Why Evil Hat won't be joining YGN (at least for now)

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Why Evil Hat won't be joining YGN (at least for now)

Postby iago » Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:46 pm

So, I was thinking about signing Evil Hat up to be a part of Your Games Now... but I've talked to two publishers who've been turned down, one because he was quote "not putting out new material fast enough", and I had to conclude that the membership of YGN just isn't friendly enough to the things that are important to me, as a publisher. The not-enough-new-material rejection is *particularly* troubling, because it suggests that at least 26% (that's how much it takes to reject a publisher) of the membership has bought into the periodical model of publishing -- something which I think has been harmful to the industry.

I'd love to join up with YGN, but right now it feels like it would be much too much work to force a sea-change in the outlook of the voters. Publishers like [moderator edit] and [moderator edit] should not have been rejected. Had I been a member at the time, and the votes had gone that way, I would have resigned in protest, to boot.

I really dig the ethic of giving publishers a voice, but I think the publishers are making bad decisions, here -- or at least a large enough minority of them are. I can't allow Evil Hat to be a part of that sort of thing.

So I'm sad... just really, very sad about it all.

Feel free to discuss this with me here or over at my LiveJournal -- my LJ's more likely to get checked regularly, though, so keep that in mind.

My LJ name is drivingblind. Naturally the forum won't let me link you to that. [Moderator Edit: http://drivingblind.livejournal.com/ (we don't allow linking for users under 4 posts to cut down on spamming)]
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Postby Your Games Now, LLC » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:21 pm

Fred, Your Games Now does not discuss in public companies that were unable to gather the supermajority needed to become a member. In fact, we value publisher privacy so much that when a vote is over it is moved to a private forum that only moderators can see. This means that new members don't know the past votes at Your Games Now.

If a publisher tried to become a member and didn't not get the 75% vote required, we do not disclose such in public and believe that only they have the the right to share that information. In keeping with that I have edited out the two company names in your post. If they wish to log on and state themselves, that is their choice.

As to the rest of your post, part of having a democratic process to select membership at a commercial site means that not every member gets their way all the time. If a publisher is unwilling to accept such restraints in exchange for actually having a voting voice in how things are run at Your Games Now, they are not suitable for membership at Your Games Now because there will be times when what one wishes individually is not what the majority of members decide.

I'm sad that you feel that Evil Hat and Your Games Now's goals are so divergent that you've decided to not put Evil Hat up for a membership vote, but hopefully in the future you will feel differently. Your Games Now welcomes any publisher's request for vote and will maintain their privacy while doing so.
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Postby iago » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:54 pm

I get that; and actually I'm not challenging your process. I'm challenging the results, and the agendas of your members that the results speak to. At the end of the day, this means that YGN's voting trending is one that is inclined to reject "indie" publishers with only a few games (or maybe even just one) in their catalog. That's old school thinking, man -- and as such we can't support it as a publisher, ourselves.

Evil Hat totally digs YGN. Your mission is solid. Your philosophy is one we love. I'm jazzed y'all are backing the Ennies this year. And if -- hope against hope -- my games ended up on any sort of nomination list, I was going to be particularly eager to get listed on YGN...

... except that everything I've been learning about the results of your membership voting process has made it less and less palatable to me. Looking over your manufacturers list, I'm seeing very few companies that I'd be personally interested in as an "indie" game-buyer (or, if you prefer, as a "story games" oriented buyer).

That suggests to me that you're both not attracting the publishers from the market segment I'm most interested in (and which I consider Evil Hat to be a part of) and if you are attracting them, you're not accepting them.

And I think that's bad business for Your Games Now. I'm encouraging you all to take a good hard look at that, amongst yourselves. Think about it as a business as well as in light of your philosophy and mission. Because, bluntly, I believe your mission isn't being fulfilled if it's excluding some of the very people you're supposed to be looking to help.

Sometimes a democracy doesn't vote in its best interests. What's your idea for how to deal with that? Are you willing to see Your Games Now fail -- or at least fail to grow -- because of it?

These are the sorts of concerns it all raises for me, as a publisher. And as a publisher, empowered to vote, I am voting -- with my feet, by not joining up.

And, believe me, I really, really wanted to. But you got killed by word of mouth.
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Postby foreverpeople » Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:23 pm

... except that everything I've been learning about the results of your membership voting process has made it less and less palatable to me. Looking over your manufacturers list, I'm seeing very few companies that I'd be personally interested in as an "indie" game-buyer (or, if you prefer, as a "story games" oriented buyer).


I'm happy to say that we seem to be doing very well without your approval mate.

So vote with your feet if you like, having seen it in action rather than guessed how it works from a distance, I'm confident the voting method is extremely fair and, indeed contrary to one of your points, YGN is an extraordinarily friendly environment in which to sell and promote the games we love to create, irrespective of what you personally think of individual manufacturers.

Personally I won't be losing any sleep over the fact that your presence will not be affecting the future development of YGN (awkward characters with a past record of being controversial in forums being one of the reasons I happily vote no on any new applicant), but like Joe says, if you ever decide to put your prejudice behind you and give it a go, I'm sure you'll get a fair hearing, just like everybody else.
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Postby iago » Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:13 pm

I'm sorry you've chosen to miss my point, David. I'm providing this feedback so as to help YGN grow and improve. I am categorically not looking to stir up controversy so much as promote sober discussion of important issues facing your publisher community.

If you're interested in that, please continue to weigh in. If, however, you're looking to characterize me as someone trying to tear things down, if you're looking to sneer at me with posts like the above, I'd thank you to stay out of it.
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Postby madelf » Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:17 pm

iago wrote:Looking over your manufacturers list, I'm seeing very few companies that I'd be personally interested in as an "indie" game-buyer (or, if you prefer, as a "story games" oriented buyer).

That suggests to me that you're both not attracting the publishers from the market segment I'm most interested in (and which I consider Evil Hat to be a part of) and if you are attracting them, you're not accepting them.

To the best of my knowledge, YGN does not hunt down prospective publishers, indie or otherwise (though I'm sure individual members have talked to their peers about it). And I'm relatively certain that being an indie publisher is not grounds for rejection (though I can't speak for individual members voting habits, I can't imagine it even being a consideration).

On the other hand, how are we defining "indie" today? 'Cause I bet almost everybody here qualifies under one definition or another. :wink:

Really the best way to get publishers here that you're interested in isn't accusing us of excluding them (which I don't believe for a minute we are). The best way to get them here is to talk them into applying so we can vote them in.
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Postby iago » Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:33 pm

madelf wrote:On the other hand, how are we defining "indie" today? 'Cause I bet almost everybody here qualifies under one definition or another. :wink:


I hear you. I'm using the term a little too liberally considering it's so imprecise. I'm talking primarily about the "story games" crowd, at the very least.

Really the best way to get publishers here that you're interested in isn't accusing us of excluding them (which I don't believe for a minute we are). The best way to get them here is to talk them into applying so we can vote them in.


Well, I've got two examples -- [publisher names edited out: again] -- who both did apply and got rejected. XXXX was specifically told it was because they didn't produce enough product fast enough.

So perhaps I'm using "indie" in the sense of "small press that puts out one or two games and calls it a day", too. If that sort of reason is being given in rejections (and note, this is my primary, though not only, concern) it speaks to an attitude in the negating minority (the no-votes, of which there need only be 26% of the members who bother to vote in order to reject a publisher) that I'd be pretty uncomfortable hanging my Hat next to.
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Postby Your Games Now, LLC » Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:33 pm

iago wrote:Sometimes a democracy doesn't vote in its best interests.


I don't believe that I, as an individual, know whats better for a group of fellow publishers than they do. I can tell them I disagree, I can tell them why I disagree, but I will not say that they have a voice in the running of the site and then say no you can't use it because I don't like what you're saying.

What's your idea for how to deal with that? Are you willing to see Your Games Now fail -- or at least fail to grow -- because of it?


I don't think Your Games Now will fail because we put into action the publisher's wishes and I don't think it will fail to grow because of that reason either. I believe Your Games Now will be around for many many years: as long as there are publishers who want to sell product here and there are customers who enjoy our customer service and enjoy knowing that they are better supporting the publishers whose products they are purchasing.

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Postby iago » Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:53 pm

Your Games Now, LLC wrote:
iago wrote:Sometimes a democracy doesn't vote in its best interests.


I don't believe that I, as an individual, know whats better for a group of fellow publishers than they do. I can tell them I disagree, I can tell them why I disagree, but I will not say that they have a voice in the running of the site and then say no you can't use it because I don't like what you're saying.


Fair enough. There are a bunch of side-topics here for how democracy and business intermix, and much as I'd love to discuss them, I'm certain that YGN's forums aren't the place to have those side-topic discussions. :)

So moving on...

When it comes down to it, in this discussion, yours is the voice that strongly matters to me, in part because I know that whenever a publisher is kept out of YGN, it's your bottom line, personally, that is directly affected by that -- you're the guy getting the 5% cut of every sale. The others are only affected indirectly, when it comes down to it, by decreased draw due to a smaller catalog.

And (just to be clear) I'm totally at peace with that. I don't have to be a part of YGN. I just thought some folks might be interested in the reasons why a publisher might not even bother to attempt membership.

Much as I'd love to see YGN's voting trending to show something different to me, through the actions regarding other publishers who've attempted before, I don't need to see it change, and if folks are totally happy with the status quo, great! Status the hell out of your quo, guys, and more power to you!

But I have this problem where I frequently feel the need to speak truth to power, to explain my reasons for decisions publicly, so if there is any value to be milked from such things by those who listen, that it's there for the taking.

My apologies to everyone if I overstepped the bounds in this. Let's be clear here: I do want to see YGN succeed. It's possible -- even likely -- that my perspective isn't needed for that success. Just in case it might help, now you have it.

Thanks for exchanging views with me, Joe, and for remaining thoroughly polite throughout the process. I really appreciate it, and it does form a strong basis for me to continue to feel good about YGN as a consumer -- you're the spokesman. Setting aside the publisher side of things (which remains shaky for me -- but I'll do my best to keep that over on my LJ instead of here) this is a good thing to come out of this discussion. Much appreciated.
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Postby Fifth Element » Tue Jul 03, 2007 5:02 pm

iago wrote:When it comes down to it, in this discussion, yours is the voice that strongly matters to me, in part because I know that whenever a publisher is kept out of YGN, it's your bottom line, personally, that is directly affected by that -- you're the guy getting the 5% cut of every sale. The others are only affected indirectly, when it comes down to it, by decreased draw due to a smaller catalog.


To be clear, Joe has the *greatest* financial interest in YGN, but *all* publishers have a financial interest in the success of YGN, and it's more than just the size of the catalog.
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Postby iago » Tue Jul 03, 2007 5:07 pm

Fifth Element wrote:
iago wrote:When it comes down to it, in this discussion, yours is the voice that strongly matters to me, in part because I know that whenever a publisher is kept out of YGN, it's your bottom line, personally, that is directly affected by that -- you're the guy getting the 5% cut of every sale. The others are only affected indirectly, when it comes down to it, by decreased draw due to a smaller catalog.


To be clear, Joe has the *greatest* financial interest in YGN, but *all* publishers have a financial interest in the success of YGN, and it's more than just the size of the catalog.


Entirely true. My apologies for only touching on the reasoning briefly; I definitely left a number of potential reasons why member publishers would have an interest in YGN's success off the list in the interest of more expediently getting to my point. :)
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Postby Your Games Now, LLC » Tue Jul 03, 2007 5:18 pm

iago wrote:When it comes down to it, in this discussion, yours is the voice that strongly matters to me, in part because I know that whenever a publisher is kept out of YGN, it's your bottom line, personally, that is directly affected by that -- you're the guy getting the 5% cut of every sale. The others are only affected indirectly, when it comes down to it, by decreased draw due to a smaller catalog.


My voice does matter strongly, but I'm just a publisher at the core. YGN is designed to serve publishing goals, not middlemen site-owner goals. Because of that my voice isn't nearly as strong as it would appear to non-members.

But I have this problem where I frequently feel the need to speak truth to power, to explain my reasons for decisions publicly, so if there is any value to be milked from such things by those who listen, that it's there for the taking.


I think you might what to consider that your truth to power may just be an opinion to power. And YGN has no power over anyone that doesn't want to be a member nor over anyone who hasn't agree to exchange certain abilities for other abilities.

Thanks for exchanging views with me, Joe, and for remaining thoroughly polite throughout the process. I really appreciate it, and it does form a strong basis for me to continue to feel good about YGN as a consumer -- you're the spokesman. Setting aside the publisher side of things (which remains shaky for me -- but I'll do my best to keep that over on my LJ instead of here) this is a good thing to come out of this discussion. Much appreciated.


I try to be polite as possible. I don't always succeed, but I do try. Thanks for noticing it. I hope in the future you'll re-evaluate your opinions and reconsider YGN at a later date.

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Postby jasonga » Tue Jul 03, 2007 5:20 pm

iago wrote:So perhaps I'm using "indie" in the sense of "small press that puts out one or two games and calls it a day", too. If that sort of reason is being given in rejections (and note, this is my primary, though not only, concern) it speaks to an attitude in the negating minority (the no-votes, of which there need only be 26% of the members who bother to vote in order to reject a publisher) that I'd be pretty uncomfortable hanging my Hat next to.

First off - this is all my opinion, doesn't represent any YGN policy, yada yada yada.

It's not true to say that someone who has only put out one or two games in total will automatically get rejected. It all comes down to intent. Does the publisher plan on supporting their game in some way (even continuing to promote/talk about it on forums would count), or is it truly something that they are done with and never want to think about again?

In the first case, we'd still want them on board. They're obviously an active part of the roleplay community, and the way YGN works (everyone promoting it, not relying on the "business" to promote it) we would still help each other. They send traffic to YGN (who will hopefully buy other products as well), and traffic from other publishers at YGN will see their product and (hopefully) buy it.

But if someone has just put out one or two products and doesn't plan to do anything else - well, having their product on YGN isn't going to help YGN. They won't be promoting their product, so no extra traffic will come this way. It isn't a fair relationship.

That doesn't mean you have to be churning out 5 products a month to be accepted - releasing 5 products of crap a month hurts everyone. And if the company owner is a known troublemaker, or engages in some shady practices, we don't want them. YGN relies on everyone working together so that everyone succeeds.

Now there is the case that someone who is just starting up may apply - perhaps just as they are ready to release a new product, or perhaps just after it comes out. If their name comes to a vote, generally I have no way of knowing if they are going to continue being active (so they can help me as I can help them), or if they are just stopping at the one product (so I help them for nothing in return).

With the edited out names I don't know the specifics of why publishers weren't allowed in, but hopefully this helps explains at least my thinking on why I might vote no.

(Having said that, I tend to vote yes :) )
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Postby iago » Tue Jul 03, 2007 5:48 pm

Thanks for the insights Jason (and Joe).

From where I stand at least, I'm thinking about rejected publishers who do promote their games. (XXX from could even be called a tireless promoter of their games, but I'll fully grant the reasons XXX was rejected were probably complex.)

I groove on your standards for voting, Jason. They make sense to me... But I can't fairly call them "standards", having said that, because voters aren't being held to a standard, right? I confess I worry that this will render the process as something that looks pretty fickle, to the outsider.

I know that Joe has a passionate commitment to privacy, but even without revealing the individual votes that were made (I certainly don't want fuel for a witch-hunt to be provided), I wonder if there would be value to making the process a little more public, a little more transparent?

Have you considered listening to your customers in terms of what publishers they'd like to see? What about incorporating them into the process somehow?

Probably totally off-mission -- please understand I'm just brainstorming here. :)
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Postby Your Games Now, LLC » Tue Jul 03, 2007 6:18 pm

Fred, I've made 3 successive edits over a period of hours. Please stop referencing other companies in your posts I don't want to edit anymore

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