Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bad Business Practices and You

[What's that other word in my blog title? Oh yeah, business...heh...]

When it comes to business, keep in mind that you need to come through on any obligations. Your business dealings have an effect on your comic; anything bad that you do will be translated to your comic as well, and affect its fanbase.

Consider Pepetual Entertainment. They are in the process of releasing Gods & Heroes, a MMORPG based on Roman mythology. Although the game looks great, it was set for a general release in October (not an issue in and of itself, as changing due dates seems to be an unfortunate part of the gaming industry). However, they had a major push in the PR department, hiring Kohnke Communications to do everything that it possibly could, which would include press release, web design, and reviews that would make it seem like cyber-Heaven.

However, Kohnke isn't getting payed. For that matter, neither are Perpetual's investors. Perpetual's new owners decided to shift funds from Perpetual to another company. Worse, Perpetual had asked Kohnke to create marketing materials for G&H, even though the decision to cancel the project apparently came down on September 27. Worse, Perpetual had apparently promised Kohnke a bonus when the game was released. Suffice to say Kohnke is suing Perpetual for $290,000.

So what's the relevance? It's that when G&H comes out, it will need to overcome a lot of negative publicity. The gaming community tends to be tight, and tends to take issue when someone get screwed by a company; gamers in general are cut-throat, and have no problem with nailing each other, but even the worst PvP-killer dislikes when someone gives gaming a black eye. Regardless of how Kohnke felt about doing business with a gaming company before, it's going to seriously debate doing business with one again. Also, the suit gives anti-gaming enthusiasts yet more ammunition in the next go-round.

And it gets worse from there. Perpetual is developing another MMORPG, Start Trek Online. Although it's going to be popular, it's not likely to do well; it's business will probably be limited to hardcore Star Trek fans who will be interested in the novelty, but may not attract the hardcore gamers who keep games like that going. The Strek Trek MMORPG is going to need the best game ever in order to do well over time; it's going to be interesting to see what Penny Arcade and VGCats do to them.

Thus Perpetual's decision to not Kohnke (which was meant to save them money) will probably cause them loss of potential profit down the road. And, even though it isn't a comic, comic creators should take note: Regardless of the quality of your comic, your business deals need to be done with an eye to fairness and good business practices, or the popularity of your comic will suffer, and that can spell bad things in your future...