should have called my last blog post ( something like ‘Social games sucks’ instead of ‘I don’t like shrimps… and “social games”‘

I’m so bad at getting traffic but again I’m not sure I’d like to be good at it…

Another good way to get traffic is to post about some of your failures. This post got nearly 3k views which in my case makes it the most popular post on my blog. People just love bad news.

So if I’m able to post many more fail stories of mine I might be able to make it as a blogger instead of an indie game dev!

re: failures – yes, I think for three reasons:

1. When something is a success, the people who get to speak about it don’t really know why it succeeded. They tend to be the money people, or the visionaries, the Looks Good In Public people – or just the ones who pay the wages, so that when they see somethign they want (fame + adulation), they arbitrarily take it. Honesty rarely gets a look-in. Not necessarily their fault – they may genuinely have no idea what actually happened.

(plenty of times, they do know, and won’t tell, because they’re terrified some other company will copy their Secret Sauce, but do it better – usually because they know what a clusterfuck their internal org is)

2. When something is a success, very few people know how to find useful lessons in that about how to “Do it better”. There’s an awful lot of “because it worked out in the end, EVERYTHING we did was perfect”.

When something is a failure, most people find it easy to spot “things that we should have done differently”. There’s an awful lot of “just because it failed doesn’t mean EVERYTHING we did was wrong; what stands-out as obviously right, or obviously wrong?”

People tend to be much much better at introspecting failure.

3. People tend to be reticent to speak about their failures, but very happy to wax lyrical about what they “intend” to do. Readers get bored of waffle about “theoretical” projects, and salivate at the prospect of reading something by someone who actually DOES things instead of merely TALKING about / intending to do them.

Incidentally – since your game refuses to let me try it without giving you my email address, I’ve never got past this “try it now” link.

No way I’m jumping through that hoop just to be “allowed” to get the info I need to make the decision whether or not to continue / invest time / invest email account / etc.

NB: “having to use the keyboard and type out form elements” counts as considerably more time than I’m willing to invest, even as someone who researches and plays games pseudo-professionally.

Here’s an easy shortcut: put your game up on Kongregate, interface to their accounts system, and generate a bidirectional lookup between “kong” account and “your” account. That way, 100,000 people can try your game for free (i.e. without spending time on account creation).

Also, I believe you can limit the access of Kong accounts, and for anyone that likes the game / gets past a certain point, you can give them a direct link to your site and an option to use a “full” account.

yeah I know that some don’t like the “put your email there” thing but I was getting tired of receiving so many requests for forgotten passwords.

There was a “play as a guest” button before that didn’t required any keyboard input but then again when I designed the game at first I didn’t thought about making it a nice option and the result was mediocre. That’s just one of my many mistakes but then I put this on my “things learned” list.

And as for Kongregate it’s there:

I guess I should add a button “play on Kongregate” on the main website for those not interested to create yet another account.

Kongregate is a big audience. I’d say definitely slap that option on there – it makes trying the game go from “difficult” to “effortless” for anyone with a Kong account.

If you’ve made it easier for people to play, but you aren’t telling them about the option … WTF? :)

(also has fairly high rating on Kong, not far short of high enough to get badges, which would give you a huge influx of attention/players I suspect)

I do bristle when I see the phrase “lifestyle business” used in a pejorative way like he used it in the article to describe CCP.

The rest of the article I thought was spot-on, including his evaluation of Dust.

Yeah I know I know. Add that to my list of mistakes :) Sometime you need someone else to point you the obvious. Will work on fixing that today.

As for the rating well yes it’s getting better with time. I’ve been told from Kongregate employees that the bar is at least 3.8+ for badges so it’s still in the realm of possibilities. It definitely helped the rating when they added that MMO category and since then it started to go up. Slowly but surely.

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