Category Archives: Business

Make your content easy to share

Myxilia dancing

I did a little experiment this morning. I uploaded a 40 second video of Mylixia dancing to Michael Jackson’s Bad to Facebook. It was a post to encourage people interested in League of Legends to check out his teaching stream. It was deleted – copyrighted content. I could appeal under fair use but it proves my point perfectly.

His stream does not have the archives publicly available, his site is kind of bare, and his social media points back to either Twitch (stream) or the site. His YouTube has no content. In other words, if you don’t see the stream live, you miss out and if you want to share it with others, it’s hard. His community would be larger if his content wasn’t more closed down than a private profile on Facebook.

If you are interested in building a community, giving subscribers (people paying to see your content) benefits is great but in every community there will almost ALWAYS be more non-paying people than paying…and those people will draw paying people to the community by spreading the word. Their voice in spreading the word can be more valuable than the money coming from the subscribers.

Make it easy to share your content.

Riot Games, delays and their growth

I just started playing League of Legends, a game I wanted to play for awhile and I enjoy watching others play. I avoided it because the community is known to be very toxic and I do not have the patience for that type of immature behavior. In the end, it is a game. Rage at the game, not at other players. Reading that Riot has made significant efforts to stop the toxic nature of the community, I decided to play the game.

Introducing…Lucian

Lucian, pictured above, is a new champion I look forward to playing. He has not been released and his release has been delayed again.

When will Lucian be ready to go live?
Morello: Sorry for going dark on it, just getting on the forums a bit again;

I don’t have a good ETA currently, but it’s taking a bit longer than we’d hoped. There’s some outstanding issues remaining we need to get cleaned up before we can turn him on, and some are hairier than others.

In a game like League of Legends, it is important that the champions are as balanced as possible. From time to time, they re-work champions to improve their play stats. There are some champions that are rarely used, have low win rates, etc. and Riot tries to improve their viability by redoing the champion’s abilities. This is inevitable as they release new champions. Master Yi was recently redone and the statistics on his performance, based on how players played him, are being compiled. It seems they missed the mark on making Master Yi balanced.

Morello: We’re looking at some Yi fixes currently and want to get them in for 3.11 – I’d like to have some direction locked by Monday.

Unfortunately, we did not meet one goal we’d hoped to – better in high-ranked games, and not as stompy in low-ranked ones. This is still occurring, which means Yi is in beast mode for a vast majority of players.

Will you remove the reset mechanic on his ultimate in favor of balance?

Morello: We don’t need to nerf Yi flat-out, but it’s likely he needs more serious tuning to make it so he doesn’t tear through people who can’t deal with him, then allowing us to buff things that might be needed for stronger competitive play.

Master Yi was recently reworked and it seems he is over-powered in low-ranked games and under-powered in high-ranked games. Their public beta server is not accepting new applications at this time (and hasn’t for months), so how well was the re-worked Master Yi tested? If there are champions being re-worked consistently, why doesn’t the public beta server stay open so players can properly test these champions before they are released? For Master Yi to be over-powered in low-ranked games, it implies not enough low level players (making new player mistakes), played him before he was released.

Time to grow up?

If League of Legends is considered an eSport, isn’t it time to implement policies so the company can properly scale? Being able to, for example, employ the right people for the new positions they will need to keep company operations smooth, is important if they want to continue to be successful. Riot has the challenge of making a game that high-ranked players can play for eSports and an enjoyable game for casual players who might embrace the game and try to climb the ladder to ensure a fresh rotation of ranking players. It is, by no means, an easy task. Having qualified employees who can rise to upcoming challenges, meet and anticipate deadlines, etc. is very important to keep things running smoothly.

The delays are problems that need to be resolved. Often companies see these signs, do not resolve them, and they snowball. Riot is a relatively young company and this growth spurt they are experiencing can snowball to the point they have a hard time keeping up.

According to USA Today, Riot has ~1000 employees. When a company grows quickly to a size Riot is seeing today, there is often a large amount of inefficiency that was in place when the company was smaller. While they have investors and advisers (and ~1000 employees), they still have delays and have a hard time finding quality employees as they admitted in the explanation as to why they are having issues releasing champions. Zynga had similar growth issues and look how that turned out.

Back to Lucian

While I am excited to play Lucian, I understand why Riot is taking their time releasing him. I hope they properly test him so the community will have a new champion that is balanced and they can learn to play and work into their teams without fear of having to re-learn him because he was not properly tested. The community is excited to test him. Yes, operating a public server that could handle the loads of people that would play on it is challenging but, with 1000 employees, a well-funded company should be able to do it, especially since the traffic will die down once the initial excitement of it being open wears off.

I hope Riot has much success but maintaining success is much harder than many people realize.

Love hate relationship between gaming companies and retail stores

I just finished editing a video (it’s encoding). “My time” is when my house is quiet.

Catching up on my RSS feeds, I saw this article and I agree…the current model is broken and a new one needs to be implemented. People treat you the way you allow them to. Gaming companies allowed themselves, out of fear, to be placed in this position with retail companies.

Often, you can’t truly run from confrontation and postponing it can make it worse. In this case, it’s turning into a war with gamers/consumers caught in the middle. Gaming companies need retail stores but can thrive without them. A retail store without products can’t thrive. Gamers will go directly to the game company to purchase the game.

It’s up to the gaming companies to make a game compelling enough to thrive the passion to play it.

The work behind success

There are times when something will cross my mind, I have no idea why, and I cannot let it go. It sits there in my brain until I figure out why it is there.

This time the thing nagging my brain is MMO Champion, one of the leading World of Warcraft information sites. MMO Champion is known for breaking news. WoW Insider informs and educates readers, not necessarily being the first to deliver the news. The two sites complement each other because WoW Insider covers more in-depth articles than MMO Champion, for example How-To Guides or more directly, explaining the changes MMO Champion reports and how it will affect players in the game. MMO Champion fills the gaps in WoW Insider’s news delivery. Two different sites with two very different clear cut goals that complement each other.

Delving further, the founder of MMO Champion is in his early 20s, sold the site and still updates it, and has a very focused updating schedule.

That focus is what led to him being able to sell the site within the first year of its existence.

They want it…but not that bad…

Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all. – Sam Ewing

I know many people who want a “big” site like MMO Champion (millions of readers per month) but do not want to put in the effort Fabien exerts daily to maintain a quality site. Their expectations are not realistic. Most of the people I know who have successful sites lived and breathed those sites to get them off the ground. Their social lives tanked because the responsibilities of the site took precedence and they have no regrets because they enjoy what they do. Listen to Fabien’s description of his social life:

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison

Note what he said. He did not say he wanted the extra time to go swimming, hang out in the club, etc. He wanted the free time to attend more events or create other projects. The hard work he is putting in now could easily allow him to retire at 30, in plenty of time to have kids, raise a family, and enjoy life. Let’s be real…if that were to happen he earned it. He put in the hours, the effort, and made the sacrifices.

He receives tens of millions of page views per month from the millions of unique people who visits his site. Does he share his stats? Only when asked as he is very humble about it. When he was a rising star, did he publish his stats? Nope. He was too busy working on the site and the results were obvious from the links and interaction on his site. Thinking about it more, the big sites normally do not brag about their stats, even as they are becoming powerhouses. They might state the stats for an advertising page but that is it. I definitely did not when I had my large gaming site. I was too busy scaling the site and dealing with the problems that arise when there is an increase in visitors for the thought to cross my mind (interesting tidbit: I talked more about my stats with the site after I closed it than when I had it. I knew the traffic would come with the effort I was putting in so there was no reason to stress it). Let me be clear, statistics are important but people focused on their stats to the point of posting them online usually are slacking in other areas, because their focus is wrong, that could help grow their site. Especially since most site owners focus on the wrong stats.

Fabien also does not have goals that are out of his reach. He knows the work involved to reach his goals and does not have a problem putting in the effort, or spending the money (if needed). He made improvements in data mining and hired the people needed to create the tools. This investment made it easier for him to update the site and he used the extra time wisely. He reinvested it in the site or other projects. As of the last interview I could find, he no longer plays WoW because he spends so much time mining for news or beta testing. By the time he is done, he feels as though he played the game. That is how he finds balance and continues to enjoy what he does. His enthusiasm shows in his dedication.

Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s the determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek. – Mario Andretti

This is the part where someone usually says there are many ways to have a successful business. There sure are, so pat yourself on the back. There are many ways to go about it but hard work and dedication is rarely something that can be taken away, be successful and maintain that success. Using MMO Champion as an example, unless something big is going on, he only makes one news update per day. However, he has quite a bit of data to go through daily to make that update as the news and developer updates are made all throughout the day. If he misses something, his audience let’s him know about it. His audience expects the quality to continue.

As far as competition is concerned, he will have minimal competition. There are many WoW sites but very few have the quality content he has. Why? They are not willing to put in the effort Fabien does.

Are you that person?

Are you the person that wants success but not enough to consistently work hard to reach your goals? Are you the person that does not mind hard work and looks forward to challenges that come up? Be honest with yourself. If going to the beach or the club on weeknights or weekends is a priority to you, then you are in conflict with having a “big” successful business. Better to know the truth early on than frustrate yourself trying to achieve something that most likely will not happen (until the focus and dedication changes).

Blind leading the blind or the echo chamber

Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.” This echoes the words of the Katha Upanishad: “Abiding in the midst of ignorance, thinking themselves wise and learned, fools go aimlessly hither and thither, like blind led by the blind.

I decided to use the quote because it echoes something I see with social media all the time. Someone wants to excel in an area and instead of following the voice of reason from someone with experience and expertise, they follow the voices of people with an equal level of inexperience and lack of success. There is a reason why this happens. The people with more experience will often, in good faith, say things that might make someone feel “bad”, defensive, defeated…feel free to pick the term. The people with less experience and maturity will say “good job!” and boost the person’s ego.

Let us look at an example. I wrote an article called The Peter Principle and Fast Company. I was told I was being “mean”, I was “picking on them” and I should be more encouraging (although Scoble said it was “spot on”). Except, what I was saying was true. I was not blindly writing an article, I made a point and backed it up systematically. Eventually, point by point, it all came true. It was sad to watch it unfold because it did not have to be that way, but things happen for a reason. Fast Company is now making a comeback (after killing off the video project, changing management and using a better design) which is great because the site used to be a good business resource.

Ego vs The Truth

Whenever a warrior decides to do something, he must go all the way, but he must take responsibility for what he does. No matter what he does, he must know first why he is doing it, and then he must proceed with his actions without having doubts or remorse about them. ~ Carlos Castaneda

Excelling at anything means pushing yourself and successfully accomplishing goals that become harder over time. Business decisions do not become easier over time, they become more complicated the more the business scales. Many businesses start with owners making decisions but not in the frame of mind of the decisions being business decisions.

It is sort of like having the boy/girlfriend/spouse/significant other that is less mature than you are. When you enter in a relationship like that, you cannot expect the person to mature on your timetable. You cannot expect the same level of support from someone without the same maturity level and it is unfair to ask them to (cruel in my opinion because it causes him or her to jump through hoops they cannot successfully jump long-term). When you enter the relationship, you are saying you are the leader and you will guide the two of you down the right paths…whether you want to admit it or not. Unless the person magically matures while you stay stagnant for them to catch up, it will always be that way.

In business, if you surround yourself with people with less experience, you will end up hindering your abilities to reach your goals. These well meaning people do not have the knowledge or experience to guide you in the right direction. Instead of telling you the feedback you need to hear, not hurting your feelings will be of more importance. In addition, as your business scales, you will encounter very tough decisions these well-meaning people will guess at answers to. While your business declines instead of excels, your well-meaning friends with less experience that led you to the cliff and helped push you off, will be there to support you.

You decide your destiny by picking those close to you. If you pick people with similar interests, experience and maturity, together the group will excel in similar directions. Or you can let those without similar experience and maturity stroke your ego and distract your focus.

Reality

Instead, part of every entrepreneurs job is to invent the future. I also call it “kicking your own ass”. Someone is out there looking to put you out of business. Someone is always out there who thinks they have a better idea than you have. A better solution than you have. A better or more efficient product than you have. If there is someone out there who can “kick your ass” by doing it better, its part of your job as the owner of the company to stay ahead of them and “kick your own ass” before someone else does.

The above quote was from an article Mark Cuban wrote about not listening to customers. Many times customers honestly do not know what they want until they have it. The point being: you have to be careful whom you listen to.

Entrepreneurs always need to be reminded that its not the job of their customers to know what they don’t know. In other words, your customers have a tough enough time doing their jobs. They don’t spend time trying to reinvent their industries or how their jobs are performed. Sure, every now and then you come across an exception. But you can’t bet the company on your finding that person at one of your customers.

If the people you spend the most time with, share your secrets with, and listen to advice from have the same frame of mind, similar maturity level and experience they can support and aid you in re-inventing the future, which is what entrepreneurs need to do to have success. People with less maturity, experience, and different goals will drain your focus.

Because you cannot expect them to know what they have not learned.