Crashlands開發者反思一款產品意外成功後可能帶來哪些負面影響

原文作者:Brendan Sinclair譯者:Megan Shieh

通常情況下,一個成功的遊戲應該能夠幫助開發者製作下一個遊戲,但《Crashlands》的情況卻恰恰相反。

該遊戲於2016年1月在Steam,iOS和安卓平臺上同時推出,使用一次性付費的手法出售。

聯合創始人Sam Coster接受了gamesindustry.biz的採訪,談論遊戲發佈後出現的挑戰。

Sam說:“我們花費了很多的時間來爭論遊戲成功帶來的後果,可以說我們完全還沒有準備好迎接這麼大的成功。”

‘管理反饋’在一開始佔用了團隊的大量時間。

他說:“我們有七個完全不同的聯絡系統:Facebook、Twitter、Reddit、Steam論壇、iTunes論壇,等等。這個做法差點把我們搞瘋掉,因爲我們每天都需要在這些不同的反饋渠道上尋找Bug報告。爲此我們建立了一個系統,試圖簡化這個過程。”

《Crashlands》的成功也給工作室帶來了許多行政事務,當時工作室仍然只有Sam和他的倆兄弟Seth和Adam,他們仨在這方面幾乎沒有什麼經驗。

Sam說:“當你的遊戲很成功的時候,許多其他的企業都會看到,你會因此收到很多合作提案,這些提案的內容各種各樣。因此,我們也建立了另外一個系統來試圖簡化這個過程。”

然而這些系統的效果一般,3兄弟也發現自己的工作焦點被逐漸地帶離了遊戲開發。

《Crashlands》以開發效率爲代價支撐了公司的財務狀況。

Sam解釋說“當時工作室就只有我們3個人,遊戲發佈前的所有工作都只是製作或推廣遊戲。然而遊戲發佈後,突然之間涌現出了大量的行政事務要處理,我們覺得自己作爲工作室創始人,甚至是遊戲開發者的主要價值都被剝奪了,因爲我們所有的時間都花費在這些不同的行政事務上。”

爲了重新解放自己,他們決定擴大工作室,並讓請人來幫助處理行政方面的工作。

幸運的是,在忙着處理這些其他事務的過程中,《Crashlands》的表現也沒有讓工作室失望。

Sam將遊戲的超長壽命部分歸因於業內專業人士的讚美和表揚。《Crashlands》榮獲DICE Award 2016年度最佳移動遊戲提名,被提名的同類遊戲還有《Clash Royale》和《Pokemon Go》。除此之外,遊戲還被《時代》雜誌評選爲2016年度10大電子遊戲之一,排位超越了《Battlefield 1 》和《No Man’s Sky》這兩個熱門遊戲。

Sam說:“遊戲所獲得的榮譽爲我們開拓了營銷機會,並且是與業內最好的平臺合作(例如:Humble Bundle就向我們伸出了橄欖枝)。之前我們很害怕接觸營銷,然而在前面的8-10個月裏,我們所做的大部分工作就是針對營銷這塊。現在工作室的財務狀況保持得非常好,我們在營銷方面所作出的努力也能夠定期爲我們引進新玩家並擴大遊戲的知名度。作爲一個獨立的開發者,營銷是整個場景中最困難的部分。”

Crash lands(from gamesindustry.biz)

Crash lands(from gamesindustry.biz)

儘管《Crashlands》表現出色(該遊戲在所有平臺上的銷量已經超過50萬份),但Sam知道它本可以做得更好,尤其是在移動領域。

行政工作的時間需求抑制了他們添加新內容的想法。

Sam接着說道:“對我們而言,所有推動銷量的方法都涉及到功能/特性。但是因爲忙着處理行政事務,所以我們更新內容的頻率不是很高。提供內容更新可以讓你再次得到iTunes團隊的注意,讓遊戲再次浮出水面。所以很明顯,我們錯過了一些賺錢的機會。不過,是我們自己決定要將時間花在發展工作室上的,因此我們沒有任何怨言。”

當Butterscotch Shenanigans準備推出《Crashlands》的續集(也是一個在移動和PC上同時發佈的高端多平臺遊戲)時,Sam說他從這個行業裏又學到了一個巨大的教訓。

當他和兄弟們聯合創立Butterscotch Shenanigans的時候,他們每個人的行業經驗加起來都不到一年,人們說他們不可能成功。

當他們決定要做付費遊戲的時候,這些人告訴他們付費遊戲已經過時了,沒有前景。

當他去參加遊戲研討會,並向主講人請教如何在中西部找到一個好的導師時,他被告知“搬到別的地方去就行了”。

當他們想在iOS、安卓和Steam上同時以兩個不同售價推出《Crashlands》時,他們被告知這將導致憤怒和利潤侵蝕。

Sam說:“基本上,我們想做的任何事都不被認可,人們都說‘你們這樣做不可能會成功’。我認爲在這個行業裏,有些事情雖然被反覆強調,但並不代表它們就是事實。

我們經常聽到人家說‘高端遊戲已經過時了’。在過去的5年裏,這句話一直就像是一種預示失敗的鐘聲,但我們卻從未被此影響。

我的意思並不是說每個人都應該開發付費遊戲,我只是想說,大家的說法不一定就是正確的。”

儘管《Crashlands》已經很成功了,但還是有很多人經常跟Sam說“你不能這麼做”,這樣說的人並沒有比以前少。

然而雖然說法是一致的,但他們針對的點已經不同了。現在人們懷疑的是該公司的發展方式——僱傭可能沒有任何遊戲經驗的人,給他們足夠的工資,每週工作4天,每週四進行長達12小時的“頭腦風暴”(jaming day)。

他說道:“如果我們成功了,唱反調的人就會繼續找其他的東西來說‘你不能這樣做’。

直到我們獲得了一系列成功,並擁有一個非常健康的獨立遊戲工作室之前,我知道有一些人根本不會在意我們說的話。就算到了那個時候,還是會有人說‘你現在有7-14個員工,所以你做的事情可以成功,但是你等着,等你有更多員工的時候這種方法就行不通了’。”

Sam說:“對於來自他人的懷疑,我早就習以爲常,如果哪一天沒人懷疑我們了,我可能還會想念這種感覺呢。

而且有時候覺得自己不足其實是一件好事,因爲這會推動你做得更好。”

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Ordinarily, a successful game is what allows a developer to make another game. But in the case of Butterscotch Shenanigans, the studio’s success with Crashlands did nearly the opposite.
The game launched in January of 2016 simultaneously on Steam and smartphones with a pay-once premium approach for all three platforms. Co-founder Sam Coster covered the difficulties leading up to launch in a guest editorial last September, but recently caught up with GamesIndustry.biz to discuss the challenges that came later.

“So much of our time has gone into wrangling the consequences of the success of the game, which I would say we were utterly unprepared for, and is something nobody seems to talk about too much in the industry,” Coster said.

“Suddenly we had this huge amount of admin work to do, and the primary value we thought we were adding as founders of the studio, or even just game developers, was stripped out…”
The demands on the team’s time started with something developers actually do talk about a fair amount: managing feedback.

“We had basically seven disparate contact systems between Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, the Steam forums, iTunes forums and all that stuff, and we were basically getting burned out because we were checking all these different places day by day trying to find bug reports and that sort of thing,” Coster said. “So we built a system for that, trying to streamline that process.”

Crashlands’ success also brought about a level of administrative overhead unfamiliar to the studio, which at that point still consisted of just Coster and his brothers Seth and Adam.

“When you have a game that does well, there is a large number of other businesses that will see this and want to offer you deals of various sorts,” Sam said. “Whether that’s something you know is probably good–like Humble or something from major platforms like Steam or iTunes–or if it’s ‘integrate this SDK to do this particular thing on mobile!’ Or is it Indie Gala asking for bundle keys or that sort of thing? So we built a system for that, trying to streamline that process.”

However, those systems weren’t enough to mitigate the demands on the team’s time, and the brothers were increasingly finding themselves working on things that weren’t the game.

Crashlands bolstered studio finances at the expense of development productivity

“It had only been the three of us before, and all the work we had done had only been making or marketing the game,” Sam explained. “And suddenly we had this huge amount of admin work to do, and the primary value we thought we were adding as founders of the studio, or even just game developers, was stripped out because all of our time was going into these various admin things.”
To free themselves up again, they decided to grow the studio and bring on people to help handle administrative tasks.

“Of course, doing that for the first time was a lot of the same thing,” Sam said. “We were reading books, spending most of our time talking to people or building out a hiring pipeline, reading applications, all this stuff. We’re very happy with where we’ve got to now, as of about February of this year, but it literally took a year of not much game development and mostly studio development to get all these new systems built and all this new infrastructure built so we could actually work again as a game studio without having to be handling all this admin stuff at all times of the day.”

“So much of our ability to move sales, whether it’s on Google Play or iTunes, has to do with the featuring. So in that regard, we certainly did leave money on the table by not providing content updates every six to eight weeks or so.”

Fortunately, Crashlands has still been performing for the studio while it figured all this out. Sam attributed part of the game’s longevity to plaudits like a DICE Award nomination for Best Mobile Game of the Year in a crowded category featuring titles like Clash Royale and eventual winner Pokemon Go, or its inclusion in Time Magazine’s Top 10 Video Games of 2016, ahead of hits like Battlefield 1 and No Man’s Sky.

“What that seemed to do for us was open up the opportunities to do those later lifecycle things, but with the best distributors for them. So Humble, for example, asked us to be in their bundle,” Sam said. “The work we’ve been doing in the last eight to 10 months has been a lot of that later lifecycle stuff that we were just scared to approach eight months after launch last year, when we did the editorial. What we’ve seen from that is that it’s done a great job in terms of keeping the studio’s finances flowing really well, but it’s a good way to regularly bring in a new base of players and people who didn’t even know the game existed. And as an independent developer, marketing is just the hardest part of this whole scenario.”

Even though Crashlands has done well (the game recently surpassed 500,000 copies sold across all platforms), Sam knows it could have done better, particularly on mobile. All that time spent dealing with admin work and away from game development put a damper on any ideas of adding new content to the game on an update schedule resembling anything like most mobile titles enjoy.

“So much of our ability to move sales, whether it’s on Google Play or iTunes, has to do with the featuring,” Sam said. “So in that regard, we certainly did leave money on the table by not providing content updates every six to eight weeks or so. Because providing a content update lets you submit a ‘new and noteworthy’ update to the iTunes team, which allows them to resurface the game. So that most certainly was us leaving money on the table. But we didn’t have any illusions about that. It was us looking at the cash flow we had, looking at where we were trying to take the studio, and making the call of, ‘Do we work on the game?’ or ‘Do we work on the studio?’”

As Butterscotch Shenanigans prepares to unveil its follow-up to Crashlands (also a premium multi-platform title simultaneously launching on mobile and PC), Sam said he’s taken away one big lesson time and again from his time in the industry.

When he co-founded Butterscotch Shenanigans and the team had less than a year of collective industry experience between them, people said they couldn’t do that. When they wanted to make premium games, they were told premium was dead. When he went to a gaming conference and asked the keynote speaker for advice on how a team in the Midwest can find a good mentor, he was told “Just move.” When they wanted to launch Crashlands simultaneously on iOS, Android, and Steam at two different price points, they were told it would result in outrage and cannibalization.
“In essentially every single dimension we operate in, most people we interact with have told us we can’t do the things we do.”

“In essentially every single dimension we operate in, most people we interact with have told us we can’t do the things we do,” Sam said. “Just straight up accepting industry knowledge, or a lot of these claims that are touted by people… Just the fact they’re reiterated a bunch in the industry doesn’t make them true.

“We see this all the time with the whole ‘premium is dead’ argument. It’s been a constant death knell for the last five years. And certainly, we might be the extreme outlier in this particular case, so it’s not to say that everybody should go into premium games. I wouldn’t suggest that at all. I’m just pointing out that it’s not blanketly true that you can’t do some of these things people are claiming you cannot do anymore.”

Even with the success of Crashlands, Sam says he’s hearing people tell him “You can’t do that” just as often. However, it’s not exactly the same refrain. These days it’s more likely to be because of how the company is growing, hiring people who might not have any prior experience in gaming, paying them well (in Sam’s estimation, at least), and working a four-day work week capped off by 12-hour “jam days” each Thursday.(Source: gamesindustry.biz