Ok, so maybe it wasn’t $6500 worth, but we’ve all had unfortunate cases of data loss before. You forgot to save your essay in MSWord, Photoshop crashed on you in the middle of a project, Windows decided to update in the middle of your non-autosave game. That sucks. But it will probably never compare to how this one indie developer lost his company’s mailing list.
At a recent trade show, this company was showing off their newest game and collecting emails as a way of promoting the product, as well as recruiting potential beta testers. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the entire point of their attendance was to amass a mailing list. The expense for the trip totaled at around $6500 and 340 man-hours from the full staff that was promoting the game. If anyone has ever gone to an expo or trade show before, you’ll know that wi-fi is a myth when you’re in the main exhibition halls. In this case, wired internet cost an extra $700 a day, which wasn’t required for their single player game demo and therefore was not purchased.
The emails were collected on a chromebook since the other six computers were being used as demo units. If anyone here has ever used a chromebook before, they’ll know it’s not the greatest machine without an internet connection. Hundreds of emails were compiled in an offline spreadsheet over the course of the convention. When it was over and the developers returned to their office and connected the internet, Murphy’s Law kicked in. The spreadsheet vanished, and all the emails with it since the offline edits to the document remained unsaved. The cloud had failed them.
This is where Reddit comes in. This whole story was posted to TIFU yesterday, and after the developer revealed that the game he was promoting was Prismata, he ended up getting more than triple the email signups than he’d collected at the convention after the post hit the front page. In a way, this enormous screwup ended up being a good thing for their company. They got tons of exposure, a new list, and this promoter gets to keep his job. Good guy Reddit saves the day.
For those interested, Prismata is a free-to-play real-time strategy with card game elements that is “genuinely free” and looks like a cross between Hearthstone and Starcraft. So I signed up, because putting the words “free”, polished, and RTS together are a surefire way to get my attention. The game trailer and email list are reachable at Prismata’s website.