An Update from Chris


It doesn't take much reading of the official forums or subreddit to realise that a group of Path of Exile players are angry about a number of topics and feel that we haven't given solid answers about how we're going to address these issues. We will explain as many of these topics as we can in the Q&A that is currently scheduled for later this week. However, one thing that the Q&A doesn't address is how we got here. I wanted to personally post an explanation of what has been going on behind the scenes at Grinding Gear Games that led to this state.

Synthesis was more work than we expected. It was developed over the Christmas holiday, and its gameplay prototype came in very late. We didn't have a lot of time to iterate on it before release or to make drastic changes that it potentially needed. While our improvements after its launch have helped a lot and many players are enjoying it, we fully acknowledge that it is not our best league and is not up to the quality standards that Path of Exile players should expect from us. It will not be merged into the core game in 3.7.0. Maybe we can do something with it in the future, but we have no current plans.

When we reveal 3.7.0 in three weeks, you'll see that its league has a focus on repeatable fun, and the combat revamp has a lot of focus on improving the fundamentals of Path of Exile's gameplay. In order to do this, we have had our heads down, focusing on getting 3.7.0 to be ready as early as we can within its development cycle.

But that's not all we need to work on. There are a large number of critical projects going on at the same time. For a start, our 4.0.0 mega-expansion is taking a huge amount of the company's time. We see this upgrade as critical because the next generation of Action RPGs is coming and we have to be ready. Not proactively keeping up with competitors is how companies die. We don't see the huge time investment in 4.0.0 as optional at all.

In addition to 4.0.0, we've also committed to running the ExileCon convention later this year. You may think that this is a fun optional side project for us, but we see it as critical because we need a stage (literally) to announce 4.0.0 to the world. Talking to other developers has shown us that conventions are by far the best way to market a new product of this size.

Then there's the Korean launch. South Korea is a large market and we feel we are years late to release there. Due to that, we committed with our publisher to release in Korea alongside 3.7.0 and we will meet this commitment, but it's yet another project to handle concurrently.

Then there's various issues with Path of Exile on the console platforms which feel bad about because we have made promises that we haven't yet fulfilled. After the Xbox launch, all of our console resources went into preparing the PS4 release which meant we didn't spend enough time supporting the feature requests from the Xbox community. Now that the PS4 version has launched, we need to make headway on console features.

All of these areas, from 3.7.0 through to the eventual release of 4.0.0, are going to make massive and lasting fundamental improvements to Path of Exile. We have been making great headway and are incredibly excited to show this work when it's ready. However, this has all come at a cost.

While we have released many patches during the 3.6.x cycle to address community concerns, the significant internal development focus on the long term of Path of Exile has meant that we have chosen not to prioritise things like completely overhauling Synthesis or creating an entirely new type of one-month race.

Every week, there are feedback threads about many different topics. The community generally do a great job of constructively presenting reasons for wanting various changes, and we appreciate that.

When given this feedback, we have two options:
  • Assemble the team of seven key people who are needed to solve the issue, discuss it for half a day, and then lock in the solution, so that we can at least tell the community what our plan is, even if it's a little while before we get to it. An example of this is the when we made large functional and balance changes to Delve based on community feedback. The drawback with doing this is that it derails up to seven important projects that we're working on in order to solve the problem. We have to be selective about which problems we apply this approach to.
  • The second option is to read and consider the feedback, and specifically decide to deal with it later. This doesn't mean it isn't going to be done, it just means we are prioritising the existing release we're currently working on. An example is the Map Stash Tabs in Standard situation where we waited a whole league before we solved it. If we had put the time into this solution a league earlier, Synthesis would have been even worse.

Simply put, we can't fix every problem every league. There are going to problems that we don't address quickly. We'll get to them as soon as we can.

A big topic in the gaming industry recently is development crunch. Some studios make their teams work 14 hour days to pack every patch full of the most fixes and improvements possible. Sometimes when we read our own Patch Notes threads and community feedback, we feel that we are being asked to do the same. I will not run this company that way. While there's inevitably a bit of optional paid overtime near league releases, the vast majority of a Path of Exile development cycle has great work/life balance. This is necessary to keep our developers happy and healthy for the long-term, but it does mean that some game improvements will take a while to be made.

We try as hard as we can to communicate with our community about our development priorities. We post daily news and aim for some kind of substantial development update every week. Bex and her team are all over the community posts, passing information back to the developers and seeking answers to questions. However, as I explained earlier, in order to be able to share our firm plans about topics, we have to assemble the right developers, derail their current work and make some time-consuming decisions.

Due to the sheer amount of stuff we've been working on, certain topics have not been addressed to the satisfaction of the community.

I am very sorry about this. One of our key values is our relationship with our community. We feel that our internal emphasis on longer term improvements to Path of Exile has caused some damage to that relationship in the short term. We will make sure that we find a good balance between addressing immediate concerns and making the long-term improvements the game needs.

Later this week, we'll post our first set of answers to the questions from the Q&A. I will make sure that it includes all the hot topics such as Synthesis, trade, console improvements, ExileCon races, etc.

We can't wait to announce 3.7.0 in three weeks. Its name is on the list.
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Grinding Gear Games
I love you Chris
as my granddad used to say “cool”
Even with all the issues, GGG still has a place in my heart.
It will not be merged into the core game in 3.7.0. OK
I'm actually very impressed that you decided not to put synthesis into core right away. I thought for sure with all the work on it that it would end up in in the game.

found 2 typos.
not usual for you.
get some sleep there ^^
Rhetorik ist die Kunst der Dampflok das Wasser aus den Segeln zu nehmen.
(Nein, da fehlt kein Komma.)
Thanks for taking the time and thanks for being a good boss and no exploiting your people with overtime. I hate the term "crunch time" these days, because every little thing in gaming development seems to require people to work themselves half to death.

Keep doing what you are doing, PoE is still the best ARPG out there :)
We love you Chris, thank you for the transparency and here's to a great future of POE.

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