Sunday, June 27, 2010

[Blogs] Latest Hullabaloo

The latest Hullabaloo in the gaming world was a recent post by Malcolm Sheppard. It's been posted about on the RPGSite and ENWorld. You can read all the responses and the train-wreck that follows, with luminaries in the industry firing volleys back and forth in a fusilade of recrimination and anger.

I know nothing about marketing, I'll admit up front. I know nothing about running a business, either. I've been a manager of people before and it's not for me. I don't pretend to believe that gamers are inherently artists, nor do I believe that they aren't artists. Gaming, to me, is to have fun. If it's really cool in the process, so much more the better. I don't worry about the growth of the hobby, or the industry's well-being, or anything like that. I've met rude gamers and friendly gamers and all the spectrum in-between - heck, I've been a rude gamer. I want quality products and will state out loud that I want quality products. I complain.

With all that up front, what's the big deal? It seems so much just another Tempest in a Teapot. One man's opinion (which is shared by others, as you can read) says that there is a group of hardcore gamers that are rude to work with and businesses don't want to do it.

Well, there's the rub. Businesses are there to make money, plain and simple. There's no higher calling for business. If there's money to be made there, though, someone's going to be willing to go through the crap of dealing with these undesirables if only to make that money. Businesses operate in the worst conditions, both physical and mental, all over the world, amidst freezing temperatures, armed insurgents, toxic chemicals, chaotic societies, and why? Because there's a profit in it. They make more money than they spend doing it.

Low margins of profit? Still there, doing the job. Bad customers to deal with? Yep, still working. Heck the airlines in America have horrible customer satisfaction (673 out of 1000, 67.3%, is a D in most grade scales), customers all of which would follow this list of Malcolm's:
  • Instead of having social conversations, they focused on concrete goals, like getting to their destinations on time.
  • They related to content in a cynical fashion, especially when the service by the airlines sucked.
  • They dissuaded other users from getting involved with the content, when they were treated like cattle and crammed upon an airplane designed for 10% less of them.
  • They resisted most desired behaviors (that is, the stuff that actually might make money), like paying extra for carry-on baggage.
  • They complained all the goddamn time about the lack of service they were getting from the airlines.
And yet, the airlines are still in business. So the issue isn't customers or marketing or making money or anything like that. The issue, it seems to me IMNSHO, is that someone tries a business and doesn't like dealing with a segment of the customers because they're mean. MEAN!

Try this for mean! When gamers start doing this (8.7 million hits, how many sales were lost do you think?) to mock game companies or those providing online gaming tools, then you've got something to complain about - otherwise, deal with it.

That's all I have to say about this but I'd be interested in your POV.


  1. The original essay was pretty vague, in my opinion.

    Is there no money to be made in the P+P rpg market? Probably very little; most gamers are playing MMORPGs.

    Don't get into P+P publishing expecting to get rich. You'll be lucky to break even.

  2. Unless you are one of the few larger firms, it seems you have to think of it the same way I think about playing music. I play because I love it and, as APIC says, I hope to break even (I had one good year that paid for my daughter's braces). The fun of playing and the feedback from most of the crowd (along with the small payment and tips) more than compensates for the drunk idiots who take out their bad week on the band (that has happened very rarely).

    In my day job, where I am a CEO of a decent sized organization. You have to deal with your customers and get inside their heads, whether that makes you squirm or not. If you are not willing to deal with them, do something else. "Word of Mouth Marketing" by Andy Sernovitz has something to say about the value of connecting with your customers, even the difficult ones.

    Having said all that, I wouldn't want a job that had gamers as customers. Just saying...


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