LGC: Showing your game too early could be disastrous

Hit Detection founder and former games critic N’Gai Croal urges developers and publishers to be patient when reaching out to players.

Showing your game too early before launch can be disastrous, warns N’Gai Croal.

During London Games Conference 2013, the Hit Detection founder and former games journalist discussed the importance of trust in both the relationship between developers and gamers, and between developers and stakeholders.

"In the age of noise, the job of a developer is no longer simply to make the best game possible," he said. "Developers have instill confidence in every game’s stakeholders, from concept to announce, release and beyond."

Rather than discussing things studios should actively do, there are three crucial things they should not do.

The first is to be impatient: showing the game too early.

"Sometimes the demo is not ready," Croal explained. "It doesn’t show well. It looks okay, but there are holes and issues.

"Thanks to social media, today you’re dealing with a hvie mind. Collectively, gamers have seen and played more games than any of us and they’re constantly making comparisons. When you put something out just to meet a deadline, you can be making things harder for yourself.

"Sometimes a demo is good, but the game in general isn’t in focus, so gamers can’t get excited about it."

He also advised against getting defensive about your game on Twitter, but to identify the voices that would be most relevant to respond to.

"The amount of incoming feedback, both internal and external is going up," he said. "The challenge isn’t getting feedback because you’re swimming in it. The challenge it how you filter it. You can’t just write it off – you’re looking for people that will become evangelists and champions of your games.

"There’s always that temptation to defend yourself, but you’re in danger of ignoring the people defending you or championing your game."

The last thing to avid is underdelivering. As Croal puts it: "It’s sometimes unavoidable, but it’s always damaging."

Once developers have identified the voices they can trust, the ones that are giving honest, constructive feedback, they can form long-term relationships with this audience.

Croal added: "Developers have to focus on forging a relationship with gamers that isn’t going to evaporate during the PR phase but last up to release and beyond."

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