World of Warcraft Community Manager Ornyx sparked a bit of a wildfire on the game’s forums this past week as in response to a player criticizing Legion’s lack of content, he snarked, “I assume you’re trying to make a joke about content, because, looking at your Armory, it appears you’ve only engaged with about 25% of Legion.” In his follow-up, he said that his role is about “engagement and community-building,” not customer service, and characterized the exchange as “a bit of fun.”
The thread erupted, with some people arguing that the player who dared insult Blizz’s expansion got what he deserved and others expressing shock that a Blizzard employee would treat its players that way. I come down on the side of “enabling elitism is exactly why armory profiles shouldn’t be forcibly public to begin with.” I thought the comment in extremely poor taste for an employee. It’s the kind of low-effort ad hominem I see in bad arguments, not good ones. I expect better from community managers, certainly, in the service of “engagement and community-building” than to model dismissing opinions based on gearscore and not on their merits. Seeing that attitude promoted by a bluename disappointed me deeply, even if it didn’t surprise me.
So this morning’s Daily Grind is two-fold: Where do you stand on comments like this from studio employees? Is so-called “armory shaming” OK? And just how much of an MMO must you play to issue good criticism?
For a variety of reasons, I do not have the ability to remove people from the universe at a whim. I cannot simply make someone stop playing an MMO. But I can hit the Ignore button, which is the next best thing. I can’t stop seeing, the player, but I can at least decide that I want to have as little interaction with that player as possible, hopefully none.
Run right into the middle of an obvious roleplaying scene in Final Fantasy XIV and do your level best to be disruptive? You can go on the ignore list. Spouting vile racist garbage in general chat in World of Warcraft? Yep, that’s the ignore list. Name your character “Fart Candle” in Guild Wars 2? Ignored, once I finish chuckling despite myself because I am five. You get the idea.
Of course, I also know that I am not average, and I wonder if I use my ignore functionality more liberally or less so than others. I know of people who just auto-ignore everyone who does something that inadvertently disrupts a roleplaying scene, even if accidental; I also know people who won’t ignore players who walk into a room and start dancing on the nearest table. What about you, dear readers? What inspires you to ignore another player in an MMO?
Earlier this week, World of Warcraft Lead Game Designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas weighed in on a player thread about Legion’s in-game prices in a way the original poster probably didn’t expect: Hazzikostas penned a veritable essay on the nature of MMO playerbase feedback.
“Almost every facet of WoW is an activity that caters to a minority of the playerbase. That may sound odd at first blush, but it’s true. In a sense, that’s part of the magic of WoW. It is not a narrow game, but rather one that can be enjoyed in numerous different ways, by people with hugely diverse playstyles. A minority of players raid. A minority of players participate in PvP. A tiny minority touch Mythic raiding. A tiny minority of players do rated PvP. A minority of players have several max-level alts. A minority of players do pet battles, roleplay, list things for sale on the auction house, do Challenge Mode dungeons, and the list goes on. Virtually the only activity that a clear majority of players participate in is questing and level-up dungeons, but even then there’s a sizeable group that views those activities as a nuisance that they have to get through in order to reach their preferred endgame. And yet, taken together, that collection of minority groups literally IS the World of Warcraft.”
Consequently, he argues, any decision Blizzard makes that favors one minority is naturally going to find a majority of the others against it, meaning Blizzard must carefully navigate the feedback waters. “Ultimately, the approach we take is usually to tailor different content and rewards that can feel special to different groups, rather than trying to come up with a lowest common denominator that isn’t special to anyone,” he writes.
Let’s talk about Blizzard’s point of view. Is it right? Does it work in every MMO or just WoW? How does it apply to other MMOs, old or up-and-coming? Is there a better way to handle all the constituencies offering feedback in an MMO? Let’s hash it out in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
Troy Hewitt had been serving as community manager for Motiga
since before the company even announced Gigantic
, but all good things must come to an end. Hewitt penned a farewell letter to the community on Thursday
, announcing that his final day with the company would be on Friday and that he would be bidding farewell to the community.
The letter stresses the idea that Hewitt is leaving for reasons which are entirely his own and that it’s time in his life to move on to other unspecified opportunities in the future. Speculation is no doubt going to run rampant, of course, considering that the studio has had to lay off large portions of its staff. We wish Mr. Hewitt the best of luck in the future with his next project.
Over its almost 13 years of operation, sci-ci MMO EVE Online has gained a largely undeserved reputation for antisocial behaviour. EVE is built on the fundamental principle that players can do whatever they like within the bounds of the game world, which naturally allows more antisocial behaviour to surface but also leads to the creation of incredibly close-knit communities. When the cost of betraying someone’s trust in-game can be the fate of an empire, that trust is much harder earned and a lot more meaningful than in a typical MMO. EVE‘s gameplay makes co-operation with others almost a mandatory requirement to succeed in many areas of the game, and the bonds forged in common struggle are enduring.
At no time are we reminded more of this than during the annual EVE Online Fanfest, when thousands of players from around the world gather on a frozen rock in the arctic circle to meet in real life the players they rely on each day in-game. It’s here we see most clearly that the rare but terrible low points in EVE‘s community history when players have stepped over the line into real life harassment are counter-balanced by hundreds of thousands of friendly and decent pilots. Many welcome new players with open arms and the patience of saints, and some make their marks in the real world through incredible schemes like the PLEX for GOOD donation drives for natural disaster relief, the Broadcast for Reps suicide prevention initiative, and the Care 4 Kids campaign.
I sat down during EVE Fanfest 2016 for a brief chat with EVE universe community manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy to talk about organising Fanfest, managing the EVE community, and how CCP responds to online harassment both inside and outside EVE.
What do you get when you remove an MMO community manager from that position and give him free license to talk what really goes on behind the scenes without the PR gloss? You end up with someone like Tonka, a former TERA community rep and “Event Specialist” who has uploaded a rant video on how studios devalue customers and community relations. Also, he targets marketing as a “necessary evil.”
“Companies frequently and obviously apply community management as an afterthought to their total business plan,” said Tonka. “When you’re creating a product, you also have to consider the customer. This is really not an unusual thought in business, but I feel like it gets lost in the games industry all the time and especially in MMOs.”
You can watch Tonka’s entire 11-minute rant below.
In this episode of Massively Opinionated, the topic is public relations and communication. Sometimes marketing and consumer relationships in MMOs don’t always go the way game creators plan. So this week, we debate the ways MMOs should and shouldn’t handle their customers. Host Larry Everett invited two individuals who are very familiar with the inner workings of the games industry: From here at Massively OP and Predestination, welcome Brendan Drain and Tina Lauro. Enjoy the show!
There’s a new name on the community team for ArcheAge this week. Evan “Scapes” Berman has posted his farewell letter on the game’s official forums, announcing his departure from the game. Taking over for him is Seraphina Brennan, known for handling community relations on Infinite Crisis and various writing duties for some group of weirdos on a site called Massively back in days of yore.
So we’re kind of happy to see it.
Scapes will continue to be taking part in the game’s weekly livestream while Trion’s Austin studio prepares to host livestream events locally, and he stresses that he will still be playing the game as before. “I am joining FireCait on a new, as-of-yet-unannounced project,” he wrote. “You may have seen our teaser for it last week: devilinsideyou.com.” So while it’s sad to say farewell to a community manager who’s been part of the community for a while, he’s leaving for better things, and someone excellent is stepping in to fill his shoes.
Nowhere is Skyforge‘s sci-fi/fantasy setting blend more evident than with the in-game access to a specialized network meant for other aspiring deities. The portal is a thing in-universe, but it also serves as a tool for players, and on June 30th it’ll become an even more powerful tool. The game’s official forums are being rolled into the Aelinet Portal, which will allow players to post messages, share images, and communicate both from within the game and while they’re unable to log into the game proper.
The initial launch of this feature will allow gamers to communicate and message other players and fellow members of their Pantheon; in the future, even players logged in via the web client will be able to use this portal to manage things like Pantheon leadership functions. It’s a fantastic tool for keeping strong communication and community from both inside and outside the game. Check out the full rundown for all of the details.
Nothing tells your player community that the transition to a new corporate structure will be totally fine like firing a pillar of community interaction, right? That was the collective reaction when beloved community manager Linda “Brasse” Carlson was hit by the layoffs at Daybreak Games back in February. But there’s good news for Brasse, as she’s been snapped up by Trion Worlds to serve as the new director of community relations at the company.
Trion CEO Scott Hartsman stated that the company couldn’t be happier to have her on board, a sentiment most EverQuest fans would be hard-pressed to disagree with. It’s good to see people affected by the changes landing back on their feet, especially when the person in question was well-loved by her communities; we can only hope and expect that the communities for RIFT, Defiance, ArcheAge, and Trove will be as welcoming.
Skyforge apparently doesn’t take too kindly to accusations of pay-to-win.
In response to a North American Skyforge player’s admittedly originally badly worded question about the differences between the Russian and North American cash shops, Allods Team Community Manager Maeron told players that the team “won’t tolerate the word P2W” or any other “oversimplification” of the game’s monetization. “Please note that repeated failure to comply shall result in the removal of your forum rights and beta access,” Maeron wrote before locking the thread.
It’s worth noting that while Skyforge did give out beta keys through outlets such as Massively Overpowered, it also sold beta access via founders packs. The game’s second round of beta began earlier this week.
We’ve reproduced the explanation in its entirety below.