The Daily Grind: Which MMO company is the worst at managing its message?

    
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Management.

You’ve probably noticed that there are some studios and companies wherein the players seem to have a downright acerbic relationship with the people making the game they’re playing. Usually this isn’t just down to players being malcontents, but to a certain amount of message mismanagement on the part of the company in question. Either the people communicating decisions are frequently silent or they’re often just flat-out wrong, or players feel that the communication is toxic and filled with lies… the potential rationale goes on and on.

But today’s question isn’t about individual flubs but consistent problems to the degree that the studio’s supposed fans regard the studio itself as untrustworthy or outright deceitful. Places wherein the relationship has broken down into a sort of cold war wherein the players would want to fact-check even the most innocuous statements like a declaration of the game’s genre. Which MMO company is the worst about managing its message?

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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Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Every studio has screwed up once or twice, but the three biggest offenders right now are ArenaNet, Blizzard, and Gamigo. Special bonus notice for Novaquark the past year.

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Greaterdivinity

I feel like CIG is the obvious one…

Though less a “messaging” issue but I’ll toss GGG up there for making transparently bad design decisions that make existing problems even worse and set the stage for further problems down the road. Like littering maps with thousands of 3d rendered items that are total garbage, slowing down your game, and constantly adding even more player power in an endless arms race where the only counters are 1-shots and long boss immune phases so players are forced to do at least SOME of the mechanics when they’re not phasing bosses in 1 tap. Their design decisions and philosophy continue to confound and frustrate me.

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Bannex

“We want to get rid of gimmicky one off expansion mechanics…” makes an entire expansion based off of gimmicky one off expansion mechanics.

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Armsman

Well I agree with All the posters below who believe every single MMO company is just. plain bad with PR…

Cryptic studios for me takes the cake though because time and time again they release blogs and PR statements that they can’t even bother to properly proofread.
^^^
And this doesn’t happen occasionally; it’s a regular occurrence – from incorrect information to improper dates (meaning it was copy pasted from an earlier event but again no one even bothered to give it the cursory look before just putting it out there.)

And whenever the person who is most responsible for this type of thing is called out on it, he cries: “Gey I’m human and I’m really busy…”; But given his entire job is community management, you’d think getting an accurate PR announcement or blog out in public would be a prime function of that position, and that he could take 2 minutes to check a date or verify the gist of the text of such an announcement, but obviously not given the frequency of bad/incorrect information that gets out there from the company.

And even though I’m still a big supporter of Star Citizen, I have to say CIG is also really bad of late in that yes they still put out a lot of video information: but often times there’s no real concrete information there as to what actually is being worked on – it’s more constant theory crafting of what they would like to see happen. If you’re going to talk about the game you’re developing I’d rather hear directly about what’s being actively worked on/developed and what will actually be seeing in the next quarterly update. I’m really sick and tired of the theory crafting “and this is what we’d like to do but we’ll see..” comments that litter any show where they actually talk directly to a member of the dev team.

After 8 years of development you’d think they’d have something more concrete to talk about on a regular basis.
^^^
So yeah for me that definitely equals poor messaging on their part.

QuantityQuality

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Ken from Chicago

MMO companies in general, video game companies in general, software companies in general, tend to have problem with communication. I personally want 3 basic things when I say I want them to “Communicate”:

1) Tell us what you’re working on.
2) Tell us what are your big obstacles.
3) Tell us how you’re overcoming said obstacles.

Most companies fall down on the job with 2), recoiling from even admitting they have big obstacles and because of that 3) is also absent. So when they have a huge obstacle they are often silent and that allows folks to imagine the worst, often worse than what’s actually happening. And people tend to respond to negativity–or the possibility of negativity–over positivity. When companies go radio silent, they allow room for fear and assumptions of the worst to grow. CIG is no different. They have for the longest time been reluctant to discuss obstacles. Although they have of late been doing “postmortems” of quarterly patches to report what worked and didn’t.

Even with the first item though, CIG has a peculiar habit, since the company is so big and working on so many things at once, they often tend to report on minutia most don’t give a rat’s crap about. Sure, it’ll look pretty as all get out, but 10 minute session on volumetric lighting in clouds and fogs??? 😱(True story, they did do this a few years ago.) They subject most players and backers are interested in gameplay, gameloops, game mechanics, professions. Salvaging, Cargo Hauling, Mining (although, yes, we get, this is the teacher’s pet getting all the love in development setting the standard for professions to come), Farming, Crafting (yes, a certain EIC would still have issues with the business model, but really, you couldn’t work on this olive branch?), Refueling, Healing, Repairing, Scouting, Hacking, Smuggling, etc.

And, yes, showing what you maybe, sorta, kinda, possibly, use, but could change at any more, or concept art of stuff we passed on isn’t helpful. 👎

That all said, for locked down definitive report, there’s the Sprint Reports. Those more than the Roadmaps and some of interviews with the artists or the lore folk, tells you what they’ve actually been down. 👍

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Bruno Brito

Is there a good one? Almost all MMO companies i’m aware of blundered their PR once, twice or all the time.

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Utakata

Blizz: “Mastering” the art of developer doublespeak one announcement at a time… /sigh

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Schlag Sweetleaf

...

all the above.gif
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Paragon Lost

Such a great actor.

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Arktouros

Black Desert once told the NA/EU player base that it noticed that we weren’t enhancing (improving gear) as much as other regions so it was going to start selling us more enhancement options via the cash shop like other regions have to fix this. When Kakao was running things they tried a few streams for public engagement with their player base and every time they said something ridiculous or wrong. Some classic examples were someone asked them how they reached the energy cap (on stream) and the employee said they “swept a lot of chimneys” which that’s a reference to contribution so that became a whole meme. When they were showing off Striker everyone kept asking them to show their gear and they’d refuse, finally they screwed up and it was revealed they were wearing full PEN (max) equipment.

Never met any group of people so completely unfamiliar with their product.

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Ken from Chicago

Does FALLOUT 76 make BETHESDA an mmo company because that seemed to cause a bit of bruhaha. Also the Collector’s edition “leather” bag … didn’t help.

BLIZZARD seems to go in and out of favor with their player base. The whole Blizzcon fiasco in 2018 about a major Diablo announcement that turned out not to be DIABLO IV for pc but DIABLO IMMORTAL–for mobile. Also the esports China ban apology non apology. 😱😱😱😠😠😠

Everyone seems to agree that DAYBREAK “wins” this contest although I’d like to argue expectations for them have been pretty low for years while players keep expecting more for BLIZZARD that are often fulfilled (eg the actual DIABLO IV cinematic trailer) only to later have hopes dashed (eg Shadow lands, nerfing of the purples, unlearning skills from last expansion so you can grind for new skills from new expansion–knowing it’s all for naught by the time of the next expansion). Having fresh hope dashed fulfilled and dashed again seems like it’d be like having a broken arm healed properly only for it to be rebroken, healed properly and broken again over and over might be far worse agony than having the arm broken once and never healed properly.

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Bryan Correll

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EmberStar

I wouldn’t say Daybreak is the worst, at least in the sense that “saying nothing is at least preferable to *lying.*” Daybreak just goes for like, most of a year without doing anything to even remind anyone that they still exist. Which to me is still better than, say, Cryptic, who puts out press releases that are so completely copy pasted that it will have the wrong date, or even refer somewhere to the *wrong game.*

I guess to me, it just feels like it’s worse when there’s someone who is clearly doing *something* about PR, but cares so little that they can’t even be bothered to spend two minutes proofreading something before posting it. “It would be better if no one was doing this at all, than someone who does such a sloppy job that it will take twice as long to fix it later.”

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Danny Smith

At this point Blizzard, and WoW in particular is an odd one. Their selling point seems to be “we are blizzard, you’ve heard of wow right?” and they don’t sell you the product so much as expect you to know about it already and thats an odd, unique thing in the genre.

Like if you have never heard of blizzard or wow and saw their promotional media today what do they say to you about who they are, what they do and what the unqiue hooks of their games are?

Its like the company equivalent of resting on your laurels.

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Ken from Chicago

Hey, we’re Coke or Pepsi. You like colas, the brown, semi sweet pop, unlike the awesome sweet brown pop, root beer, because our ad budget has us dominating the market over fruit flavored pops, grape, cherry, lemon lime, blueberry, orange, etc., flavors you’d actually recognize. 🤣🤣🤣