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Ubi forums takes a turn for the worse


krise madsen
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Community Developers are taking up positions on many games at Ubisoft. Their sole purpose is that of direct communication link between the forum community and the developers and whilst the system is still in its infancy and likely to see adjustments and improvements with time

Oh dear. It's not going to work. Patching up the existing setup isn't going to work. All you'll accomplish is giving yourself and your colleagues a nervous breakdown or a heart attack, and I'd really hate to see your good intentions (and I do belive you have the best intentions) result in nothing but a large medical bill.

The Community ideas for the next GR thread is really the best example: Here you bring forth the very thing the community has been screaming for and all you get in return is an earful. Nothing you can say or do will change things. Because the community has lost faith in Ubi, and restoring it cannot be done by patching up the forum and community relations. Ubi needs a fresh start.

You need a clean break, a new forum, new rules, a clean slate. Whiteknights suggestion that a high-ranking Ubi rep show up and explain things is a necessity, not a good idea or a demand, but a necessity. Not for WK's peace of mind, but for Ubi's own sake. You need someone high up the food chain to step up and say "yes, we know we've screwed up in the past, but we're going to learn from those past mistakes and start over from scratch".

And then you have to prove it. Be brutally honest: "No, Ubi isn't going to make another tactical shooter like OR6/[GR] because we don't see a profitable market for it, and yes we only make games that we believe will make a profit, we're a business, not a charity". And when the community start screaming that you've ruined the good old OR6/[GR] game, tell them "asked sand answered, now move on, thank you".

A new forum needs a new rules from day one, they need to be tough and they need to be ruthlessly enforced. That means throwing paying customers out, but the forums are not there for individuals to air their frustrations, but for proper feedback - positive and negative - for the benefit of the community as a whole. Be tough but fair, not soft but unfair as in the past.

Seriously, everyone at Ubi need to read this article: Online Community Management: Communication Through Gamers (source: gamasutra.com) and I mean they should face a written warning, one step away from getting sacked, if they don't read it thoroughly, prefereably more than once. Yes, it's that important.

One of the issues the article mentions is the coordination between PR, marketing and community relations and that's another area where Ubi has been performing badly (and I mean really, really badly). OK, so sometimes goodies are given to gaming magazines for promotional purposes. Then when someone complain on the forums that they haven't seen this screenshot (or whatnot) on the official website, tell it like it is: "We save some stuff just for the magazines for promotional purposes, we do this to sell more games". This isn't a secret. Everyone knows it happens and it's OK, so just be honest and say it. And if people screm on the forums about it, say "asked and answered, now move on, thank you". And of course Ubi can't and won't reveal everything about a game. So say it: "We're not answering that because we're keeping some features a secret until release".

One of the problems is that marketing tends to be directed at the mass market, but the community as such isn't a mass market, but hardcore gamers. Press releases and promotional videos are great for the gaming magazines and websites, but the hardcore community wants to know if there is a lean or cover system and if there are multiple ammo types availible for the shotgun (if the game in question is an FPS, obviously). That kind of details that would unnecessarily clutter up a press release, but they need to be part of the press package for the community. I can't help the feeling that the Ubi marketing staff cut their teeth on promoting detergent and breakfast cereals. I'm sure they were/are very good at their job, but it does seem like nobody as ever understood the importance of community relations and that the community isn't the same thing as the mass gamer market. They need to read that article.

And just so you know, I'm not just pulling all of this out of my ass. I've seen it go wrong before, first hand: I worked for a large company in a time of mergers and great technological changes, with an all-new management. Not surprisingly, a lot of employees were scared stiff of being made redundant. Productivity dropped dramatically. The workforce had lost faith in the management.

One of the things the new management set up was an internal job exchange: Old jobs dissapeared through merging departments or because the products were made obsolete by new technology. But new jobs appeared as well and the management wanted to move and retrain people from redundant jobs to the vacant ones within the company. I was part of the team tasked with selling this to the rather sceptical workforce through internal media (printed and video).

"Why are you really doing this job exchange thing, I mean really?" I asked. "Look", was the honest answer. "It's usually cheaper and more effetive to retrain existing employees (who already know the company culture e.c.t.) than to sack them and hire new ones. From a purely business perspective, this makes sense, and saves money".

"OK", I said. "Then tell the empoyees this. And don't get the CEO to say it, nobody believes a word he says anyways. Get the Chief Financial Officer instead. Everybody hates him, but they also know that he doesn't dick around with money. If the CFO says the company is doing it to make money and not just to be nice, they'll believe him".

Of course, the CEO insisted on being the one interviewed and fired off a PR BS song-and-dance-act about "supporting and believing in our trusted employees". And the employees didn't believe a word of it. It wasn't uncommon for employees to blurt out to external cusotmers what a ######ty company this was (I overheard several of those). There were strikes too. All because the management was trying to sell detergent rather than just being straight with people.

It's just a friendly advice for Ubisoft: Don't make the same mistake.

Respectfully

krise madsen

Edited by krise madsen
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Those two need to lock themselves in the Honeymoon Suite with a couple ball pien hammers and go thunderdome

I'm not entirely sure that Thunderdome would be their thing, but if they want to go [to] Thunderdome I'm not arguing with that decision. Might be going there myself at some point this year.

Edited by WytchDokta
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In a perfect world, krise madsen is right.

In a company as big as ubisoft, though, it is truly logistically impossible to make a change that big, that suddenly. it just isn't going to happen. Corporations that big aren't run by one person, or even a dozen people. And even if they were, due to organizational concerns, you just can't make unilateral changes on a dime like that.

Also, there's still the fact that ubisoft is an INCREDIBLY successful company at the moment. We're a minority. Ubisoft is overall well respected and their games sell incredibly well. Why would they make incredibly expensive and difficult changes to please a statistically irrelevant group of players?

Maybe if everyone here convinced a dozen of their friends to boycott ubi we'd make a small but noticable dent, but i for one am not even unhappy with most of their products, so...

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That is a load of BS. I keep saying over and over again that Ubi has an image problem and they need to do much to change it. I think my suggestion of the CCO going onto their own forums was very reasonable. If even bigger companies CEO and founders (Apple and Steve Jobs and Microsoft and Bill Gates) can go on stage and tell everyone about the things their company is going to do and do it, then Ubi can accomplish the small things we ask for.

I read Ubi's CEO's interviews about games his company is creating and I think he is full of hot air unlike Apple and MS as they actually deliver. Sure Ubi releases the games, but they are unfulfilling to many of us.

Again, Ubi has an image problem and they need to remake it. Low level employees are not going to be able to do anything to win us over. It's not my piece of mind that I have been making complaints, it's an entire community that Ubi has p####d away that needs their piece of mind put at ease. We want someone to say that Philippe Theiren was wrong (he is as Ubi certainly does make games for niche markets) and that they will continue to make games that fans want, even if they are niche markets. That person is not a community developer, community manager or forum manager or a dev for that matter.

Yes, I know that Ubi is in the market to make money, but they can do so and have with the very niche markets they are destroying.

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Yes, I know that Ubi is in the market to make money, but they can do so and have with the very niche markets they are destroying.

Tell it to Metallica. No, really...

When you have low-profit niche groups to sell your products to, you lose money on them versus what you make on large mainstream groups. You can keep flushing money pandering to the fringe, or you can drag some of them along into the mainstream and let the rest fend for themselves with small-time. Ubisoft is following the Metallica Model for Better Earnings. Sell out a little to the mainstream with a formerly niche product, and watch the numbers swell as at least SOME of the loyal fans follow Product X's ascent into fortune and fame, if even at the cost of their souls...

Translation- we don't matter if we didn't follow R6 and GR through the transformation from distinctly niche product to profitmobile for the masses...

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Yes, I know that Ubi is in the market to make money, but they can do so and have with the very niche markets they are destroying.

Tell it to Metallica. No, really...

When you have low-profit niche groups to sell your products to, you lose money on them versus what you make on large mainstream groups. You can keep flushing money pandering to the fringe, or you can drag some of them along into the mainstream and let the rest fend for themselves with small-time. Ubisoft is following the Metallica Model for Better Earnings. Sell out a little to the mainstream with a formerly niche product, and watch the numbers swell as at least SOME of the loyal fans follow Product X's ascent into fortune and fame, if even at the cost of their souls...

Translation- we don't matter if we didn't follow R6 and GR through the transformation from distinctly niche product to profitmobile for the masses...

It's all about money (profit) dude. Why? Because money is power.

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Personally I think that some are overlooking the obvious. What made the original games popular in the first place was the style of play. That in turn brought in the fame and money. The question is then if the original games had been made like the newer games in the first place do you think anyone would even care about these titles?

For my part the answer would be, Hell NO!

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Let me sum this all up

UBI + Money = Happy

UBI + Consoles + Money = Happy

UBI + PC = SUPPORT = Less Money = Not Happy

Any questions?

Oh and here is what they learned from older good games.

UBI + PC + Good Game = Gamer not buying anything else for 2 years = LESS MONEY = SUPPORT ended

so they added to it

UBI + PC + Good Game = Gamer not buying =Invest in expansion = some more money = Longer support = Less Money + No new games sold

That sums it all up. It explains everything. I think my equations need framed! LOL!

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Let me sum this all up

UBI + Money = Happy

UBI + Consoles + Money = Happy

UBI + PC = SUPPORT = Less Money = Not Happy

Any questions?

Oh and here is what they learned from older good games.

UBI + PC + Good Game = Gamer not buying anything else for 2 years = LESS MONEY = SUPPORT ended

so they added to it

UBI + PC + Good Game = Gamer not buying =Invest in expansion = some more money = Longer support = Less Money + No new games sold

That sums it all up. It explains everything. I think my equations need framed! LOL!

LOL!!! That is classic Roco. You've summed up the whole problem in a few elegant equations! :thumbsup:

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Tell it to Metallica. No, really...

When you have low-profit niche groups to sell your products to, you lose money on them versus what you make on large mainstream groups. You can keep flushing money pandering to the fringe, or you can drag some of them along into the mainstream and let the rest fend for themselves with small-time. Ubisoft is following the Metallica Model for Better Earnings. Sell out a little to the mainstream with a formerly niche product, and watch the numbers swell as at least SOME of the loyal fans follow Product X's ascent into fortune and fame, if even at the cost of their souls...

Translation- we don't matter if we didn't follow R6 and GR through the transformation from distinctly niche product to profitmobile for the masses...

Exactly. Sellouts or not, Ubisoft's business model works. They have no reason to please this niche, you aren't worth the investment.

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In a perfect world, krise madsen is right.

In a company as big as ubisoft, though, it is truly logistically impossible to make a change that big, that suddenly. it just isn't going to happen. Corporations that big aren't run by one person, or even a dozen people. And even if they were, due to organizational concerns, you just can't make unilateral changes on a dime like that.

Also, there's still the fact that ubisoft is an INCREDIBLY successful company at the moment. We're a minority. Ubisoft is overall well respected and their games sell incredibly well. Why would they make incredibly expensive and difficult changes to please a statistically irrelevant group of players?

Maybe if everyone here convinced a dozen of their friends to boycott ubi we'd make a small but noticable dent, but i for one am not even unhappy with most of their products, so...

Sorry Sup, but you seem to have me confused with someone demanding that Ubisoft changes their ways. I'm just referring to the excellent gamasutra.com article and offering a bit of advice. Read my post again (I know it's long, sorry).

Respectfully

krise madsen

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In a perfect world, krise madsen is right.

In a company as big as ubisoft, though, it is truly logistically impossible to make a change that big, that suddenly. it just isn't going to happen. Corporations that big aren't run by one person, or even a dozen people. And even if they were, due to organizational concerns, you just can't make unilateral changes on a dime like that.

Sorry Sup, but you seem to have me confused with someone demanding that Ubisoft changes their ways. I'm just referring to the excellent gamasutra.com article and offering a bit of advice. Read my post again (I know it's long, sorry).

Respectfully

krise madsen

No, I just got sidetracked, i understand your post. I'm just saying that the community management and PR changes you're suggesting are impractical. The PR you suggest, i think everyone could see, would work much better. However it would take a tremendously inconvenient and expensive restructuring to implement it, and following an 'if it ain't broke...' method they should just leave things as are and accept a little whining.

Second half of the post i got derailed into my usual rant, and it wasn't really directed at you in specific, sorry for the misunderstanding. :)

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No, I just got sidetracked, i understand your post. I'm just saying that the community management and PR changes you're suggesting are impractical. The PR you suggest, i think everyone could see, would work much better. However it would take a tremendously inconvenient and expensive restructuring to implement it, and following an 'if it ain't broke...' method they should just leave things as are and accept a little whining.

I'm not so sure about that, but if so *shrugs* that's their problem. I'm just telling Ubi their community relations are broke, but it's up to them if they want to do something about it or not. Ubi doesn't have any games at the moment that I'm interested in so it doesn't really concern me.

Second half of the post i got derailed into my usual rant, and it wasn't really directed at you in specific, sorry for the misunderstanding. :)

No worries :)

Respectfully

krise madsen

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I'm not so sure about that

Well, i believe you probably have a lot more practical experience than me, so how would you say it should work?

I agree their community relations are broken, but we're talking about a company splintered into dozens of sections and smaller companies, all of which would need to share information in new ways i order to overhaul their whole pr/community system. With any company of tens of thousands of employees, to my understanding, it's a logistical nightmare to change a major system like that. With one as complex hierarchically as Ubisoft, and dealing with so much media, between public press and internal pitches/progress reports/decisionmaking, it would seem organizationally and financially prohibitive to overhaul a community system that isn't that broken, and is still limping along fairly effectively overall.

All of my understanding of this is 100% theoretical, though, would you say i'm overestimating the difficulty of establishing a new public relations and community system?

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I'm not so sure about that

Well, i believe you probably have a lot more practical experience than me, so how would you say it should work?

I agree their community relations are broken, but we're talking about a company splintered into dozens of sections and smaller companies, all of which would need to share information in new ways i order to overhaul their whole pr/community system. With any company of tens of thousands of employees, to my understanding, it's a logistical nightmare to change a major system like that. With one as complex hierarchically as Ubisoft, and dealing with so much media, between public press and internal pitches/progress reports/decisionmaking, it would seem organizationally and financially prohibitive to overhaul a community system that isn't that broken, and is still limping along fairly effectively overall.

All of my understanding of this is 100% theoretical, though, would you say i'm overestimating the difficulty of establishing a new public relations and community system?

Yes, it's that broken. Ubi does well with one-way communication (i.e. advertising). It's the two-way communication (i.e. community relations) that is really lacking.

Turning a big ship around is not easy. However, there is already a PR organisation in place to coordinate the release of PR material, and rules limiting who can say what are already set up. Also, the number of people involved with each individual game is comparatively modest. It's basically a question of setting up channels for the information flow between the community (via the community managers) and the developers, with the assigned publicists as a filter.

The biggest hurdle is getting everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction. That requires everyone to actually understand the purpose of community relations, as well as support from higher-up the hierachy. It's not cost free by any means, but the number of additional employees and man hours required is fairly modest in the larger scheme of things.

Respectfully

krise madsen

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