The Daily Grind: Which MMO studio had the best communication in 2019?

    
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I am in the weird position lately of finding that my favorite live MMOs are not necessarily made by my favorite studios. I find this a frustrating side-effect of this job, that I know who’s Up To Stuff and pay more attention than the average MMO player to the shenanigans of the studios we cover. As long as the shenanigans aren’t like… Blizzard Hong Kong fiasco levels of chaos, I can usually roll with it. Guild Wars 2, for example, is still one of my all-time favorite MMOs, even if ArenaNet’s communication and community management leaves me tearing my hair out on the regular.

On the other hand, there are some MMO studios out there that maintain unfailing communication with their players and therefore earn unparalleled levels of loyalty. We honored some of them in our studio of the year award, but I know you folks could add to the list with some smaller and indie companies and dev teams that really deserve a nod. Which MMO studio had the best communication in 2019? Give us a specific example of what they’re doing right that you wish other studios would do!

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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Sykes

I would put this to SSG. Their community manager live streams every week for an hour to give behind the scenes updates and run content with players from the community, and fields voice-chat questions in real time from them. They made the rules for the hardcore server permadeath based on feedback from a player council, opened a forum specifically for that server event, and did interviews with every major DDO-focused podcast both leading up to the event and after the event as a post-script to get their feel for how things were going. Despite making a killing on the event on their own admission, they didn’t immediately launch another as feedback was generally that the event was the best thing to happen to the MMO in years, but split the community between those that participated and those that didn’t. They announced major MMO changes in community Q and A livestreams – such as mounts coming to the game – rather than putting it out as a press release first, but did so intentionally and launched their press release simultaneously, which both built hype and encouraged more community participation in their livestreams designed to give feedback to the team. Players regularly use livestream events to report bugs directly to the developers and ask whether changes are intended or not, and often get honest answers about how the backend of the game works and why some requested features are easy while others are surprisingly difficult (such as UI scaling, which they were able to start tackling this year). They haven’t always been the best, but this year it felt like they were on top of the game.

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Alexus Yanova

Forgot to add some little fact that not many people might be aware of: Naoki Yoshida, the director of FFXIV who is basically responsible for every change in this game, does occasionally log into game and interact with other players. He does it on many data centers, and he does answer player questions when he does it on Japanese data center:

Naoki Yoshida Answers Player Questions During His “Yoshi-P Walk”

I think this is an important part of interaction with your playerbase since it further communicates that developers really care about the community and treat them as human beings and not just a bunch of faceless numbers (such as a number of subscribers or a number of people who voted on some poll).

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sophiskiai

Digital Extremes, hands down. I can’t think of another big studio which is more transparent about what they’re working on, even if they sometimes get flak from the community when plans for content don’t work out and have to be changed or [DE]layed.

Just this past month, for example, they ran a quick feedback poll about the game on Twitter & Googledocs which got 28k responses, then they put those responses in a spreadsheet, turned them into infographics, released the raw data to the community, and discussed the results on the official livestream – including how they related to internal end-of-year company polls and discussion and how they’re looking to revise the studio’s internal working practices in the coming year.

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Malcolm Swoboda

Fair, I didn’t include Warframe.

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Malcolm Swoboda

Today? Square Enix, kind of Zenimax Bethesda. Others have gotten worse OR gotten better but not the best.

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Ironwu

Elder Scrolls Online. If there is new stuff coming, you will hear about it. If there is something going on as an event, you will hear about it. If there is a downtime maintenance coming, you will hear about it. If there is a problem with the maintenance and it will be extended, you will hear about it.

In my 20 years playing MMOs, ESO has really been at the top regarding company->player communication.

And that includes customer service on issues and also with forum participation.

Nobody does it better, in my opinion.

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NeoWolf

Not sure I’d entirely agree with that. They are excellent at putting information out there, but are TERRIBLE at recieving information.

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Alexus Yanova

If there is new stuff coming, you will hear about it. If there is something going on as an event, you will hear about it. If there is a downtime maintenance coming, you will hear about it. If there is a problem with the maintenance and it will be extended, you will hear about it.

So basically everything Square Enix puts on Lodestone FFXIV site ;-) They also publish the amount of banned players for violating the rules or warnings about scammers – for example Twitch scam where someone impersonates famous streamer in order to tell people to click on phishing link, or any other important info.

But I guess for people who only play ESO the developers of ESO somehow do it “better” even if it is objectively the same as what others do ;-)

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Hikari Kenzaki

I’m biased in this one so I’m not going to say.

I do feel the pain though. Back in the TSW days, Funcom had the best game and the worst marketing in existence. The community team was kept from revealing anything until basically the “day of” whatever was coming. They’ve gotten so much better and more open these days, but in TSW/SWL’s case, it’s too late.

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Oleg Chebeneev

CIG (Star Citizen) always excels at communication. Constantly updated roadmaps, dev posts on official forum and reddit, youtube podcasts where devs talk about development process and show new staff on weekly basis, annual Citizencon where hundreds of fans and devs meet, digital magazine about SC, etc, etc..

If there is an MMO studio that does this better, I dont know one.

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Joey

So you switched from a WoW apologist to a SC apologist?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist :P You can delete this comment Bree lol if you think it is stirring the pot :)

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Oleg Chebeneev

I can call on your bullshit in both WoW and SC

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Utakata

Too bad you don’t on theirs. o.O

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Alexus Yanova

I agree that Star Citizen developers release a lot of information about development process, too bad the game itself is still an incomplete mess with no release date for final version.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Funny enough it is more polished, more playable and has more content than many released MMORPGs

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IronSalamander8 .

Square Enix seems to be the best in this regard.

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Alexus Yanova

Square Enix is best in this regard. They let Yoshi-P talk about what matters most in MMORPGs.
https://www.polygon.com/2019/12/16/21024749/final-fantasy-14-2b-butt-glamour
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Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

ESO communicates very well.