The More You ‘Bow is part of an ongoing series about the little ins and outs of Runbow. Each week we’re going to offer you a little more insight into this game we love so much. And yeah… we just kinda wanted to call something “The More You ‘Bow.”
This week’s blog is brought to you by Dave, Producer on Runbow.
Why Isn’t Runbow Out in Australia Yet?
Other games get released there, right? A lot of people ask us this question every day, and I thought I would write a little piece and let everyone know where we are at and what we’ve been working at. I thought I’d operate outside of the traditional It’s-Someone-Else’s-Fault-Internet-Rant format and maybe shed a little positivity on the well-known challenges surrounding a simultaneous international ship. That might be kind of fun.
“Ratings Are Hard”
To release a game in any region in the world, it has to pass through a rating system. North America has the ESRB, Europe and many other regions use PEGI, and Australia and New Zealand uses the ACB. I’m sure everyone knows this by now.
I’m sure everyone also knows the oft-repeated complaints about the Australian classification system. Yes, it’s a little stricter, it takes a little longer, and it stops a lot of games from getting released there. This all sucks, but we’ve tried not to let this get us down, because shouting about this issue is not going to change it. We try to stay positive around our office because I think the more we throw negativity at that system and complain and gripe, the more people are ready to respond with negativity. This is as true in game classification as it is in smiling at someone on the street. “You catch more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar,” my grandma said, and she’s shipped tons of video games.
Instead, why not put ourselves in a position where we can encourage dialogue? Or encourage nationals in Australia and New Zealand to have a dialogue with their members of parliament about their system? Every game blocked or delayed is a chance for conversation about the benefits and issues of the rating system–any ratings system. That’s way more powerful for game makers and game fans, so we’re going to do that.
We’ll also say thank you, ACB, for rating our game. You’ve made it so that parents and consumers can eventually make an informed decision about how awesome it is. That’s actually a really cool thing.
“International Co-Ordination Is Hard”
In life, much like in Runbow, sometimes there are things you can’t control. Whether it’s the colour of the platform beneath your feet or the structure of your culture ministry, sometimes you don’t have all the power in the world. That’s okay.
For us, we had a submission to the ACB in the queue and returned to us the day after we entered final certification for Europe. It took them a little longer than expected for whatever reason it takes human beings a little longer than expected to do things sometimes. Maybe someone got sick. Maybe someone couldn’t find their keys that day. Maybe someone won the lottery and got to retire forever, leaving someone else to pick up the work (not without a little monetary gift from the lottery winner, I hope). Whatever the reason, it took longer than expected.
I think it’s hard sometimes to imagine the creators of things that you love, things that seem like they were built for you and only you, as people themselves. With lives, and dogs, and kids, and partners, and illnesses, and hobbies, and dentist’s appointments and broken alarm clocks. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that these things have to be made by people and people can only be scheduled so far before life gets in the way.
When it came down to it, we had a choice to make between shipping the regions that were approved and waiting for simultaneous ship, and waiting was not a viable option for us. We made every decision about Runbow in a way that reflected a game and an experience that our audience would appreciate. That was our one motivating factor. But when we needed to launch to make sure that we can still feed our dogs and our dentists, then we needed to launch.
“Not Giving Up is Hard”
“So the game isn’t going to be simultaneous ship,” we said.
“That’s a real thing that happens,” we said, and while we were bummed, we thought we could make some lemonade out of this big bag of lemons. Or I guess if the lemons come from Australia, it might be most efficient to make lemon myrtle? While I am well versed in the inner workings games industry, your lemon industry is entirely vexing.
There are things in our control. Since the rest of the world had a chance to play Runbow first, we have the ability to take our time, and make sure Australia and New Zealand get as many bug fixes as we can cram in there before they boot up the game for the first time. We could fix the little things to make a better first impression of the game. Little things that we didn’t think we’d need to fix before we launched, issues that hadn’t presented yet. We could have shipped out immediately, but you’d get the same bugs everyone else had, and it would take us even longer to fix them for everyone.
Even now we are waiting for approval of some issues through Nintendo’s certification process. Sometimes this process can take a while, but the fact that it is so rigorous helps us make sure the game is its absolute best when it heads out our doors. We can also work on controlling the price to mitigate for currency conversions across different regions, and to keep competitive with digital indie titles across the world. That’s why we set a 19.50AUD and 20.99NZD price point, which you can get 15% off if you downloaded our Nindies@Home demo.
We’re also in control of how we talk and think about what our studio does. No one is to blame or no one is behind schedule. We’re really proud of Runbow, and we want your first experience of the game to be the best it can be. And if there’s issues in that build, you’re damn right we’re going to fix those too.
This is our first game and it’s been a wild ride. We’ve learned a lot and it’s amazing to see the support, even from regions where we haven’t launched yet. Thank you for staying excited about our game.
It’s hard not to stay positive.