An Open Letter From Battlefront

Battlefront An Open Letter From Battlefront

We recently saw on our forum an open letter to Battlefront, which had had a lot of thought put into it, and we thought we should respond.

This is partly prompted by a clash of expectations we had recently regarding the Mid War digital update – due to a misunderstanding which gradually arose about how much had changed in the digital briefings – and partly by the dissatisfaction many have felt at the difficulty of accessing Battlefront products in a timely way.

We have identified the top six priorities going forward: communication, communication, communication, and supply, supply, supply.

I’m sure almost everyone would like to see an increased presence of Battlefront staff in the online community, and that is something we will be aiming for. There are a few things to bear in mind, though. As individuals, there is always a feeling that we have to be cautious and conservative with what we say publicly, when saying the wrong thing can create chaos not for the individual, but for the whole company. Maybe sometimes it’s better to just say something quickly and hope for the best. But usually it’s best to check with the people in the know first. But sometimes that’s easier said than done, if there are four people who all have different ‘pieces of the puzzle’, and they’re spread across four totally different time zones. So if there can sometimes seem to be a ‘cone of silence’, it’s honestly not because we don’t want to tell you, but we perhaps lack the confidence, individually, to go on record. But understanding this issue means that we can make an effort to be more proactive about communicating in the future.
Another issue is that the studio calendar and the release calendar are often quite different. When a new briefing has just been released, and is being most hotly debated by the community, often the writers are in a completely different ‘headspace’, being deeply immersed in working on another project which will not see the light of day for many months.
When it comes to rules issues, we are often under a great deal of pressure to make quick changes in areas where people perceive a problem. But we’ve learned from experience that quick changes are the last thing we should be considering. Add to this that for every contentious opinion, there are almost always two conflicting views. For example, if people are telling us that a certain unit’s point cost is too cheap, there is generally another group insisting just as passionately that it is too expensive. So the old adage of ‘measure twice, cut once’ doesn’t even come close to describing the cautious and conservative approach we need to take with the evolving game system.
But we are going to try to deal with those issues. We’ve just added a new full-time staff member to the studio, and we expect that to help free up some more time to keep abreast of discussions in the community. Most importantly, we will endeavour to nip more situations in the bud, before they get out of hand.
Our vision for Flames Of War has always included a vibrant, active community – be it online or at events – and that is not going to change. We will continue to support events, and try to improve our involvement in them, while still allowing high-profile independent events to run exactly how their organisers choose.
Our senior managers and IT staff are currently discussing changes to our customer service system. So if you have any comments about this specific area, please hold off for now – there will be more to come.

The issue of supply has been our biggest bugbear for some time now, due to growing pains, diversification and a number of other frankly quite uninteresting issues.
Team Yankee sold much faster than we hoped; but as problems go, too much demand is obviously much better than not enough. We’re hoping to be much cleverer about avoiding surprises like this.
But the biggest change is the move of our main factory to a new and improved production facility. This has been a long time coming – in fact, it would have happened 18 months ago if a deal to sell the old factory had not fallen through at the last minute.

As well as allowing for a much-needed increase in production volumes, the new factory is going to allow us to bring certain types of production back inside the company, where we can directly control them. This will avoid the sort of nasty surprises which have caught us out in the past with ranges that were previously outsourced. The size of our painting area for terrain pieces, for example, has more than tripled.

It will still take a bit of time for production to catch up fully. There’s will always be a lag factor, with training new staff. We can’t just throw new workers into the mix without allowing for a reasonable learning period – that would be a great way to introduce a whole host of quality control issues. But things are moving in the right direction.

New Factory - Resin Department
New Factory - Metal Casting Department
All of this is working towards dispelling the doubt and establishing a new trust that when we say we will deliver something, it will happen as planned and on time.
Ultimately, all feedback is good. So we invite you to keep this conversation going – we've created a forum thread especially – but please remember that we are all just a bunch of wargamers like you, and all we can do is our best.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.

2016 - The Year Ahead

Just in case any of you missed it at the time, here is a re-cap of our New Year's article previewing what is coming in 2016 for Flames Of War and Battlefront.

2016 – The Year Ahead...