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Weekly Random Meaningful Blabber

A blog about anything MMO related. I suppose I could have confined it to more specific things...but I dislike losing my freedom!

Author: Gishgeron

The great disconnect.

Posted by Gishgeron Friday March 21 2008 at 10:10AM
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  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.

Hexxeity writes:

The problem is, the community never speaks with one clear voice.  For every person who likes one game element, there are three who hate it.

Another point -- the people on message boards are not an accurate representation of the gaming community as a whole.  The board-lurkers' opinion is seldom a good indicator of what will be successful in the marketplace.

Fri Mar 21 2008 10:38AM Report
StrangeShay writes:

I agree with Hexxeity, I've seen so many game forums with polls that show that most of the community want's more pvp while the pvp servers for that game are the least populated.

The loudest voice rarely speaks for the majority.

Fri Mar 21 2008 12:50PM Report
Anzio writes:

In my view there are 2 different tandem disconects "Gameplay" and "Features"..

The game developers "Vision" (tm) doesnt matter at all in the final analysis in a games success. Everything depends on "Gameplay" and "Features"  involved in the players interaction with "Content"..

Countless times "Vision" hampers efforts by all concerned parties to improve "GamePlay" and "Features".. Which in turn will effect profits.

The constant drive to add "Content" is a much more economical way to add profits then it is to improve "Gameplay" and "Features".

This is the cycle  I see MMORPGs trapped in. It hurts the players, programmers, "Visionaries", communities and leaves only accountants happy.... That is untill the project folds...

The constant cycling of a games player base is endlessly reapeated untill the next "NEW and Shiney!" games released..

Fri Mar 21 2008 1:47PM Report
Anzio writes:

As an aside thought. If "Vision" and 'Content" were all that mattered.

MMORPG players would be reading books instead of being online.

Fri Mar 21 2008 2:00PM Report
Dvsclarity writes:

I think you nailed this pretty accurately. I agree that a good community atmosphere is very important. I have seen so many games that have low quality websites with little to no information. For me, when I look to play an MMO, the first thing I do is look at their website, how organized is it? Did they actually develop a well designed, well coded machine or is this a cheap layout? The website often shows the quality of what the game will be like.

-Jaz

Fri Mar 21 2008 9:03PM Report
Gishgeron writes:

First, let me apologize for taking so long to get back to this.  Work and bad internet connection have slowed me.

 

I do not mean to say that gameplay and features are not important.  You have to understand that this blog was not about how to make quality games...not at all.  It was to address how the game is viewed by those in charge of it, and how to ensure you have returning customers.  I see several of you kinda lost that angle, and that could be due to poor communication on my part.  For that, I apologize again.

The point here to note is that no matter how GOOD a game is, it's longevity can only be guaranteed by building a strong community.  A strong, happy community is what gives these games life at all.  In fact, WoW's initial release was great due almost entirely to the fact they had such a great standing with their community already.  Now, the numbers which followed had very different reasons...but the original players are all pretty much old school Blizz fans.

We have to pay attention to that.  Like I said, these aren't single purchase games.  Its not JUST about having a good game, in fact history has proven that VERY good games can drop to abysmal sub levels if poor care has been shown to its community.  The suits must begin treating this like any other repeat consumer business...and start taking care of its customers in a way which shows this. 

I'll repeat, having a good game is not even close to enough in the MMO genre to have, and KEEP, great sub numbers.  We are fickle, and we have MANY options now.  They don't have to listen to every last one of us to keep us happy and treat us with respect.  Also, there are plenty of options available for developers to use if they really want to know what the majority of their fans want.  Most just do not use them at all.  Once the players start seeing that they DO have a voice that IS heard...most of those options won't be necessary anymore because the players will begin speaking without being pushed to do so.

Fri Mar 21 2008 9:23PM Report
NovaKayne writes:

Hexity hit it on the head.  If developers want good feed back on new systems or implementations they should add an in-game function or at the log in pole to determine how people feel about things.  Following trolls on the boards is not a good idea.  Only the vocal minority hang out there and they are the ones that hate ANY change.

A developer once told me that Players DO NOT always know what they want.  Some things that are imlemented based on player suggestion end up breaking the game.

Sat Mar 22 2008 11:19AM Report
xxUltimaxx writes:

Hex may be right but devs have to learn to take a hint. If 2/3 of your subs leave because of something you did and wouldn't change then guess what? Its you who screwed up not the subs.

And yes this was directed toward SOE.

Fri Mar 28 2008 1:08AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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