Some very good posts here. ^^ I certainly appreciate what you guys have presented so far. I hope readers are seeing beyond
some of the many examples to the underlying problems. Maybe you even disagree with me about what these problems are, but I hope we are all gaining a greater understanding of the issues here. I also hope this will be my last tl:dr post. xD
I have no real desire to talk about the GS program much either....
But program reform is pretty much just another pipe dream
Whatever you might think of the GS system, I'm sure we could all find numerous examples of quality control failure within it, and I will only say a little bit about it here. In the GS/GM relationship, communication is often a major barrier, but I will admit that the system as a whole certainly has some great aspects as well. Yet it really does seem almost like a pipe dream to think Aeria would give the system a quality reform. Aeria could show more effort here.... making the hard decisions and doing the critical thinking necessary to revamp the system for everyone's benefit.
These are the kinds of things that really are within Aeria's power. Though the 'GS system' might seem an odd thing to find in a thread like this one, imo it is still at least relevant. Again I want to bring back the point that you will all find lurking at the bottom here - most of the obvious, well-known problems, even within this system, stem from the idea that the customer is not priority one. Profit is.
Let me explain very briefly. Aeria generally does not have enough staff for a game (or has a staff too overworked) to give the GS team (or sometimes the playerbase at large) the care and attention needed to provide a smooth, quality system that works consistently well at every level.
We all see evidence of this every day. The obvious solution would be to hire more staff, so as to be able to provide quality care and service at every level
for any particular game. Or at least adjust the duties of current staff to allow them time to think about and work on critical programs like the GS systems (...or communication with the playerbase...). But this costs money! It either means another hire, or what the higher ups might see as inefficiency - in execu-speak, "GMs, we don't have time to spend on all these complex programs, go make us some money!" ....well, who know if this happens, but I wouldn't be surprised. Either way, the community gets, well, shafted. ...I suppose that is an exaggeration on my part. It may not really be THAT bad (after all, the GMs also answer all those tickets we send in), but you know what I mean - a lot MORE care *could* be taken by Aeria here, but it isn't - because it costs money.
...Yet, more staff is hired to help out with the NEXT shiny new addition to Aeria's game library...?!? ....lolwut?
...I hope you can see how true customer care gets overlooked in favor of new possibilities for profit. In time (if not immediately), this new game also gets stretched thin, staff members are shuffled around, fewer and fewer staff members REALLY KNOW their game and community, and.... the usual result occurs - a quality control failure for the sake of profit at the expense of customer and community satisfaction.
This can be a very difficult trend to reverse, and the effort to do so is rarely, if ever, taken. ....don't get me started on my fears for the ijji merger.... =P
Now, Aeria offers variety, as we have said before, along with an attractive free download, and free 'standard' play. But Aeria does not bill itself as a some rinky-dink flash game website (even though they have those
too), but primarily as a place for what some of us might call real
gaming. Not necessarily hardcore,
gamers expect quality throughout. There is, after all, plenty of competition willing to take our attentions elsewhere! We plan to spend a lot of time lvling our toon, building our guild, taking our own little spot within the community, and making friends - making what we feel is a real
investment that deserves some level of quality care. If this 'quality care' lacks the 'quality,' we are going to be dissatisfied with the return on our investment. We understand that sometimes f2p games are not quiiiiite of the 'highest quality.' I understand that I might sound awfully demanding in what I expect. But really, a key point for most of us is that, as players, we will often settle for, and be happy with, lower quality as long as we are treated well, our concerns are properly addressed, and we feel valued.
Though Aeria staff really HAS done some things in the past to foster this feeling, by and large, I'd say 80-95% of the time, building a higher level of this customer satisfaction and loyalty is overlooked because, AGAIN, profit takes the front seat, not the customer. ...on a side note, you will all notice the frequent efforts to get first time buyers, but why don't I see many long-term buyers say they are satisfied? The truth is, they are very often not satisfied.
I don't have to tell you how many times we see this. Too many times as players,
though we are not egomaniacs, we feel valued by the community
... but we do not feel valued by Aeria.
Consider your own thoughts here very carefully.
Something that doesn't help is one of the last points I tried to make, that Aeria has a business model that seems literally built upon shooting itself in the foot. If my understanding is correct, they have no real power over any game developer they partner with (or often refuse to take the risk of weilding it), and are always somewhat at the developer's mercy. Yet these developers' games are Aeria's focal product.... which they have little to no control over. What we hear touted over and over again by almost everyone here is that the community is Aeria's greatest asset.... yet, the community is based upon the games.... which have problems.... which create community problems.... which Aeria cannot solve by itself.... which leaves them depending on the devs.... who either don't understand or care.... which leaves the problem unsolved....which leaves people unsatisfied... and so, one of Aeria's primary assets, the community,
is left somewhat out in the cold by necessity. Fail.
While there may be no way to know for sure, I maintain that Aeria could've probably done better with any one developer (or just a few of them) and the associated game(s) if they had concentrated on quality and customer service and building a deep relationship with a dev or three that showed themselves willing. Of course, this depends on your definition of 'doing better,' but I digress. Rather than continue to add variety, I feel they would've been better served by focusing on quality first.
Add variety carefully, and only after quality was well in hand. This way they could more easily work with devs in the interest of the customer and community. I, for one, know I would have felt better served with this approach.
Though this might've made for a more difficult job, I still do not think it would've been out of reach.
Regardless of this and how correct or incorrect I may be in the previous paragraph, it still does not excuse Aeria for dropping the ball on the quality of any of it's own services, community care, community programs, game/community knowledge, and customer care and support for the games it hosts. In fact, it is just because of the rather odd-looking dev/publisher relationship here that Aeria needs
the highest levels of attention to customer satisfaction and quality on it's own end. Why is quality forsaken? Tell me you know the answer by now - for profit at the expense of customer quality and satisfaction.
If you have not yet grasped how this is so and why this is not a good thing, please consider the other info in this thread and judge by your own experiences.
Profit at the expense of overall customer quality and satisfaction. Again, and again, and AGAIN we see this. Over and over. It's always there. It's the scourge of my experience here. It's.... some sickeningly disastrous metaphor that may possibly have something to do with tomatoes. It has destroyed any sense of loyalty I might've felt towards Aeria. It has taken away the love I once had for this place. While my life certainly consists of a lot more than Aeria and gaming, I can't help but feel a little empty every time I visit this site. Melodramatic, maybe, but true.
As always, you are welcome to judge for yourself about all these issues and make your own conclusions, but I hope you will carefully consider the ideas discussed here. Again, ty for reading.