A blog about Erik, Cats, Newts, Owls, Crafts, Cars, Toys and Microsoft! I liked Erik before he was popular.
So I’ve been a Zune Desktop/Phone user for over 3 years now. I envied my coworkers Zune player for a long time. Which is why it is sad I say this. I canceled my Zune Pass this month. I wanted to let you know the reason.
The software was beautiful, simple, clean and worked. My phone and mp3 players always were easily synced. I could sort by genre, date added, many other ways. The multiple panes were simple and easy to use and powerful. You began to integrate social into the mix and it was starting to get awesome. People were making playlists that I could subscribe to. You were leading the pack. That was 3 years ago. While updates came, they were only to the catalog and backend. Almost no new features in that time. Windows Phone 7 integration was working well. I could easily manage my many devices and playlists.
Flash forward to today. Enter the world of Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, etc. Built from the ground up with social at the center and web apis, they started where Zune left off. Within months they were everywhere Zune was. On my XBox, Phone, PC. And they could even end up on my Roku and Smart TV. On top of that, they stay current with other amazing products like Last.FM, Songkick and Tunewiki. Why were things neglected? To stay competitive, you need to embrace the strengths of other companies. Instead Zune was built to be awesome for 2009 and never updated to be the same level of awesome in 2013.
The current iteration of XBox Music took many steps back. Decoupling the phone syncing to another immature and nearly useless phone syncing tool. Forcing users to migrate completely to a Windows “Metro” interface instead of upgrading the desktop experience. And completely removing any real useful social or modular design. Technology is moving ahead, and dinosaurs need to evolve or be put to pasture.
I know there is little chance to speak again about this matter, but here are my needs for coming back to Zune Pass:
What I think You have going right
I’ve talked to a lot of game dev’s over the years. Now that I find myself in the same shoes, I am realizing a lot what they say is really true. I’m talking about the long hours, the self doubt, the frustration, the costs, the delays, the ideas that just aren’t right, the constant shameless self promoting that goes on with it. It just keeps going and going and going…When does it end? I am can make it all go away if I just quit and go for a bike ride or skateboard or something.
In the old days, if you were an artist or worked in some professional trade, if you did great work, people would notice. There wasn’t much competition. Not to say that famous painters back then were lazy…I mean that in the sense there were only a few good artists around then and that meant if people wanted to see art, there was a much better chance of getting seen. Today, there are numerous sites devoted to indie game devs to help them promote the games they are working on. The market has become slightly saturated. It is getting hard to get noticed. Even more distressing, it is at times getting difficult to find games you liked because it gets buried in 100 other games on a review site. YouTube channels are popping up daily. It is reaching critical mass.
I frequent a Windows Phone forum a lot, and one of the recent threads started off “What does WP need to do to be successful?” My first comment was “What is the criteria for success?” After being corrected..my next comment was “What is the criterion for success?” After I appeased the great lord of the grammar world, we began to have a discussion on this topic. Was it phone sales? Was it approval rating? Was it Market Share #s? No one could come to agreement on this.
When trying to apply this to indie games, I ran into the same issue. What is a successful game? One you finish? The number of downloads(legal and illegal)? The amount of cash you generate over your costs? Just people saying it is cool? This is something I need to define early not to let myself down later.
My only advice is to take a lot of breaks, keep your mind agile and don’t stagnate. If you have to take a couple weeks off, do it. Get your mind back on track. Don’t be overwhelmed by the PR and the hoops you jump through to get your work out there. If it is something you love, chances are it will loved by someone else. Unless you are a total asshole. Don’t be an asshole.