Thursday, 28 July 2016

When Game Devs Are Dicks #WeHappyFew

Greetings friends,

Today I have something I want to get off my chest, so please excuse me if this comes across as a bit of a moan/rant post.

I guess I need a bit of catharsis.

So roughly a year ago I took part in a Kickstarter campaign by Compulsion Games for the game We Happy Few:

There were a number of things about this game that I really liked the look of, and so put in my pledge for $30 CAD which as you can see below offered the finished game on PC in June 2016z

There was another pledge that interested me as it would give me access to the Pre-Alpha test, but at double the price I really couldn't justify buying into a pre-alpha

- Remember, by this point First Law: Override was in beta and we were (and still are) giving the ruleset away for free, because getting the game in as good a state as possible before going live is more important.

Well, once the campaign ended, the videos started rolling in from Let's Players, complete with the weekly updates which read more like patch notes. In essence they left me with the feeling that the game Devs were saying:
Look at the awesome game which YOU aren't playing
but of course, by then any choice of buying into the pre-alpha had been missed out on, so for a year I was left being emailed weekly, having videos of others playing a game which I had already given money to, but was unable to join in on the fun.

Then it gets announced that in July this year (now) the game is hitting Steam Early Access.

And I am not happy.

As you can see here from a recent tweet, the game is due to remain in Early Access for another 6-12 months. Which means the finished game will not be received by backers until 7-13 months after the projected date.

Now I know that this is Kickstarter and delays are common, but there is also such a thing as common decency and respect for the consumer.

At no point during the KS campaign did Compulsion Games acknowledge that there even was/is a delay. Instead we were asked to celebrate going into Early Access in July, suggesting that there is only a 1 month delay on the game.

Sorry Compulsion, but that's bullshit. Early Access on Steam is not release. It's another option to buy into beta.

But it looks like I am not the only person who is pissed off by this:

Here we see an @evil_avatar pointing out to Compulsion that they are unhappy with the state of the game. To which Compulsion games replied "Nobody is forcing you to participate in Early Access".

Wow... I mean wow! Did I really just read a reply from a game dev account that was so smothered in passive aggressiveness it nearly drowned? Who are these guys? Seriously!?

This was continued by someone (@_er0th) asking if the person even knew what Early Access was. Their reply they received was Reply-RT'd by Compulsion.

So here we have a reply saying that going into Early Access is nothing about getting extra money, because the $334,753 CAD is all gone, but instead about getting feedback on ambitious gameplay.

To which I called bullshit!

And was told that I was basically wrong or a lier.

For which I pointed out that there the ones who were mistaken or lying.

To date I have yet to recurve a reply from Compulsion games. And I don't expect a reply.


Here we are seeing a game development team who in the past year have allowed themselves to surround themselves in an echo chamber, where the feedback they have received has been largely positive, and any negative feedback has been pretty much ignored on the grounds that it's the 'wrong type' of feedback.

Maybe what we are seeing here is a problem with the Kickstarter model. When you are looking at a 12+ month gap between handing over money and receiving product, it's very easy to become disenfranchised with a product or company. And here with a company who has lavished praise on the select few who've been playing for a year, and pretty much just rubbing it in the face of those who have not, I'm not surprised that I've lost faith in the company and don't really care about the game anymore.

Sure I'll give it a play at some point, I paid for it after all (in a non-refundable way, unlike those on Early Access who can get their money back) but I honestly don't care if it's good or not anymore.

For me, this is very much an issue with offering rewards like beta access to select pledge levels. By default it creates in and out groups, the haves vs the have nots. Instead a much better method in my view is to provide alpha/beta access to everyone.

They say that a reputation takes a lifetime to build but only moments to destroy. Providing access to all, and showing that all feedback is acknowledged builds that reputation, but releasing games with issues that were missed (which with more eyes who were willing to test it but unable to) is a sure way to destroy that rep.
- Need I remind you, it wasn't that long ago that people were PAID to be game testers, and yet here is a company asking for people to PAY for the privilege?

I swear, the whole world's gone insane.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

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