May 11, 2013: Stakeholder Wrapup
Thanks, everyone, for your comments on the 2013 Report to the Stakeholders. As I start making my notes for next year's report, I have a couple of questions for all the stakeholders . . . and I've got one for my fellow publishers, too.
First: Stakeholders, what would make this report more useful and interesting for you?
And the flip side of that: Is there anything in the current report that you think is a waste of time? The format hasn't changed much for ten years, and that's because most of the feedback that I get has been very positive . . . but if there's something there that bores you, please say so, and we'll see how many people say "Me too."
The third question, for my fellow publishers, is a straightforward one. Why am I (almost) the only one who ever writes a report like this? Over the years I've seen a few, a very few, frank after-action reports from other game companies. (A big shout-out to Fred Hicks of Evil Hat, who reports quarterly and gives a lot of numbers.) I've also seen some really wretched "annual reports" that just compile the year's marketing spam. I don't have to call them out by name; you know them when you see them.
I can think of several reasons why you might not want to write this report. If you work for a publicly-traded company (or a division of one), you'd probably get your pink slip the day it posted. I understand that. You folks at Hasbro and GW live in a different world, you have to play by its rules, and I'm not picking on you. But you who are running indie companies: you could do this if you wanted to.
Yes, it takes some time. (My argument is: it's an investment both in your fans and in the health of our art, and in fact, creating an honest review of the year it really helps the SJ Games whole management team.) Yes, it's scary to admit your mistakes. (But it makes it less likely that you'll repeat them.) Yes, if you tell your competitors what did and didn't work, it might help them compete. (Yes, yes, it just might help them. So what? I'm good enough that I can help my competitors without endangering myself. And I'm a game fan. I want other companies to do well, provided they do right by their customers . . . who are often my customers too. Please note that I'm still doing just fine after ten years of playing my hand face-up, and a lot of the hard-nosed "businessmen" of yesteryear . . . well, they seem to have left the building.)
So, yes, I'd love to hear comments on all these things. There's a thread on our forums about it. And a lot of my fellow company owners and managers read BGG, and there's a Stakeholders' Report thread there too. So tell us all what you think.
-- Steve Jackson