Social media has its pluses and minuses, but one thing that it can do is act as bridge between the consumer and the developer. But what happens when developers leave social media? And what effect can it have on future video games?
Developers Leave En Masse
A couple of weeks ago, two Madden developers, Clint Oldenburg and Anthony White, left social media. This happened at about the same time that #Fix2K20 was trending nationally on Twitter. As you may recall, NBA 2K players were furious over the problems that plagued 2K20 on release, such as long loading screes, buggy badge progression, and server issues. Gamers voiced their opinion on social media on the problems, with many calling for NBA 2K’s Ronnie Singh to be fired for false advertising.
On top of Oldenberg and White leaving social media, a NBA 2K team member left as well. “Da Czar” also left social media, and it may very well had to do with fielding many complaints from unhappy NBA 2K players.
While there isn’t a clear reason as to why these three left, there’s a good chance that it had to do with the constant amount of complaints developers have to deal with on social media. During the height of #Fix2K20, many gamers directed their frustration toward not just Ronnie 2K, but also Gameplay Director Mike Wang, over the problems of the game.
And these complaints have certainly worn on developers. One anonymous developer who quit social media told SGO, “I quit Twitter because basically it’s boring. So many people just go on there to moan.” That developer later added, “It’s just meaningless musings from people who find solace in bashing everything but themselves.”
Who is at fault here?
This problem here is twofold, as the argument can be made that both sides share some of the blame. Gamers have every right to voice their displeasure over the problems of a game. That’s their right as a consumer, and no one should dispute that. However, it becomes a problem if simple messages about the game turn into personal attacks.
For example, a major issue with this occurred earlier this year when Gamefreak Gameplay Director Junichi Masuda was under fire over the removal of the National Pokedex from Pokemon Sword and Shield. As a fan of the Pokemon franchise myself, I wasn’t very happy with the news, as were others. The news earned mostly negative responses, and gamers voiced their opinion on social media on the decision. In fact, the phrase #BringBackNationalDex was trending on Twitter for a short period of time.
However, a few gamers went over the edge, personally threatening Masuda on social media over this decision. Masuda, unlike some of the other developers that I mentioned previously, is still active on social media. But, this situation still highlights what is good and what isn’t in regards to social media. While using these platforms to give feedback to developers on what’s working and what’s not is great, it can turn south fast, as in this instance with Masuda and a handful of Pokemon fans. This hurts everybody, and I’ll explain why later in this article.
On the flip side, game developers aren’t completely blameless in this either. Game developers do need to be proactive on social media, and must interact with consumers in a constructive matter. One problem during the #Fix2K20 movement was that gamers were unhappy with how little Ronnie 2K and Mike Wang were involved in the community. In fact, someone tweeted to Wang about this, and he simply stated that it’s “not my place.”
It's really not my place. Doing my best to field everyone's feedback with gameplay though. Gotta stay in my lane.
— Mike Wang (@Beluba) September 9, 2019
Yes, Mike Wang, it is your place. The reason is because if you don’t take legitimate complaints from consumers seriously, they, in turn, will become disengaged with the product. If gameplay developers take the time to listen and respond to constructive feedback, not only should the gameplay be better, but it will also ease the concerns of consumers. And, it should also de-escalate any tensions between developers and gamers.
Why this situation hurts everyone?
With developers leaving social media, this creates quite a problem. Social media channels provide consumers with a venue to contact developers, and give them important feedback on the product. With developers leaving en masse, though, it means that the disconnect between the consumer and the developer will grow. Developers need the feedback so they don’t make massive changes that could anger the fans and players of a particular franchise. And gamers need to give feedback in order to inform developers of problems so that they can be fixed.
This will eventually lead to more problems for everyone. Games will not live up to expectations, and consumers and developers won’t be happy. The only what this can be resolved is this: the conversation needs to be about games, and just games. But if a select few continue to attack developers, it will only lead to more problems.
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