Discussion: The toxicity of consumers and how it affects game devs

  • Please read this Kotaku article on one devs take on why devs are so secretive. Essentially their all afraid of you.

    I completely agree with his view of the community. I think it's sad that people who work on things that we all love can't share because ppl can't handle it. However, I'm not entirely sure how open most devs would be. Maybe him and a few other examples but I don't see it being something that all devs are actively trying to practice even if the community wasn't the way it was.

    Personally I'm surprised ppl continue to work in this industry. Numerous reports of horrible working conditions or structure. Horrible politics and working hours plus you have to deal with all the professionals on the forums telling you how much you suck and that they could do it better.

    It would definitely be nice to see devs open up. I really like the tweets about all the tricks they use to make their games come together. But I totally see why they wouldn't want too.

    So, what's your thoughts?

  • I feel the article already states a solution, but that the writer and Charles Randall want immediate change over night.
    Be more candid, educate people on the typical work flow, give people a idea of how big the budget is and what its being spent on. Not everyone will listen, but there will be those that will, and the people that do listen will slowly help spread the message.

    I'm curious to hear what Troy Levit has to say on the matter though.
    (youtube channel for whenever he post his opinion)

    Also if I recall right @Axel is currently working on AC Origins, maybe if he's up to it he can share his thoughts as well.

  • Banned

    By not being candid and honest they're the ones that create the so called "toxic" community in the first place.

    If people don't know the truth how can you expect them to deal with the truth when all you do is hide it?

    He's not solving anything by venting his frustration.

  • @CGamor7 said in Discussion: The toxicity of consumers and how it affects game devs:

    Essentially their all afraid of you.

    Good, they should be afraid of the consumers, not of the journos (who should be afraid too), consumers are the ones who make or break them.
    These complaints usually come either from the AAA mainstream companies or the progressive western indie clique who are not exactly known to treat consumers respectfully and value their friendships with gaming jornos more, rarley to never from the japanese niche industry for some reason.
    I mean I follow niche publishers on Twitter like Idea Factory, Marvelous and PQube, and what I see there is true L&R (except from the usual non gamer puritans who whine about soggy knees in japanese games 24/7, but most of those have realized that these companies won't bend down to them so they are pretty rare these days) from both sides, because of the simple concept that they deliver what their consumer wants (uncensored, accurately and respectfully translated retail releases) and treat them with respect, a concept that seems to be ignored or forgotten by a big part of the western games industry. My twitter timeline is filled with screenshots and retweets of the garbage the indie AAA devs and game journos spout, something I don't see coming from the likes of Yoko Taro, Kenichiro Takaki or even Hideki Kamiya nor the pubslishers I mentioned earlier. Respect has to be earned, it's not a right, and it's always a temporary thing that can be lost pretty fast. And when I see devs like Manveer Heir, Randy Bitchford or Brianna Wu, I don't want to give them respect, because they don't deserve it, not an ounce, I personally think thy are horrid disgusting people.
    And no, you can't educate me, I tried to make my own game, I know how difficult that is, and I know it's even more difficult with a time limit in your back, like every job, and for most of these people this is a job, and if you mess up on your job you will get criticised or even fired, like the developers of Mass Effect Andromeda rightfully get criticised for doing a hack job, which is of course Bioware's fault for giving such a prestige title to a talentless B-Team, so Bioware itself deserves the criticism as well, not respect. Of course there are exceptions in the western industry Like Running With Scissors and R* I guess, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm done with the western games industry.

  • Banned

    And yet, the developers I see who are completely and utterly open with the consumer are the ones I see getting the most respect.
    I feel that a lot of developers are afraid to share too much because they realize that, if they do, the fans will cannibalize them. Not because they don't deserve it, but because they do.

    Lets take a look at Gearbox.
    This company used to be an industry juggernaut. They've worked on the Half-Life series, have one of the more popular franchises in gaming with Borderlands, own the Duke Nukem franchise, among many other accomplishments.
    Yet now, after years of shady backroom deals and outright lying, they have lost much of their clout in the industry. Randy Pitchford recently blamed THE CONSUMER on the failure of Aliens: Colonial Marines, instead of, y'know, the faked gameplay videos, mismanaged funds that were instead used to fund development of the Borderlands games, and outsourcing the game at thelast minute to a small devteam to (try to) finish the game on time.

    Meanwhile, teams like CD Project Red and Digital Extremes (Witcher and Warframe devs, respectively) have been nothing but open about the development process for their games, and they are lauded for it.

    Hell, I think that a lot of the hatred for a game like No Man's Sky would have been avoided if they had just been truthful and open about the game. Instead of lying and saying "There is multiplayer, but you will never meet another player because the world is so huge" they could have said "We can't include multiplayer at launch, but will add it down the line".

    I dunno. I feel like this article is just coming up with excuses as to why a developer shouldn't be more open.

  • How is CD Projekt more open than any other AAA dev? The keep just as many secrets, they just pander to consumers with meaningless stances on piracy and DLC that they're still going to charge the same price for and pull PR stunts like the Witcher 3's 16 'free' DLCs that are just skins and hair they could have put in the launch version.

  • It's pretty simple, don't do deceptive things and pretend they aren't deceptive once you're caught (Like capcom, WBGames, EA, Bioware, Hello Games, etc) and you won't have anything to worry about!

    And don't presume you know better than the consumers you're selling to when marketing your game, like Cliff Bliszenski otherwise you end up with Lawbreakers.

    They SHOULD be afraid of consumers, developers (And implicitly the companies who hire them) have somehow long forgotten that it's our dollars that keep their doors open, it's only through the blindness/ignorance of many that most of these developers have been in business as long as they have despite all the rotten things they've pulled over the years.

    If you're any other company making any other product in the world you're accountable for your product, how you sell it, how well it works once it's on the market, and keeping your consumers HAPPY!

    Somehow along the way that stopped applying to video games, even fast food companies are figuring out finally that poor service and high prices are murdering their bottom lines, people aren't blindly taking the abuse anymore, and it's bringing about changes.

    It's high time that started to happen with video games too. I mean I hate to sound like every other aged gamer out there but we didn't have this in the old days where games shipped broken like they consistently do now.

    Granted games were smaller than they are now, WAY less things could go wrong, but you know what was different? Fear. Your first game could've been the last for your entire company, no mistakes. You waited until that sucker was ready, there was no recalls, no patches, no expansion pack and no global internet advertising.

    Now companies have so much money they no longer seem to care if we can play a game or not, just as long as enough people bought it before word got out.

    And consumers are just as responsible for why this happens, why? "It's just a beta, wait till the game is out" Game comes out "Wait for patch 7.3 it'll be MUCH better by then, stop whining"

    Take MvC-I for a current example, I was reading this morning that it's selling worse (In the UK from the article I read) as a multiplatform game than Pokken DX A console exclusive (Also port of a game that didn't originally sell very well). Will it recover? Maybe. Will capcom learn from it? No. Cause they'll make bank from something else and that failure won't matter, just like SF5.

    If more people stopped giving in and buying bad games year after year and stopped simply accepting this level of quality there wouldn't be a need for this many of us to be jaded and angry at developers in the first place.

    Stop believing everything they say, stop pre-ordering, stop buying DLC and season passes, and stop accepting less than a company's best.

    We managed to get rid of "Multiplayer Passes" but everything else still remains.

  • This is a very broad topic but I think some of the replies here are not exactly addressing the actual topic at hand.

    Charles Randall is talking about individual developers at any level - be it a one-man indie studio or one level designer in a 500-strong team - not being able to candidly address various topics or share anecdotes without inevitably facing backlash. But honestly I think it's no different from the secrecy surrounding movie production or book writing. People in those fields also don't openly communicate about the problems they encounter or the decisions they're making while in the middle of production.

    You wouldn't expect JK Rowling to come out halfway through writing the new Harry Potter book, and say "Hey so I was going to have Hermione die in chapter 5 but I've now changed my mind and will keep her around because I have bigger plans for her in the future". Imagine the shitstorm.

    Without giving details, I can also say that on every single game I've worked on, the story/characters/quests all changed dozens of times throughout development, and the stuff you get in the end is just the latest - hopefully best - version. What good would it do to players to know that a character that was planned was eventually cut or altered? Even if it's for a good reason, it would still only lead to disappointment. Keep in mind that the developers are the first ones to be crushed when a feature or a quest that we've been working on for months ends up being cut. I've had many arguments and fights for things I believed in that just didn't make it in the end. So the last thing we need is to then have to justify it to thousands of people online.

    Then there's the issue of some developers being too "honest" for their own good, for example Peter Molyneux or more recently Sean Murray. I don't think they maliciously made false promises initially when hyping up their games, they probably really wanted to include all the features they talked about. That's enthusiasm and optimism talking and it often leads to disappointment. (In No Man's Sky's case I agree that they clearly went too far with plain lies shortly before release, so the backlash was deserved). There's a very fine balance to find between hyping your game up to make it stand out and not over-promising.

    I think announcing games closer to release, when most of the main features are pretty much set in stone, is the most efficient way to avoid that sort of problem. But if you're AAA you sometimes want or need to announce something early for various reasons (shareholders, platform support, etc.). In this case I think the less you say, the better.

    We were all over the moon with a simple Metroid Prime 4 logo. The announcement did its job: it reassured Metroid fans, leading to a better reception of Samus Returns, it showed future support for the Switch, etc. If Nintendo had also said "It will take place on 5 different planets, there will be first-person and third-person sections, and we're looking at a multiplayer mode!" and later on had to cut multiplayer and 2 planets, people would shit on them.

    Now what some of you are mentioning are the bad business practices of some publishers (false advertising, micro-transactions, buggy releases, PR bullshit, etc.). That's a different beast and should rightfully be criticized, I don't think anybody is arguing that. The problem is that sadly, just like everything on internet it seems, a certain vocal minority can get very aggressive, insulting and most importantly personal.

    Criticizing the end result, the game itself, is perfectly fine, but calling out the people who worked on it is rarely fair. Bad decisions are not usually made by one person in isolation. Equally, a huge part of the team won't have a say in how things are done and will work their butts off to compensate for a bad management call or simply unfortunate circumstances.

    Last point for @Torigasa-Reta, I think your post sort of reflects that. Calling Mass Effect Andromeda a "hack job from a talentless B-Team" is extremely disrespectful and ignorant, no matter how you feel about the game. There were other Kotaku articles explaining what went wrong and if you read them you'll see that it was a series of bad decisions / over-ambition that led to their troubles. Not that every single person working on the game was talentless, far from it.

    Teams change a lot from one game to the next anyway, so the "original" Mass Effect doesn't exist anymore and will never exist again. Just like the Retro Studios that made Metroid Prime isn't the one that made Tropical Freeze. People move, evolve, gain experience, mess up, do better. Just because a team or a studio is new doesn't mean the people who compose it are all newbies.

  • @Haru17 I won't comment on game devs since I don't know much on that front, but I will say that I appreciated CD Projekt Red's openness about their DLC for Witcher 3. They were upfront about the two expansions, what they would be called, how long they would be, what they would be about, and how much they would cost. It was nice instead of a lot of companies who just announce expansion packs without information about the contents.
    Sure the free stuff could have been included in the base game, but it could also have cost money. It seems odd to not commend a company for avoiding charging for these things, since I don't doubt that some people would have paid for hairstyles, armor, outfits and a couple new quests.

  • @Inustar You see I don't buy that for a minute because Zelda and plenty of other companies do the same thing. The announce DLC plans pre-release, provide outlines of what will be in it, and gamers online get outraged and self-righteous while media say 'you shouldn't have talked about DLC before a game was out.'

    It's impossible to understand precisely because the outrage is irrational, gamers are touch about being asked to pay for anything more than $60 when that price tag hasn't been adjusting for inflation to avoid sticker shock.

    And the 16 baubles thing was an obvious PR stunt. Remember, plenty of game websites ran with "The Witcher 3 has free DLC" before they announced their actual DLC plan. Plenty of other devs put content like that in the base game without piecemealing it all out across weeks and weeks and making show of it. When Skyrim added horseback combat it was a patch, an update, not 'free DLC' or whatever made-up marketing term.

  • @Haru17 you are correct, it definitely was a PR stunt, and a pretty smart one. They gave fans stuff and got people on their side. It's fine if you don't agree with it though, but it was a calculated business decision that worked out for them.

    But as for the rest, are you referring to Breath of the Wild? Because they certainly weren't upfront about the DLC, they didn't tell anyone what the story dlc was. And I don't remember people being outraged about the Witcher DLC when it was outlined? Perhaps it was because people saw value in the 10 or 20 hour dlc.

  • @Inustar Yep. Nintendo outlined the 2nd Zelda DLC would contain a dungeon and a new plot — probably everything they had figured out at the time. I'm not saying it was totally okay given Breath of the Wild's ending and 'dungeons,' but commenters had no way of knowing those things about the main game before purchasing. People just freaked out because it was a Zelda game with DLC.

    I never said people were angry at Witcher 3. By all accounts that game got given special treatment by the media compared to other open worlds or RPGs. That's my point, that it's mostly meaningless favoritism and preconception.

  • Banned

    @ZyloWolfBane in Capcom's defense, MVCI is one of the most mechanically solid fighting games released this gen, and that game's problems have more to do with overhead from Disney that they are probably contractually obligated not to speak about.

  • Coincidentally just saw this in my Twitter timeline which reflex what I said pretty well and shows why this "toxicity" is mainly a western problem. Japanese companies still know who's the boss, and the moment they forget it for just a second, the boss aka the consumer will remind them.
    This is how it should be:
    alt text
    alt text

  • Honestly, I'm much more concerned about the toxicity of our city, of our city.

  • Absolutely excellent insight @Axel. Thank you.

  • @Axel I was wanted to write something like this, but you said it better than I could have. :)

  • @El-Shmiablo
    Funny you should mention gearbox because this seems pretty clearly related to the recent absolute bilge coming out of Gearbox blaming gamers for Alien Colonial Marines sucking

    Youtube Video

    a game where they lied to everyone and stole from other companies.

    and I went and looked at Randy Pitchford's twitter and of course this is 100% what it's about.
    Borderline criminals are using you to deflect criticism of their actions

  • Banned

    @Sieghardt Haha. Thats exactly what I was referring to.
    Randy Pitchford can get fucked.

  • @Sieghardt That A:CM thing is genuinely one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen from a game company. Flat out embezzlement and then blaming the players when their scheme got caught. Fuck em, there's a reason they're one of maybe three companies I refuse to support.