Modern Malaise: Tone Deaf Developers

Money. Greed. Lootboxes. If we kept going, we might break all seven seals. And yet, some game developers seem positively hell-bent on unleashing absolute havoc on the industry.

Greed is, undoubtedly, one of the most insidious of human faculties.

When we have enough, we simply want more. And then, once we’ve placed our grubby mitts on it, we find that even that wasn’t enough. It’s an oversimplification, sure, but it’s incredibly indicative of the state of the biggest players in the industry at the time being.

Looking back over the last couple of years, the biggest stories that came out of the gaming industry was the unfathomable amounts of greed that AAA developers sunk to. From Bethesda releasing rushed and broken games and refusing to issue refunds, to EA catching all the flack in the world after gating franchise-iconic Star Wars heroes behind what was effectively a paywall.

From past examples, it’s clear that the biggest players in the game are getting a bit more brash with their marketing and revenue tactics. But what are the specific factors involved?

It’s all well and good to label corporate greed as the problem, but greed doesn’t arise without one turning a deaf ear toward what is true and good.

For the sake of the parable, we’ll substitute the “true and good” with the gaming community. No other medium shares the same potential for creators of video games to collaborate with the anticipating audience to produce a product that is catered to the eager hands of those receiving it.

And yet, this rarely happens.

Instead, the general theme has been that the game that is released unto the masses is a product of internal debate, focus group testing, and micro-management from the suits above – whose insight is often guided by market projections, ROI, and reach projections.

Quite frankly, we think it’s time for the higher-ups to be composed of actual gamers rather than those who only possess a savvy business sense.

By no means do we wish to knock those who employ their knowledge of products and marketing, but we firmly stand by our beliefs that whenever a game is treated as merely a product, all parties involved suffer: the audience doesn’t get what it wants, the developers get endlessly flamed, and the published risks a blow to its reputation that it may never recover from.

As idealistic as it may sound, it is our heartfelt belief that the future of games will only be made better by a significantly larger portion of audience feedback integration. That is to say: players – give the devs constructive feedback without resorting into a screeching clamour that makes them want to ignore you. And devs – take the constructive criticism to heart without allowing it to turn you cold and hard.

Should this practice become more commonplace among the majority of large development houses, a new era of collaborative design and building interactive experiences that we can only dream of today.

But alas, we must not put the cart before the horse. For if we are ever to reach such lofty heights of imagination, we must clear the toxic relationship between developers and consumers. For if the present course remains, the only games worth playing will be those developed solely out of an indie community.

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