The responses to my column this week got me to thinking about a lot of things, not the least of which is where companies draw the line between making games for players to enjoy and making games in order to make the most profit possible.
It’s an interesting question, really and after thinking about it for a while, I have come to the conclusion that there must be some kind of disconnect happening somewhere because the two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.
Shouldn’t making good games and having great customer service actually be what’s best for a company’s bottom line? I mean, that’s what they do. That’s what confuses me so much when people start complaining that this game company or that game company is “selling out” and “doesn’t care about their players, they just care about profits.” Given that it’s the players who provide the profits, you wouldn’t think we’d hear that quite as often as we do.
Personally, I think what’s happening is that people aren’t necessarily making their voices heard in the most effective way possible: by making it unprofitable for companies to ignore them.
Sure, going out and posting on forums certainly gets people riled up, but in today’s world where people will complain bitterly on the internet and then go out and buy the product anyway, it’s a less meaningful gesture than it once was.
As businesses, game companies are going to rely less on word of mouth in forums and more on the metrics and other information that is gathered in response to any given change, or initiative. If they see a decline in numbers and in their bottom lines, that’s when the powers that be, the folks who make all of the final decisions stand up and take notice.
My friends, there’s only one way to effectively give your say when it comes to voicing your displeasure with a game company’s decision. Stop giving them your money. Vote with your wallets. In the end, if you’re not pissed off enough to stop giving them your hard earned cash, they’re going to assume that you’re just blowing off some steam and will continue to provide revenue for them.
In the world of single player games, when Valve announced Left 4 Dead 2, a number of concerned players of the first game were upset because they felt that the original game would, as a matter of course, fall by the wayside and free updates that were promised would never come to fruition.
Of course, this meant that many game forums went up in flames as people lost their minds and vocalized it as loudly as possible online. Even with all of the uproar, it wasn’t until a rational boycott program was put into effect that Valve stood up and took notice, eventually properly addressing player concerns (there are some who believe that the Crash Course addition to the game was a direct result of this).
In the end, it’s the bottom line stuff that companies are going to listen to. That’s why most MMOs ask you why you’ve cancelled when you cancel your sub. It’s not because they enjoy reading the large number of profanity-laced responses, but because it can give them an idea of what needs changing should a pattern develop.
So, that’s voting with your wallet. It’s a strong way for an individual to send a strong message.