Leaderboard: How should MMORPG studios communicate to players?

The most peculiar comment thread erupted in MJ’s recent post about Secret World Legends’ Krampusnacht. In response to the casual note that the holiday event rewards had been announced by the community manager in Funcom’s Discord channel, MMO readers expressed furious annoyance that details of that sort were being disseminated in obscure chats instead of through official channels accessible to everyone.

MOP commenter Greaterdivinity rather colorfully requested that developers stop using chat channels “for delivering information to the community at large,” not out of specific dislike of Discord but because studios must surely know that they’re reaching only the tiniest sliver of their full audience that way. The alternative “doesn’t even need to be a forum,” commenter Styopa chimed in. “Forums are for interacting and dialogue. I would be happy if they just had a single reliable go-to source for current game information. Like, say, an official web page?”

Now don’t go getting all reasonable! Save that for the polls! How should MMORPG studios communicate to players? Choose all that apply in today’s Leaderboard:

How should MMORPG studios communicate to players? (

  • Official forums (20%, 129 Votes)
  • Unofficial forums (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Reddit (5%, 31 Votes)
  • Discord or other text/voice channels (2%, 12 Votes)
  • In-game messages (9%, 60 Votes)
  • Launcher messages (16%, 102 Votes)
  • The bleeping website, official wiki, dev blogs, etc. (18%, 119 Votes)
  • Livestreams (5%, 31 Votes)
  • Videos (5%, 30 Votes)
  • Press releases and interviews (7%, 45 Votes)
  • Conventions or "town hall" events (3%, 21 Votes)
  • Something else (tell us in the comments!) (0%, 1 Votes)
  • All of these (4%, 28 Votes)
  • None of these (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Elf butts / no response / view results (1%, 9 Votes)
  • Social media like Twitter or Facebook (3%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 200

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49 Comments on "Leaderboard: How should MMORPG studios communicate to players?"

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Alex Malone

Information released by a studio about their game should be in a location that is publicly available without any form of further signup / registration…..i.e. the official website.

They are free to promote that information however they want – social media, launcher, in-game, press-releases – but if the original information isn’t publicly available, your audience might not be able to see it.

Reader
Stropp

All of those and more, as long as the communication is timely and puts across the message that the developer wants to put across in a clear manner, then any and all channels should be used.

Caveat to this: Sometimes a single channel or few channels is more appropriate than many. That depends on the message to be communicated.

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Tia Nadiezja

I tend to know, even when I’m taking a break from the game, what’s happening in Star Trek Online. I lucked into finding out Krampusnacht was coming and then had to dig up the when.

When you need to learn something other than character creator design or good ways to handle name uniqueness from Cryptic, something has gone horribly wrong.

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Tia Nadiezja

I prefer that they use the launcher (which is best because everyone has to look at it) or the website, but honestly, “a venue they control directly and which, if it allows public comment, is well moderated” is the basic bottom-tier requirement. Reddit is awful. Discord is a chat program and things scross off of it. Use your own bloody web space to make announcements.

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Jeffery Witman

I know people will hate me for it, but this kind of behavior is annoying because it’s part of a pattern of behavior meant to obfuscate information and keep the player base as much in the dark as possible. It’s the same thing that game publishers and studios are doing with gamble boxes of all kinds. They do it with their player and revenue numbers as well. They do everything possible to make sure their consumers are as ill informed as possible. It’s maddening, especially for a game like SWL that has a core of information gathering and mystery solving players as the base.

I’m not sure why, though. Did someone present information to them that makes them think players spend more money when they’re being kept in the dark? Is that an accurate analysis?

In the case of SWL, I think a big part of it is ego. They got a lot of feedback from players before the relaunch that they didn’t like. They got a lot of feedback from players in the beta phases that they didn’t like (and outright banned more than a few for criticizing some of the changes made, a few of which ended up being reworked months after the relaunch). Their early access garnered more of the same, and that trend has continued on their official Reddit sub, on their Facebook comments, and in every MOP article talking about the game.

They’ve made some good corrections lately with the QOL patch, but that’s still just a band-aid for much of what players have been telling the devs they need to work on for months now. I don’t think they like being wrong, so they’re not giving the players a place like a forum to discuss it criticize any ideas, future plans, or potential changes. That way no one can point to all the criticism rightly given before they implemented them and embarrass the company, team, etc.

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Koshelkin

In that regard, anyone ever saw a SWTOR event announcement? Me neither.

Nick
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Nick

Website and forums. Maybe in-game messages and launcher to back it up.

Everything else is just nice to have, as long as things like twitter and Facebook don’t disseminate exclusive info. I hate that people think I should be checking 10 places to get the gist of what’s going on in a game. Website and official forums should be the catch-all of all updates.

Bluxy
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Bluxy

I do think forums should have a community manager lead to act in part of the game team

I think its great that the teams do interviews and live streams/post stream as a way of keeping in touch.
been really liking the coding and artwork streams lately

Reader
Patreon Donor
Veldan

Forums > everything.

– everyone knows about forums (at least in the MMO world)
– anyone can view them without the need to log in to something
– it’s either going to be the first place people look for info, or the second after facebook/reddit depending on what kind of person they are
– people never have to search, main info is always going to be in a ‘news and announcements’ or ‘patch notes’ subforum, and under the ‘dev tracker’ if you want all the tidbits of information
– it looks better because it’s official and doesn’t rely on third party websites / web services

Skoryy
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Skoryy

Forums are most often cesspools that people would be best off avoiding. Never read the comments. (Except here.)

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Veldan

Which is easily fixed by moderation. I’ve been visiting some forums of big mobile games, and it’s amazing how good some of them are. All it takes is 1 (very) active moderator.

Reader
Jeffery Witman

Sure, but Facebook and Reddit are even worse.

cryinglightning39
Reader
cryinglightning39

You can get *almost* good dev interaction and often community manager interaction on STO’s subreddit. On their official forums though, fat chance. I personally think that’s messed up. Devs and cm should communicate equally across all platforms and not ignore the one side they don’t like. And don’t blame it on the players! That’s bull plop.

Reader
Jon Wax

With a sledgehammer and a running start!

Reader
Duane Does not check email

Website/and forum. Stop asking me to sign up for social media. I don’t want three different stories from three sources either.

Reader
Sray

Official website with social media links to the site.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Js.

“The fuckin’ website” + “official forums” are the only correct choices. It’s idiotic and irrational to FORCE people to use third-party app like Discord, something that some people (like me) don’t ever need or actually want to use every day. The “launcher” choice is only good as an additional way of communication – sometimes people are away from their gaming PC but still want to read about their favorite game’s news/patch notes.

styopa
Reader
styopa

You should post the results of this to twitter instead of here.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Legend Of Vinny T

I’m thinking about how Blizzard handles patch notes, and I feel like they got it right.

There’s one official forum post that all other channels link back to. Each channel gets an appropriate level of detail: a quick promotional blurb on Twitter, a 50,000 foot overview on Facebook, a complete mirror of the notes in the launcher. In the end, though, they all direct players to one official source. After that, it’s simply a matter of knowing what channels your players use.

Reader
Melissa McDonald

Simple answer: Every possible way. Forum, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Reader
Slaasher

I am a spotty forums reader so I often don’t even read game forums. I don’t think I am alone in this. I do however almost always see big messages when they appear via the launcher. A number of games are doing this now and I have found it is the best way to get a message to me

Reader
David Blair

Hand written notes slipped under your front door around dusk.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

I like State of the Game posts, I like Developer Streams, I like Developer Youtube videos, I like Developer Forum posts for anything meaty these things are sufficient.

Reader
Fisty

Discord is the way to go. Quicker support, real-time updates both from devs and the community.

Reader
Wanda Clamshuckr

Towards the end of SOE, the staff (aside from the forum mods) started to use the Official Forums less and less, with the intent of funneling people onto their respective, individual Twitter accounts. It wasn’t met with a lot of enthusiasm, as any timely news was always posted off-site first, which also meant you had to be following them (or following someone else who was following them) to figure out what was happening.

So, it was annoying on a couple of levels:

1) Not everyone is a fan of Twitter or other social media. Moving information to scattered Twitter accounts, rather than a central site, became a game of whack-a-mole to see who was posting what at any given time. The people who didn’t want to use Twitter were always behind on current events, and missed a lot of information exclusively posted there.

2) You had to filter through the amateur comedy routines, cute Twitter banter, and endure a narcissist or two. It was a tossed salad of non-fun (unless you were one of the doting followers) that seemed more designed to nurture follower count, and boost perceptions of popularity. Like the pseudo-celebrity some YouTubers clamor for and desire.

Every once in a while, Holly would flit into the Official Forums, hinting about something enticing, and then link her Twitter account so you could go there to hear the rest of what had to be said. It came off as the High School antics of people vying for attention.

So, I voted Official Forums, or Reddit. Centralized, thorough, clear information is much easier to access and read than jumping around to multiple sources.

oldandgrumpy
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Kickstarter Donor
oldandgrumpy

It hasn’t improved since becoming Daybreak Games. Now the in fad is discord and that is run by the developers as there own fiefdom.

Reader
life_isnt_just_dank_memes

The best games are the ones where you never need to alt tab to get info. Most games aren’t like that. I think the more honest communication that happens the better.

Reader
donvweel

Minimum you should have community representative out there streamming and communicating on the forums. At least once a year state of the game announcement from the chief.

Reader
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Suikoden

In my opinion the Launcher is the best place to reach me as a player. That way I don’t have to hunt down the information, and I get caught up to date every time I log into the launcher.

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

Agreed!

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Tobasco da Gama

In the game or on the launcher, that’s it. Every other channel privileges one particular type of player or another over everybody else.

Reader
Toy Clown

Before Discord, players complained of the same thing. I’ve heard the excuses range from “I don’t like forums / I don’t have time for forums” and of course the “Why should I be expected to use forums?” I’ve seen developers put communications on game launchers and STILL people complained they couldn’t get the latest information.

It’s the same thing all over again, just replace the word forum with Discord.

Personally? I prefer Discord and have all the development channels of MMOs I play, or want to play, on mine. I like that I get a notification when a developer posts something new and I don’t have to swim through a bunch of sub-forums and posts in order to get the info I need. It keeps me in contact with the games I don’t play often as well, making it easier to plan out when to do downloads, when to sub to a game, when holiday content starts, etc. The RP communities I belong to, and all of my friends have moved to Discord as well. So it’s a win-win situation for me, and one I don’t mind.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

IMHO, MMOs need a main communication channel that:

– Is very obvious. Players that stumble unto it need to become instantly aware that it’s the main communications channel.

– Doesn’t require any kind of registration or login. Not only this cuts barriers for players to find the information, it also allows prospective customers to better evaluate the game.

– Is linked to from the game’s homepage and its official forums, at least; preferably unofficial sources of information, such as subreddits and unofficial forums, should also link to it.

– Includes a summary of every important piece of information, and a link to a more detailed article about it if available.

– Doesn’t drown the player in useless or unrelated information. It can have such unimportant and unrelated info in different pages linked from the main communication channel, but not on the channel itself.

As long as all of the above are met I don’t really care where the info is released; a developer blog, an official forum, a non-blog homepage, a well-managed subreddit, anything is acceptable as long as the info is readily available without any need for accounts or registration and without sifting through unrelated content.

plasmajohn
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Loyal Patron
plasmajohn

So. Much. This. One accessible outlet to rule them all. Once it’s released there then they can slap it wherever else they feel like. Never the other way around.

Reader
starbuck1771

Bree forgot social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace. The shame. lol

Reader
dm_jim80

Are we talking about ‘MMORPG studios’ or ‘Funcom’ here? When I’ve needed to figure out info for SWTOR, I’ve gone to their forums. When I’ve needed to figure out info for ESO, I’ve gone to their forums. When I was still playing WoW, I’d go to their forums. Are there other companies that spread a thimbles worth of info between four or five other locations and don’t utilize forums of any kind?

Reader
dm_jim80

Meanwhile, a buddy tells me that they’re talking about what the holiday content is going to be in Discord for SWL. Hopefully that info gets disseminated…some other way besides Discord.

Reader
starbuck1771

I think the target here is Bungie because they have been doing a piss poor job of communication period. They are so bad Activision/Blizzard even has to deal with all complaints against them since 2015. So my question is why the F does Pete Parsons even have a job as he clearly does nothing but accept a overpriced pay check.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

I’m always colorful!

I’m totally down with communication over stuff like Discord and whatnot, that’s always great direct engagement with a community. But all major announcements and information dumps etc. should be somewhere that’s permanently available and easily accessible on their site. I can’t count how many times I’ve visited games sites/forums to look for developer comments over the years, and seeing them move to stuff like Reddit (which is harder to find them, at least for me) and especially Discord makes it impossible to spot a lot of this stuff for me.

Maybe I’m just old and grumpy and unwilling to change with the times, which I’m totally open to. More often than not I do end up feeling like the grumpy old person sitting on their front porch rocking chair shouting and shaking their cane at the young whippersnappers on their lawn.

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Veldan

Nah. I’m young(ish) and use discord almost daily, and even I find it a pain trying to find dev info on discords. Reddit isn’t exactly nice either but at least the stuff in there can be googled.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

Star Citizen team showed how it should be done, at least for MMORPG in development.
Tons of materials on site, several videos every week covering development, interviews with fans, almost daily Q/A with developers on forum, HUGE monthly overview of progress done in a month with detailed coverage of every studio and every developers role (graphics, sound, tech, concept art, etc), annual convention devoted to the game, presentations at other gaming conventions. It checks almost every single point on the poll, even reddit.

Mock SC all you want but CIG is by far the most transparent MMO developer and the one who communicates the most with its playerbase.

Reader
A Dad Supreme

LEADERBOARD: HOW SHOULD MMORPG STUDIOS COMMUNICATE TO PLAYERS?

I wanted to vote for “honestly” but it wasn’t an option given.

This poll feels like the 2016 Presidential election all over again… sigh.

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Sashaa

I wish I could upvote this so many times.

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Thomas Zervogiannis

That was a home run! Still giggling :P

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BalsBigBrother

I was going to say honestly and often but not an option so I went with the “all of these” one.

When you limit your lines of communication to one or two venues you will by definition limit who you reach through them for various reasons. So the more places you post your news the more folks will read it.

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johnwillo

Better.

wpDiscuz