Monday, September 14, 2009

Rejection

In a comment on a prior post someone made a good point. The post was about responding to submissions... of all the submissions that will be coming in to Tasty Minstrel Games, only a small number of them will be chosen to be published. An anonymous commenter made the following comment:

It can be helpful to both parties to include at least a phrase or two describing the reasons for rejection. For example, "For now, our thematic focus is on historical games." Criticism is trickier, but it's the mark of a company that's worth building a relationship with.

I agree - when I have submitted games in the past, I very much appreciated responses from the publishers that they had been received, and when rejected I wanted to know why. Looking at it from the other end has me wondering though... in some cases the reason is simply "we don't like the sound of it" or "it doesn't look very good to us." So I have a question for would be submitters:

If the reason for rejection is simply "we don't like it" - would you prefer to hear that directly, or would you prefer a more sugar coated "we're not interested at this time" type of response?

Please comment on this post with your thoughts on this matter.

5 comments:

Dan said...

If the game submission process only took a week from start to finish, I would be more comfortable with a "We'll pass" response. However, since the process takes such a long time, getting nothing out of the experience is a real downer. At least with some constructive feedback, you have a goal of how to improve the game before you send it off again.

Isamoor said...

This is a tough one. I'd love to say "You Owe Them Feedback", but feedback takes time. And you don't really owe them time. Hell, you already gave them your time reading over the submission.

In the end, I'll just take what I can get and call it good. I wouldn't want to antagonize prospective publishers any further.

SDS said...

Well, I guess it depends on how far in the submission process the game has gotten.

If you read the one-pager, and didn't like it, something similar to "This game does not appear to fit our current plans at this time (with regards to complexity, or theme, or whatever). May we keep you file on record if we decide to look at it again?" may be appropriate. "It does not look very good to us" may be a little harsh.

Once you have gotten a physical copy, however, it's a little tougher to be vague since in theory the game has passed a lot of the initial smell test. There's probably no reason why can't provide a simple 1 or 2 point list of why you are rejecting it without getting into details, even if it's harsh, as it must be pretty obvious to point out a few flaws if you don't like the game. Some things like:

"Too complicated for our target market."

"Does not have enough strategy for what we are looking for."

"Gameplay does not feel in tune with the theme."

Mike said...

"We don't like it" is fine, but ideally a line or two of explanation, e.g, because it is unpolished, unbalanced, seems tedious, uninteresting, too weird, over-complicated for the play time, etc.

Jeff said...

I agree with the other responses; if you're responding to a designer prior to submission of a prototype, a simple "we're not interested" should be sufficient. It might be helpful to expand on that, if there are specific reasons you're not interested -- "we don't think we can sell this kind of game", "it would cost too much for us to produce", "we're not interested in that theme", "the game seems too much like games that are already out there," etc. Be firm -- make it clear that your rejection is not something you're looking to discuss -- but do it in a courteous way.

If you've playtested the game, "we don't like it" seems inadequate. You obviously liked it enough to want to test it; what changed your mind? Saying "we don't like the game" is the equivalent of giving a game a low rating on BGG without providing any comments. It tells me a little bit, but ultimately it doesn't do very much good. Adding a few sentences to explain your position is of much more value to the designer. It shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes, so it's well worth the additional effort if you've made the investment in playtesting the game in the first place.