Customer Disservice

7/16/2019 - Nathan

The customer is always right. Without customers you don't have a business, regardless of how good or bad your game is. So why does nobody want to listen to them?

When we started Extend Mode, it was with the goal of making fun games that people would pay us to play. We didn't start it with any intentions of engaging with customers or building communities or any of that fluffy stuff. We wanted to make games, sell them, and spend the money on making better games. Unfortunately life just isn't that simple.

It turns out that some people have problems playing games. Stuff happens, especially on PC - incompatible hardware, incompatible software, setups that you just aren't able to test. One player had his PC hooked up to a 50Hz TV and the game looked for a 60Hz display mode on start-up - because everybody's got a 60Hz monitor, right? It's hard to diagnose that kind of thing remotely with people you know, let alone with people who just wanted to plunk down their money and play a game and have got a hundred games in their Steam backlog waiting to take your game's place.

Still, some people try. They hit a problem and report it on your Steam forum, or tweet you about it, or both. And then they wait. Now, at this point you're working on a million different things to do with making the game better, like adding new levels or online multiplayer or something. But they don't necessarily know that, and even if they do, why should they care? The game they bought doesn't work!

By the time you get to their bug report, there's a good chance they'll have got a refund and will never give your game a second chance. Now I know what you're thinking - it's one customer. It doesn't make a real difference to the bottom line. This is true, but what about all the people who hit that problem and didn't report it, just got a refund? And what about the next time you release a game - will any of those people who had a bad experience this time give your next game a chance?

So naturally, here at Extend Mode we give customer complaints and bug reports our full attention, don't we? Well... no. No we don't. Eight Dragons has one programmer working on it, namely me. If I'm working on features, then I'm not checking the inboxes or tracking down bugs. If I'm checking the inboxes and tracking down bugs, then I'm not adding features. And if I'm just taking some time out to watch a movie, then none of these things are happening. We don't have a customer service department to triage these things.

This is a common scenario for indie developers. And yes, it's understandable that things slip through Grand Canyon-sized cracks in the whole crazy game. And we hope that players can understand that while we're coming across as sloppy, lazy and disinterested, we're actually just overloaded with work and bear with us, because their issues really are important to us.

All that said, I refunded WWE2K15 after about ten minutes for having rubbish button prompts - so if somebody wants to refund Eight Dragons for any reason - because it just won't start, or it just isn't fun for them - then I completely understand. At the end of the day, we want our customers to be happy. If that means they get their money back, then that's what has to happen.

And maybe down the line we might make a game they like enough to keep!