Bonus Post!

I just had to comment about this in more depth. Check out this article. The gist of it is that because Facebook changed gears a bit and put more limitations on how much applications could spam people on the platform, game developers are hurting.

First of all, all of us, game developers included, gladly handed them the kingdom of the newly emergent social web. It's not like we didn't all find some benefit out of the fact that it somehow became okay overnight to be a member of an online social network. It's not like the game developers who now see Facebook as Darth Vader didn't profit from being there early to pan for gold. We give the site more than a little power by putting our information on it, inviting our friends to it, and developing for it, but no one's got a gun to our heads making us do it.

Let's be clear. I'm not against social gaming. It's not a world that I choose to spend my spare time in, but I can see the sheer entertainment value. And I'm super excited about folks applying the world of social gaming to solving real world problems. The idea that you could make creating a better world into a game is simply awesome, and I think there's a lot more that can still be done in this area. Developers might even be able to make a bit of money at it while they contribute to the world at large in this way. And hey, even if you're just making something that lets people think, be engaged, and kill a few hours that they might otherwise spend watching TV, hat's off to you (though I don't wear many hats, so you'll have to accept the expression in spirit only).

But here's my simple test as to whether you're trying to get more out of this situation than you're providing in value (entertainment or otherwise) to other people. If you can't maintain your required level of profit without spamming people like crazy, then you're not providing enough value. Simple, no?

It seems to me that if the only way you're going to keep people using your product is by continually reminding them to use it, then it's not a great product. What you're trying to sell in this case is addiction. And that's just not very cool.

Along these lines, I watched a great TED video last week. It's about companies becoming leaders in a field by really understanding the "why" aspect of their product. It's not just about features. It's not about the latest trends. Quite simply, these companies believe so strongly that there is a hole in your life or your vocation that you don't even know about, and they're truly concerned about this hole, so much so that they developed a product to try and fill it. Whether you agree or disagree with the Apples of the world, that's how they build their customer loyalty. It's not even about having the best technology, though they tend to do fairly well in that area. It's about really being obsessive about discovering and answering the needs of their customers. People who don't buy into that, well, they probably won't buy into anything. But those who do will be with you for life. Quite happily.

By the way, this is one of the major things that attracted me to M7. The product isn't perfect. No product is. But they're really passionate about helping the creative and the business side of video production come together. They see the need, they believe they can meet that need, and they have a great product to do it that's only going to get better. And it's way easier to build product than it is to fuel passion.