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The headache of not being able to tell players your plans
The headache of not being able to tell players your plans
September 26, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

September 26, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing

"If you are an indie developer, I'd say to never get yourself into a situation where you can't talk about what you are doing."
- Hello Games' managing director Sean Murray cautions developers against making agreements that prevent them from talking directly to their fans.

The studio caught a lot of flack from PlayStation 3 owners and fans when it released an Xbox Live Arcade sequel to Joe Danger but no PlayStation Network version (the original game launched on PS3 and didn't release to Xbox 360 until 18 months later).

Hello Games will put out the follow-up plus extra content to PSN in a few weeks, but the developer couldn't tell fans that until today because of its contractual obligations to the XBLA edition's publisher Microsoft Studios.

The team's silence on the PSN version managed to irk PS3 devotees and a good deal of the community that Hello Games had worked hard to build. "If there's a piece of advice I would now give to every developer in the world, it's don't ever piss off PlayStation fans. They are a force to be reckoned with," said Murray.

For indies especially, keeping your fanbase excited about your work and acting as evangelists for your projects is key. You don't want to limit yourself to the point where you're driving them away because you can't talk to them about their concerns and let them know they're being addressed.

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Maria Jayne
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I think there is a huge stigma about giving your customers information. All the marketing splurge is about attracting the most amount of customers while never risking alienating any of them along the way. As a result, you always end up with some customers unhappy and expressing their dissatisfaction because you marketed a game at them which was entirely unsuitable for that player. Who cares though right? you made an extra sale.

It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, you treat customers/fans like mushrooms and then what you get are customers and fans that react in abject shock and horror when they discover something late in development. They are so used to only being told positive things that massage their egos and pump up their imagination that it's a big drop when that realization hits home.

It even happens during beta testing these days.