Alpha Game Investments

Changes in Game Development Investments.

creator: x14km2d | build: 2021-12-16 | update: 2022-01-06

Essay

I watched a stream yesterday in which the a new game was played. I liked it so much that I bought this game, which is still in a hard alpha phase. I know that the game will still cause problems on Linux or that my laptop might not have the right hardware to play the game in its full beauty, but I ignore that. So why do I sometimes invest in alpha games I can’t play today?

I’m a computer scientist and I’ve cut up two start-ups in my career. I’ve gained a lot of experience and learned a lot through that. Alpha game investments are something like an investment in a company. You think that in the future, maybe, maybe with a lot of luck, what we’re building will go from being a unicorn to a half-finger. People invest in start-ups for different reasons. Some simply because they like an idea and have money in their bank account or want to invest in the hope that it will pay off in the end. All in all, it’s quite complex. Just like computer games in the alpha phase.

Twenty years ago, individual game developers had few chances in the games market, which was mostly dominated by big companies. Distribution, development and sales were in the hands of these companies. With time, and the help of the internet, a niche market developed, which is now called the indie market. Small indie studios simply tried out new ideas and published them. Most of the time, these were smaller games. Over time, however, these games could become more and more complex because the process of development was changed. For example, small game studios did not wait until the whole game was finished, but released an alpha version. Minecraft and Factorio are prime examples. The alpha version of these games was quite expensive in comparison with the technical performance. Nevertheless, people like me, for example, bought the game.

I have been playing computer games for several decades and as a computer scientist I always look at the technical side of a game. I write a lot of articles on computer games and have at least 300 games that I won’t buy again because they really suck. I do a lot of testing, so I’ve been able to build up a pretty good nose for what could be a good game over the last few years. I’m not infinitely rich, but my hobby is to invest in good games, especially single developers like Neo Scavanger, To the Moon, Undertale and many others. Most of the time it’s worth it, sometimes it’s not.

With a purchased alpha version, I buy the developers time. Time is bought with money, so a solo developer also has to pay his rent and bills and also needs a full fridge. If he has more money, he has more time to work on his dream game and maybe a good product will come out in the end. So I “bet” on the success of a game. But an alpha version is also something like an application from the developer. The developer creates a working game, but it doesn’t have good graphics yet, for example. Many kids forget that when they buy an alpha version, that it is not yet a finished game. A developer comes to me and says, “Look, this is my first rough but already playable idea. Invest in this prototype and you and I will make it the best computer game ever”.

This creates a lot of opportunities and a win-win situation. If I invest in a good alpha version and the game is later released on the market, both parties benefit. The developer has published his dream game and maybe even earned money with his idea. I have the good conscience of having invested in a finished game as an early investor, thus paving the way for a good product in a very competitive market. I feel good about helping people with their dreams and bringing first-class products to the market together. Many games wouldn’t exist without an alpha version that was well received by players.

These are the reasons why you should buy an alpha game. If you want a fully finished game, buy the titles from triple AAA studios. Then you can complain when the graphics suck or the whole game doesn’t run because of unfunny bugs. That is the sole reason why Cyberpunk 2077 flopped. The developers were forced into a corner and had to act. They made the final decision to release an unfinished game on the market. But the end-user market is tough. If you don’t have the best graphics, the best engine and the best gameplay experience, gamers will tear you apart and spread you in little pieces all over the internet. In my personal opinion, which is very personal opinion and cannot be a 100% perfect solution, I would have considered a completely different strategy. Since the Cyberpunk 2007 problem is not with the developers, but with the management, I would have adopted a strategy from the indie game sector. I would have released this press release.

Dear gaming community, 

we, the management and the developers of Cyberpunk 2077, have sat down 
together and made a joint proposal, which we will formulate in more 
detail. 

Let's first look at the mistakes we made. We set our deadlines too tight 
and did not anticipate the evolving complexity of our product. We got 
you way too excited and raised your expectations immeasurably instead of 
sticking to reality. We pulled a No Mans Sky and for that we are truly 
sorry. We will never be able to fulfil the expectations you have of our 
game. We will not develop your "dream game", but only the best game 
within our scope of possibilities.

Let's move on to reality. If we continue to work on the game for another 
year and "maybe" develop it into a really good product, meanwhile the 
hype we have created around the game will evaporate. We have to be 
honest with ourselves, because maybe our "when will we release game X" 
meme videos are funny, but the reality is quite different.If we don't 
deliver in a given time frame, people will forget Cyberpunk 2077. There 
are too many games to play them all. we've had to learn that through 
very hard lessons over the last few months.  Burnt out game developers 
don't produce good games. Captain Crunch is welcome to stay on his box. 

And now?

That's a good question. If we release Cyberpunk 2077 now, we will fail. 
You will get a game, but it will not live up to the heightened 
expectations. But if we wait a year, you will forget  us and that is the 
worst case imaginable. If no one buys our game because we simply haven't 
delivered, we'll be phonies and failures. Then it will be twice as hard 
for us to get our games to you. Let's come to the solution that we think 
is the most sensible.

We release Cyberpunk 2077 as an alpha version and buy ourselves one 
year. If we don't manage to bring the game to a perfection you like 
within a year, you get your money back. We will then bite into Snow 
White's apple and confess to having developed a broken computer game. 
We're going to lose players anyway and the only thing we can do now is 
damage control. If you buy this alpha version you get full access to our 
development team and we will read every bug, comment, criticism and 
implement it as best we can. We want to work with you, because so far 
we haven't done a good enough job. No player is able to give good 
feedback based on pushed trailers, teasers and screenshots. We don't 
want to end up like Fallout 76. F76 is a game made by managers, not by 
game developers.

So we are asking you for money so that we can buy ourselves time. Time 
to communicate with you, to discuss, to gather feedback and to argue, 
so that together we can create the best cyberpunk game the world has 
ever seen. And we apologies for hyping ourselves up and getting you 
involved. And we ask you to trust us. Because if you can't trust us, we 
shouldn't be making computer games, we should be making hundreds of 
mobile games.

Will you give us a second chance?

Yours

all the people who are working on the Cyberpunk 2077 project and still 
want to bring a first class product to the market. 

~ Xef A. (x14km2d) Michaels 
(the new Cyberpunk 2077 Project CEO)

Of course, in retrospect, this is smart shit for a person not involved in the project. The best computer player still sits behind the monitor and watches a stream in which he would do everything, but really everything better.

Like I said. I have no idea if the gaming community would have accepted this proposal, but it would have created more communication. Most of the time, problems lie in the lack of communication. This is what Alpha Game Investments produce. They create communication between developers and the community so that everyone can contribute to a good game. Sometimes I also have the feeling that solo developers and their computer games do so well on the market because, firstly, they prefer the alpha game investment process and, secondly, there is no team of managers behind the important decisions. Game studios and publishers need more CEOs. People with good instincts, leadership techniques and the will to take ownership of a project. Because sometimes decisions have to be made that aren’t so awesome. But I’m already slipping into another topic here.


Download the alpha_game_investments.md source file or follow this page with RSS. Some readers will want to know what Equipment I use. Who wants can Support my work or leave a Comment. Please use my PGP-Key for your submission.

x14km2d.com | 2021-2022 | Made for the Web1.1 with a Terminal and Pandoc.