Game Quality

A couple of weeks ago I received a game that I had preordered many months before. There were some printing errors in the game when it arrived. My question is how do you folks feel about that? Do you excuse that? Do you say, “Oh well, that’s OK?”

I was informed by a designer that I could was being unreasonable to expect “zero defects.” This industry expert further added that no one gets paid, and that companies are struggling to get by. Whether this designer is correct or not is irrelevant. I have issues with these statements.

First, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect my game to be pristine when it arrives. I expect the rules to be well written. This can be problematic if the game was created overseas then translated to English. I should expect all the components to be present and not short. I expect all the cards to be correct with no deficiencies. I’m uncertain how mistakes happen. After a year or more of play testing and multiple proofs from the printer, errors still slip by? How many people are proofing? I don’t work in the printing industry. I work in technology in academia. Before we bring a new space online, it is punched (QC’d) not just by the vendor but also by us. I mean 8 of us. My entire department and all 16 eyes go over everything. We bring in our clients to look it over to evaluate the user interface. What one person misses another finds. It’s pretty simple really. Not sure why this wouldn’t be happening in the gaming industry too.

Second, if these companies are struggling to get by then maybe they shouldn’t be in business. I understand that there is a deep commitment and love for games by publishers and their designers but the bottom line is, game publishers should be concerned with the bottom line. They are there to make money. Plain and simple. If your business is not sustaining itself, you need to find a way or pull the plug. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh but it’s like anything else. If it isn’t working for you in anything you do, you make adjustments or you shit can it. That’s it.

Third, if the problem is at the printer then they should be held accountable. But it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. They’ve given you proofs. How can errors still occur? What about quality control on their end? Clearly, if the printer can’t get the job done, take your business elsewhere. A game publisher shouldn’t be held hostage by a printer because they say they’re sorry and that’s who’ve you been using for years. That aside I understand it’s also a question of economics. An unfortunate truth.

A friend of mine is a New York Time best-selling author. In all his books I have never seen a spelling error or any error of any kind. Now you’re saying “But that’s not the same!” Of course it is. Text is text. Whether it’s 20 words or 200,000 words; a 36 page rulebook or a 360 page novel. What difference does it make? You mean the quality suffers because it has less words than more? Shouldn’t there be more errors in more words than less? Statistically, one would tend to think that would be the case.

Moreover, if I say I’m going to sell you a coffee mug for $10 and say, “The color might be a little off, it might have a chip in it, and it might leak.” Would you still buy it? No, you wouldn’t. You would say it isn’t right for anyone to sell me a product that they know is defective. You have to trust that the product is up to par. Others will say, I’m being unrealistic and that defects happen. Agreed. However, I can show you games that cost half as much, with twice and three times as many cards and components and “zero defects.”

I may sound bitter but I’m not. If I’m purchasing a game for well over $50 I may not expect the game to be great or even mediocre. I do expect the game to have the standards that I assume the designers have — that the company has. Everything has been checked. Double checked. Triple checked. Ad nauseam. You get the idea.

Perhaps, (no, I know) I am more annoyed that the publisher knew there was a problem but did not inform their constituents before they started shipping copies of the game. And, if the community “knows” about it after the fact, shouldn’t the publisher email all customers and acknowledge the defect anyway? Isn’t that being honest and a good, moral member of the gaming community? 

Interestingly enough, this company will be shipping fixes for the issue around a month from now. That information was buried in a generic monthly email to members of their list distribution. Unfortunately, it probably should’ve been sent already to those that pre-ordered it. But c’est la vie. Better late than never I suppose.

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