Well, it’s here. As hinted in my end of 2020 roundup, I loathe writing articles on negative situations, especially if they end up spreading like wildfire, either due to the necessity for them to (like my last article on the subject), or due to the internet taking such things and being unable to resist enjoying such content.
Yet, like with my last article, I’m writing this one because I feel it’s a necessary action to take just to point out how ludicrous this entire situation turned out. That, and plenty of people in the Switch collector community, Shump fans, and a lot of other niches that this publisher is trying to appeal to are looking for answers, and I’m here to seek them and hope for bigger action and some sort of freaking accountability. Read my article above if you want a refresher on what Dispatch Games is in hot water for, and their history for doing this in the past, because, you guessed it- they did it again, ghosting and vanishing for months of end to come back with a pathetic excuse for an “update” just to delay the three games they promised to have out in 2019. So let’s get on with this, begrudgingly.
Aftermath of Backlash
Either as a result of my article, the pressure from their customers, other press people, or all of the above, Dispatch Games came back to Twitter after over two months of absences in May 2020. They pretty much noted that it would be at least six weeks before anything could be shipped out due to COVID 19, and that a lot of stuff was held up as a result. They also promised weekly updates and broke down a lot of their games one by one, to indicate which would come first and last, etc etc.
Overall, this did make some sense, especially their order of games: The jajamaru Switch CE was already shipped, but was lacking the coin. They promised to get them out in June, and sure enough, I got my lovely coin in mid June and it is of pristine quality. The PS4 version was delayed due to City Connection delaying that version to an unknown date, so it’s out of DP’s hands: can’t publish a game that doesn’t exist after all. Radirgy and Rail Sim were localizations, and would take a while as a result, especially the latter due to how complex of a game it was.
That just leaves two games from Dispatch’s parent company, City Connection: Game Tengoku on Switch, and Soldam’s PS4 version. The former was the main reason I put up my old article, for a physical version of that game was promised as early as the summer of 2019, and the digital version was to launch in late May 2020: with NO WORD on the physical version’s status. The fact Dispatch barely came back to the internet days before the digital launch, just to quell some distrust and concern over if the physical went MIA or not, was already concerning enough, especially when the company failed to reply to press requests via their PR email leading up to their sudden return. But surely, since switch carts do take a while to make, they’d at least get the standard version of the game out by the end of the year, right?
As for Soldam, it was in a similar situation to Jajamaru PS4, too, where the JP version was delayed to an unknown date. The difference this time was, it actually launched in Japan recently: So, the PS4 pressing should be quickly done since the EN translation was finished eons ago, right? Or a digital US release at the very least?
To both of these questions, the answer is a big, fat no. Eight months later, these two games, including their standard editions are still completely missing in action. Still, Dispatch promised weekly updates to inform their customers on the nature of these items, so surely something would come up, right? In fact, it seems that they started on a good foot with these updates. If this kept up weekly or even monthly, it would be a great step for transparency and making everyone assured, just like how Limited Run and Strictly offer production update pages that get updated the second any new ETAs or updates come into play.
This was the only weekly update Dispatch made. They kinda did some sort of update process on Twitter for the month of June, followed by a test pressing picture in July. But then the routine struck again: the company vanished from the internet for two more months.
September Calls, November Falls
Posting out of the blue, just like before, Dispatch returned to the internet yet again with a vague update, indicating that they were back once more and to updating soon. Fans hoped for another update on items, and maybe even the ship date for the long-awaited standard editions… Only to get news on a DLC sale for the eShop. But then, they actually upped their game and had their most active social media month in all of 2020: lots of info on sales, details on an item from the Game Tengoku CE and the Radirgy Vinyl, and even a promise that the Japanese Rail sim’s LE would be in shortly! This seemed to be the month of promise: Maybe the end of 2020 wouldn’t be too bad after all!
They even had a big sale on their website and were shipping out lots of stuff consistently. The new releases seemed imminent and confidence was shown: They posted in October about how support was at the ready to share and change customer addresses, and it seemed like any second the games would be shipped to the world! November came, promising a big update on all the products mere days from that tweet.
Then Dispatch posted a tweet announcing that the games were being delayed to January with more details to follow. And once again, they vanished into the ether. A trend was also starting up in late September with the company’s social media posts, that was made the most apparent with this enraging, sudden announcement: their Twitter replies were fully shut down. Nobody could press the company on where their games were, and had to resort to quote RTing them or emailing them: which, like all other times they went poof, were in vain, with no responses. Combine that with Facebook comments to these announcements being filled with accusations of the company erasing negative comments pointing out their endless delays, and it seemed like another long road.
January Summons a new Game Loop
This is when I started to raise my eyebrows and sigh, thinking that this would lead to a case where I’d make a followup article like this very article, try to find out where they went, and get them out of hiding to have them repeat the same old shit over and over again until the games finally shipped. And to be fair, I almost was going to do that, as my review post from the end of 2020 indicated: but this article changed swiftly due to an announcement as recently as yesterday, that they were once again back, promising a new update.
But it didn’t come with another tweet announcing their return. Rather, it started in response to someone calling them out on their endless delays and then-current ghosting. I was posting about how I was gonna make this very article if they no-showed again, and someone else noted their sheer lack of confidence in how Dispatch would follow up with this, considering how this was the same sort of thing now-dead collector site Warned Collectors pulled before vanishing with thousands of dollars worth of purchases.
THIS was the tweet they came back to twitter with, after another two month absence. This reply, was what they felt was so important they had to jump back on twitter after a 2 month absence with little warning, when the month of Jan was almost up. This was, apparently, more important than swiftly responding to the first concern that they were vanishing again, and leaving people hanging for two more months.
This was their return. So if they were so confident to talk back to someone, without any hope or confidence in them delivering the games that were now overdue by nearly two years, that must mean this update would be the one, the one to announce ship dates for their overdue games. They promised an update for later in the day yesterday… And never delivered it, saying it would be delayed just a bit longer.
So, what spurred this sudden return, besides the rising doubt? It might have been the fact that a twitter user noticed a stealth change to their storefront, where the ETA ship date of Radirgy Swag was changed to a vague “PREORDERS CLOSED.”
It seems this may have been the actual reason, for they announced shortly after that preorders being closed was a sign of the final push for production:
…Then they had the audacity to do something that made me go ahead with this article anyhow, regardless of how good or bad the update would end up being. Someone ended up comparing this situation to the infamous Warned Collectors crisis, and Dispatch… Did this.
Yes. They had the fucking audacity to brag about their company, and how they were better than warned, showing their old picture of every gaming product they shipped since their inception. While not shipping out games that are two years overdue, vanishing for periods at a time, (oddly enough, almost always in gaps of two months…) ignoring customer support emails until they’re “Active” again, and same for the press.
I almost never, ever swear on my writings here for a good reason, since I don’t feel negativity like that is worth being put in a professional article. But this one tweet is as much of a slap in the face to me and likely the hundreds of customers still waiting for their products, as when Nicalis made an April Fools joke over 90s Arcade Racer after years of not informing the game’s backers. This is without a doubt, insultingly inexcusable, to have the gall to compare yourself as being better than the most notorious company of the Switch collector community, when you’re arguably doing the same steps time and time again that make people rightfully scared you’ll run off with money just like Warned did.
If you have any balls to say such a statement to dismiss a legitimate concern, then this update had better, truly, be the final update and sign of hope, and an indicator that the company will never ever go through any such situations ever again.
…Only for the same routine to be pulled. The same apology, the same vague ETAs, the same lack of explaining why the company vanishes for two months at a time so frequently, the same lack of replying to customer emails until they’re suddenly active on social media again, the same lack of replying to PR inquiries, the same lack of mentioning changes until called out on it, the same “brief delay” of the three games yet again (now to March as of this writing) like the aforementioned closed preorders, or a rather odd case, where the Dispatch Minis line vanished into thin air and Switchy Road is no longer published by Dispatch, but rather self-published by the Developer.
Nobody mentions that, since the Dispatch Minis haven’t been the greatest in quality, but Switchy Road has already gotten an EX version, a sequel, and the dev has published other similar games recently: with all traces of Dispatch scrubbed from the original game. No mention of what happened to that line, or the game they owned, or what the future of it is: and another thing MIA? Soldam PS4.
The game that’s been on Japanese PSN for a year now. The one that was to ship last January. Not even a peep of it in the latest update. Just like the Dispatch minis, it seems Soldam may be a thing that quietly vanishes into the night. Just like, in all likelihood, the money people have spent on the CEs for Game Tengoku, Radirgy, and Rail Sim. And if they do ship out, better late than never: who’s to say there’s any hope of anyone wanting to buy something from Dispatch ever again? Especially if, the last thing they have to go on… Are two year wait times, filled with constant ghosting, MIA periods, vague updates, confusion, frustration, and bafflement across the board.
Now, it should be noted that delaying stuff for so long by itself? Isn’t exactly bad. The problem is, you gotta update your customers on the matter. You gotta get active, reply to people who want ETAs, letting them know if any issues came up, like money troubles, staffing, etc. It’s what makes companies like Limited Run so good and reliable despite how some of their games get delayed, since they’ll always answer your questions on the matter. (Granted, the PS4 Game Tengoku discs lacking DLC and a promised reprint of that not happening as of now, isn’t so hot either… But it seems that’s more held up in legal stuff behind the scenes, and is at least more apparent than anything from Dispatch)
But Dispatch has failed every single time. They continue to fail in providing promised updates, having botched their weekly update program after a single week: then going offline for 2 months at a time, multiple times since 2019. They continue to ignore customer requests for cancellations and address changes, until they’re suddenly “Active” again and then do a good job with it. What’s going on behind the scenes? Is there money troubles pulling them into debt every few months, and they have to go into hiding to pay it off to stay afloat? Is City Connection (the parent company) restricting them too much? (They have, also delayed stuff without warning for years on end, like the aforementioned Jajamaru PS4… But they’re way more active on social media AND PR than Dispatch and at least have consistently replied and shown support for people wondering the ETA of their products, which is very telling) Is the apparent single digit sized staff roster to blame, and the small size of the company is tough to manage in a brutal pandemic that has wrecked small businesses?
Like before, I truly want Dispatch to do well and provide great obscure games for the west: this company could truly be a great stop for Jaleco stuff if all was resolved and if all this baggage didn’t happen. But with all these broken promises, continuing to come back in “big ways” with “big updates” only for them to be little more than a delay announcement and leaving out products that were sold years ago, I’m pretty much stripped of all faith. Either they need to go the ultimate route and prove their all, explain the FULL STORY on where the games are and why they keep vanishing, and especially, stop having the ignorance to compare yourself as being better than a company infamous for the same stuff you’re leaning dangerously close to pulling yourselves.
Especially if you disable comments and replies and erase negative feedback in response, rather than answering concerned customers who spent THEIR OWN MONEY on games they love and want to enjoy. That’s just never the right way to handle things, and literally every other limited print publisher on the market will tell you 100% the same thing. I hope this is the last time I ever have to write in such a negative tone, and about this company in a negative way: but I can’t let this stand. Please, just come back and spill the beans. Because if this continues as is, the cycle will never end, and these games may never come. And if they do, like Psyvariar? Then your trust has been destroyed so much, that almost nobody will want to buy physicals from you anymore, or partner with you. Especially if some of your partners are now suddenly distant from you and you cancelled your indie game lineup without a whimper, thinking nobody would notice.