Black Desert players have been up in arms over several recently announced changes to the formerly buy-to-play game, including a de facto subscription and plan to allow players to purchase items from the cash shop with real money and sell them to others in-game for currency, which opponents say will further inflame the game’s pay-to-win image and harm the balance of PvP and economy.
The community response has included demonstrations by picketers inside the game holding signs accusing the game of being pay-to-win and attempts to reclaim refunds in the EU. Still other players took to the official forums to lodge their complaints, but that hasn’t gone over as well. Over the weekend, Black Desert players began flocking to Reddit with reports that Kakao was heavily censoring the forums and banning players for remarking on the topic. “CM_Aethon is mass banning and censoring people in the forums for speaking out against this new p2w change,” declared one post title.
Perhaps the most widely traveled complaint came from metrics blogger Featherine, who posted a long forum piece citing success numbers throughout the industry and effectively condemning Kakao as being no better than Trion and destined to sink into obscurity. Suspecting the post would be modded, Featherine also screencapped the post to repost on an independent blog and predictably ate a temporary ban.
We reached out to Kakao over the weekend to try to understand the company’s side of its community management. “The forums are not heavily censored,” a representative from Kakao told us, acknowledging that some posts have indeed been moderated – specifically, those with bad language, those that amount to spamming, and those that exhort other players to commit fraud and explained how to do it. (As to “fraud,” we believe Kakao means players posting instructions on how to conduct chargebacks after months of play.)
“If you check our forums, you can see genuine complaints by users which were not censored,” the rep suggested, so we did, and we found dozens upon dozens on the P2W topic, including a link to a rant from LazyPeon and next to it another forum thread telling Kakao to illegally “abuse the copyright infringement law” to bring down his video, which just goes to show there are problems on both sides of the issue.
As always, it’s worth remembering that whether you’re posting on a studio’s forums, a gaming blog, or Reddit, you are agreeing to follow its rules. Make sure you know what they are. If you, like us, find your chief concern is indeed the game’s business model, making the conversation about that and not about perceived censorship (or instructions on how to commit credit card crimes) is a far better way to keep pressure on a studio.