Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Up On A Soapbox - Thank you for your patience

It's been awhile since something in gaming got under my skin but I got an email that really set me off recently.  And like most things that set me off it wasn't really this one email, it was the tipping point for something that had been accumulating over time.

For reasons I'll probably never fully understand I've always been more annoyed than the average person when someone uses some well meaning turn-of-phrase that I know has absolutely NO sincerity behind it.

What was the super-offensive phrase that sent me into a downward spiral?   "Thank you for your patience".

In the past few years I have supported a small number of crowd-funding projects.  I have had the good fortune to avoid any of the notoriously bad, mismanaged, or undelivered projects but having said that my crowd funding 'purchases' have basically broken into good and bad experiences with nothing really in the grey area in between.  The funny thing (and I am genuinely sure this really is just a coincidence) is that to date all of my miniature game crowd funds have been good to great, and all of my RPG crowd funds have ranged from disappointing to abysmal.  In every single case the difference between good and bad has been the use of the phrase "Thank you for your patience".  In the world of small indie publications and productions it seems like its the nature of the beast that delays of various lengths are inevitable.  So what exactly slants my view between positive and negative?

The good.
The good crowd funds I've supported when they hit a snag or delay as a supporter will send me a "Thank you for your patience" email followed by a quick note explaining the delay and typically laying out a new expected delivery date that feels like its in line with the type of delay.  Things like 'our packaging arrived a week late, so shipping will be pushed back a week' or 'our printer is running behind schedule so delivery will be a month later than originally planned'.  No one has to like these delays but it's easy to respect a delay when what is being communicated seems logical, reasonable, and doesn't become endlessly repetitive.  In my opinion most well planned product roll outs won't just blow past deadlines they obviously never tried to hit and won't end up taking twice as long (or longer) than originally forecast.  So...what about the...other projects?

The bad.
The bad crowd funds I've supported don't necessarily hit snags they either set unrealistically short deadlines or they don't truly plan for the time line that the work will require.  Nothing happens, or changes, or goes wrong, one day the supporters just receive an email saying "Thank you for your patience" with a promise that work that was already supposed to have been completed will now be done soon.  So from where I'm standing the bad crowd funders shouldn't be thanking us for our 'patience' they should be thanking us for their own 'interest' because interest is what they're collecting while they neither deliver goods to their supporters nor pay for services that they are still waiting to contract out.

So just for a little context.
The first three miniature game crowd funds I backed all included printed rulebooks, physical miniatures and an assortment of other gaming collateral.  All of them were delivered within 8 weeks of their original projected dates with clear communication around delays and in all three cases I got at least what I had been promised in terms of quantity and quality.
The first three RPG crowd funds I backed were all for single printed books.  They all shipped 6 to 13 months late.  Two of the three ended up arriving as much lower quality productions (recycled artwork, thin paper, bad binding) than were promised and in no case was an attempt made to make up for what had been promised but wasn't delivered.

Communication is king.  If you're thinking about just producing something as a one-off and then disappearing by all means ignore everything I just said.  But if your crowd funding project is intended to launch you as a creator; treat your supporters the way you would want to be treated.

This has been a pretty long rant so let me just conclude by saying, Thank you for your patience.

-Jay


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