Very recently, the team here at Stunning decided to start making a failed payments game. Over the past 9ish years, we’ve kept seeing people start subscription businesses on Stripe (and elsewhere) and not know that failed payments are even a problem until it’s too late. And that’s understandable. There are so many things that go into starting a business that many people don’t even consider that it could be an issue. It’s hard enough to make something valuable enough for people to hand over their credit card information. Who gives much thought to the failure case, even though we’ve all gotten our credit card declined in real life? You’re just happy that people want to pay you!

Then, a few months down the road, when a customer who is happy to pay you starts having credit card failures. And then another one happens. Then 2 more. Then 7. And you realize that if you don’t do something about it, it’ll kill your business. It’s been referred to in many ways, but the most popular one is the “long, slow SaaS ramp of death“.

You start looking for some help with your failed payments problem, and that’s when you hopefully find out about dunning, which is the process of communicating with customers about payment failures. You start emailing customers by hand, then you graduate to writing some code or using a tool like Stunning that’s built specifically with best practices in mind.

But there’s a good way and a bad way to do dunning. There are multiple ways that you can recover revenue when payments start failing, such as email, SMS and in-app messages. Each type of communication/recovery method is generally more effective than the last.

At Stunning, we’re on a mission to help a million people become better at fighting failed payments. We’re doing that in a number of ways, some that we haven’t announced yet, but some that are already out, like the Ultimate Guide to Failed Payments, and our Failed Payment Analyzer. We’re always looking for more ways that we can educate people about failed payments.

So, that’s how we decided to make a game. I personally have played a ton of video games over the years, from Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego (which made me laugh while teaching me geography) to Number/Word Munchers (which made learning math/vocabulary fun), Red Dead Redemption (which made me cry) to Mass Effect, Lumines, Zuma, etc. Some of them made me laugh, some of them made me cry, some of them just taught me things I needed to know. But I remember them all.

I recently came across Flexbox Zombies, which is an educational game that teaches some key CSS concepts in a way that makes you feel like you aren’t even learning. That’s what really got my wheels turning. Here’s a chance to make a game that teaches other people, like so many games have taught me! What if we taught people key concepts about fighting failed payments, but in a game? In my experience, it’s a great way to ensure that the concepts would really stick.

I started looking into how to make a game myself. I quickly realized that even though the core concepts are easy, it’s still a lot of work to make a good game. So I put out a call on Twitter asking if anyone in my circle knew of anyone who could help.

My friend Alex Hillman jumped in almost immediately, I received some DMs shortly after, and we were off!

I’ll be posting more about the game as it develops. I’ll be talking about our concepts for the game, hiring developers, and more!

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