Saturday, 5 July 2014

Gaming publishers don't need suits running things

Computer game publishers walk a fine line in their life.  One minute they are loved by millions and can't get enough praise, the next they are dog shit in the eyes of the majority and despised across the Internet for all manner of things.  Obvious examples are EA or Activision Blizzard these days.  These Kaiju sized publishing monsters churn out games all year round, producing billions of dollars in profits each year despite their online perception as being assholes.

Publishers no matter how popular will always make dumb decisions that really piss us off, like pushing a game out too early (Battlefield 4), dumbing down for multi platform release (X-Rebirth) or simply making dumb pricing decisions.  It's nothing new in the industry and it will likely never go away as long as corporate suits run the publishers instead of people who know how to make games.

Recently I read about NIS America, who launched their European store for customers bizarrely named NIS America Europe.  NIS stands for Nippon Ichi Software or Japan one for literal translation purposes.  You probably know the name since they are the creators of titles like Disgaea and many other 2D sprite based tactical RPG games over the years.  They had a good thing going with fans until recently, when the Euro store launched with prices that are simply dollar to pound/euro pastes.  So a $50 game on the NIS North American store is also £50 in Europe. 

Obviously this caused quite a stir in social media land when mobs of angry customers hit the companies facebook, twitter and forums to complain and protest against the pricing.  Apparently NIS America Europe think all currency's have the exact same rate as each other.....or more likely they are money grabbing dicks who sidestepped so badly they fell off a fucking cliff.  Fans were even more annoyed about the fact that they can no longer order from the North American store any more for the comparatively cheaper price even with customs and postage, no NIS put a stop to that when they launched the European store to gouge fans.

Now I don't play the NIS releases, but I have to say that actions like this only really end up doing one thing and that's hurt business for publishers.  It also confuses me how a company that could simply look at the records of sales going internationally, couldn't have seen that Europe was a good market (since they launched an EU store) without having to raise the prices so much.  It's their own store, every sale is 100% profit for them, yet they still try to screw people over like this.  Even more galling was the response which was pretty much the most generic and bland PR response imaginable.  The release had nothing to say about the prices, locking out international customers or even that they listened to feedback.

This is a classic case of fans loving a publisher and everything they do, to pretty much shitting on their own doorstep and being confused as to why there is a turd on their doorstep.  NIS America Europe (dumb name by the way) will only LOSE sales because of this.  Fans who once happily paid over the odds for collectors editions and other bonuses direct from the developer will now either find another seller or not buy their product any more.  Who knows maybe NIS will wake up and alter the pricing and things will return to happy joy joy land again, but it just reminds me of the stupidity of the people in charge of these companies.

These are people who have never worked on a game, spoken to fans or even played the games their company makes.  They are business people who don't understand that computer games aren't like other products out there.  People invest time and money into these games and want to feel like they are getting their money's worth out of it because when they do they come back for more and buy your sequels.  These people look at graphs and percentages, they want more profitability out of the company and in the process miss why the company is making money to begin with.

Look at Microsoft and the debut of the XBOX ONE.  It tanked so hard because a bunch of suits thought that all these fans who liked the 360 would suddenly bend over and accept an ass pounding just because.  They tried to make it so people couldn't trade games to their friends, focus on sports television and films and have an always on spy camera in their living room or bedroom.  Microsoft got bitch slapped so hard, Steve Jobs probably briefly resurrected to laugh at their stupid asses.  Microsoft did 180 and reversed all of their decisions and now the console is back in the good books with fans.  If NIS America Europe has one braincell amongst their staff they need to do the same or risk losing a lot of money, fast.


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