Well over a year ago I backed the Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter. Actually, closer to two years ago. I have written about my experiences with the product I received and for the record the product that I received is sitting in the box, in the game closet, in the “maybe” pile, under a dozen other games. Make note, I said the product I received. I, like I expect the 5,000+ other backers, expected that when we paid our money that we would get our product in one shipment or at least get our product in a timely fashion.
That has not been the case.
Today, I read a long post from one of the people at Palladium Books (I prefer Palladium Games) explaining or trying to explain how “they” would like to do a “restart” with the backers. Why a restart, because they messed up. That does sound like a good idea. However, what I read had nothing to do with a restart. In fact, at the end of the update, I am madder than I was going in and I went in hoping for news about the missing product. How much missing product, approximately 50% of my order. The “update” was a history of Palladium Games as written by Palladium Games. In other words, none of the negative only the shiny stuff. Even if I knew nothing of Palladium Games, after two years I would not care. They had their chance to explain who they were. Trying to explain who you are after the fact comes across as disingenuous and as an attempt to deflect from the real issues, in this case the missing product.
Speaking of deflect. Instead of a good PR apology, everyone loves an apology, what the backers got for their “restart” was a laundry list of things that went wrong and who or what was at fault. Neat to read, except Palladium Games seems to be absent from responsibility other than to say, “Well, they said and we didn’t know.” Ignorance is not an excuse for not bothering to learn.
If the update is correct, Palladium Games started a million dollar deal with two companies (Ninja Division and Harmony Gold), a new business venture (making a miniature game when they can barely/rarely get a print product out by the deadlines they set), and country (China) without doing any due diligence. I do not buy a video game without reading everything I can about the game and a new computer, I do even more research. I want to know upfront everything I need to know and stuff I might want to know before parting with my cash. Imagine my surprise, when I read that according to Palladium Games, they relied on the knowledge of other people and when that knowledge or those people fell on their face because the knowledge or people were wrong, Palladium Games seemed to throw their hands up in the air instead of actually doing the work.
Hell, in college every business major and technical-professional communication student learns the following: Never rely on the information of other people, learn all you can first hand, and when working with other companies/people get everything in writing upfront to avoid confusion, miscommunication, delays, and disagreements. So the biggest thing I learned about Palladium Games is that they did not do the work. But that is okay, “they” did and “they” were to blame, which means that Palladium Games is in the clear. After all Palladium Games cannot be at fault, because Palladium Games never made any real decisions other than who to listen too and then who to toss under the bus.
Bare in mind, this is what I, a lowly backer, perceived from this update. I wonder how their business partners, you know the companies and people who Palladium Games went to for assistance, who failed Palladium Games in one way or another, and who Palladium Games threw under a large bus in a public way, feel. I wonder what Ninja Division has to say about the whole story…wait I don’t really care. I just want to know where my stuff is.
What about the other half of my order? Not a word. Well there were some words, Wave 2 is coming. We are excited about Wave 2 and the future of Robotech RPG Tactics. How about this Palladium Games: instead of being excited and the future, give all of the backers a real apology and a real thank you. After all the backers are the reason why you are able to blame others for your failures. AND after you do that, put in some real work and get the backers their product. Then start making some changes company wide.* If after all of that you are still excited and people are playing Robotch RPG Tactics, then you get excited and look towards the future.
I’m not excited.
I’m also not expecting to see my missing product.
That is how much faith, I the lowly backer you wanted to “restart” with, have in Palladium Games.
To game companies, when you screw up and you will, do not tell me or anyone who is to blame unless that person is you. Take the blame and be honest about it.
Here is a cut and paste: “We here at (insert company name) apologize to everyone who was affected by (insert problem). We have no one to blame other than ourselves. We value you as a customer, as such we are working hard to fix (insert problem), by doing (insert solution). As soon as the problem is fixed we will (insert solution). Once again, we at (insert company name) apologize for (insert problem). We value you as a customer.
-Sincerely (insert name of someone who could be important and has an email that they will answer)”
* suggested changes: hire an actual PR firm and a project manager with experience getting other people to complete quality work on schedule…this is where I would start