Video Game Tuesday: The Importance of Timing

Michael Blaker
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Michael's blog, Windborne's Story Eatery.
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This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m going to talk about why doing certain things pisses off players and how to avoid them. It’s all about The Importance of Timing!

Timing? Yes, Timing. It’s pivotal in making the most money and keeping your player base happy. It’s also why people hate Bungie so much in regards to Destiny and it’s sequels content, or rather lack thereof.

Keeping to a schedule: If you commit to a schedule, and especially if you do so publically and on record, you have to keep to it to the best of your ability. Bungie for example promised frequent content updates for Destiny and it’s various sequels, but it’s frequently and often quite lacking. In particular is the dearth of meaningful content being released regularly, which is always a death sentence for an MMO. It’s why Wrath of the Lich King was the last great World of Warcraft expansion before the disaster that was Cataclysm. The content drought was incredibly long in between Wrath of the Lich King’s final patches and Cataclysm, and that was unacceptable in terms of business. The fact that Cataclysm was highly despised as well did not help matters and led to a significant decrease in subscription numbers for the game. And by regular releases, I mean in periods of no longer than two to three months, which is the acceptable amount of time most games have content updates. Final Fantasy XIV has a major patch about every 3 months, and in between those patches are smaller content patches that add additional content. Compared to a game like Destiny 2 whose first content update post launch happened 3 months and was universally despised and you can see why timing is everything in business.

So what about other games? Well other games, in particular games like Fate/Grand Order’s NA client which is two years behind the original JP client, the community has a general sense of what the hell is going on and what is coming out when. That all went to shit when Aniplex decided to move the Paid Gacha pull, where you paid ~$30 to get a guaranteed SSR servant, two months earlier and left out on two highly sought after servants in that banner, Mordred and Jack the Ripper. It’s a move that would have been acceptable if that was an NA exclusive event, but it was a replacement for the typical New Year’s Paid Gacha that occurs yearly for the JP client. So it pissed off a ton of people, including myself. Not only would it have made a ton of business sense to have both those Paid Gacha occur, in addition to the delayed Anniversary Gacha that just happened a couple weeks ago, but it alienated and upset many people.

In addition Fate/Grand Order’s localization team seems to think that announcing content updates at Anime Conventions is a smart move. That’d be acceptable if they lined up to the expected schedule that the community projected, but they didn’t. They let the NA Client fall 4 weeks behind schedule just to announce an event at an Anime convention that at most .01% of the player base went to. It was just another insult in a long line. Such things could’ve been avoided if they remembered how important Timing is.

So that’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. I’ll close out with a quote from Wit from the Stormlight Archives that puts it best. “What is it we value? Innovation. Originality. Novelty. But most importantly…timeliness. I fear you may be too late, my confused, unfortunate, friend.” 

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