Lost Planet Multiplayer Demo

Releasing demos of pre-release games is always a gamble, especially when you're dealing with a hotly anticipated title. Epic Studios was wise not to release a demo for Gears of War, as there really would have been no benefit to doing so, except give them something else they would have had to work on while trying to get the game out the door. Everyone knew the game was coming, pre-ordered it, and was ready to buy it the second it hit the shelves. As a result they sold over a million copies in three weeks time.

Lost Planet is a different beast entirely. The game was a secret before E3 in May and soon after began getting major buzz. Capcom immediately made the E3 single-player demo available over Xbox Live and people ate it up. Sort of. For every person I talked to that played the demo and liked it, there was another who said they felt the demo didn't live up to the post-E3 hype the game was getting. Fast forward a few months and Capcom decides to show the rest of their hand by releasing a multiplayer demo for Lost Planet. This is especially risky because people are often willing to overlook a questionable single player experience if the multiplayer is exceptional, and vice-versa.

Whenever I have tried to go online with the Lost Player multiplayer demo, I found the experience to be akin to visiting a ghost town. Nothing but me, a few empty shells of games long since abandoned, and a couple tumbleweeds blowing through. In fact, in the three attempts at playing the multiplayer demo, I've yet to find a single game that was active. And never have I seen more than three games even listed. I attempted to create my own game, but nobody showed up to play it. I perceived this to be a death knell for an otherwise highly hyped game -- so hyped in fact that Capcom is airing commercials for the game on the giant jumbotron in Times Square in NYC throughout the month of December. This, despite the game not releasing until after the holiday crush in January.

Apparently the multiplayer demo has, despite my inability to find a match, gotten plenty of play and, as a result, Capcom has gotten a slew of comments, suggestions, questions, and, in all likelihood, complaints about the game. This could have been very bad for Capcom. Had they have said nothing in response to these comments, fans would have likely considered their concerns to have fallen on deaf ears and, depending on their fondness for the single player game, they may have passed up on the game.

But Capcom was listening and today they released an "open letter" to the fans of the game, addressing in surprising detail many of the concerns and suggestions that were raised. In the letter, which you can read here, they not only detail their work towards improving the game, but even promise fixes that would be made available over Xbox Live the day the game releases. Now that is doing smart business!

Some of these changes had already been anticipated by the team and were included in the final gold master of the game. Others have come straight from the hundreds of thousands of people playing the multiplayer demo. Capcom has been reading boards, emails and blogs, collecting thoughts and ideas directly from our growing community. Capcom would like to thank all of those people who have taken the time to share their thoughts on Lost Planet; the game is now that much stronger for it.

I'm sure a part of Capcom's responsiveness to the issues raised by gamers is due to the bad press the company received following the release of Dead Rising, when it was made public that the company wasn't going to address the small-font issues affecting those with standard-definition television sets. The Internet can often be a real pain in the ass and too often gives far too many platforms to people who really shouldn't be allowed to stand on one, but it can also be a consumer's best friend. The bad PR from the Dead Rising issue was obviously fresh on their minds and rather than simply ignoring the paying fans, Capcom saw an opportunity to show they care. Not only did it buy them back some good will, but it likely helped secure them a few extra thousand sales too. Kudos to them.

1 comment:

jcarter said...

I only logged on once in the middle of the afternoon and there was a very lively game in session. It was a lot of fun, too. Looking forward to this game.