We live in a multitasking world. You see people every day surfing their phones with their right hand, mid-conversation with the person across the table from them, while also trying to make a lunch selection from the menu in their left hand. Without getting into the concerns about our mental health and the fraying of the social fabric in our personal lives, we should recognize that we are expecting more from every interaction, and from every role in our business lives.
Everyone is expected to do more than they used to do, and every job is expected to cover more aspects of the business than even ten years ago. Nowadays everyone is part typist, part designer, part copywriter, part data analyst, part sales rep, part marketer. Why is it, then, that we don't put that kind of pressure on our technology?
I'm being serious.
When you work at a game publisher, or dev studio, you want everyone on the team thinking about how all the parts come together to make a greater whole. How will the music have an emotional impact on the player, and how will it keep them engaged and excited for long enough to drive high revenue per player? How will the typography on the splash screen and logo inspire passion? How will the loot drops (and frequency and timing, and item value...) create not just curiosity, but satisfaction during the gameplay and drive players to spend their hard earned cash on gems which might help them increase their in-game luck?
So, then, I get to the title of this post? Why do we let tech off the hook? We want everyone on the team working toward the greater mission, but when you hear a team member groan, "jeez, this load time is slow" or you read a comment from a would-be fan, saying "I wish this game was playable where I live, but the lag is WEAK!" what do you do about it?
If you're like some of the folks I've talked to, you shrug and say, "hey, buddy... we can't fix every problem!" And you might add, "players only care about how cool the game is. Tech stuff is secondary."
But that's crazy talk.
Technology can do better. Technology should be held to the same standard everything else is. If your marketing team defended poor stats by saying, "hey, maybe it's because the game's just not cool enough" you'd laugh them out of the office. Your tech CAN and SHOULD be expected to contribute in a positive way to the player experience. It's possible to deliver better games, even before the title screen loads. As much as we might want players to focus on only the areas of our game we're proud of, it doesn't work that way. Players focus wherever they choose, and that often includes all of the elements of your brand you're ignoring right now.
Players care about the website, and how quickly it loads (and how easy it is to navigate). They care about how long it takes for the game to download and startup. They care about how much info you ask for in the signup screen. They care about login delays. They care about constantly spinning wheels of matchmaking. They care about multiplayer lag...
I could go on, but you get the point. Every touch point with your game is a moment of truth for your brand, and you've got an opportunity to improve every touch point. Some you can fix by spending some time on them. Some you can fix by adding expertise. Some you can fix by using better tech.
It all sounds overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Start by having a look at the game the way your players will. Don't automatically make excuses for your tech, which is easy to want to do. Instead, be vigilant and unflinching. Your players will thank you.