As a followup on my previous article ‘The importance of beta testing’, I will now look at what happens if players do fully test the game and give developers feedback, but then these developers choose to completely ignore their player base.
Before I start, I just want to make clear that the developer did make the game, so it is natural they can do what they please.
Developers take feedback from payers to improve their game before it launches normally. This is to iron out any bugs that slipped into the code or to test the general feature to see if it’s appealing to the players. Feedback is important, without feedback a developer could never adjust their game to a players’ liking.
Ignoring The Player base
But what happens if the developers chooses to ignore the players’ feed back? It’s important to understand the difference between that of one person wanting a change to be made versus the majority. If the majority complains that something is broken, the ending is plain awful or the game is missing something. Than the developers should really stop and listen, not bathe in their own egoism. If a good company has made very good games in years and suddenly one game isn’t the right quality, and if players have given feedback, but the developers basically show them the finger. Then, yes you will lose trust in your player base. This can result in that players won’t buy the product again, never trusting the developer again. It can harm the company and the sales of both current and next games.
Once trust is broken, it’s very hard to earn that trust again. Let’s take a look at some games that did really upset their community.
Diablo 3 by Blizzard Entertainment
This game had several things that did upset the community:
1. The quality and overall story was very poor, it didn’t feel as good as Diablo 1 & 2
2. Endgame grinding for gear, wasn’t such a great feature
3. Online play, the game wasn’t always available, especially on patch days. It is the biggest complaint of them all.
Why should a player be forced to play a solo game, online? Just because of some protection? That is poor service, to make it worse the servers were a lot down from Blizzard, making it hard to play online. When you needed to patch, but the patch server was down, you couldn’t play at all. This is very unfair. Diablo 3 is not an MMO, so why should the player be forced to play online? Diablo 3 has released a new patch to make end game more pleasant now.
Players have lost trust in Blizzard, this could result in that players won’t support them in the future.
Mass Effect 3 by Bioware
The Mass Effect Trilogy was a fantastic gameplay experience. Sadly the ending messed everything up. Casey Hudson, the producer of Mass Effect 3, decided to lock out all of the writers and write the ending himself, which caused a huge uproar in the player base. Players claim that even already at beta players were complaining that the ending was terrible, but they were simply ignored.
The ending did not stay true to ‘that players could choose their path’. The game suffered as well from senseless plot holes. The game was marketed as that you could choose your destiny, every choice you did in the three games would count, giving you a unique player experience. However that did not happen in the third game. Players begged for a change. To compensate Bioware gave the players a free DLC (downloadable content) with more explanation towards the ending and gave a fourth choice to the player where they could refuse to do anything. This fourth ending was a finger to the player base. Also they did release a DLC at launch that would add an important race and role to the storyline, which you had to pay extra for. That’s just bad done. It’s like giving out a new game and let the player pay extra money for the end level, just so they can play out the game.
It isn’t very fair to ask players to buy DLC content at day one that contains story line vital to the game. That kind of content should be included for free.
It gave the same grim fate making all your choices in the two previous games and the choices in the last and third game useless.
The free DLC only extended the three original players, ending with better explanation what happened. But it still ignored your war efforts, no what matter what you did, it seemed as a waste of time. Why make the player a big part of the story if you will go your own way anyway? That’s not fair to the player base.
Players have started to boycott EA, Biowares’ stocks fell, and some players have gone so far to make several Facebook groups to plea for a change of the ending.
Star wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Here is another good example of a game with issues. The game publisher failed to keep the player base, so that the game had to become free to play in the end. They even had to merge servers, which is usually a bad sign in the MMO world. The main complaint was that it was mostly a solo game experience, there was no big galaxy or world feeling to it, the player was limited to several boundaries giving them little freedom, the game wasn’t all that deep, so it didn’t really feel like you were in the universe from the movie or books. Another one is that the game didn’t have the type of thing that most other MMO’s offer.
These two examples clearly state that treating players like money sinks is not the right way to go. If you make a product and give the players the options to choose, but then remove them in the last minute, you are going to upset the community. Saying it is artistic integrity or this is the way the market is, is shameful. What gives the right for developers to control the gaming market like that?
Bottom line is, if you won’t commit to your player base, they will leave you and that can mean a huge financial loss to the company.
Why does this happen?
It can be that the developers are having pressure from above, their publisher. Companies such as Bioware and Blizzard etc. have been bought by bigger companies and these bigger companies roll the dice now. If they are pressured to finish a product in a certain amount of time, it normally leads to quantity over quality. It’s not right, it’s not fair to the players or the developers, but it is the big guys (EA, Activision) that decide. This can bring a companies’ reputation down.
Look at Rare, when Microsoft bought them, Banjoo and Kazooie was never the same!
Well that’s it for now.
The Game Mistress