The process of developing a new video game is long, featuring several different teams that work on specific aspects of the release. The studios that consistently produce stellar work are those finely attuned to what players want, which can be achieved through clever idea management. Here is a look at four games that disappointed players, disappointment that better management could have helped to prevent.
What is ideas management?
Put simply, it’s a collection of strategies that every business should consider using to hone their innovation. Software provider Qmarkets delivers an idea management system that encompasses four key methodologies: competitive ideation, Kaizen, crowdsourcing, and empathy mapping. In the gaming industry, where fans are quick to voice their concern or praise via social media, idea management is not just significant but within easy reach, so there’s no excuse for developers not to take advantage of it. Here are four occasions where companies didn’t give idea management its due diligence, with an example provided for each of those methodologies.
Competitive ideation – Star Wars Battlefront II
This strategy revolves around the provision of incentives for employees when the company reaches its targets. More effective competitive ideation at EA could have inspired an employee to nip a poor Battlefront idea in the bud earlier in the process.
EA rightly opted against introducing a loot box monetization scheme which would give paying players a significant advantage over others. EA responded to the most downvoted comment in the history of Reddit (crowdsourcing) and an unsuccessful beta trial (empathy mapping) to remove the feature, but it should never have reached the Battlefront beta.
Kaizen – Final Fantasy XIV
Kaizen is Japanese for ‘change for the better’. As a business strategy, Kaizen dictates that individual employees and the company as a whole should be looking for ways to continually improve and innovate. The Final Fantasy is arguably the most influential RPG franchise of all time, which set a high bar.
2010’s Final Fantasy XIV fell way short of that bar, with critics and players panning the game for its grinding gameplay and multitude of performance issues. Square Enix may have hoped the Final Fantasy brand would save all, but the game revealed complacency rather than the necessary continuous improvement.
Crowdsourcing – Batman: Arkham Knight
This business approach is based on utilizing the wisdom of crowds. The PC version of Rocksteady’s 2015 release Batman: Arkham Knight shows a glaring failure to crowdsource ideas before release. If the PC version had been properly tested by players, they could have told Rocksteady that the game was virtually unplayable – even on high-end machines.
Rocksteady pulled the game to fix the low frame rates and general performance issues, with suggestions that Warner Bros knew of the problems but felt that the game was still good enough. If they had properly crowdsourced with players, they’d have known that it wasn’t even close.
Empathy mapping – Rugby World Cup 2015
Empathy mapping deals with the crowd response to an event or product. The thoughts of consumers for a past service should inform the company where to prioritize in the future. HB Studios evidently avoided empathy mapping with their special release for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The game built on HB’s Rugby 15, which was roundly criticized by players. The World Cup release gave HB a chance to correct mistakes in gameplay and graphics, but reviewers saw the game as a mere rebrand of a previously panned release. Performing empathy mapping would have either showed HB where to improve or showed them they were better off avoiding a rushed special release.
Game developers need to have conviction in their work and belief in their artistic visions. However, sometimes issues in gameplay and performance are so blatant that you wonder how they got past idea management – or if there was any idea management in the first place.