Quoted from ronaldvg:
First I want to say that I always appreciate your posts. They are mostly well thought out and to the point. But in this case I must disagree. The whole point of the letter seems to me that they do NOT want to make any promises, but inform us that they are still working very hard on getting the machines as best as they can. They do not seem to want to rush them out the door, as then we would all be over them if they are not up to par.
The "we won't make commitments going forward" is a cop out, not a "honest to a fault" type of response. If it were true transparency and honesty, they'd explain their failures in a way that you can sympathize with or they should accept blame for. Instead, they blame everyone else... including the customer base. They make claims that don't pass the sniff test.
They give incredibly vague references to forward progress "making some people whole", but give no affirmation about how much is in front of them or how they would realistically beat the obstacles in front of them. Instead, all they offer is the admittance that pre-order customers won't be the first deliveries... but instead of saying it outright, they say it some convoluted way.
Real transparency and showing your cards would be
- Recapping your prior commitments and giving progress status on them
- If you are behind or failed, give the reason for such and address how not to repeat it
- Outlining your current blockers and identifying how you plan on addressing it
- Reviewing your midterm plan and providing updates on how you are ahead, behind, or making changes
Remember in June the message from the Investors was
"Now to the exciting part – the production and time line moving forwards.
We are currently ordering loads of parts (there is stock from before so not all parts need to be ordered) from our suppliers to build 175 games until the end of August. That is our fixed target. The number comes from a short, but slower, start-up period starting second half of June where we need to adjust the production line accordingly, before hitting approximately 100 games a month from August and onwards. The production rate will then increase gradually to full capacity later in the year. This means that some of you will get your game before the end of August, but some will have to wait longer. If you have paid a deposit or partly paid your game you will be asked to pay in full prior to shipment, but not until we have a confirmed delivery week for your machine in place. The investor group will attend the factory on a daily basis from now on, but please let us remind you that is not us who actually build your games"
So, their plan was to have parts to build 175 games. Does anyone think they shipped that many games since? If they were to have parts for MULTIPLE containers worth of games, why the hold up to shipping more SE games NOW? (because there is some reality in there that their suppliers probably wouldn't ship them that many parts...)
And the plan for their production velocity? 100 games a month? Where are they on that? What is keeping games from shipping now past the first container load? That is the elephant in the room they didn't address in their update.
Investor Group at the factory on a daily basis? That would be an easy one to echo success on.
These are just simple examples to highlight how the problem isn't "refunds" or people picking apart their prior messages. It's that they continue to be vague, don't address the obvious blockers, don't outline how they plan on addressing their hurdles. That is how you show ACCOUNTABILITY and build CONFIDENCE in the projected outcome.
Quoted from ronaldvg:
Of course we still have to wait and see what happens and if they can pull it off, but seeing how many refunds they did and still go forward I have much more confidence in the situation than 6 months ago.
I'm the opposite... the number of refunds.. at what scale would you peg it at? To me it seemed like maybe a dozen or more?? Certainly not in the massive quantities. Honestly, I doubt the individual buyers are the biggest of their liabilities.. in terms of actually preventing forward progress. Things that require hard output before you can move.. like inventory, suppliers, landlords, labor... these things are much greater risks, and probably are at larger scales too.
This update was far worse than prior ones because
- It doesn't address the obvious gaps head on
- It doesn't provide any update on meeting their prior commitments or outlining changes to them
- It doesn't provide any plan to address how they are addressing the lack of progress on the plan
Instead it offers
- A "plan" to just stop providing information - As somehow this builds more confidence??
- A shipping 'plan' that for some reason is holding up orders now, for LE games, that you still don't even know the BOM for..
- A story on the progress of LE parts... stupid shit like powder coat colors.. really?? You're letting an entire factory be held up by that?
If you were a manager and this was your team reading out their progress report to you... you should be beating them in the head and telling them never come back with a fluff report like that again or they're all fired. Instead the buyers here are all like "ooo, yeah, don't let those naysayers interfere with you, hears hoping the games still get made" and ignoring the real issues.
The biggest thing hurting any startup struggling to ship products is OVERHEAD - the recurring cost of running every day. The new HWP is now 3 months behind their first milestones, and has yet to demonstrate the ability to CONTINUALLY put out games. That's the #1 item they should have been addressing... how they will achieve sustainable velocity (parts in... games out!). Because with that, everything else can be prioritized and determine who can wait the longest. If they can't do that... It's Andrew all over again.
This isn't people picking apart their words... This is intelligent people looking beyond their promises and looking to be soothed with a CREDIBLE plan.
Instead they act like the 'noise' is what is holding them back... No, that's just people refusing to face their customer base.