Kickstarter is all about community involvement. People love seeing a game created from the ground up and being there every step of the way. It is that pull that allows big projects like Ever, Jane to raise over $100,000 in funding. It’s pretty much an unspoken rule to always keep your backers in the loop with what you are doing as a developer because at the end of the day, the product may be a failure but we will always have the story.
These days I feel developers need to be told the importance of updates. Not only do they serve as a record of the game’s creation, they also allow other creators to learn from a developers mistakes and keep backer in the loop on what’s going on. If a project suddenly stops updating I tend to assume the worst, and I think most people do as well. Sometimes, developers like to bring their updates to their own personal website and only post important updates to Kickstarter, which I’m cool with. Personally, I’d prefer to have everything in one place since it can be time-consuming when multiple projects have their updates off of Kickstarter, however, as long as they are available I can live with it. The Ever, Jane developers have done something rather crazy with their updates.
You have to bear in mind, that during the Ever Jane MMO‘s funding period the owner updated everyone every single day. Guess how many updates there have been since it was funded in 2013, go on, guess…
…There have been four updates, with two of those coming a couple weeks after it was funded. The latest one basically just says the game will be a little late and to check out an interview on some other website. That’s okay though, they have their own website, perhaps they moved their updates there… well no, the News page on the website was mostly blank until last week and is the same as the Kickstarter update. If I want any news about Ever Jane‘s development I have to seek out articles written by users of the beta. There is the officials forum, of course, but it’s not exactly filled to the brim with information.
So why is it that Ever, Jane simply dropped off the web? Well, as it turns out, they have their own newsletter and if you want news you have to subscribe to it. You can’t view previous issues of the newsletter and there is nowhere that you can simply visit a feed with the information. I find this decision absolutely certifiably insane (More so than making such a niche MMO). Putting aside the fact that it’s annoying as hell, it is also a huge loss of traffic for the website. The mere act of putting word to webpage increases your chances of being found on the internet. If you put a Jane Austen quote in every update, then at some point, a Jane Austen fan who never heard of Ever Jane will more than likely stumble across it etc. They could have hugely boosted interest in their game over the years of development. I have always taken website traffic to be the main reason anyone takes their updates off of Kickstarter, but with Ever, Jane it just seems like inexperience.
They have created a system where if someone new becomes interested in their game they can’t really learn anything about from official sources. They’ll be forced to sign up which is something I detest entirely. The consumer is suddenly being forced to do the work, which is a marketing fail 101. I hate receiving newsletters, I am used to being able to have an RSS feed to keep that in. MMO’s are notorious for sending endless rubbish to your inbox, I still get emails from Ubisoft because I made the mistake of playing Anno online once. I understand that not everyone wants to keep their updates on Kickstarter, but a simple copy and paste would suffice in my opinion. Personally, I think this is a perfect example of how not to update your backers, it’s a great way to undermine your own project. Perhaps, I’m being to harsh and you guys don’t mind signing up to newsletters, I just hope it doesn’t catch on because if all Kickstarters started individually delivering their news this way I would stop using Kickstarter. What do you think? What is your preferred way to receive news about your backed projects?