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What To Do When a Developer Dies

Rorschach’s journal, August 17th, 2009. Game jewel case in alley. Tire tread on broken plastic. This industry is afraid of me, I’ve seen its true face. A developer died tonight. Somebody knows why. Somebody knows.

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GRIN studios recently went bankrupt. Amidst a plethora of unfortunate situations caused by corporate workings and a cold reception by gamers, the Swedish based developer went officially went belly up. It’s always sad when a developer dies. People out of work, effort squandered, and fans devastated. But it happens All. The. Time. The difference here being that GRIN was in the media eye for breathing life into a popular franchise with Bionic Command Rearmed and Bionic Commando. You might have expected them to fare a little better. That’s just not the case when you work in an industry designed to cater to those seeking a good time. Gamers are evolved. At the first sign of weakness they grow hesitant. Three critically lacking titles back to back to back from GRIN decidedly pushed gamers away from them. But you who were fans of a few of these titles, don’t simply look to your neighbor for not seeing what you saw in these games. You’re at fault too.

I’m not blaming you for GRIN’s demise – or anyone else really. There were a number of contributing factors, the most obvious and game ending one being lack of sales. But I am calling you out on some things that you fans tend to ignore when trying to understand why a game undersold. You can be assured that a lot of gamers wait on reviews, but if you know me you know why I don’t. The counterbalance of this seems to be almost seems imperceptible. It’s when you can take a look at a game and just know it’s going to fail or sell. That sixth sense gamers have evolved to make sure their money is well spent. If Game publishers and developers could tap into this they’d have million sellers left and right. But until then it’s up to you and me to make sure the right games get into the hands of the gaming populous. Here’s some tips how.

Do’s

User Reviews

I don’t have to tell you what a game company needs to prosper, but I will anyway. Sales. When a game just isn’t good enough in its videos, demos, or otherwise it’s really up to the fans to be vocal. Every major retailer has a user reviews section. There have been times when I’ve been on the edge for a game and a well written opinion has pushed me in the right direction. The best thing you can do is write why you liked a game, what it was similar to for you, and a list of things you didn’t like. A glowingly positive review puts me off more than anything when there’s nothing specific listed. A lot of times user reviews fail to mention the bad, thinking that it might do more good than harm. For anyone who’s skeptical even after reading the positive they’re going to make up their own negative marks because they have no idea what’s in store.

Vocal Feedback

Posting on a developer’s forum is helpful for allowing them to gauge who liked it and why. Given the chance, your ideas could end up in the next sequel? Well, maybe. Sequels are opportunities to bring out the best in the first and what was missing in the second. Even still, feedback is a good way to ensure that a developer’s next effort is in the right direction. If there’s something you don’t like, chances are the developers either think it works or just don’t think its broken. Good opportunity to set the record straight and get yelled at by your peers on the interwebs! But seriously, if you don’t voice your opinion no one’s going to do it for you.

Buy It New

A lot of people like 2nd hand games. Why? Because they’re so cheap they should be a crime! Well, they’re not actually that cheap. But they do shave a lot of money off retail. But if you’re one of those people who goes to Gamestop, buys it used just to save $5 (such a ripoff) and happens to love the game – First off, I know times are tough but that’s not going to help anyone. But I know now that I’ve called you out you’re feeling guilty or defensive. Hold on. You’ve still got that that used game that you paid $55.99 for right? Play it. Yeah. Go ahead. Now, if you got it at Gamestop you have a chance to return it. No, I don’t mean trade it in, I mean take it back for a full refund. If you used credit, do the right thing and pay the extra few bucks to support the developer. If you paid cash (and live in Utah), slap that sucker down, get your money back and tell Best Buy you want it new at the same price! But if you paid cash there are a number of better places to buy from – all of them online.

Don’ts

Online Advertising

You ever get that guy on your team who just keeps going on and on about this amazing game that he’s just so conveniently not playing right now? Don’t be that guy. I know you love your games, but under no circumstances become that person. Also, don’t be that guy who keeps raving out about the game you’re playing right now. Chances are the other people on your team already know. Just a guess.

Petition Online

They don’t work. Shenmue III deserves to happen, but Yu Suzuki is retired and the Dreamcast is dead and gone. Petitioning online will work half as well as marching to EA Corporate HQ and begging them to make it, and we know that won’t work at all. You’re better off holding onto your controller and pretending. No please don’t do that either.

Bash Another Game

Gears of War didn’t invent cover, but it made it fun. Did it kill Kill Switch? No it didn’t. Same goes for every other game ever. Well, except maybe Madden did kill NFL 2k, but Sports games need to die (half kidding). Persona 5 won’t come any faster the more you bash Final Fantasy. Ninja Gaiden 3 doesn’t need you to slam Devil May Cry and God of War either. Although some genres have tighter competition than others, some gamers just grew with a taste for a different game. Maybe if you stopped bashing Game X and started discussing Game Y you might turn them around.

Ah well. Such is life. Acting rational about certain things is not something the internet is going to do overnight. But hopefully we can cut down the number of studios shutting down by 1%. That would be a small victory.

1 comments
deftangel
deftangel

There is also the obvious one of "don't pirate!" Sadly for GRIN, I think they bit of more than they could chew releasing 3 titles in such quick succession. In hindsight, might have been better to turn down one of the licenses and focus on just the two.