YoYo and the Community
May 2, 2008
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.