The Early Adopter Gets the Worm
I’ve been dancing around this topic for a few weeks now, and I may very well have mentioned it before, but upon searching my posts, I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I’m tossing it out here in this shorter-than-usual post.
This builds on Gaz’s post on how software has become a service rather than a product, which I think is an excellent post and well worth your time if you haven’t read it yet. I build on the front end of that problem, the problem of early adopters.
You see, due to my and my buddy’s vague dissatisfaction with a lot of the games we play, we’re always looking for a new port in the storm. As a result, we’re often willing to shell out top dollar for games we’re looking forward to. This habit is in direct contrast to our stingy steam sale habits and admittedly only applies to titles we’re really looking forward to. In the past year, game we’ve bought for full prince include Diablo 3, Star Wars, and Skyrim, so you can see this problem doesn’t strike often, but when it does, the sting of further dissatisfaction is that much greater.
The simplicity of this problem startles me, and I can’t believe this revelation came so late. As software becomes more service-oriented, it becomes released earlier in its development stage. As a result, the earliest players – who pay top price – are effectively beta testers. We’re paying for the right to play buggy games and help developers balance their mechanics. Early adopters are paying to play imperfect games.
The old saying goes, “The early bird gets the worm.” This saying is meant to encapsulate the belief that people who rise or arrive early will find more success in their endeavors. That those who get started before others will find whatever prize they seek. The software industry has turned this phrase on its head; those who play earliest are actually being punished for their dedication to the IP, genre, or developer.
It’s too late for Star Wars. It may be a fantastic game that’s ironed out all the kinks now, but I played and finished and am just done. It’s too late for D3, too, for the same reasons. It’s even too late for Secret World, because I pre-ordered it, and no matter how much I know I should wait a few months until the game gets better, I won’t. Most of us wouldn’t, having already purchased and downloaded it, a log in just a few moments away.
Maybe I can learn to adapt to this new problem. Maybe not. Either way, regardless of the fact that we, the loyal, excited fools, are mostly to blame for our own purchasing habits, it’s another moral crime that software companies are committing: using their most valuable assets – the players – as guinea pigs. The scariest facet of this is that I’m not even sure they know what they’re doing is wrong. Because they’re providing the game earlier, they may think they’re doing us a favor.
If D3 taught me anything, it’s to wait. Wait for a better product, not an unfinished service. Know from experience that the earliest forms of the game will be imperfect, and just wait. The game will be there later, more shiny than ever, and just waiting to be unwrapped.