Know your buyer. It’s a simple enough concept, but one that’s easy to lose in the details of a product’s creation.
The same is absolutely true for games. Because the industry is populated with workers who are gamers themselves, it’s dangerously simple to assume that the games they develop will automatically be enjoyable, popular and profitable. But game industry workers are not always representative of the player market. The truth is that to compensate for that inherent bias, the touches of contributors still can’t replace input from outside gamers, the ones who are not-so-patiently waiting for the next release.
Forming a lasting relationship between a studio and a group of players isn’t all that different from the relationship-building we do in our daily lives. It’s all based on trust. Trust that the studio is in sync and engaged with players and quick to respond to both in-game issues and out-of-game community sentiment. Trust that the game servers can handle the sudden rush of new players with a new release. Trust that the experience will be the same for all players, wherever in the world they are. Trust that the game will be fun to play because it was designed with gamer involvement from the very beginning.
The more your game is exposed to potential players before it is released to the public, the more confident you can be when it goes live. So don’t wait until you’ve already finished layers and layers of localization, LQA, FQA, CQA and more before you send your work out into the world. Integrate feedback early and continuously into your process for the best possible experience for your players.