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Misconceptions About Gamer Feedback: The Customer is Always an Asshole

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If there is one thing gamers love, it’s having fun. Hell, one might say it is a passion of ours. If there’s another thing we love, it’s having an opinion and being loud about it, especially if it’s an opinion on how we have fun. With the way our communities and forums act, perhaps developers should change the tune from “the customer’s always right” to “the customer’s always an asshole.”

Let’s be honest, saying “a gamer has an opinion” is a lot like saying “the sky is blue” or “gravity exists.” We’re also more than happy to let developers know what we think, and usually it isn’t good. In fact, I’d almost dare to say there is little developers can do to not face the ire of the community. Take, for example, the saga of the Xbox One’s announcement and launch.

When the Xbox One was announced, many people (including myself) jumped on the bandwagon and rode that hate train as far as we could. We made jokes and criticized the name as well as the “always online” features that Diablo III players had recently experienced and had reason to be wary of. Microsoft actually listened to the consumers and switched from ‘always on’ to a 24-hour check in. That wasn’t good enough for us, so Microsoft changed the system again to allow for an offline mode and functionality.

Since changing the status of ‘always on’ Microsoft has been called “weak” by gamers and accused of “buckling under the pressure of the PlayStation 4 and Sony.” Some have called the removal of what was previously deemed an anti-consumer feature inherently anti-consumer itself because it made the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 more similar, and thus they weren’t properly competing.

Even smaller games feature this kind of pressure. If you’re a follower of the Armed Gamer Twitch channel, you should know I stream Infinite Crisis every Friday and do a giveaway. That game has had its own struggles due to conflicting gamer feedback. This MOBA set in the DC Comics universe of course features many of our favorite super heroes. The game’s community has been pressuring the developer, Turbine, to release certain champions for us to play, including characters from the DC movies and shows like Arrow, Flash, Gotham, Constantine, and more. Along with the fans of the movies/shows, you have the fans of the comic books who have been pressuring Turbine to release characters like Swamp Thing, and that’s where Turbine ran into some problems recently.

If you were to look at the Infinite Crisis forums, you’d see many, many requests for Swamp Thing. In fact, he’s probably one of the most requested characters there. Trying to give gamers what they wanted, Turbine very recently released that hero for play, however that created its own backlash. Some players felt their requests weren’t listened to because Arrow made the character Deathstroke popular, so instead of a character without an actual live action actor, they should have released Deathstroke instead. Of course, the last time Turbine released something with a show tie-in, that didn’t go well. The Starling City Green Arrow Skin to make Green Arrow look like Steve Amell’s character in the CW show Arrow flopped. The community was pretty loud with their distaste for the skin despite the fact that it was free for two weeks. Who hates free stuff?

Of course, sometimes developers decide to not listen to the consumer. When Assassin’s Creed: Unity was revealed, many gamers loudly declared their dismay at the lack of female assassins in the multi-character roster. In their four-character team, they couldn’t even be bothered to include a single female playable character. I absolutely can’t fault gamers for being angry or upset by that, but at the same time I can’t fault Ubisoft for not changing development to include a female playable character. With the way gamers work, you know they’d still receive a ton of backlash for changing their position, and still no one would be happy. Heck, I’m also perfectly happy with the first major console release to include a female assassin not being a game so buggy that Ubisoft had to release a public apology.

The thing is, there are also plenty of legitimate reasons gamer feedback can’t always be listened to. With Ubisoft and Assassin’s Creed Unity, it might have been that they didn’t have the time to respond to feedback for a title that was already rushed on release. With Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, there were probably legal issues preventing them from adding characters to a game. At the same time, sales figures could show gamers would rather have new content than bug patches (Batman: Arkham Origins).

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At this point, you might be close to that comment section, getting ready to flame and type out something like “But Zach, those are like three examples! And how dare you call me an asshole! If anything, I’m a dick.” Hear me out, though. When we as gamers say “This company never listens to us,” the truth is many of us in the community don’t want the company to listen to the community as a whole. We just want the company to listen to the individual, the “I” in this situation, because we each have strong opinions about what makes something fun and worth the $60 investment. Chances are, the company is trying to listen to the community, or at least what they think the community wants. The problem is, that also means our money speaks for us as well. The reason we’re seeing micro-transactions is because they work. If they didn’t actually sell, we wouldn’t be seeing them, but the fact that we are paying for them tells the developer a lot more about what we find to be a reasonable price than any forum post can. The customer isn’t always right, and when you’re really looking for public opinion, the chances are that the customer is, in fact, always an asshole.

About Zach Martinez

Freelancer here at Armed Gamer, North American Video Game Correspondent for Following the Nerd, and a regular on Examiner.com, Zach has made somewhat of a name for himself at the age of 23. He has been writing professionally for just over 5 years now. He doesn't care about resolution or frames per second, he cares about what matters most, the games. You can reach reach him directly at zach.martinez09395@yahoo.com.

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