“We Shouldn’t Make Devs Work until They Break Down!”

This is a statement from the head of the publisher of Manor Lords (Hooded Horse) on LinkedIn, and since this game can show very good results even though it has mostly ONE developer, it is worth considering what Tim Bender wrote.


Let’s see what he wrote: “This is exactly the kind of skewed endless growth/burden of expectations/line must go up perspective that causes so much trouble in the game industry. Manor Lords just sold 250K copies last month (after selling over 2 million copies in its first 3 weeks) and has a very positive review rating of 88% with an average play time of 8 hours 48 minutes per player (very long for any game, especially a recently released one). The players are happy, the developer is happy, and we as publishers are ecstatic.

And yet Manor Lords is apparently a “case study in the pitfalls of early access” because “the game has been out for 2. 5 months and there have been three fairly small patches” (one of the patch notes being called “small” here runs over 3,000 words and over 10 single-spaced pages), leading to “CCUs have plummeted since launch” (yes, we failed to maintain the 173,000 concurrent player peak), and the seemingly grim reality that some people, having enjoyed their purchase of a premium single-player title, may decide to move on and play another game.

Before release, I had a conversation with Manor Lords developer Greg Styczeń. I told him that after release he would hear from all sorts of commenters talking about missed opportunities because it did not grow as fast as they wanted, and judging the game a failure because of some kind of expectation they had built up. I told him to ignore all of that and focus on his core vision for the game, and to remember that the early access road is a long one, and that he should not feel any sense of pressure from other people’s expectations, both for his own health and stress levels over the next few years, and for maintaining the state of calm and peaceful mind that supports his creative vision.

Success should not create an ever-rising bar of new growth expectations. Not every game should be designed to be a live service boom or bust. And a release should not begin an ever-accelerating treadmill on which developers are forced to run until their mental or physical health collapses,” Bender wrote.

Manor Lords can be considered a successful game. Expecting too much from a game is a “personal issue. But in the gaming industry, many AAA publishers only look at financial success, not the state of the developers. That’s why there have been several news stories about how many people were forced to work much harder closer to release because they had to meet management’s expectations…

But if there is no willingness from management, there will only be burnout (or no more than the minimum will be done, because there is no point in putting effort into a dead end).

Source: Gamesindustry, LinkedIn

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Anikó, our news editor and communication manager, is more interested in the business side of the gaming industry. She worked at banks, and she has a vast knowledge of business life. Still, she likes puzzle and story-oriented games, like Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments, which is her favourite title. She also played The Sims 3, but after accidentally killing a whole sim family, swore not to play it again. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our IMPRESSUM)

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