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Tales from the Neighborhood: When Our Games Disappoint Us

By Jessica Cook on September 15, 2015 | Columns | Comments

When Our Games Disappoint Us

What happens when an MMO you enjoy makes decisions that go against your preferred playstyle?

It’s happened to almost every player who has stuck with a game for any length of time. Perhaps you like cutting-edge raiding, but then the game nerfs all the bosses and they’re suddenly much easier. Or, on the other side of the fence, maybe you prefer a more solo, cooperative experience but the developers of your game add competitive raids. Fans of subscription systems might feel betrayed when their MMO opens up a cash shop, or crafters when a new game feature lets everyone craft the goods they’ve been working on.

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However you play MMOs, there has probably been a moment when you realized that the direction the developers were heading in is the opposite of where you wanted the game to go. That’s the discovery that blogger Jeromai had recently with the announcement that Guild Wars 2 will add raids in Heart of the Storm.

The things that Jeromai likes about Guild Wars 2 – the exact features that have made it his primary game for the last few years – are often considered to be in direct opposition with a raid culture. There’s the preoccupation with gear, and a focus on competition over cooperation, not to mention frequent gatekeeping between players over whether someone is worthy of being in the raid group. It was all, to paraphrase, bumming Jeromai out.

Dealing with Disappointment

So what do you do when your game of choice seems to be abandoning you. Some people quit, and some just write angry forum posts (myself included). Jeromai, on the other hand, quite sensibly broke down his concerns and the possible actions he could take to relieve them, and felt much better if not totally care-free by the end of his examination.

One of the most important realizations that Jeromai had, I think, is that it’s up to the publisher to determine if their game is growing in a healthy way. As much as we players might feel some ownership over the development and direction of “our” game, it’s the publisher who has the tools to properly survey the whole playerbase and the context to understand what that information means. It’s not Jeromai’s job, in other words, to monitor the state of the GW2 community and whether the recent raiding initiatives are a success. His “job” is to monitor his OWN sense of success, and nothing more.

Another interesting insight came when Jeromai broke down what values were important to him when it comes to Guild Wars 2. He wants positive, social experiences, he wants to keep playing GW2, and he wants to... complete all content? Hmm, that seems to be where the real friction lies when facing a new raid paradigm. It’s not just that Arenanet is adding raids, it’s that he feels compelled to complete them.

So given his values and his concerns, Jeromai identifies three courses of action: make more of an effort to create a positive, social environment in the game, accept that for him some content may not be worth the effort to experience, and, above all, continue playing and enjoying Guild Wars 2.

Jeromai’s excellent post focused on his feelings about Guild Wars 2, but I think it applies to all of us who have ever seen a game that we love go in a different direction than we expected. It’s tempting to get angry, or rage quit, or feel depressed. I have totally been there.

But it’s more valuable to take a moment and examine why we’re bothered by these announcements. What about them goes against our vision of the game, and is there anything we can do as individuals to help keep things on course? Leave the business decisions to the business people, but be a voice for the elements of the game that you love.

Around the Blogosphere

It wasn’t just Jeromai writing about Guild Wars 2. Their PAX Prime announcements and move to make the base game free-to-play caught the attention of a number of bloggers.

Wolfyseyes even titled his musings, “The Requisite Guild Wars 2 Post”! He writes in tentative favor of the new raid system, using examples from City of Heroes and even the current GW2 Fractals to show that competitive, cutting-edge content doesn’t always have to encourage bad community behavior.

Meanwhile, over at The Ancient Gaming Noob, Wilhelm writes about the game’s move to free-to-play. He wonders what motivated the change, and whether at this point anyone who would be interested in GW2 hasn’t picked up the box in one of the past $10 sales. No other publisher in recent memory has made the base game free when launching an expansion, he notes, so it’s an interesting industry decision.

After a bit of a slow summer the MMO and RPG markets are revving up for a busy holiday season, which means players have a number of different games and betas to sample!

Tyler from Superior Realities picked up the final Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC, Trespasser, when it was released last week and calls it “an epic and emotional tour de force that is quite possible the highlight of the entire franchise to date”. He writes in detail about how Trespasser affects the story from the base game, and how the DLCs in general greatly improved DAI. (Warning: Trespasser spoilers a plenty in this post!)

Syl from MMO Gypsy recently tried out Dragon Nest, a Korean MMOs that has been opening up to Western audiences. She reports that is takes a little time to get used to the heavily instanced content design and action combat, but once you do Dragon Nest is very pretty and quite a bit of fun! Overall she misses having a persistent world, but the game is good enough that she plans to keep dabbling in it in the future.

Wondering what you’ll be playing this fall? Redbeard from Parallel Context may have you covered with his post, “Let the Fall Frenzy Begin”! Summer is almost over, but fortunately there seems to be a huge bounty of new and expanded MMOs for us to play as the weather gets colder and the nights get longer. There truly seems to be something for everyone.

And that’s the news from the blogosphere this week!

Jessica Cook / Jessica "Liore" Cook is a longtime MMO blogger, fan, aficionado, and community goodwill ambassador. She hosts the MMO podcast Game On, and writes the weekly column: Tales from the Neighborhood. You can read more at www.lioreblog.com.