Manor Lords publisher says game developers shouldn’t be ‘forced to run on a treadmill until their mental or physical health deteriorates’ to keep their game updated


Publisher Manor Lords has defended the strategy game against the post, which it says espouses the “endless growth” outlook “that causes so many problems in the games industry.”

Earlier this year, Manor Lords hit Early Access and was a huge success, selling two million copies in its first three weeks. However, like many Early Access games, the buzz around it has died down somewhat, in part because major updates haven’t been released very often since launch. A post by Raphael van Lierop, CEO of developer The Long Dark, seemed to criticize this very point LinkedInsaying that while they “really like what’s there”, “there’s very little there” and that it’s a “pretty interesting case study in the pitfalls of Early Access development.”

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Lierop continued: “The game launched with a fairly mighty base game, but without much content. A game that is heavily systems-focused needs either a range of maps, game modes, or some amount of proc-gen dynamics to keep it fresh.

“Early Access is a marathon, and when you launch a game, you have to have the next big content expansion in the queue. The game has been out for 2.5 months and there have been three fairly small patches with no new features or content. As such, I’ve put the game on hold and don’t expect to pick it up again for another 6 months, after which I’ll probably focus on something else. It’s really hard to get people’s attention back once you’ve lost it.”

Tim Bender, CEO of Hooded Horse, publisher of Manor Lords, disagreed with this stance, however, responding on LinkedIn that this is “exactly the kind of distorted, never-ending growth/burdened expectations/the-line-has-to-go-up perspective that causes so many problems in the gaming industry.” Bender explained that they had been in talks with the Manor Lords developers prior to release and that they would hear a lot about “missed opportunities,” but that they should “ignore all that” and “focus on his core vision for the game, and remember that the road to Early Access is long and that he shouldn’t feel any pressure from other people’s expectations.”

Bender noted that “if this industry is to find a more sustainable path forward, we need to move away from approaches like the ones below. Success shouldn’t create a constantly rising bar of new expectations for growth. Not every game should be destined to become a boom or bust live service. And release shouldn’t start a constantly accelerating treadmill that game creators are forced to run on until their mental or physical health collapses.”

It’s a great point to make, especially considering how much pressure there is on Early Access games, and it’s nice to know that Manor Lords’ publisher is supporting more sustainable development practices. So let’s hope Manor Lords takes their time!

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