Richard Garriott was on the 2007 Independent Game Conference in Austin where he answered many questions. One of the question asked was his views on what they did right and wrong with marketing Tabula Rasa.
Richard Garriott said, “I think the formal marketing did fine. They let people know the game existed and was coming out. I actually think the biggest mistake was made not by the marketing department, but by the development team. We invited too many people into the beta when the game was still too broken.”
He added, “We burned out some quantity of our beta-testers when the game wasn’t yet fun. As we’ve begun to sell the game, the people who hadn’t participated in the beta became our fast early-adopters. And the people who did participate in the beta, we’ve had to go back to and say ‘look, look, we promise: we knot it wasn’t fun two months ago, but we fixed all that. Really, come try it again.’ We’ve had to go out and develop free programs to invite those people back for free before they go buy it. So the beta process, which we used to think of as a QA process, is really a marketing process.”
And I can attest to the father of electronic RPGs and MMORPGs, Tabula Rasa during it’s early to mid beta was well, not worth spending time. Personally, I just log-in after every patch to check what’s new and what’s fixed. I only started getting serious with TR during its late beta where it is what it should be.
But, as we ASEANs always say, “it IS BETA“, so expect it not to be fun. As an ASEAN myself, that did not discouraged me to buy Tabula Rasa and subscribed (other than I’m a huge fan of RG). I bought the Collector’s Edition limited release of TR because it is a great game and worth playing and spending time. How great and worth? I created an RP/IC (Role-Playing/In-Character) blog just for my characters which you can visit here: AISIELE Journals.
Richard gave ArenaNet a big kudos by saying that they did the best job with their “friends-and-family” beta test, and “only about two or three weeks before launch did they do the ‘open it up for pretty much anybody to play,’ when the game was basically done.” I wouldn’t be surprised since the “friends-and-family” is a tradition of Blizzard Entertainment.
Richard also said something that every game developer and publisher must always remember and take into consideration:
“Marketing can definitely get you on the shelf, and in the first few weeks, get you off the shelf. In the long run, even with the best marketing, if it’s a bad game, word gets out, and your sales will come to halt.”
– Richard Garriott
I can’t agree more. Guess which game or games I’m talking about….
I personally guarantee you that Tabula Rasa is far better than when you first played it. Don’t judge a game during its development/beta. And didn’t I tell you I already converted 8 World of Warcraft players fully to Tabula Rasa? Yes, they cancelled their WoW accounts in favor of TR. You should to, you know it, it’s deep in your bones, you know Tabula Rasa is YOUR GAME….