Hello all, and welcome to what I hope will be a weekly installment of my new blog. Before I begin, let me start by saying that I will try very hard to keep up with any and all replies and will do my very best to create a solid environment for good discussion.
Now, on to the show.
Lately, I've taken special note at the amazing amount of drama that has been plaguing this genre between the people who make and run the games....and those whom play them. I've seen countless threads about WHY this happens, and how to fix it. Today, I'm going to address what I feel is really behind this disconnect. Its something I feel hasn't been really considered well when really approaching the subject.
For me, I honestly think that this separation is not so much between developers and players....but between the ideal and structure of a one-time purchase versus a constant online fee. I believe that the game developers still have not truly moved their mindset away from those single-buy games....which involve a very different customer/creator relationship. In those games, all that needs to occur is that the creator tell us what he is making, and make exactly that. There is no need to be firmly invested in your fans or community...because the structure of the purchase is based around ONLY the CD sale. So, for the ones making games, they still take a mostly hands-off approach to their community and how THEY apply to the very structure of their dream game.
That isn't to say these companies are stupid. No, they DO employ PR people to deal with the MMO communities. The issue is, it shouldn't be about "dealing" with us....or even controlling us. Realistically, it should be the goal of each MMO team to fully use the flowering community to strengthen their games. An MMO is very much like a food chain, they both survive by winning over new customers and ensuring their return business. The MMO is not just about its own name, and the public response to it, but also the name of the company which made it. This serves as a brand name for the whole team...and the good and bad effects of the community falls on IT.
So, much like the food chains, I think its time these MMO guys really sit down and devote the time they need to in order to make sure they create great communities. Not just some PR suits either...the whole team needs to get in on it. I've noticed that Blizzard already does this on their own forums (which are ALSO not overly moderated). The MMO team needs a relaxed atmosphere in-house about interacting with the community as well....there needs to be less iron-fist control over them about what they can and cannot do. Once we get the whole team involved....then its important they treat us as any respectable business would in such a situation. They should treat us like our unified voice is king over their lands...because it is. There needs to be an understanding that an MMO is not a normal PC or console game....it is a community game. That means that sometimes....you sacrifice your ideal of the game to bring it more in line with what your fans ideal of the game is.
MMO"s are not pretty art projects that we all view in a museum and discuss. They are public hotspots, and need to be catered to their public. That does NOT mean making every game like WoW either. That means making more, and more interesting, types of hotspots to cater to more diverse crowds. Most of all...those crowds need to have SOME input in what happens in their hotspot. This isn't Fable you are making guys....you NEED the return consumer in this field. Lets make these games more about the players than some dev dream.