The Daily Grind: How do you push for change in a broken MMO?

    
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Word of the day calendar.

The Path of Exile community has been roiling over the past couple of weeks, first because of the Harvest crafting nerfs and then because of a massively upvoted Reddit post that argued POE is an “abusive” game that is destined to be overtaken by other titles that better respect players’ time and health.

Obviously, POE is not a traditional MMORPG, but some of the complaints – and solutions – are the same in any always-online title. What struck me is the part of the original post that urged fellow players to “consider that supporting alternatives to Path of Exile might be the best way to generate real change in this game we all love.”

This has always been something I struggle with. I’ve never bought into the idea that if a game changes for the worse, the customers are obliged to take it or leave it instead of agitating for better; if I quit a troubled game and play something else, the studio will probably never notice and certainly never know why. It only works if, as the poster suggested, a whole bunch of people leave and raise up some rival (and even then, I look at games like World of Warcraft that have lost millions of customers from self-owns and shrugged). My gut says that writing and raising awareness is far more powerful, and that’s not just my opinion as a writer with a platform: Even a random player on Reddit has that power, as the post demonstrated.

How do you push for change in a broken MMO? What’s the most effective way to go about it (that doesn’t bring out the “if you don’t like it then leave” folks)?

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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Turing fail
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Turing fail

Vote with your feet is too often all we can do.

Reader
texyFX

volume, consistency and participation.

since the not exclusively communicative, but more psychological shism between devs and their playerbase is drastic, any change requires community effort and patience.
but even if a substantial volume of the audience complains consistently, there is no guarantee for the attention of the Pantheon.

so the ultima ratio is to quit, either the critized activity (like i refuse to endure Boreghast Twisting Corridors on my 224 KSM) or the game, y play something unfun? for example massive sub-drops always helped Blizzney to remember (TO RESPECT) their audience, see latest re-tuning of loot volumes raid and m+.

but overall, road maps in every industry r like trains at terminal velocity, any change of direction requires either parallel universe quantum physics or a godly intervention.

but then, there r many titles waiting for the audience…

Reader
Anstalt

Step 1) Post on their official game forums

This is always my first step. Make a detailed post that explains the problem as I see it, with enough facts and information to backup why I see it as a problem. Then, propose some solutions to the problem. Simply ranting isn’t enough, you have to be clear, polite, and most importantly, constructive.

Everyone gets defensive when criticised, which is why you have to offer something constructive. If you can show the studio how it is in their best interests to change, then it is more likely to happen. If you just criticise, they’ll get defensive and the thing you dislike is more likely to stick around.

Step 2) Post on 3rd party websites.

MMOs have community teams and PR teams that read the wider internet. So, posting on sites like MOP or MMORPG.com means that someone at the studio *might* read it, and your feedback might make it back to someone that matters.

Step 3) Give them time, whilst repeating steps 1 and 2.

It takes time to change features in an MMORPG, so make sure you give them the time whilst maintaining the flow of information between you and the studio. You need to keep posting so they don’t forget about the issue, but you need to have patience too.

Step 4) Take your money elsewhere

You need to know when to walk away. Give the studio time to change, but when it becomes clear that they won’t, either stop complaining or walk away. This is what I did with SWTOR. It was a bad game, not even an MMO, so I posted suggestions for positive changes. Bioware then gave assurances that the changes were coming and they understood the problems. However, when they announced their first xpac and it didn’t include any of the promised improvements, well, then I knew I’d been lied to and they had no intention of changing. So, I quit, and emailed their team to let them know why.

Seeking changes is pretty much the only reason I post on sites like MOP and MMORPG.com. I’ve always known that it’s a very long shot, yet I’ve also witnessed many changes being made in MMOs due precisely to the sorts of posts I’m talking about. Never big changes – a studio won’t change the entire direction of a game based on forum postings – but smaller changes like balancing, itemisation, difficulty etc often happen as a result of feedback.

cambruin
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cambruin

Sorry, but this is a very naive take on MMOs. No one knows you, no once cares. What they care about is daily login numbers, unique logins, revenue. No dev is going to read your perfectly worded ‘goodbye’ post, no dev is going to read about your thesis on guilds and how to make them better.

Or at least none of the devs of any of the games I played (LotRO, ESO, WoW). The only way to affect a developer’s mindset is by either quitting alltogether or being as toxic as possible to drive away chunks of the community.

I’ve thought about creating alt accounts and just ruin wold chat in LotRO. Start some BLM nonsensical discussion, gender inequality stuff, Trump vs Biden, … and watch the world burn. But I decided to just leave instead.
If people want to enjoy that absolutely horrid and downright vile cash grab, all the best to them. Not for me to judge. Much better for my state of mind.

Oh, I do admit; I can’t help checking the forums every other week, but it’s only to enjoy seeing the huge amounts of complaints. A reminder to why I quit and why I should never return. It’s not easy to let go, but I’m getting really close.
People should try it; just get rid of whatever brings you unhappiness. I can’t imagine picking 30 flowers for a daily quest which isn’t around long enough to unlock the meta deed, thus forcing you to buy ‘daily resets’ from a cash shop bringing you any happines. So just don’t do it. Just move on. Try it. Just this once.

Who cares about whetehr they got the message or not. You do this for you, not them. Let them burn, after all, they set the house on fire. Not up to you to save them.

Reader
Utakata

…I push for change in the best way I can. That is, raise awareness of it by letting my complaints be known.

A lot of times they don’t listen. Sometimes they do. /shrug

Reader
Hirku Two

I don’t. Life’s too short and there’s always another game to play.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Used to try and help in general chat sections by discussing issues/suggestion forums for ways to improve/bug sections for ways to fix, but then I realized they were just trying to use you to improve their games so they could make more money, while you paid for it. (Thus you were on the losing side of the equation.)

So I stopped wasting my time.

I tend to just leave the game and take my money somewhere else nowadays if something isn’t addressed within a reasonable amount of time.

If it was a particularly egregious case, I’ll put an occasional ‘bad’ comment in articles about them to dissuade others from falling for their stuff, and/or boycott the company.

We’re like gnats to them, they’ll just crush us/ignore us, but if enough of us swarm, they get really irritated…and respond, sometimes even do stuff about it. Either way, they are the ones walking away with our cash and laughing at our feeble attempts to persuade them.

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SmiteDoctor

I used to rant and rave on the game forum while pointing out he company knew damn well what I was spending before and what I’m not spending now.

Now I just walk off and mock the game from the outside.

Reader
Arktouros

As someone with experience I can tell you that the “take it or leave it” solution is the only way to stay sane.

If the devs are competent they have a plan or “vision” for the game and if what you want isn’t in line with that then they will ignore bad feedback. Arguably worse is if the devs are incompetent they can be swayed by their audience, compromise their vision and from what I’ve seen do everything badly till they failspire to obscurity. Either option is always unsatisfying and throwing the “Wow this game has so much potential…” tempertantrum is honestly just sad and pathetic after 20 years of us doing this.

If we look at what things we have under our control we can control what we financially support and we choose where we spend our time. Recognizing you control these things isn’t about wielding them as weapons but rather self care in doing what’s best for you. You didn’t like their loot box business model, so you didn’t financially support them. You didn’t like the big shift in game changes so you’re not spending your time on them. You did everything within your power.

This doesn’t mean you have to never provide feedback, either. If you’re not having fun, communicate that. If you dislike their business model, communicate that. However it’s important to recognize what’s feedback and what’s telling people how they should do their job in how they run their game. The former is useful, the latter is given as much weight as you’d probably give to some random customer started telling you how you should do your own job.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Pandalulz

Honestly and personally, if I don’t like it then I do leave. I’m not advocating that everybody else should. There isn’t any game that I care enough about to put that kind of work into it. I am the fickle masses and there are plenty of other things vying for my time.