Game Developer Deploys Interesting Sales Strategy By Telling Fans Not To Buy His Game As A Gift For Others

from the huh? dept

This being a site focused in part on emerging business models, we tend to see a wide variety of new and innovative attempts to monetize artistic talents. There can be many specific expressions when it comes to these new models, but we like to think that the best of them fall under the more general concept of connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy. That's what makes one game developer's strategy for success so completely original: he's connecting with his fans and telling them not to buy. And should you think I'm somehow exaggerating or misinterpreting what the creator of the game Frontiers actually said, here's some text from the post he put on the Steam community site, entitled: PSA: Do NOT buy this game as Christmas gift.
Hello, everyone - Lars here with a friendly developer PSA. A lot of folks have told me: I'm buying this game for my kid/friend/spouse for Christmas, they love exploration games! And I say the same thing every time: DON'T!*
Now, I already know what you're thinking: holy crap, those idiots on cable news who said that there's a war on Christmas were right! No, no, dear readers. Lars isn't some anti-Christmas Scrooge, he's just concerned that people will give the beta version of the game as a gift to unsuspecting loved ones who won't understand that it isn't complete and that this will somehow undo the universe.
The only people who will love it are players who seek it out for themselves, because it's NOT FINISHED. Your kid/friend/spouse will just be annoyed with you. I'm proud of this game, and with everyone's help I believe it's going to be great - but it's not great yet, so in the meantime get your kid/friend/spouse Dragon Age or The Binding of Isaac or something, trust me. The December release date unavoidably puts Christmas gift in people's minds. That's why I'm only releasing a trickle of press copies till after the new year. People are prone to impulse buy right now, and you don't want people impulse buying an Early Access game, especially not for others.
I mean, look, it sounds like Lars is doing everyone a favor here, but this is all equal parts insulting and business-dumb. I'd wager that most gamers that are diving into Steam's Early Access beta games probably have a firm understanding that these games are unfinished and quite possibly buggy. That was certainly the case when I got in early on Starbound, for instance. But that didn't stop me from gifting the game to my brother, because I'm a thinking human person who can determine for whom gifting the game would be appropriate. I certainly didn't need the game developer to tell me to simply not buy the game for anyone for Christmas.

Which brings us to a general maxim for anyone selling anything: blanket requests that your product not be bought probably aren't the best of ideas. Just a little Christmas pro-tip from me to you.
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Filed Under: beta, christmas, frontiers, games, gifts, presents, video games


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Dec 2014 @ 9:05pm

    You only get one first impression

    I'm going to have to side with the developer on this.

    If someone, somehow, got me a game that 'Looked great', but the copy was before it was run through bug hunting, had numerous glitches, and was obviously incomplete... well, I probably wouldn't be too happy, with them, or the game itself.

    If someone's first impression of a game is based upon a game-in-development, odds are that impression is not going to be very good. And if the first impression is rubbish, or even just mediocre, the recipient of the gift isn't likely to care about the game whenever it does come out, and any 'reviews' they give, to friends and family, are going to be based upon the incomplete game they received, which isn't likely to be very flattering to the game or developer.

    Now, to anyone who knows about the game already, someone who is already interested in it, and has been considering picking it up, they might be a good recipient. But anyone outside of that narrow category is probably best presented with a complete gift, for the sake of everyone involved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Doug (profile), 22 Dec 2014 @ 9:43pm

      Re: You only get one first impression

      Ditto

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:10am

      Re: You only get one first impression

      The concern is valid (although mostly mitigated by the simple expedient of having "Beta" or somesuch prominently shown in the startup screen and documentation), but that particular developer expressed it in exactly the wrong way. That's the real problem here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 9:06pm

    Lars is doing everyone a favor here


    I agree. We spend so much time bashing game companies for spending too much time trying to make money (see: yearly releases, DRM, etc.) and not caring enough about the games (see: EA, Ubisoft, etc.). This is a refreshing perspective in which the developer actually gives a shit about something other than cashing in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 12:48am

      Re:

      Indeed. And yet, look at other, more successful (in the actual gamer goodwill sense), such as the CD Projekt, and their recent explanations for their delays, months in advance. Or Bungie/Microsoft's bungled Halo Master Chief MP Collection, and the resultant apology.

      Both of those screwed up on their timings, both apologised, and Bungie/MS offered compensation as a result of the issues.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 1:32am

        Re: Re:

        Customers are generally remarkably willing to forgive a company if, and this is a big 'if', the company does one simple thing:

        Admit it when they screw up.

        Whether they botched the timeline for release, ran into something that needed fixing, shipped a game with a glaring problem, whatever. As long as the company is willing to admit that they made a mistake, they know it, and they will do what they can to fix whatever the problem is, more often than not their customers will accept that.

        Where companies get into trouble is when they assume their customers are idiots, and treat them accordingly. Pretending that a massive glitch isn't a big deal, blowing past a release date with not a word about it, inserting features that the customers/fans clearly don't want, and then acting shocked or indignant when the customers object, anything along those lines.

        Basically, if a company treats it's customer/fans like mature individuals, then the fans will return the favor. If a company treats it's customers like morons, then they shouldn't be surprised when their customers are less than thrilled by the treatment.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Leit, 23 Dec 2014 @ 1:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Games companies in particular seem to act as though they're dealing with kids. The average adult doesn't explain themselves to a kid, they just expect their authority to be respected - and don't want the image of authority tainted by admitting they make mistakes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 5:29am

      Re:

      Also agree with the developr; your reputation is far more serious in game development, especially for smaller developers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 9:16pm

    Agree with the developer. He is clearly prioritizing his long term reputation and relationship with fans over a quick holiday buck. Shame on the author of this article for being so condescending about that!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 9:30pm

    I too agree with the developer.

    I've bought enough supposedly finished games that were rushed to market with the idea of putting out a patch later to fix everything. Only sometimes that patch never gets made. So you get stuck with a game that sometimes isn't playable or is so sucky as to not be worth the effort to attempt to play it because it was never quite finished in the rush to start making money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 9:34pm

    Keep your idiotic, asinine opinions to yourself, you insipid cretin.

    This post is a waste of electrons and a waste of time: bitching because a developer wants to make people stop & think before buying?

    Why don't you just go cry on Tumblr about how "triggered" you were by the developer's insensitivity?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Doug (profile), 22 Dec 2014 @ 9:56pm

    Proved wrong

    Pro-tip: the best stories are based on fact, not "I'd wager that ...".

    You may disagree with the guy's strategy, but who's being insulting by saying he's insulting and business-dumb, especially when there's a horde of 6 of your readers who already disagree with you? The savvy gamers you're worried about will see a developer trying to do the right thing and realize that they can *still* buy the game if they want. Who's insulted by that? Perhaps he's had this happen before and didn't enjoy dealing with the aftermath. You don't know because you didn't ask.

    P.S. I tried to reply to every comment here with "Ditto" because so far, I agree with every one of them, and wanted to make the meta point that I think so many people will disagree with you that I'd agree with all the ones to follow. (The logic's not so tortured in my head...) Looks like my "ditto" spam will get moderated into the waste bin, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 4:54am

      Re: Proved wrong

      Indeed. I have FAR more respect for a dev that straight up says his game is unfinished, and warns me away from it for now unless I'm a big fan willing to overlook the current issues. That shows something called INTEGRITY, which is far too lacking these days.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 10:03pm

    "That was certainly the case when I got in early on Starbound, for instance. But that didn't stop me from gifting the game to my brother,"

    You are a terrible brother and an enabler.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ahow628 (profile), 22 Dec 2014 @ 10:15pm

    Me too

    I'm going to agree with the dev as well. Unleashing Starbound on your bro because you are both gushing over it on the phone is way different than buying an unknown game that is unfinished on someone who may or may not be interested in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Dec 2014 @ 10:56pm

    Someone "gifted" me early access into a game that I should be interested in.
    I have a burning desire to never play it again.
    Even knowing it was early access, still being tweaked and fixed... many of the bugs/glitches have killed my desire to play the game.
    Firing up a game and spending over 4 hours patching and only getting half way... kills the soul.
    No documentation of features... kills the soul.
    Logging in and nothing working like it should, trapping you in a tutorial that you have to complete to advance... kills the soul.

    I think he is doing a good thing by telling people not to gift it to others. You can be excited about something, and overlook some bugs in early access. If someone gives it to you, they might not be as tolerant of the unfinished portions & bugs. If you ask me about the game that was gifted to me, my review isn't very good even with the caveat that I've not played much because the errors made me so angry I gave up. I pulled myself away from the game and stopped trying hoping I won't kill all my desire to play it in the future when its "better" or done. I was excited about the game, and what they have put forth so far isn't anywhere close to exciting me.

    I see why he is doing it, it might not look like the best idea but being upfront that early buzz can make or break the game so let people find it organically rather than drop it in their lap.

    Imagine if an EA dev lost his mind and came right out and said they made me shovel this out the door, please don't buy it until I can get the first patches done. Honesty isn't something we expect from those selling us something, but it can create quite a bit of good will moving forward.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Max (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 12:47pm

      Re: Documentation

      No documentation of features... kills the soul.
      Ah. Considering I don't think I ever opened a game manual, like, ever, that would indeed explain neatly why I'm a soulless bastard.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 3:46pm

        Re: Re: Documentation

        There is no single wiki or document that lays out any of the information.
        Searching for it yields multiple places, with varying answers.
        You could try to puzzle it out in game but the costs for trial and error represent 40 real world hours per item to try and figure it out and there are 32 items to try.
        Some things work in mysterious ways because there is no indicator that the bonus is working.

        I can play most games without having to look up the most basic concepts, this one leaves me confused and frustrated, I'd rather spend my limited free time toying in a 10 yr old MMO than exploring this new one at all.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      G Thompson (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 5:45pm

      Re:

      Even knowing it was early access, still being tweaked and fixed... many of the bugs/glitches have killed my desire to play the game.
      Firing up a game and spending over 4 hours patching and only getting half way... kills the soul.
      No documentation of features... kills the soul.
      Logging in and nothing working like it should, trapping you in a tutorial that you have to complete to advance... kills the soul.


      Easy solution.... Stop playing EA or Ubisoft games! - They 'kill the soul' :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 11:36pm

    yep, i agree with the developer. You have got it wrong on this one. Got from day 1 release not the alpha and beta and it still needs adding too it and developing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DocGerbil100 (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 12:05am

    Congratulations!

    Mr Geigner, you have my sincere admiration. This is the first and only time I've seen such a complete unity of response from Techdirt readers.

    I think the dev's quite right and you're quite wrong. If, as he said, he's getting lots of buying-as-a-gift messages from the relatively uninformed, then they actually need to be told that Early Access is not appropriate for everyone. Nothing here prevents the well-informed from making the choice.

    This dev's looking out for his customers' best interests and Frontiers is now on my wishlist. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DocGerbil100 (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 5:56am

      Re: Congratulations!

      You know, I like to be diplomatic to people who've generally been on the right side of common sense. Sometimes, I go a bit too far. Like this time, where I think I've been too kind and polite by a country mile.

      This is the single most poorly-conceived article I've ever read on Techdirt. It's picking a fight with some poor sod who's done absolutely nothing wrong at all, who's done everyone a genuine good, in fact - and using the most incredibly petty and asinine reasoning I have ever heard of as an excuse.

      Mr Geigner, I realise Christmas can be a stressful time, but seriously, what in the nine fucking hells were you thinking, man?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        AJ, 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:39am

        Re: Re: Congratulations!

        "Mr Geigner, I realise Christmas can be a stressful time, but seriously, what in the nine fucking hells were you thinking, man?"

        I lol'd.

        But in Defense of the Helmet, and as a semi-pro gamer, I do see his point. I play 7 days to die, it's still being worked on, but it's clearly playable and really fun. Now, I would gift it to a fellow gamer, but only if said gamer had it on his steam wish list or otherwise was showing interest in said game already. I probably wouldn't gift it to a casual gamer because if it's alpha status, and the possibility that it would ruin their impression of the game. Having said all that; I would rather make my own decision as to who I feel can handle an alpha release game.

        I think Tim is saying that we shouldn't automatically dismiss a gift idea because the game is in development. I agree with that thought, but perhaps he should have qualified it a little better.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 6:52am

      Re: Congratulations!

      "Mr Geigner, you have my sincere admiration. This is the first and only time I've seen such a complete unity of response from Techdirt readers."

      Is there some kind of award?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:14am

        Re: Re: Congratulations!

        You can have a Techdirt Insider badge if you don't already.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        DocGerbil100 (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 11:58pm

        Re: Re: Congratulations!

        Yes, your reward is to know that the Great Ritual of the South-East has now been performed in honour of your article.

        The Great Ritual's very simple: The right fist is raised in front of the practitioner's face, the index finger points vertically up, the thumb points horizontally.

        The hand - which, when seen from ahead, now appears to form a letter-L - is moved backwards and forwards to and from the forehead three times, reaching a distance of no more than nine inches away from the face, while the mystic words are chanted:

        "Loserrr! Loserrr! Loserrr!"

        I hope you enjoyed your reward, Mr Geigner. You certainly earned it. :)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 12:25am

    Siding with the developer on this one, for the reasons above and more: It's an open secret that Steam's Early Access program has a very high rate of games that never "actually" release, but it's not generally something people come across until it bites them in the ass. Gifting others an Early Access game is a really good way to make them hide it in their library six months down the line when the developer says "Whoops, we ran out of money, oh well at least you got half a game."

    Gifting someone an EA game is like donating to a Kickstarter in someone else's name and saying "Well, hopefully your full gift gets here eventually!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 1:09am

    I think there are too much abuse of "early access". While in the past, it was left mostly to the hardy gamers wanting a sneakpeak at the potential of the game, it has become too easy and too convenient to buy access at that early a state.

    Some developers use early access to launch alpha builds and giving people playing in it access for cheaps, raising the price gradually up to release. That is leaving gamers in a pickle of having to buy early to avoid a price-jump. No pain, no gain! I call early access for ludomania investment since you never know what the game you end up playing is!

    By discouraging people from gifting the game away the developer is discouraging the more risky gift-givers. But the catch: The hardy gamers will look at the warning and ignore it like the OP.
    The end-result is a positive word from most about the ethics of the developer, a slight short-term cost, but likely very limited!

    In the short term it will have a small price, but in the long run this developer has just secured himself some powerful guerilla marketing like this piece is causing!

    Congratulations. It speaks to this sites credibility that an article can get the users so much in opposition. So much for lemmings following it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 1:32am

      Re:

      And sadly, the usual trolls will continue to insist that readers will never disagree with anything posted.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 1:37am

        Re: Re:

        Which is kinda funny, given some of them seem to have a pathological need to disagree with whatever's posted, no matter what it is.

        Still, much like I can claim the moon is a giant paper circle taped to the sky all day long and still be wrong, they can insist that people on the site never disagree with what's posted on it all they want and they will likewise also be wrong.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Leit, 23 Dec 2014 @ 1:32am

    Gamers are pretty sick of obvious beta bullshit, and enthusiastic folks trying to drum up support for a product can ruin it by foisting it on others who aren't prepared to overlook the issues.

    The developer wants people to step back, rein in that impulse, and let the game speak for itself when it and the prospective player are on the same player. I'd say he's right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 23 Dec 2014 @ 2:10am

    What is the point of marketing?

    The author's opinion seems to be that it is the job of sales/marketing to push a product regardless of its specification and purpose upon whoever chances by.

    That's not sustainable business. If I need to get screws into a wall, I have nothing to gain from some marketing droid selling me a hammer. Even if it is a really good hammer.

    Now here a developer tells people what purpose the current product is not suitable for, and the article author flies into a rage that he won't maximize sales that way.

    Well, that was the purpose: to not sell in situations where the product would not match the buyer's purpose, and thus get a drop in reputation.

    I've been sold business software once by a close-to-market-leader, and the sales drone was full of enthusiasm about how well it would suit the desired purpose. I am not buying anything from that outlet ever again because we are talking about a certified trained salesperson, and if a certified trained salesperson's state of the art performance is selling half-finished crap unsuitable for the purpose, then there is no way you'll ever find out whether or not a product will be usable when bought from that outlet.

    I want sales and marketing to be particularly informed and forthcoming about when something will not be useful or suitable for a particular purpose. If they have less of a clue about their product than third-party testers, they are not doing what they are paid for. A sustainable business is not built on finding new suckers each day. It depends on building a loyal customer base, and you don't get loyalty by bullshitting people.

    Oh, by the way I would claim the same principle to hold in politics. Even though current politics seem to focus on the "Fool me once, shame on me, fool me yet another hundred times, more shame on me" approach.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 4:20am

      Re: What is the point of marketing?

      ...you don't get loyalty by bullshitting people


      This is exactly what is wrong with games today. Game makers are so sensitive to the negative critique that they pretty much demand game reviewers give them a good review or from then on no new games to review. The problem with this approach is that it has killed the creditability of the reviewers.

      This in turn has killed a whole bunch of game review magazines and fairly well put them out of business because the gamers figured out they were basically being lied to. You have the same circumstances developing over at Youtube with game players showing off the game with verbal chatter about how good it is. What they can't say is "here is a bug", or this is screwed up for controls, or anything negative. So again, it will kill this method off too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 4:47am

    I agree with everyone that posted before (except that one AC who only posted insults).

    I follow the Nerd³ philosophy of early access games: Is the game worth the money now because that's all you're guarantied to get. That's something only the person who will be playing the game can decide.

    Plus, if you give an early access game (or a game that should be in early access) to someone who's not an early access kind of person, you ruin their experience of the game. I could be gifted an early access game and it would be find. But if I gave my sister an early access game, she would play it for five minutes, call it a broken mess, and probably say that to anyone who asks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 5:04am

      Re:

      You know, I even agree with the insulter. This is the most ignorant piece of drivel I have EVER seen on techdirt. Mr. Geigner literally called honesty, integrity, and respect for your customers dumb.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 5:37am

    Reminds me of a book that was popular when I was young, on the cover it read "Steal This Book". Good to see some honesty and integrity, especially in this season of giving. +1 to Mr. Lars for his candid remarks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Adam (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 5:43am

    Yup. I'm with the dev on this. NEVER buy a beta game unless it's for yourself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 6:59am

    Guys, read it again...

    Perhaps this is on me for not presenting the argument clearly, but please read this again:

    "I mean, look, it sounds like Lars is doing everyone a favor here, but this is all equal parts insulting and business-dumb. I'd wager that most gamers that are diving into Steam's Early Access beta games probably have a firm understanding that these games are unfinished and quite possibly buggy. That was certainly the case when I got in early on Starbound, for instance. But that didn't stop me from gifting the game to my brother, because I'm a thinking human person who can determine for whom gifting the game would be appropriate. I certainly didn't need the game developer to tell me to simply not buy the game for anyone for Christmas."

    The point isn't that this guy is dumb or wrong for being honest about the state of the game. The point is that there is no need to be insulting to fans by pretending like they are unable to determine for themselves for whom the game would be an appropriate gift. When I hear someone say, "Don't buy my product as a gift.", all I think is "Well fuck you very much, maybe I just won't buy it at all."

    If you can't see the problem with the hardline approach, well....*Shrugs*

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:14am

      Re: Guys, read it again...

      Recant, witch!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:15am

      Re: Guys, read it again...

      Yeah, I reread what he said and what you said. What he did is still right and proper. Your "Well fuck you very much, maybe I just won't buy it at all." is at best simply silly, and even a bit childish.

      If you are a thinking human person... you can choose to self-select yourself out of the category of people to whom that warning applies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:18am

      Re: Guys, read it again...

      Tim, I'll jump in on your side of this one.

      I think the "don't buy it as a gift" reaction is pretty dumb. A better approach may have been to tell people you were adding a disclaimer onto the opening of the game or offer a "free to gift" version of just a portion of the game that is actually complete.

      I know there are technical hurdles that could create, but if nothing else, instead of telling people not to buy it, ask them to let the person they are giving it to that it is incomplete and they will get a free upgrade to the completed version as soon as it is done.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:28am

        Re: Re: Guys, read it again...

        You're right. He should stop all forward progress in his development immediately and upend his software development life-cycle to accommodate people giving his game away as a gift when it isn't ready for the uninitiated yet.
        /s

        I think the more appropriate way to resolve this "moral quandry" is to give Steam gift certificates to a person and saying 'hey, it's in beta but you may want to check out (early access game)' in the comment field.

        Gift given? Check
        Gift usable? Check, unless they pick an early access game. Then its a crap-shoot. Which is why the developer said what he did. Which is why we're here. Discussing it. Still.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 8:08am

      Re: Guys, read it again...

      I still agree with the developer even after reading it again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      CrushU (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 9:30am

      Re: Guys, read it again...

      The dev is being pretty clear here, I think. He's not so much saying 'Don't buy this as a gift', as 'Don't buy this as a gift just because it's an exploration game.'

      His tone comes off more as trying to be helpful and informative, the tone someone would take when saying 'Please don't buy children pets for Christmas'. Not because they want none of it to be sold, but because you should be informed about the decision.

      The key part is the place the dev is quoting the things he's been told. Someone who 'likes exploration games' is more likely to pick up the EA, go 'bleh' and put it back. Whereas if they were to wait longer for the game to be more finished, would be more likely to enjoy and recommend the game to others.

      (Also, does Steam give discounts on EA games? i.e. they're sold for $20 but when released, it's $40? If this is true, then this makes a lot more business-sense.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      That guy, 23 Dec 2014 @ 10:45am

      Re: Guys, read it again...

      On the other hand, I had never heard of this game, nor this developer. And your marketing fluff (er "News Article?") made me think about looking them up. If that leads to an eventual sale, the guy (or you?) did a good thing.

      In any case, the dev is connecting with fans and being a human being, which is better than some manage.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Grae (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 2:53pm

      Re: Guys, read it again...

      I'm going with you misinterpreting it. I read it again, and it reads obviously as targeted at friends/relatives who are fans of the genre, not fans themselves. Only a fan of a given genre is going to be able to evaluate an early access game and decide if what's there is worth the cost of buying it, so the developer is correct in warning off people who are not direct fans as buying it as a gift for those who are.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Grae (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 2:54pm

        Re: Re: Guys, read it again...

        "targeted at friends/relatives who are fans of the genre, not fans themselves."

        should be

        "targeted at friends/relatives of those who are fans of the genre, not fans themselves."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2014 @ 2:16am

      Re: Guys, read it again...

      You're bad at reading context, and you should feel bad. He didn't say his fans were stupid, he just asked them not to do something that most people would think not to do.

      Spoiler alert: Not everyone is as smart as you. This is why we have signs on things that warn people of obvious consequences.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:37am

    I agree with the Dev. I have not bought a large game in a long time. I stopped playing them when I decided I no longer wanted to get burned by spending a lot of money ($40+) and halfway through loving the gameplay, it failed on me.
    If this dev comes out with a game that looks interesting, I am more likely to want to buy and play it, because he already has credibility as a dev who stands behind the quality of his game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AJ, 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:40am

    Dogpile!!!!!!!!

    Hey guys, can someone move over and let the Helmet get some air? I don't think he can breath under all these bodies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:50am

      Re: Dogpile!!!!!!!!

      Pffffffffft.

      Piling On! 15 yeard penalty for the offense! First down.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 9:07am

      Re: Dogpile!!!!!!!!

      "Hey guys, can someone move over and let the Helmet get some air? I don't think he can breath under all these bodies."

      Appreciated, but I don't mind in any way the community's response to this post. I actually LOVE it when the community shows their independence this way, rather than treating this site as an echo chamber. As others have mentioned, the community's ability to think on their own is something to laud, not to fight against.

      That said, I've never found consensus particularly interesting either. I'd rather be correct than be agreed with....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      CrushU (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 9:25am

      Re: Dogpile!!!!!!!!

      I find it more likely that he can't breathe in that helmet.

      </obligatory movie reference>

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 8:36am

    I'm siding with the developer here.

    Early access is essentially a paid beta test and I have seen more then enough examples of games that were utterly broken to the point of uselessness, games that were not just incomplete but barely started, games that were completely abandoned in an unfinished state and games that were attempts to commit outright fraud.

    This developer recognizes the inherent issues in the early access program and I really have to respect his integrity, that he openly warns people of said issues. I'm sure it will cost him sales in the short term, but I'm also sure that this move will increase his reputation and fanbase.

    After all the shenanigans that have been done with the early access model, this is actually a breath of fresh air to see someone taking responsibility for this choice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 9:57am

    My real issue here

    ..and this is a larger issue with the software development industry at large: the redefinition of the term "beta".

    Back in the old days when software was declared "beta", what that meant was that the developers thought the product was done and ready to release. The beta release was just the last round of testing of what was presumed to be the final product. What this developer is actually releasing isn't a beta at all, but an alpha. He's admitted in public that the game isn't done, therefore it can't be a beta.

    This may seem pointlessly semantic, but I think it has several terrible effects. One of which is what we're seeing here: the developer feeling the need to warn people away from it (again, an actual beta would not require any such warning). The main one, though, is that it perpetrates the ongoing decline of software quality. If a "beta" is really an "alpha," then the initial release is actually the "beta", which is what leads to the need for the generally recognized good practice of never seriously using the initial release of any software.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AJ, 23 Dec 2014 @ 10:37am

      Re: My real issue here

      "This may seem pointlessly semantic, but I think it has several terrible effects."

      I don't think it seems pointlessly semantic at all, I think your spot on. Not only do a good portion of people, including some developers, not understand the Alpha/Beta terms, you have Steam calling it something completely different "Early Access".

      On top of that, the pressure to hit your release window with a product can have companies releasing unfinished product, further muddying the waters, and with catastrophic effect. Look at the re-release of Halo...FAIL
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/11/22/microsoft-is-losing-xbox-one-momentum-d ue-to-343s-halo-master-chief-collection-misdeeds/

      Not having a consistent, easy to understand vernacular in describing the "condition" of a game during it's early pre-release/development, combined with a deliberate attempt by some studios of "bending" the meanings to suit a specific situation, is causing customers to lose trust in the whole "early release" market.. and rightfully so. This story is a fine example.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 2:59pm

      Re: My real issue here

      If a "beta" is really an "alpha," then the initial release is actually the "beta", which is what leads to the need for the generally recognized good practice of never seriously using the initial release of any software.

      They've been doing that with game releases for years now it seems. At this point it's pretty much a given, never buy a game at release, wait at least a few months for them to actually do some bug-hunting and deal with the major glitches.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    michael, 23 Dec 2014 @ 1:54pm

    So don't release it

    If your game is in such poor shape that it shouldn't be gifted, doesn't that strongly imply that maybe it's not ready to be released at all?

    Beta software is a dev's way of saying, "We can't be bothered to test this, so maybe you could do it for us. Oh, and you get to pay for the privilege as well."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 26 Dec 2014 @ 6:29am

      Re: So don't release it

      There is a proper role for beta testing (indeed, it's the entire reason there is such a thing). It's not laziness, but the fact that all the in-house testing on the world can't cover a lot of real-world use cases, can't cover all of the hardware and software environments the program will be running in, etc. The only way to do that level of testing is to release the program to the public. Beta testing is a formalized way of doing exactly that -- that's why it is the last round of testing that you do when you think the program is completely finished.

      The problem is that so much of the industry has decided to use "beta" releases as a kind of marketing rather than a kind of testing. The big tell-tale that a beta release isn't really a beta release at all is if there are no strictly controlled and enforced requirements for the people using the beta to make reports about its performance.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 4:41pm

    I think one thing you misjudged here is the gaming communities opinions about early access, it is at best cautious optimism, with a lot of concern over what abuse, even/especially by AAA developers, could happen.

    So, for most of this games consumers, a little good will from the developer goes a lot further then Christmas induced marketing.

    And as many commenters have already pointed out, giving this as a gift to a recipient that was already interested in this game isn't the problem, its giving it to someone who may not appreciate the game even knowing it is early access. Not to mention even perfectly functional well designed early access games tend to lack the necessary hook to get people to embrace them like they would once it's finished.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nop (profile), 6 Feb 2015 @ 7:14am

    I'm yet another person who agrees with the dev on this one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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