How does a “great series get driven into the ground,” eroding player trust? That’s precisely the subject tackled in a recent edition of the always-awesome Extra Credits. EC argues that a quality video game with solid sales is frequently followed up by a lower-quality game with solid word-of-mouth and heavier marketing, that tramples its much-deserved criticism with stronger box sales and strong profits. Rinse and repeat that process enough and the playerbase loses faith in the developer. Sound familiar?
“Now obviously, not all franchises are going to see that sort of linear decline in quality, but in this scenario where review scores are slowly falling despite rising profits, if you only look at the things that you have hard data for – skimming the surface level of [those] data rather than aggressively digging down into all of [their] root causes – you won’t see the real damage that diminishing quality is doing until it’s too late.”
In other words, EC argues, in the short term, doing things like, oh I dunno, shoving a ton of gross microtransactions into a game will make a ton of money, but over the long-term, player trust erodes to the point that people won’t buy the next one. And true to form, EC suggests that soft data – like simply asking players how much they trust a company intermittently – can help game studios see more clearly when their short-term development and business actions are gearing up for long-term doom.
The whole episode’s below!