Tobold's Blog
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Don't outsource your core business

MMORPGs are not like other computer games. A developer studio making a single-player game might well consider their core business to be developing games, and leave the distribution to somebody else. A MMORPG is more akin to an ongoing service. Game design is important, but the infrastructure around it is at least equally important. Your brilliant game is no good at all if for example on release your account creation website is dead and nobody can log in.

Sony Online Entertainment took two years to learn this lesson. They had outsourced the handling of their European customers to a German TV company which had a few browser games, ProSiebenSat1, and was thus eminently unqualified to handle massively multiplayer online role-playing games or shooters. Pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and the European players felt left out in the cold. I haven't played any SOE games in that time, just because of PSS1 and region locks. This week SOE cancelled the contract, and will migrate the games back into SOE management. Better late than never! I now might get to play Everquest Next and Landmark!

I hope other game companies are watching and learning the lesson: Customer handling is a core business for MMORPGs, don't outsource it!

Potential profit increase tends to trump anything else ... and until management admits an mistake years can go into the land. At least SOE managed to do a turn before they lost their last customer.
Is the opposite true? If developing is not their core business they might as well outsource it right?
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