How soon is too soon?

Whether you’re launching a movie, a game, or just an update, how soon is too soon to start talking about it?

If you announce too early, by the time you release people are asking themselves “wait, didn’t that come out already?” or “jeez that’s old”, or worse “yeah I’m not playing that game anymore”. There are so many ooh shiny things out there that unless you catch us now and make us yell “Shut up and take my money!” we’ve forgotten you before you even got to beta.

Funcom’s Secret World is one example of a game that was talked about way too early. At first it was interesting, they got us with the mysterious viral route, like putting up a black website with a few words on it, then a little lore and faction choosing, then showing a little teaser…but please people you can only string us along for so long before we lose interest. It’s like watching a turtle cross a beach, you just want to pick it up and carry it the rest of the way to get it over with.

Same even goes for updates too: “Hey we’ve got this really great feature being added to the game in September!” Wait…what? Why are you telling us in February? Is it arrogance? Are you assuming that we’re going to be so absolutely enamored with your sneak peek trailer that we’ll salivate for breadcrumbs for whatever time it takes you to figure out what the heck you’re doing?

It’s like that doctor’s appointment they make you book a year in advance – seriously I”m never going to remember that when it comes around. I’m sarcastically flattered you think my life will not have changed at all in that time, so just call me ok, chances are I’ll just cancel it…

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Community Challenge – Offline

So this week was full of challenges both for myself and for my community.

We had two unexpected and two planned downtimes this week. That’s much more than usual, so the challenge for me was simply disseminating information as fast and as broadly as possible.  The challenge for our players was to be patient while we rushed around like crazy trying to fix it.

Social media is obviously the go-to resource when not only my game, but my website, are offline, but that has its own inherent problems too since the bulk of my players are underage for using those mediums.

So what do I do? Well I do have the option of our emergency game launcher page that contains the twitter feed – oh no wait, when the web site is down, I can’t switch to that, so that’s out. I can post – oh no wait, forums are down too, can’t do that. Huzzah! Fansites! Well my fansites beat me to the punch on posting the outage so that’s taken care of – and while I’ve done all I can, there’s still a flood of unhappy players who are confused that they’re unable to log in. Thankfully the outages where short (20 – 30 mins each) so in many cases they went unnoticed.

So in short, my challenge this week was not being able to communicate with the players when both the game and web were offline. I may revisit the error message that appears when the web is down and see if the Twitter feed can appear there, at least it can be read by all and updated remotely.

Anyone have any other ideas?

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