Playdate's human comms Opening up about good and bad news

One reason for writing a post about Playdate was so that I could follow it up with some observations on how Panic, the company that created Playdate, communicates with customers. They do it really well.

Arisa from Panic

Let’s look at this update video, posted just this week to announce a short list of new things.

There are a few moments in this video that stand out to me, as excellent little examples of working in the open:

9m18s: Arisa Sundangnoi acknowledges that Panic doesn’t yet know how often it will update its new online games store, Catalog.

This is a great little bit of working in the open. Panic is explaining the current status of this new product, while simultaneously acknowledging that that status will change in the near future. And they’re doing so, by saying so. It’s so easy and simple, but it achieves so much in terms of building trust.

9m58s: Cabel Sasser gives an honest update on the long-promised Playdate Dock. He explains exactly why the Dock isn’t available yet, and shows us (by lifting up a box full of Dock prototypes) that progress is being made. This is proactive reassurance in action. “We don’t have a shipping date or a price just yet, but I just wanted you to know that it’s still in the works.” Sure, ok. Thanks.

10m52s: Cabel explains that the price of a Playdate will be going up soon. He doesn’t try to squirm out of delivering this bad news. Rather, he (1) acknowledges that it’s bad news, (2) explains the reasons very simply and honestly, and (3) makes clear that there’s still time to buy at the lower price, if you act quickly. More proactive reassurance, more honesty, more simply openness: we have to put prices up, because our costs are going up and our margins are slim. We’re sorry.

Cabel from Panic

Throughout the whole thing, we’re treated to a very human style of communication. I mean you’d expect the comms for a handheld gaming device to be fun and informal, but look at how confident the three presenters are. They’ve rehearsed this, they’ve taken the time to feel relaxed in front of a camera. This is comms to a huge audience, but it feels like they’re speaking directly to you, the viewer, personally. Not many people, teams or organisations can pull that off.

Oh, and while I’m here: the Playdate blog is an excellent example of corporate agile comms done right: