The Writers' Room

The Writers' Room
Open Letter to People Who Make Games

Russ Pitts | 26 Oct 2010 21:00
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I know that some of you consider the cycle of "release, patch, re-release" to be the norm, but surely you understand the fallacy there. You can't seriously believe that using the funds derived from the sale of a broken game to continue working on that game and hopefully make it playable at some point in the undefined future to be a reasonable way of doing business. I understand that online services have advanced to the point where patches and fixes can be distributed almost instantaneously, yet roughly half or more of the people who buy your games aren't online. Or, if they are, they don't read websites like mine and so don't know they should be waiting for a patch. To these people, you will have sold a game they will never be able to play. This is not too far off from the legal definition of fraud. Surely you know this?

I've worked with artists, craftsmen and technicians of all kinds in my various careers, and inevitably all of them come to me with unacceptable work. Most of the time it's an understandable error, or my fault for not giving clear instructions, but sometimes it's simply the result of someone doing a bad job. In these rare instances there are really only two possible reasons: Either they do not know the work was bad, or they knew and just didn't care.

When I play a game that you have made, and which is broken, I ask myself the question: Which is it with you? Did you not know that your game had problems, or did you know and decide to ship it anyway? I hope you can understand that either way we have a problem. Actually, the problem is mostly yours. I can buy another game if I'm completely dissatisfied. I may lose money (and worse, time), but I will ultimately find a better way to spend both than on your products. But yours is the bigger problem, isn't it?

You will be the one who has made a game that is so bad I can't actually play it. You will have failed at your only job, to make a game. Worse, you will have contributed to the depression of your industry. You may be putting yourself and people you know out of a job. You may, in fact, be contributing to a crash the likes of the one in 1982, which destroyed an entire industry. You will have, in other words, repeated your history, and you will have only yourselves to blame.

Therefore I ask you, with all humility and sincerity, to hear what I have to say, and the next time you feel entitled to create an anonymous blog to complain that your supervisor won't allow you to make dancing bears, or to blame your marketing manager for creating a bad gameplay trailer, or your publisher for setting too strict a deadline, or some senator for having a problem with blood, or Bobby Kotick for being a jerk, or the ungrateful fans for saying bad things about you on the internet or buying games used or stealing them outright, I ask you to please take a moment to reflect that you have made a deal with the people who purchase your games. You are in business together. You are working for them as much as for your boss. Please make better game for them in the future than you are currently making now.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Russ Pitts
Editor-in-Chief, gamer
The Escapist

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