But is it a game?

Success or stagnate? – A case study

Now beginning its tenth year of business, with only a rapidly dwindling market share to show for it, the SLego™ Corporation has found itself compelled to revisit its business plan and consider new, and perhaps radical ways, to ensure the continued survival of the brand.

At one time SLego™ was brand leader and built its reputation upon a single innovative product line – a remarkably successful modular building system that appealed to all ages.  SLego™ has always maintained a philosophy that they only supply the bricks: it’s up to their customers what they do with them, a philosophy that is echoed in the company strapline – ‘Use your imagination – it’s your SLego™ world!’

SLego™ has always refused to be pigeonholed –“We’re not a game, as such”, opined founder Phil S. L. Ego, “our customers, or world builders as we prefer to call them, use our product in ways that transcends a mere game… it’s almost a lifestyle”. However, times are changing and, with new faces on the Board, the company seems to be moving in a new direction, looking towards the mainstream of games products more than ever before.

With sales at an all-time low, the company puts on a brave face and claims record successes – although this is impossible to verify, since the company no longer publishes business statistics externally. A rallying call goes out to every team… Come up with new ideas urgently – failure is not an option!

A date is fixed for a marketing summit meeting when all are required to attend…

——

“So guys, as you all know, Rodney’s given us a brief to come up with some new ventures that are gonna blast us right back into pole position and I’m sure you’ve all risen to the task. Umm, why don’t we start with the nuts and bolts, so to speak? What have you you clever folks in engineering come up with?”

“Er, sorry boss… I’m confused! We don’t do nuts and bolts – we decided years ago we’d leave that to Meccanosis™, and that we’d stick to just doing plastic bricks.”

“It’s just a figure of speech. I meant that you guys are like the gears and cogs that keep everything moving.”

“Gears and… er, never mind. Yeah, right ummm… OK we thought we come up with some new ‘experiences’ – like ‘flexibricks™’. You can mould them into any shape you want and they  look dead realistic too, so you can make things like animals and stuff with just a small number of bricks – it’s really cool.”

“Wow! That sounds awesome – great work team!”

“Umm, there are a couple of drawbacks. They won’t look right if you use them with older versions of  SLego™ and the punters will need special equipment to mould them, which is, erm… slightly ‘challenging’ to get to grips with… but, apart from that, they’re fab! We reckon they’re the future and besides, we’ve blown our entire budget on them.”

“Right. Well, maybe they’ll catch on. What about all the problems that people have been complaining about for years? No doubt all of those have been fixed now?”

“What problems? I didn’t think we had any.”

“You know – the same old problems… bricks not sticking together, printing on the bricks being all fuzzy, the way we can’t replace bricks when they go missing… that kind of thing?”

“Errrrrrrrrrrr…”

“Perhaps we should move on… Commerce, what have you come up with?”

“Oh, we’ve come up with a real beauty… you know how people used to complain that our model trading system was rubbish? Well we’ve come up with a way to make it even more rubbish, erm, i mean better! We’ve been listening to what our customers have been saying and we’ve come up with a brand new way of trading models!”

“Which is in line with what they’ve been asking for?”

“No. It’s what we think they should have. Oh, excuse me… that’s my ‘phone… Hello?… erm,  hang on a sec… Sorry – I have to take this, another Gold customer who wants to leave us, he’s saying that his entire stock of models have been replaced by somebody else’s and now they’re accusing him of theft. I really should take this… excuse me.”

“OK, let’s move on to marketing then – what have you guys got for us?”

“We have got you… vampires! Oh yes, and that’s not all… we’re going to introduce a whole range of ‘experience packs’ – there’ll be ‘Treasure Hunt  SLego™’, ‘Jungle Explorer  SLego™’, ‘Vampire Island SLego™’ and ‘Robot Haunted House Vampire Fishing SLego™’! What’s more we’re going to introduce special  SLego™ packs for Gold customers with square nubbles, so only other Gold customers will be able to play with them… it’s awesome!”

“That must have taken some serious development?”

“No, that’s the really clever bit… we’ve just copied what all our existing customers have been making for years and made our own branded versions!”

“But isn’t that like we’re competing against our own customers?”

“Well, sort of, but c’mon… they get to fish for vampires in the jungle to win crystal bricks – it’s a winner!”

“I’m not convinced. Ah well, let’s move on to PR and Customer Relations. Tony, what have you been up to?”

“Friendly Felicitations! Well, sorry to say, but my legendary awesomeness has taken a bit of a blow of late. I’m afraid Rodney won’t let me mingle with the customers any more and he’s stopped me doing my Superior SLego™ Guides… says I have to do a proper job now. So I, erm… I’ve been making the tea recently. That’s about it.”

“Oh, sorry about that. Ummm, OK – what about you guys in Product Development?”

“Ooh, have we been busy boss! We’ve been thinking it’s time to diversify… too many eggs in the old brick basket, so to speak. So, we’ve come up with a whole range of new products that are nothing at all to do with ‘building a beautiful brick world’. Can’t tell you a lot about them right now – top secret, doncha know! – but I’ll give you some teasers… how does  SLego™ Apps grab you? How about  SLego™ Angry Bricks – a game where you leave strategically placed bricks on the floor for unwary barefoot cows to step on? And what about  SLego™ Text – an adventure game played entirely in, well… text, and all completely integrated with every social network on the planet!”

“But what about our existing SLego™ customers who are with us for just one thing?”

“Stuff them! I mean, stuff for them… these new things – they’ll love them. Here’s the best bit – it’s minimal outlay for us, we’ve already got the expertise, the equipment – all we need to do is modify it a bit to suit the new products. Of course, it’ll mean less time and effort spent on SLego™ Original, but march of progress and all that!”

“Of course. Umm, OK let’s turn to the Community Liaison Team – what’s new folks”

“We’ve decided to play hard ball. No more ‘Mr Nice Guy’ – for too long we’ve let other companies come up with innovations and new SLego™ pieces that are better than ours. Remember Bouncy Body Bricks and Multiple Attachment Nubble Bricks, not to mention, Packaged Moodlighting. So we’ve decided, in future, we will set the standard – third party bricks will have to look exactly the same as ours and give no indication they’ve been produced by someone else and, if anyone does come up with any new ideas, they’ll have to run them by us first. If we like them, we’ll introduce them and others can follow suit after we have. If we don’t like them, no-one gets to use them, so there!”

“But won’t that stifle innovation?”

“Only if you put it in those terms!”

“Well, I think that’s all of us. I have to say that I’m a little disappointed… does anyone here understand our business model? Does anyone have any concept of joined-up working? How on earth are we going to be a success if just pursue our own team’s hair-brained ideas, without even considering what the rest of the business is doing, or what our customers are asking us for? There’s half of you going off on your jungle adventures, and the rest are off on your Angry Bricks planet or doing things that nobody wants and ignoring the very stuff that the customers have been nagging us about for years! Where’s the common aim folks, what’s our mission statement, where’s our commitment to our customers?”

“Hey, hey! Calm down boss… after all, it’s only a game!”

s. x

Oh, it’s the best thing that you’ve ever had
The best thing that you’ve ever, ever had
It’s the best thing that you’ve ever had
The best thing you’ve had has gone away
Radiohead – High And Dry 

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This entry was posted in Linden Love, SL, Unlikely stories. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to But is it a game?

  1. isfullofcrap says:

    I like the idea of Angry Bricks. Where can I buy them?

    -ls/cm

    • Latest from the project team is that the software has to go through extensive QA testing and will only run on systems licensed to use the proprietary ‘Fixits Engine’ – since no-one is licensed, you’ll have to go to SLego HQ to play it, although rumours are that it doesn’t work properly anyway!
      s.x

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