Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Videogame Companies don't Listen to Gamers. But, Should They?

I already talked about this a few times before. But I think it is worth getting back to this point because this is such a common thing that the more you talk about it the better. It is very common to see gamers complaining how the publishers and developers seems to ignore fan feedback and 'alienating' them by don't giving what they want. But are gamers using effective ways to tell them what they want? And specially, are they saying what they want in a way the industry can understand?

The main way gamers use to communicate with the industry nowadays is the internet. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, forums, comments in gaming sites. They use this fast way to tell what they like and what they dislike, and most companies are smart enough to scan through those sites and services in order to gather the feedback they need in order to improve. Unfortunately, that is way harder than it should. And gamers are at fault here.

'So, hmm, what is this language they use again?'
Go to any forum in any gaming site rand you will see that more than half of the comments are either sexual jokes, attacks between users and/or the writers, things not related to the matter in discussion, death treats and spam. Other 40% is so badly written, with lack of punctuation, l33t speak, abbreviations that most people would not even try to translate it. Even us, gamers, many times don't bother in doing it, imagine the poor person who have to read the comments on hundreds of sites and forums, plus social services.

So, only 10% of the comments are written in an intelligible and useful way. After sorting out this, the PR person them have to deal with the schizophrenia rampant in gamers. They will find the same person being against and pro the same matter. You will find people, for example, who is adamant against DLC, except if it is a DLC they want, this is OK. Or how they hate digital distribution except Steam, because Steam is great.

'I want classic games but I want them with modern stuff too.'
This kind of attitude make even harder to the PR people to give the developers and publishers a clear picture of what gamers want. It does not help the fact that usually minor vocal groups are more easy to find than major groups. People will more easily complain on the web than post something positive, so the PR people will take this minor group complaints and go with them, just to piss off all the people who were OK with it but didn't bother to say so.

And game journalism is no better either. Those people, most of them, are just gamers with better writing skills who have more visible (and paid) ways to show their opinions. But they also suffer the same schizophrenia normal gamers have. They will have the same double standards gamers have, with the bad part being that they are more concerned in keeping the traffic of their sites (because that is what pay them) instead of trying to be the people who connect gamers and the industry.

'I have no idea what I am doing.'
The game journalists should be the people who says to the gamers how the industry really work, how what they do is in fact in order to thrive or just greed and to explain what gamers don't understand. In the other hand, the game journalists should show the industry what the gamers really desire, why they hate certain attitudes and specially ask the gamers who didn't speak to speak out.

But because game journalist is way more concerned in keeping their clicks going, they will always side with their readers, making them biased towards the 'poor gamer' against the 'evil industry'. This kind of attitude once again create an environment where the PR people cannot trust anything said in the internet because what is said is not exactly the truth or meaningful to them. This left only one way the game industry have to measure if they are doing things right or wrong.

This is screaming way louder than any gamer.
The only reliable measure for gamer satisfaction the industry have is their sales numbers. If they sold more, they keep doing it. If they sell less, they stop doing. Gamers have big mouths on the internet, but rarely they make their words being followed by actions. Again, it is the same schizophrenia that rampage the forums also apply to real life. The same person who say they will not buy a game with on-line passes is the one buying games with them because he/she cannot not play such game.

Or gamers who say that they are tired of the same games, but when a good, different game pop up they just decide to buy it used, or at discount, or not to buy entirely because that brand new sequel/prequel FPS is going out around the same period and they just need to play it. 

So, there is no reason to the game industry to give any consideration to what gamers speak in the internet, because what they speak does not reflect in any way to what they do. As long as they keep being profitable, they will believe they are doing all the right moves. And while gamers keep with their schizophrenic attitude in the communication channels, there will be no other way to speak of their unhappiness with the current state of the game industry than with their wallets.

Because if you have no idea how to talk with your mouth, at least learn to talk with your money. This, the industry will hear, loud and clear.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment.