The Daily Grind: Are MMO player councils useful or pointless?

    
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Some MMO studios have decided as part of their efforts to foster understanding with the community to implement player councils. These councils, which are made up of regular players who may or may not be elected by their fellow gamers, serve as representatives for their communities and provide personal feedback to developers that may or may not shape the future of the game.

My question to you today is, are these councils useful or pointless?

I’ve always felt that player councils are not the best ideas. At worst, they’re merely empty gestures by studios and a reason for devs to ignore most of the players (since they’re being “represented.”). At best, it gives a large amount of influence into the hands of a few. I’m also not fond of the NDAs and secretive meetings that happens between the devs and the councils.

What do you think? Do player councils help MMOs? Or is this just high school class government all over again?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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AGx
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AGx

I would say useful “with some conditions”: First, it would largely depend on the level of influence this council has on development and the developer itself. Look at something like FFXIV for example. Following the Hard Mode battles, specifically TItan HM, people complained about how difficult it was due to the level of movement accuracy. They took some steps to alleviate server performance issues but in the opinions of many didn’t do enough to make it any easier because you have so little time to react. When it was new and at the then current gear levels almost any mistake meant death. In response they released a fight that was exponentially harder in Titan EX. I don’t want to argue whether the fights were easy or not but classes like Black Mage were practically alienated from groups because their playstyle (standing and casting) doesn’t mesh well with a fight that requires you to constantly be moving. Doable? Yes but a lot of people who weren’t the best of the best got shunned for a long time and that’s just not fun. The developers didn’t really do anything to help that. If they would respond to a council better than they did the larger community then I’d vote for useful.

Draugris
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Draugris

I only know this from Lotro and to an extent from GW2. Imo these “councils”, “specialists” or whatever you call them are pretty much useless and only used by the developers to give the impression to the players that they care about the community.

ComradeStanimir
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ComradeStanimir

Pointless. Read the forums and try to sift through the steaming crap. 
It’s also keenly republican (in the roman sense) in that the people elected almost never represent the general playerbase.

GermanAvila
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GermanAvila

I remember Shattered Galaxy Overlord….and man i loved those features…leaders could pick which nation to fight and a lot of stuff.

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

captainzor omg this is the BEST response

kgptzac
Guest
kgptzac

On Eve’s case, i think the CSM is quite useful for CCP–apart from the obvious positive PR.  CCP hasn’t stopped listening or interacting with players on their forum since forming the CSM, mind you, and they are very good at being communicative with their playerbase, compare to other publishers and studios.

While in-game surveys are no doubt a much better way to gauge player opinion, it’s unrealistic to expect devs to be the master of their forums.  Usually there are way too much shit stuff flowing around official forums, and most of the time it’s simply not feasible for developers to efficiently get good ideas off from it.

Anyway, this piece reads like a thinly vailed, uneducated opinion bashing CCP’s CSM.  I suggest the author to first talk to Brendan to get some actual facts, then perhaps lists some other games which have players console, before remarking the system as another “high school student government”.

Neo_Wolf
Guest
Neo_Wolf

They are little better than a PR stunt and a very limited form of free
market research, and lets face it offer less useful information and
feedback than your average forum.
They exist purely to make it seem
like a company is involving its player base and listening to their
opinions and ideas, while in reality they aren’t, they don’t, and these
councils have zero actual influence or power.And if a company REALLY wants to know what their players are thinking they will always turn to their CSM’s and their own forums every single time.

camelotcrusade
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camelotcrusade

Forgive me as I get pedantic.  I think data that is collected from a biased sample is of little worth no matter how you get it, whether that’s via forums, councils, or informal surveys.  That data can be used to supplement the conclusions you make from properly collected data but is absolutely no substitute for it.  Furthermore, the types of inferences you can reasonably make with qualitative (a focus group like the one described) vs. quantitative data (unbiased survey data) are different.  
In general, qualitative research generates data that contributes to the understanding of a context. Quantitative research, on the other hand, generates population-based data that is suited to establishing cause-and-effect relationships.  You can use it  draw conclusions about trends and create benchmarks to test it with rigor.  IMO MMOs are awash in qualitative data and don’t have enough quantitative data to use it effectively.  The players they are asking certainly don’t have the data; the have have a very biased and limited sample.

thatchefdude
Guest
thatchefdude

Let me preface this by saying that my general outlook on most things in life has gone from hopeful and trusting to damning and skeptical over the past few years…

Having said that, I think this trend is one of the worst things to happen to MMO-dom…

Serrenity
Guest
Serrenity

I liked them in Anarchy Online – the player council was part of Lore and if you were on the council you became part of the story.  For the Clans, it was the Council of Truth, and only the most influential orgs (at the time) were asked to sit on the council.  I dunno, I really liked it then.  I don’t have a ton of experience for other implementations.