Elite Dangerous threatens to ban players over toxic behavior toward devs

    
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Elite Dangerous has drawn a line in the sand on toxicity – toxicity against its staff, that is.

Frontier’s lead community manager, Arthur Tolmie, posted a missive to the forum telling players that while feedback on the game is fine, harassment of the Frontier devs isn’t acceptable. While Tolmie doesn’t mention a specific incident, it sounds a bit as if players have been hassling devs on their personal social media accounts. Here’s the key section, wherein Tolmie suggests that attacks on the staff will be met with permanent bans.

“[I]t is unfortunate to see members of the community relaying their frustrations by insulting, making accusations, and launching personal attacks towards my team or other staff members. I would like to address this form of communication directly. ‘Shooting the messenger’ is no longer something I will be tolerating going forward, as these comments are actively harming our efforts to improve the experience for our community. Similarly, those attacking other members of the community will not be tolerated either. From this point forwards, posts that attack, insult, accuse or are deemed harmful towards individual members of staff or teams, will result in a permanent ban from the channels they are posted on: forums, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. This includes, but is not limited to, private messages to personal social accounts of staff members. Remember, going forward, that those you are addressing are real people. Frustrations surrounding a video game are not a justifiable reason to attack another human being’s mental health and wellbeing.”

You would think this goes without saying; heck, we just wrote a long piece ourselves about toxicity toward developers that stemmed from harassment of a Pokemon Go staffer who was run off social media by toxic players. Yesterday, we had a similar dust-up present itself when a WoW author received death threats over her work. It doesn’t help you get what you want from the game. It just chases decent people from the industry and makes you an asshole. Don’t be an asshole.

The forum thread is locked to replies, though the Reddit discussion is ongoing, but it’s hard to tell whether any lessons have been learned here. Many players are upset about the attacks on devs; others are doubling-down or calling for firings. Some are arguing that Odyssey’s poor launch “brought all the crazies” out of the woodwork; others are accusing Frontier of lying or using player toxicity to deflect legitimate criticism of the botched release. One player even sarcastically called it “emergent gameplay,” presumably a nod to when Frontier has used that term for toxic behavior in-game while doing little to confront it. Perhaps that’s the real lesson here: As far too many studios have been slow to learn in this industry, you do get exactly the playerbase you tolerate.

Source: Official site. Cheers, Stuart.
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Gipfeli
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Gipfeli

don’t care about that drama thing..
i just hope one day i can use my space legs for not just pew pewing things

MasterOfPuppets
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MasterOfPuppets

I was one of the people who, before this post was put up, got a “Warning for Staff Harassment”, but no moderator points/actions taken, for responding to the particular thread that caused the forum flare up. And here’s the facts that Frontier have glossed over;

* The thread was about how the last major patch for PC before moving on to trying to get the console releases ready for launch had left major game breaking bugs in. Even after desperate polishing the PC version is in a shocking state. Even the bug fixes they had done sometimes weren’t even in the patch notes, and Frontier didn’t even seem to know they’d gone live (VR DSS fix was the big one)…
* During the thread, one of the responders asked what the staff were doing, if this was the condition the game was in.
* One of the Volunteer Forum Mods then went on an incredibly unprofessional series of rants, which led to them at first pointing to another staff member streaming the game for fun in answer to “what the staff were doing”, then when it was pointed out this wasn’t working on the game, accussed people of harassing her when she was off the clock. Someone on the forums said they saw no harassment on the stream, which just led to the Volunter Mod doubling down and claiming that the ED community were toxic and hate filled.
* If there was any abuse on the forums, it was no longer visible. Either it was moderated or didn’t exist. And the Elite community has been notoriously fanboyish for years; even when there has been very mild criticism, it’s usually drowned out by the infamous Forum Dads who have loved the series since their childhood in the 1980s and whose only response is to ask for “your stuph if leaving”. Now I didn’t look at the stream and most of the responders didn’t either; But the thread was then disgusted by the antagonising responses of the mod who was trying to smear them all with something he had personally directed them all too in the first place, and none of them could actually see.
* Now I’ve worked in the industry, for Electronic Arts. My response was that this was breaking almost all the normal rules for respectful behaviour from a staff member. Firstly, harassment does of course exist, which is why we don’t throw other staff members to the wolves without their permission, and especially not when they’re off the clock. I’ve had it from lunatic players myself in the role, but as a player it was disgusting to then be abused publicly by staff for behaviour that existed (if it did) only because he himself had pointed out a non-development stream in answer to development concerns. You just don’t do that to your playerbase, especially one that is hurting because of a corporate collapse that is none of their fault. Nor to staff that may not have anything to do with the player’s issues in their job spec, indeed due to corporate incompetence or inter-company corruption may not be allowed to address the issues. The wall of corporate silence may be frustrating, but sometimes you’ve gotta have it. Throwing each other off the sled because you can feel the wolves close behind is even less defensible.
* And the end is indeed rapidly approaching for Elite; despite the attempts to spin it (even here, sigh, MassivelyOP is often far too close to some games and ED appears to be one of them) both staff and major YouTubers are quitting in disgust. Drew Wagner, the former fiction writer resigned. The forums moved his leaving post somewhere they hoped it wouldn’t be read. Hawkes Gaming is out. ObsidianAnt is too depressed to want to do any more videos… honestly the behaviour of the Forum Mod just looked like someone who had taken the disaster of Odyssey too personally and was lashing out at the players for not blindly cheering the company on any more.
* So to then post that a much wider definition of “Harassment” was in place just looks like closing ranks to protect their own feelings, rather than having any respect at all for the community you’re supposed to be serving. No Man’s Sky earned even more abuse for an even worse launch, but they just shut up, put their heads down, and worked like hell to earn that trust back. Without charging an extra penny to do so.
FDev have not only gone back on promises to explain what they plan to do, they’ve openly announced there will be no more development on major systems. VR? Not for Odyssey content. Ship interiors, extra ground gameplay? Not going to happen. But you can bet they’ll keep adding Arx microtransaction items into the store. And remember, they froze actual Elite development for nearly 3 years for this expansion. People are rightfully disgusted with it all.

Pointing that out however gets you moderated for “Harassment” now.

It’s almost as if Frontier don’t know how to save their own game any more, and are just blowing it all up out of pique.

I’m sure the company has many wonderful people working there. And personal harassment is wrong no matter why you think you’re doing it; look how it tanked the reputation of SotA (even here which famously supported it for so long) for an example of that. You never save the game you think you love by being dicks to it’s players or staff. But likewise you don’t save the game by staff being dicks to your players either.

Meanwhile you still can’t even look at the missions you’ve taken because the UI keeps randomly jerking to the left, the missions themselves often can’t be completed because the objective doesn’t work or the target isn’t even there, and performance is still awful often when it is, because Frontier forgot to stop rendering objects hidden behind others…

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Knecht_Rootrecht

I see it as a problem on both sides. Seriously, when a lot of problems get reported in an alpha and the devs respond with: “Don’t worry, we have a much more complete internal build and the problems you see will be fixed.”

This dev volunteered his rear end into the fire. Especially if it turns out that the mentioned problems weren’t fixed at all. Also consumer voices tend to not get heard unless they reach a sh..storm level of volume’. Example from a few years ago is flying in WoW which the devs didn’t want to allow in the current expansion or going forward into the next. It took a massive week long storm of epic proportions to have them relent on the issue and have flying included in later updates of an expansion.

Frontier is terrible at communicating with their playerbase and the community team is one of the most toxic I have ever seen. I know their moderators write ‘mod hat off’ in their own forums and then start to troll with no consequences. Anyone speaking out against it, gets silenced quickly. They even brigaded another games forums and reddit until they were banned there and since then they have a massive chip on their shoulder about it.

tl;dr
Frontier should start by cleaning house with their community team and make sure official dev communication is honest.

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Ardra Diva

I would guess quite a few of us have included “make the greatest MMO ever according to my own wishes” when we daydream about winning the lottery. But I feel like gamers these days want to eat their cake and have it too. They seem to think everything should be free. They don’t seem to realize all that effort took money to produce. Games have to turn a profit somehow. If it’s F2P, that means a cash shop, and that means items people will buy. I liked the sub model because the games tended to be more stable, can forecast better financials, make better plans, and ultimately a stronger and more dependable update roadmap. But if it’s free? I assume they will make money somewhere, and the “where” does not offend me, because I slipped into the club without paying a cover charge.

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MassivelyMacD

Plus, the hype-train , oh, the hype-train.

I see that a lot of disappointed E:D players now switch over to other games which “seem to have everything E:D lacks”. I sense the next big disappointment around the corner. And here we are. In reality where we end up is not the company’s fault. They gave customers what they wanted: a dream. If you are being honest as a developer/publisher about what can be achieved, no one looks at you. So you start to overpromise to at least get attention. And then somewhere down the road the balloon bursts.

This is not limited to FDEV, this can be seen all around you. And it is not limited to gaming (I see you, SpaceX and Starship).

Maybe it is a gift to become older and more relaxed and take everything that is distributed by marketing campaigns with a grain of salt. I am not that deeply disappointed by FDEV, but the naivity and bigotry around me irritates me a bit.

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Neurotic

Matt Rossi wrote a really good ‘Don’t be a jerk in WoW’ piece’, which I read a couple of days ago. Not sure if it was an old one that Google dredged up for me, or new, but either way it was very well written. Sorry to hear about “she” — if it’s who I think it is, I would be heartbroken.

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MassivelyMacD

The new expansion is really disappointing, not only judging its quality, but also the content and direction it is aiming at.

But to make this clear: the game itself is still working. I am doing missions while I write. The game itself is not broken.

When exactly did this drama queen behaviour creep into our society?

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Ardra Diva

“kids these days” – said every generation ever.

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Peregrine Falcon

Wait. So these hypocrites were totally ok with people harassing their customers (the players) and ruining their customers’ in-game experience, buuut… say mean things about the developers and they’ll get you perma-banned?!?

There’s a phrase that my grandma used to use: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Also this one: “You reap what you sow.”

Also, if I criticize these ED developers in a YouTube video how are they going to get me perma-banned from YouTube? Does Frontier own YouTube now?!?

Wow. I wonder exactly who these arrogant hypocrites think they are.

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Vanquesse V

That’s not how any of this works. First of all: one person getting away with harassment doesn’t make it okay for others to harass. Secondly there’s a massive difference in not being able to participate in the multiplayer part of a game, and getting directed attacks on your personal social media profile.
But sure, they made a bad game and don’t deserve to be treated like human beings and when they say they get harassed it’s either their own fault, it’s gaslighting or they’re exploiting the situation to CeNsOr My FrEe SpEeCh.

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Ok_Chip261

directed attacks on your personal social media profile

Do you actually have any evidence that happened?

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Vanquesse V

Okay, I’m out. After all the hostility and toxicity on both forums and reddit if you need proof that people are assholes elsewhere as well, then I’m wasting my time.

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Ok_Chip261

I didn’t ask for proof people are assholes. The crime Frontier are banning for isn’t being an asshole is is being “deemed harmful”.

All I asked is whether you’ve any evidence of the “directed attacks on personal social media” you referenced. Because there sure is no mention of such a thing in this Frontier announcement.

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Bruno Brito

I can’t believe i have to point this out:

“Mean things” =/= threats and overall assholery.

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zoward

Is it sad that right after I read about the permaban, my first thought was “I wonder how the yahoos will exploit this to get people they don’t like permabanned”?

agemyth 😩
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agemyth 😩

Gamers need real problems.

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styopa

I understand the frustration, but grow the hell up.

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Ok_Chip261

Good advice. Let’s hope Frontier listens to it.