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Community Spotlight: Developers Getting it Wrong

Posted by MikeB Saturday January 21 2012 at 4:16PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "How do game companies get it so wrong?" by mgilbrtsn. In the thread, mgilbrtsn wonders how game developers manage to get MMOs so wrong when it comes to what gamers actually want:

I was wondering how game companies who obviously have put a lot of time and money into a game, can so miss the mark on what the gaming community wants.  I'm not talking about nitpicking every little thing a game does right/wrong, becausee those are always up for debate.  Instead I'm wondering at a more Macro level.  Star Trek Online and Champions online come to mind.  Its obvious that a lot of money was spent on them.  The quality shows.  However, they are so far off the mark on what players wanted, that they just fail to attract the masses.  I know that politicians and others do a lot of market surveys and focus groups to help them make decisions.  Do game companies not do this?  Just cruious.

Onomas feels its all for the kids:

kids, they want to make games as easy as possible for the little ones.

As some of the community want indepth, crafting, exploration, open world, streategy, skill, death penalties, and features galore.

They keep making these console style rpg games with tons of eye candy and lack of innovation for the kiddies which now take up most the community.

I wish a company would go back to old school mmos and actualy make a real mmo for a change. WOW realy hurt the mmo community by attracting the kids and the need for easy single player  eye candy games :/

Manarix actually thinks developers listen too much to gamers:

Here is what i think.

I think developpers listen WAY TOO MUCH to their so called customers.

And the endresult is a bland product, that does not excell in anything, while trying to cater to as many as possible.

Ultima Online and Dark Ages of Camelot were games that were made by people with a vision. They made the game like they wanted it to be, games they wanted to play themselves and have have a good time wasting time with. If you didn't like it, well too bad, you didn't play...simple as that. And to be honest, both games went downhill when the developpers started to "listen" to what the players wanted, most times fragmented ideas of people that didn't like a, b or c.

Vhaln believes that decisions are being controlled more by people with money than by creative people as the genre has grown over the years:

Being good at making money and being creative are very different, and as gaming becomes a bigger and bigger business, the more its controled by people with money instead of creativity.  You'd think it'd be a no-brainer for a game company to give creative control to someone with proven creativity, but people with money tend to be ego-maniacs who don't want some peon ruining things with all their vision, imagination, and other worthless crap like that.  Certainly not someone who wastes all their time playing video games, to boot.

So instead they create these formulaic games, based on what they think sounds fun, to people looking at it from the outside, who don't even know what a fun game is, and just figure its like any other industry where you can buy your way to success.

There is certainly something to be said about the "formulaic" games Vhaln mentions. There are quite a few MMOs that have been made with a back-of-the-box bullet list in mind, and these games are definitely uninspired.

However, I'm not sure I really agree with the premise the OP raises to begin with, at least the way it's been worded. It's easy to feel that developers have "missed the mark" as far as what gamers actually want, but consider this:: what "gamers" want today is vastly different from what they wanted 10 years ago. Gaming, both in general and the MMO genre, has grown and broadened exponentially over the last 10 or so years and what people want from their gaming experiences is as diverse as ever.

I don't think it's particularly settled in terms of what gamers actually want from these games. In my opinion, it is frankly evolving all the time. This is particularly troubling for the MMO genre as these games take longer to develop than your typical 18 month console/PC game cycle. Often what players in the genre may collectively want when the project begins may be completely different by the time the project is completed.

What are your thoughts? Share 'em in the comments below!