Well, this sure wasn’t something I wanted to write. You know my stances on articles like these: I really prefer not to make them unless I absolutely need to make something clear, or give feedback, or push for change: that’s what I did with Dispatch Games, who has continued to be in a weird state of limbo ever since their CEO sold a mansion to afford manufacturing games that people bought two years ago.
Today’s subject isn’t like that at all. They didn’t go MIA and vanish into the ether, or intend to scam anyone. Rather, they’re one of the most prolific companies in their niche of the industry, the Limited Print industry that is, one that started in hopes of giving tons of smaller games physical releases that would never ever happen otherwise. Indeed, I was fully on board with the subject as far back as 2016, when they published a Vita physical of a cool spinoff in one of my favorite franchises: Mystery Dungeon.
So it pains me to say that I ended my trust for them due to the same franchise, and with a lot of reactions over the past few months, and lots of DM’d tips and conversations with people all around, I felt the need to make an article like this, not only on this company in general, but the preservation industry and that mindset as a whole, and how I feel everyone could improve and make things better for all.
This is my Limited Run Games story, and the problems I noticed with their quality control over the years, and customer support.
Let’s just get the biggest instigator out of the way: In late August of 2021, my copy of a PC Collector Edition I had preordered had finally arrived at my home, one I was very much looking forward to: Shiren the Wanderer 5. Having preordered and receiving the Switch version a few months prior, I was eagerly anticipating the CE: after all, anyone who knows me understands the importance of the MD series to my life and rehabilitation, and with a limited PC version promising a cool jewel case + physical CD, plus other goodies, what wasn’t there to get excited for? Not only that, but buying a copy for each system means that Spike Chunsoft gets more from me, thus, I support the series that grew to save my life, and I get cool stuff in the process.
Only that wasn’t what happened. Of course, it’s typical and expected that once the preorder process end, MOD (Manufacture on Demand) kicks in and it takes a few months to produce and ship out, since that’s what manufacturing and all that entails. A lot of people do get cranky at these limited print companies for their long wait times, and while some of that is justified in some ways, I do feel a ton of folks often underestimate the workload that it takes to print a physical product, so I need to make myself very firm by saying outright that I do not think Limited Run Games ever releases a product deliberately conceived to scam people. A lot of what goes on today, mainly stems from terrible communication and bad reactions to errors, and why I’m pushing for a call for them to properly address it on a wide scale.
Nevertheless, months go by, and around July Limited Run’s production update page shows that the PC Collector Edition is in-hand, shortly after the Switch Collector edition, and also after the Switch Standard completed shipping to customers. However, as is one of many unfortunate trends with the company, the actual product didn’t start shipping out for several weeks due to LRG being all hands on deck with Scott Pilgrim Classic Editions: see, when a big priority game enters the warehouse, everything grinds to a half as they focus on that title first, then work on the other stuff when possible.
Sure, this makes some sense seeing that they’re a small company, and the bigger games are obviously what get new customers in the door, but it is pretty irksome if you’re a collector or indie fan looking forward to something smaller only for it to be shelved for weeks on end due to Big Game Mcgee having to be rushed out the door due to that game having thousands more to fulfill, while your 2K quantity PS4 game that you ordered will have to wait until things lighten up. They’ve been promising for ages now to improve upon this by hiring more staff, but I don’t exactly see any major signs of this being the case, especially when a lot of stuff was held back by Castlevania orders just a few weeks ago.
Case in point, my Shiren PC edition was in hand, but didn’t ship to me until the final weeks of August, nearly a month later… OK, that’s irksome, could have just gone out much earlier, but oh well, I’m sure they made sure it was worth the wait and looked everything over for errors, right? That, unfortunately, is where I was wrong… Along with 50+ other people. You see, when customers started receiving their boxes in the mail, the very first thing noted was that rather than the Jewel Case advertised right on the PC version’s banner, along with a DVD-ROM disc, buyers got… A download code. Not even a fancy one like the Sonic Mania Collector’s Edition or anything, just a cardboard rectangle with a Steam Key slapped on it, thrown in a reused Switch Collector Edition mold with the other contents. You can even fit the Switch Standard Edition into the CE perfectly.
There had been no prior comments or heads up that the physical game we bought was swapped, nor a reason as to why. The store page even said it was a DVD-ROM… Right until hours after the first tweet on the matter and the person involved contacted LRG about it. This was a literal bait-and-switch without any prior warning, and I was fucking infuriated. Sure, stuff changing could maybe make sense if I got a warning and if the code was packaged with some sort of special message or inside the jewel case where the disc would be. (When Ronin’s Tale on an Evercade cart had to be swapped for a demo version, Blaze threw in a disclaimer with every copy of that cartridge and pledged free updates of the full game when it’s completed), but not even that was included! They just took out a Switch game from those CE molds, removed the Switch branding, and threw a cardboard code inside without another word.
Needless to say, I was fucking pissed, but having been a longtime supporter of LRG since 2016 with their last MD-related release, and being in their discord server, I was at least hopeful I could get my jewel case and game, right? I posted my concerns and feedback, made a tweet pointing out the quality of the product, and then… Silence, for a little bit. Then, a mild statement from the CEO that pretty much implied that they only got around eighty orders, thus they were unable to print DRM-Free Discs, and that they simply forgot to inform customers of the change!
I found that bullshit, mainly because these guys had the completed product in-hand for weeks, and didn’t even bother to speak up about such a huge change, or let anyone know? How the hell do you “forget” the fact that you changed the biggest difference between the PC and Switch CEs? Especially since, keep in mind that these were MOD, they knew they wouldn’t be able to get a disc made when they were sent to manufacturing. They had literal months to inform buyers, either to let them know they could refund or back out, or to maybe push harder to sell what they advertised.
Of course, as expected, people were mad, which is what usually happens when you bait and switch people, intentionally or not. In a short timeframe, I was told by the CEO that he’d try his best to ensure I’d get the promised jewel case for the PC CE, since you know, it was on the banner they advertised and they couldn’t even be assed to put the effort in to make something so simple. Of course, they still wouldn’t commit to the disc they promised… That was stuck as a code, implied to be because Spike Chunsoft backed out, likely due to the low sales of the CE. However, I had my reasons to doubt this would happen, and really just pushed hardcore on the notion that I just wanted the damn stuff I was advertised, along with a reason why.
All the while, LRG’s main social media accounts were totally ignoring this happened to begin with, with all the discussion limited to just the CEO social media accounts on Twitter. This was dismissed as being “unnecessary” due to it only affecting 60 people, but I dunno, a bait and switch should warrant a huge “we fucked up” apology to inform people what you did and how you’ll make sure it never happens again.
Things would soon spiral a bit out of my control on the matter however, when friends of mine would retweet my tale and bring attention to it. Add RTs onto those RTs, and it spread like wildfire, to the point I unintentionally became viral and had to take a twitter break for my anxiety. While this went on though, I would get a response back on a refund for my bait-and-switch item, only to be offered a measly $10… Which got changed to a full refund for all buyers when I complained. Still, the Jewel Case and promised DVD-ROM were MIA, and I was very firm that I still wanted what I had been advertised, and how angry I was with the dismissive nature of the whole ordeal that pretty much was being dismissed as “nobody bought enough so we couldn’t do what we promised, here’s your money back and we’ll consider looking into one thing we promised”
Instead, I got gaslit (although unintentionally, I feel) and nudged to outright erase my tweet chain on the whole ordeal, due to LRG claiming that they were getting “harassment” over it. For me pointing out that they bait and switched customers and refused to rectify it immediately and tried to sweep it under the rug after people like me politely tried to seek a solution first which, no shit would make people pissed off. Needless to say, that gaslighting was the motivator for me going on private a bit for my mental health, which just made everything spiral out of control even more. I eventually came back and was a bit better, but with an ultimatum that was quite bluntly, a little silly on my part looking back: either LRG would show proof and commitment that they would make this right and give people what they were advertised and avoid such fuckups like this, or I’d just cut off the company altogether, despite being a five-year buyer.
The good news: I did get my demands met, and everyone who bought PC CEs would get the Jewel Case that was advertised, for no cost at all! Great! But the PC-DVD physical was still MIA, implied to me to still be blocked by Chunsoft themselves with them not budging. Still shitty, especially considering how the PC Physical was an open-preorder started in the middle of the Switch’s own open-preorder, meaning LRG should have locked that down to begin with when they made the deal, or informed customers when they got it changed on them, and Chunsoft shouldn’t have been stupid on the matter.
Still, it was during this wait period for the case to be MOD and shipped to me, that I was DM’d and contacted by several peers, industry writers, and collectors, pointing out a lot of similar tales with Limited Run’s quality control, and how as of late it seems to be slipping more and more outta hand, to the point that it’s outright concerning and I felt the need to make this article to bring light on it and push for change outside of a simple “We’ll hire more people to improve it later.” My story was a rough one that was still underway, but there was far, far more that I realize now should have been wakeup calls, and why I decided to make this article with their advisory.
In the beginning of my LRG buying Career, I can’t really say LRG did too much that led to any bad results, besides a few annoyances out of their control: Some bigger games would get snapped up in mere minute, and the first open preorder they did for Skullgirls was quite a long path with a lot of roadblocks. Still, they eventually got past both of these hurdles, and I feel they learned from them, considering how they smartly shifted to open pre-orders for most viable things around the time Switch games started to come out, giving people plenty of time to get an order in on a hot game they locked down, though now it’s at the cost of having to wait through MOD times, rather than everything being in-hand as it was before.
Sure, there were some growing pain moments, the one I see a lot of people grumpy about was Wonder Boy and Night Trap suffering from fast sellouts, which led to quite a silly backlash from something they had no control over. (Shopify carts aren’t the nicest to work with, I’m afraid, and a site owner can’t make them sturdier) They also sold Lawbreakers in Wonder Boy bundles, a competitive shooting game made by an industry veteran… That’s online only and is a literal paperweight now that servers are down, to the point I even dunked on it this year for my April Fools video.
So yeah, some people have been irked with LRG since then, and also since they don’t really do reprints of their own games. But at the very least, they do reverse all publishing rights back to the devs so they can do their own second rounds, as has been done with stuff like Blasphemous, which is already way, way better than some other physical print companies that just hoard rights forever to ensure high resale values on the aftermarket. Still, I firmly believe that without LRG, cool games such as Astebreed and Futuridium would have never gotten great physical releases on disc, so their mission of preserving games and keeping them not tied to a storefront was a great one that led me to trying out plenty of new gems through them, and I know I wasn’t the only one who did this. The company in general was well… Very small and friendly, like your average indie developer, and that’s what made me a huge fan. After all, I started this very website to help indies, so a company doing the same was good in my book.
Still, by talking to friends, I feel like I know the time when things started to get quite bumpy for LRG releases, and when QC started to slip… Sure enough, it’s around the time Switch games and open pre-orders started to be a thing, though that too, was initially growing pains at first before going into something much, much deeper…
The Switch off the Rails
In early 2018, Limited Run would start releasing games on the Nintendo Switch, done in a new way: Open Preorders until the end of a certain date. This way, no more fears of instant sell-outs like in the Night Trap days, everyone who wanted a game, could get a game in the limited time slot. This came at the aforementioned cost of in-hand items, and thus games would take longer to ship. Much longer. This is where MOD kicks in, and it once again led to growing pains: some games got held up by the ESRB, others got held up by content updates, and some were due to CE components, so it all got pretty chaotic, with games like Dust and West of Loathing taking eons to ship to customers, leading to a lot of frustration: Still, I felt they were at least transparent enough about what was holding these up, even if again, most of that came from their personal twitter accounts. The fact they were happy to jump in and inform people why something was held up and it would be over soon, was pretty appreciated, and I found that the Dust CE was especially worth the wait.
That being said, one of their early games would lead to the first major instance of a quality screwup, and that was none other than Pixeljunk Monsters 2. This was a bit of an odd one, since it was advertised as having all the DLC and updates on cart, which it did! But since it had to be actually developed first, it took quite a long time after the preorder period ended. So long in fact, it stretched to 2019 before it shipped! Still, it was all on cart and all that content was available for your enjoyment.
Except an optimization patch. Which wasn’t even released for the physical version. Why was that? Nobody exactly knows, but it seems to be because LRG’s build is a different SKU than the one on the eShop… And they just never got Spike Chunsoft to release a downloadable patch to reduce the loading times, like they did with the download version. Thus, the physical version is now permanently inferior to play than the download version for no reason! I vaguely remember this being brought up a couple of times, but it didn’t seem to get far, likely because all LRG had to really say on it was to just bug Chunsoft about it. Still, leaving that and hoping people would forget is just not a good sign. Especially since late 2018 was when quite a few very huge QC issues would crop up…
The Vita gets trapped
Some grim news was delivered in 2018/2019, when it was confirmed PS Vita cards would be cut off in the US, leaving LRG to have to pick which games got which amount of cartridges, leading to some cancellations and some close calls, along with making every vita game from there on out very, very limited. They had literally no choice in this matter, since Sony threw their hands up and wanted nothing to do with the Vita, which is a shame, since the handheld is a pretty fun one with a good library of gems. Southeast Asia would continue to allow printing of Vita games in the meanwhile, (of various quality) but for the NA/EU market, time was running out.
One of the final Vita games LRG printed was a port of the infamous Night Trap, which, despite the legacy, is actually good cheesy fun, and I find that it would make for a fun retro throwback to have on the go. Granted, the Switch version had also been announced and was being made around this time, but hey, Vita owners would get their turn! Preorders opened up, and then just a bit later, the game shipped…
…Only to be completely unbeatable. Yes, unbeatable. Trying to do the final cutscene, would effectively lock the game up and make it impossible to finish. One of the final vita releases ever, and it was wasted on a literal brick. Disregarding the fact that this game should have been fully playtested before shipping the carts out, (especially since the physical shipped a bit before the digital version) it took many many MONTHS for the developer to finally patch the issue and make this port completable: which is honestly a huge ripoff and pretty shameful on LRG’s part for not catching it ahead of time. Yet again, the only hint anything was off was via the CEO’s twitter, where he at least did the right thing and immediately noted that it was rushed out the door to make it in the deadline for Vita printings, and offered full refunds for the trouble. It would take until the very end of 2019 for the port to finally get patched, nearly one year later. If selling a completely busted game wasn’t bad enough, then how about one that isn’t as advertised, with no fix in sight?
This is a weirder one, and I actually touched on this in my Dispatch Games article for a bit. In early 2019, LRG released a PS4 physical of the zany Jaleco shmup, Game Tengoku Crusinmix, done in a pretty awkward way due to a mandate by publisher Degica Games. The standard edition would include some DLC characters, but not all of them, like the Tatsujin ship from the Toaplan classic of the same name. However, the Collector’s Edition would include ALL DLC released for the game, including Tatsujin, along with some awesome goodies such a high quality flyer set, a DVD, a Sega Saturn themed case, and more. It was a very stupid distinction, but when a publisher ties your hand, you can’t really do much about it, and LRG made that very clear.
What they did not make clear however, was that when the games started shipping in mid 2019, the standard edition… Lacked the promised DLC. Only Bases Loaded star Homura was on the disc, the others required you buy them, rather than everyone but Tatsujin as promised, while the CE disc was perfectly fine.
Needless to say, this was absolutely the first big controversy I saw in the communities I was in, and I was pretty dismissive of it for a while, foolishly in fact: Limited Run mentioned that they’d print replacement discs as soon as Degica would let them, and I figured they’d get on that ASAP. However, as you may know from my old articles, Dispatch Games would quickly launch a Switch version for Preorder that still isn’t delivered as of the time of this article, which seemed to have complicated matters out of LRG’s hands, for even now, nearly three years after the original sale, LRG have still not sent replacement discs. They did note they were ordered, though…
I excused this a bit in my older article since well, Dispatch has a lot of their own problems and clearly tried to one-up LRG with their own crazy complex CE that may never get made, but considering how the company has remained quiet on it and ignores every communication on the matter, it really doesn’t look good: even if Degica and Dispatch has their hands tied, I feel some form of communication would be appreciated, or some sort of public status update… Like on their main twitter account! Shocking idea, I know.
Heck, even refunds or offering DLC codes would probably suffice, since believe it or not, they had to do just that for their Power Rangers Battle for the Grid release, which lacked some characters from the DLC pass they advertised as being on-disc. You had to contact support to get DLC codes for the missing ones, with no reprinted discs to be made. (not that you need them, with the retail versions out) Uh-oh. Nevertheless, I feel Dispatch or no, LRG needs to put a firm stance on this issue instead of ignoring it, since I feel they think they can just ignore it forever until it fixes itself, no matter how long that may take. Then again, with a future issue, maybe ignoring and hoping to never mention blatant problems was a trend they learned.
Delays of Fantasy
One of my favorite indie gems from the Wii U/3DS days finally made it to PS4/Vita in 2019: Dragon Fantasy! It was a game I considered nabbing for my PS4, but held off due to finances. Looks like I got lucky, since when the game shipped and people popped their discs in, they got… No sound effects. That’s right, none whatsoever, the port was bugged and not a single SE cue would activate. Vita was perfectly fine, (thank god, with that system running out of carts, as we noted earlier) and the devs at Muteki tried their best and did get a patch released for the PS4 version to make it work properly. But still, such a glaring omission being not noticed before shipping the discs out seems remarkably silly… But also definitely worth replacement discs with the patches on it, since after all, best to preserve a game that actually plays properly rather than a version with no SE, right? LRG didn’t think so: they just simply told customers to update their games, which is… Fine, but also contradicts their mission statement and shows that the whole thing could have been avoided if they just tested the game before shipping it out…
However, 2019 would also introduce another not-so-fun trend to LRG: Delays, and lots of them: as they got big enough to nab some desirable licenses such as Star Wars, I couldn’t help but notice plenty of games getting pushed further and further back, sometimes to absurd levels: Numerous Switch and PS4 games would be delayed without much of a warning (only an update on their product pages), and stuff like Jay and Bob on NES would take nearly a year to ship, with barely anything in terms of concrete status updates showing up.
Sure, you could yet again ask the CEOs on their twitter for more in-depth updates, and they’d still try to answer, but the actual people they hired for support and communication purposes would get none of that info, leaving to newcomers getting very agitated, especially when it was their first time buying from LRG: combine the typically long MOD times with delays, and you have a frustrating experience, especially with CEs. Then 2020’s COVID situation happened, which screwed over everyone in the industry. If there was any time to commit to better communication in an unprecedented era of sudden delays, it was then… But even COVID didn’t lead to this improving, with some games like Tiny Metal going for nearly a year without shipping out, again, without much updates to the customer unless they reached out on the CEO twitters or the discord server.
But wait, a light at the end of the tunnel! 2021 kicks off with a big promise, of better communication and more work to get stuff to people as fast as possible: considering how the pandemic ramped up with no signs of slowing down shipping delays, this sounded like a great smart move, especially with the megaton game that was Scott Pilgrim landing in just a few weeks, with the promise of fast shipping of the standard edition! Indeed, they did just that, sending out the standard edition in only a short while after the preorder period closed, with a long time for the CEs as per usual, and even some shockingly helpful email updates on the now delayed Vinyls and KO editions, caught up by the hellish port blockage of 2021.
Except that didn’t make everything better. In fact, I argue that focus on faster ship times (which aren’t really much faster, to be frank: 3-6 month ship times are the MOD norm) led to my situation with Shiren, and some other very recent situations that have cropped up in just the past few months. The biggest problem comes from the Vinyl situation: as I hinted in the Dispatch article, vinyl records are a mess and have been delayed all over the world. The Toaplan vinyls just now shipped 14 months after going up for preorder, to give you an indicator on how long they’re taking. LRG did push out a helpful update on the whole ordeal and even promised to let people split vinyls from their orders to have other items ship faster, (rather than the vinyl holding up everything else in an order)
Just before this went live, they even went in and gave status updates on the KO edition and a Monkey Island Collector Edition, so they at least still try to give updates on certain, big items. My real issue is that LRG seems to be caught in a tricky situation. Either they try to expedite everything to get stuff out faster to counter delays going on in the world, at the risk of quality slipups… Or they take their time carefully, but get newcomer fans who aren’t familiar with MOD wait times very cranky, or longtime fans annoyed with delays longer than usual. It’s a really tricky situation, and quite honestly, I don’t blame them for flip-flopping on this so much, which is why I feel some feedback I have coming up may be the ticket they need to make everyone happier.
A Slippery Slope of Control
And here we come to the present, going back around to the story and my experience mentioned earlier, with Shiren the Wanderer. That I feel, was the biggest of several recent QC issues this year, but since that pledge earlier this year to get stuff out faster, I feel that a lot of things have been messed up on, to the point that there’s just tons to list from minor to major. Whether it’s stuff being labeled with manuals that didn’t actually include them due to copied website templates, to plushies being changed to a lower quality without warning, (supposedly due to “developer feedback“, not that a customer would notice) there’s been a lot of stuff going on lately that I truly feel are legitimate concerns and annoyances, and some stuff people have blown out of proportion, but could be prevented in the future.
For one example, this one is just silly: LRG worked with several developers to reissue their old retro games in cartridge form, and they’re really darn quality reissues, having been offered in standard and collector editions. For a few years now, such as the Star Wars editions for Game Boy and NES, these CEs were done in a hard box style, opening up to reveal the cartridge and the other goodies, so it was easy to assume that the recent titles would be the same.
Yet, for some odd reason, people got their Shantae GBC Collector Editions… And this trend has broken, again, without warning. Now rather than being a hard box with labels of the game and system, it’s a simpler, lift-top box with a generic “Limited Run Retro Collection” logo on it, with the labels being displayed via a slipcover. Thankfully, all the contents are still included, and in my opinion, it actually has a benefit over the old style by including the game complete in box. Still, that doesn’t ignore the fact that yet again, a product was changed without warning to the customer to become cheaper in quality, even if in this case, it still led to everything being intact and as described, (Well, save for an awkward pin) so some heads up before these were sent out would have been nice, since I knew several folks that were very unhappy about this.
Funnily enough, my next experience with bad QC actually comes from one of these retro reissues, though not due to the change in packaging. A month or so ago, I got the excellent S.C.A.T repro via a Collector’s Edition, and it came with everything as advertised, in pretty astounding quality: the pins were pristine, the coin was cool, the poster was excellent, and the repro was well made, save for one annoyance. (Having a Retro USB AVS, the game seems completely unbeatable, crashing on Stage 3…. Despite the OG cart working just fine on these units, which is irksome, but also a risk due to being produced after the AVS was made with a library in mind, so I’m not gonna fault LRG for that)
No, it was actually the soundtrack component of this CE that baffled me. Being one to buy CEs for OSTs to burn onto my iPhone for car trips, they get a lot of listening from me, and the same was no different for this… So I binged the whole excellent OST on a car ride, only for the Ending Theme to do… this.
Yep, it just… glitches out and doesn’t finish properly. Whether Natsume provided a bad audio file to LRG, or LRG messed up the recording, the point stands that this OST should have probably been looked over before going out the door, especially since I tried this CD on several players for the same issues on the song to happen. Either I have tremendous bad luck, or this likely impacted all CDs in the Collector Edition, but since I haven’t been able to reach anyone else who owns this to verify… You just have to take my footage.
So OK, that’s annoying, and absolutely a sign of just not checking stuff over before shipping it out. Now for the final aspect to the story, and it relates to an ordeal arguably bigger than that of the Shiren one that just took place, and one that’s by far the most annoying when it comes to the transparency, since there flat out isn’t any about this at all, with LRG staying mum since the news broke.
Yes, it’s time to talk about the current biggest elephant in the room: Doom Classics Collection was a physical reissue of the Switch/PS4 ports of Doom 1-3, all in one spot, following the success of the Doom 64 reproduction. The ports of Doom 1 and 2 here were a bit infamous when they first launched, due to having always-online DRM nonsense tied to them, that eventually got patched out. They even got the ability to download mods from an in-game downloader, and they’re pretty amazing versions of the games now! Doom 3 is perfectly fine as well, always having been since it launched, so there really wasn’t any issues with that game, and that still applies now.
However, those ports of Doom 1 and 2 still had a big, glaring issue, one that was brought to LRG’s attention during the preorder period, only to be completely ignored to the point it blindsided a lot of unaware folk: While the current versions of Doom 1 and 2 do not mandate Bethesda Net, and they’re on the cartridge, these ports are one of a small amount of games on the Switch that will flat out refuse to boot if you don’t have an Nintendo Account linked. For the record, that means a freshly bought system, unable to connect to the internet will be unable to play these two at all. For most Switch owners, this is a non issue, since nintendo accounts are required to access the eShop. (And linking an account makes these fully playable offline, contrary to popular belief, but you still need that initial access to Nintendo’s servers at some point to do so) But considering LRG’s mission of preservation, it’s totally baffling for them to release a game in this state… Fully aware it was in that state without warning customers. Considering how stunned a lot of the reactions are to the tweet that uncovered this, I think a warning could have gone a long way.
That being said, LRG aren’t developer gods that can snap a publisher’s wrist into fixing problems. This is primarily on Bethesda, and ultimately their fault for putting DRM on ancient, near thirty year old gun games, and LRG can’t go in and remove it themselves, only tell the devs to do that and hope they go with it. The problem with LRG here, is that since this news broke out to the masses and customers demanded an explanation or refunds, (especially considering how the CEs haven’t finished production yet) the company and CEOs have decided to block people who pester them about it, totally ignore any comment regarding the game or what went on, and hope it blows over. All while unaware people get angrier and angrier as they’ve been completely ignored and in the dark on the ordeal, and weren’t around in the discord when this report broke out during preorders, where it was only commented on with a generic “we’ll forward to the developers” statement.
From the looks of it, that’s all you’re getting with doom, forever destined to be DRM’d into oblivion unless Bethesda patches it out… even though that means the versions on the cartridge will forever be tied to an account service that can go down decades from now. Considering how retweeting this hypocritical tweet got me blocked by the CEO, I don’t expect them to ever publicly address this, whether it’s from nonsense NDAs, or just out of fear of backlash, this whole situation seems well, doomed.
Conclusion, and how to make everything right
So yeah, LRG has fallen into a quality control trap, and needs to get the act together, even if their intentions are still good. When you make such a colossal fuckup like bait and switching customers into getting a download code over a DVD ROM they bought, and refusing to get into the full details “due to NDAs”, you shouldn’t be surprised in the slightest when that leads to a huge break of trust, especially when no DVD ROM exists this many months out, and seems like it never will due to Chunsoft being anal about it. Sure, in the end everyone got full refunds on that mess, but it still shows that that whole thing could have been fixed in the same method a lot of these other issues could have: transparency.
Limited Run, I know you’re reading this, seeing how one of your CEOs jumped to a retweet I made despite blocking me, and how you’ve gained a bit of a reputation for namesearching in the past few months when called out on the Shiren stuff, and I need to be brutally firm: you have got to improve your transparency on all ends. The Shiren incident? If the minute you learned that it would have to be a DL code, you emailed all 60 people saying “hey, things changed, do you still want your CE”, that would have been goodwill and gone a long way. Or heck, even if it finished being made, and you did that when it arrived in-hand and sat on deck for a month, that would have also sufficed, but to literally wait until after somebody opened theirs and noticed the change to do anything about it, shows that you deadass hoped it would blow over and that 60 people isn’t enough to rush to action: after all, those Scott Pilgrims sold thousands, so those new customers are more important to worry about!
See, that’s the thing I noticed. Lately, due to your company getting bigger and bigger due to more buyers and bigger IPs (which is great!), those things are getting more priority, but at a bit of a cost. Most average joes that see a game up during the preorder period, may not be aware of the MOD wait times, hence all the warnings and checkboxes before you finalize an order, and thus, they get impatient thinking a game that they thought was shipping out in 2 weeks would take 2-6 months to make. Thus, you have been working hard to speed stuff up and get more production updates out on games for those new customers in mind to keep them around, which is good.
However, when this comes at the expense of making other smaller things suffer from QC screwups and unannounced delays due to it being seen as “low priority”, that’s not good at all. (the only way you’ll know the status of most items, is to keep checking the production update pages on their website, which mostly just lists a quarter or month until it’s in hand or about over… before it switches to the next timeframe, so good luck getting detailed updates on Tail Gator for Game Boy besides a generic “October 2021” timeframe. In November.) Considering how many of these QC things I mentioned stemmed in just the past few months, in the same year after your pledge at the start of the year? Yeah, I think it’s time to revamp and rehaul everything to set things right and regain trust. For me, that’s long gone since your gaslighting attempts and trying to blame your fuckup and incompetence on NDAs, but for most people, I feel you can regain the crowd and get more leeway just by doing the following:
–More status updates, in general. Customers shouldn’t need to refresh a website with vague timeframes over and over, week by week, just to see when something arrives. Especially when a lot of them are “TBD” or get changed last minute. On twitter, the CEOs have gone into specific details such as if a port shortage or missing component for assembly is in transit, and I feel these details should be added here and *emailed out*. Just a progress bar for production would do wonders, even during long delays!
–TRANSPARENCY. Oh my fucking god, Transparency. If you change something in a CE, inform people. If you change a detail on the website, inform people. If you change anything at all or learn something new, inform people. This would have easily fixed a lot of what I listed if you guys immediately rushed to inform folks at a minute’s notice. You guys did this fine with Scott Pilgrim via update emails, so this can absolutely apply to the smaller games people buy too. Yes, even the Kemco ones.
–Stop using your personal twitters to control issues. You guys love to get defensive and outright play victim for a while regarding issues if you so much as get a little pushback from an unhappy customer, before caving in: I shouldn’t have had to been pressured to remove a tweet because other people got mad at it, I shouldn’t have had to do a silly ultimatum to get a jewel case made because I had doubts it would actually be done, nor should I have been blocked on twitter after getting my jewel case because I didn’t immediately go back to supporting you guys. Not really in any need or wanting to ever interact with you again anyhow, but still, it’s silly.
If someone gets angry at you because something goes wrong, even if it’s a bit rash, you need to keep your cool. Hire a PR person, someone skilled in that, rather than being in charge all the time and making things worse with rash responses. (if that’s why there’s been no word on doom, I kinda get that, but that’s the opposite extreme, of being too quiet). I get the need for helping others, but when you’re outright namesearching in doing so, and going on blocking sprees, you just have to stop. I feel that if you tweeted about things like the Shiren solution on the main LRG twitter, rather than your personals, it would have not only have been more transparent to the average joe, (and also inform those on other platforms you aren’t available on) but it would have also made for a less messier situation with a lot less yelling in the end. I’ve been tipped off by folks in the know and am firmly aware some of your own staff agree with this stance, and you guys need to know when to cool it.
–Be more careful with shipping. Lately, sooooooo many packages have been shipped with absurd amounts of damage. This was shortly after the change to DHL, but I don’t exactly consider the provider the problem: in a lot of the cases I’ve seen, the package was simply packed poorly, or barely at all, and thus, long distances mean that well… It gets damaged, especially big CEs. You can’t control the mailmen and their recklessness, but throwing a CE in a box with barely any protection and thinking it’ll turn out OK isn’t the way to go. I’ve been lucky so far, but others haven’t, so you really need to just be careful. If other limited print publishers can cram their boxes full of padding and bubblewrap in sturdy boxes, then you guys can too.
CHECK. OVER. STUFF. Again, a lot of these issues would have been resolved much quicker if stuff was just checked over. It shouldn’t take me playing my NES SCAT CD to learn one of the tracks was bugged, nor should it have taken someone opening their Shiren to find the code was swapped.
Ultimately, I got into collecting thanks to LRG, and I truly do mean that. I even appeared in one of their magazines due to my long support, and I stand by their original mission of preservation and helping indies get their games physical. But when a lot of QC issues keep happening, and when it feels the original intent of their mission at “preserving games” is now lost due to all the releases they pump out with lots of issues, I can’t help but feel like I’m not even supporting these smaller devs anymore at all: I know I certainly don’t feel like I helped Chunsoft in the slightest by buying Shiren on Switch and PC, and I can’t say I’ll ever let myself be fooled again. On the other hand though, they aren’t a company of malice, they just need to get their act together… and I hope they do, since they have done a lot of great things as well, such as supporting the Video Game History Foundation and also working on a very promising Retro Engine for porting retro games.
Just please, don’t let yourselves get in over your heads.