YoYo and the Community

on May 2, 2008 - 2473 Views

Since appearing on the Game Maker scene at the start of 2007 YoYo Games have faced criticism from certain members of the community.

Most of this criticism is about poor customer service and problems with the Digital Rights Management that is used to protect Game Maker 7.

YoYo Games’ relationship with users, in particular members of the GMC, has until recently been poor. Their infrequently updated glog did not address the issues that mattered to members and instead seemed to be looking far into the future.

Recently though that has all begun to change; it started with a long overdue upgrade of the Invision Power Board software used to power The Game Maker Community. Along too came a new server, effectively eliminating the MySQL overload errors that had in the past plagued the forum at popular times of day. A skin change made the forum look warmer and more welcoming, a reintroduction of post count and an increase in the size of Personal Mail inbox in response to member demands have made things better.

YoYo Games staff, Mark Overmars and in particular Sandy Duncan have also begun to post more actively at the GMC, something which ideally should have happened right from the takeover.

The dual communities of the YoYo Games forum and GMC don’t make sense, as tuntis wrote on Game Maker Blog, this is “decentralizing the community”. The YoYo Games forum appears to serve no purpose other than as a general chit chat area for what appears to be the less mature Game Maker users. I believe the official word on this one is that the YoYo Games forum is for gamers where as the GMC is for developers.

In February Sandy quietly mentioned on his blog that YoYo plan to invest $5M into the Game Maker software and their website in the coming years. Many members are disappointed at the lack of apparent progress with the development of Game Maker which has seen no new releases for nearly a year, despite the emergence of a game decompiler. It is also not specified how much of this funding will be invested into the Game Maker software as opposed to developing and promoting the YoYo Games website.

An attempt to take Game Maker cross-platform with work starting on a Mac version of Game Maker was also met with a mixed response with some users suggesting that YoYo Games’ time would be better spent improving the PC version instead of targeting what remains a very small market.

One universally popular move has been the two Game Maker competitions that YoYo have run, which with the results of the ancient civilization competition announced in early May will see YoYo having handed out $3,500 of cash prizes to users of the software. No other Game Maker competitions have come close on the number of entries received and value of prizes awarded.

Sandy has also made some frank admissions about YoYo Games writing on the GMC “I think, at times, that the DRM sucks and I think, always, that our customer support is terrible.” Many community members would have set that many months back, let’s hope that now YoYo Games are sure of their problems something gets done about this quickly.

This article was originally written for the MarkUp game development magazine, and was featured in issue 13.

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7 Responses to YoYo and the Community

  1. Ivor B says:

    Sorry Phil, I have an addition to the above in respect of a qoute:

    Qoute “Mac market share may still be low, but it is rapidly growing, much faster than PC sales overall.”

    Yes but you havent figured for the fact that alot of people upgrade PCs rather than investing in a complete new system. Please remember aswell that alot of people use PC’s for the interenet and then have a console for the games, as they are fed up with upgrading a PC everytime a new game comes out.

    Dont get me wrong the MAC is a good system, however is the selling point for a MAC buyer to use it to make software? For the average user no, PC’s are far cheaper and more widespread, and theres already a massive range of languages and tools available for it…

    IMO the MAC is bought (in the most part) by the same people who jumped to get an Iphone, the trendy suits who want to go to work with a wafer thin, latest high tech fashionable brand. The average user will always choose a PC over MAC simply because there is more support for it, and is cheaper.

    I would be interested to see where the figures are that say MAC sales are growing faster than PC..maybe you could tell us your source?

    Cheers.

  2. Ivor B says:

    We’ve been discussing this over at AKH blog for a couple of days, and if anyones interested its still continuing…I’ll qoute one of your posters here:

    Qoute “Anyone who complains about the Mac version of Game Maker is a moron”

    I dont think anyone is complaining about a Mac version per say, the problem is (as I see it) that Yoyo has not resolved all its issues with its current release and yet its investing more money into another platform that whilst yes is becoming more popular, has still a long way to go.

    Speaking as a complete outsider to any Yoyo products, the whole branding of the product has problems. GM doesnt know what it is or who its marketed to. The Yoyo site which should be the flagship of the product and the selling point to investors/new users, comes across as completely amateur…. Games that are reasonable are swamped by a plethora of click on the sprite and platform games that infringe copyright. GM is apparently for all ages, yet its own site hardly displays that…You have the owner of the company who is “down with the customers” and making admitions that their customer service is rubbish….Thats great for the users but its hardly a selling point for investment….especially when some of the fan sites look more pro than the official yoyo one.

    As I said on the AKH blog, Enigma already seems the more professional package (speaking as someone who uses niether) and the fact that its made by hobbyists and is completely free, would be (IMO) another warning signal to investors.

    I really hope Yoyo do make a sucess out of the GM project, as I would not like to see any small company fail, but with all the great innovations/new servers/C++ runners/£1000 compos/MAC distros that they are bringing in, I just cannot see how a return can be made…as I said before, even if all 100,000 users registered the software, that would only return £1million, significantly less than the investment that Sandy has stated they are wanting to make.. In the meantime other bigname products are being released as freeware, and there are a multitude of opensource compilers on the net that are free of charge….

    Anyway, if you would like to continue this, please join us at AKH blog, theres no flaming in regards to this just a decent discussion about Yoyo and the place of small software houses in todays market…

    Cheers.

  3. Phil Gamble says:

    I would just like to say, that this article was not made to express my judgement on YoYo Games, but to reflect the different views in the community towards YoYo Games.

  4. Broxter says:

    I agree with timoi. YYG can only be a good thing for GM.

  5. msr says:

    Anyone who complains about the Mac version of Game Maker is a moron. If Game Maker doesn’t go on the Mac, it will end up being overtaken by something that is cross-platform. Then where will it be? Mac market share may still be low, but it is rapidly growing, much faster than PC sales overall.

  6. Timoi says:

    “Many members are disappointed at the lack of apparent progress”: The people who are disappointed have no knowledge of how business works, unrealistic expectations, and zero patience. In the last year the GM world has seen more progress than in any year previously. With 3 competitions to date, a revolutionary new site, new GMC servers, massive investments, more stunning games than were ever released before, fantastic portabilty of GM to come, and more. Long live YYG.

  7. ihatepenguins: a puppet of mrsmes? « the AKHLog V3 says:

    […] failure, it’s customer service, has had an article written about it [by Phil Gamble] on GameMakerBlog.com. Coincidence? […]

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