The Daily Grind: Should players be allowed to vote on an MMO’s design?


Listen, y’all know I love Star Wars Galaxies, and I’ve been playing on the Legends emu for years. And one of the cool things about this emu is that it replicates the player senate system SOE pioneered all those years ago. The playerbase elects senators from among themselves, who then spearhead initiatives for the game’s development, and then players are allowed to vote on them to determine whether senators take them up as a cause. In theory, I love all of this, particularly for a rogue server that is beholden not to investors or sales but directly to players.

However, I find myself frequently frustrated by the system in practice. The number of players who know there’s a vote going on and chime in is tiny compared to the playerbase, and worse yet, really neat proposals get shot down on the regular because of selfish voting from folks protecting their economic and power interests or just wanting to make sure no developer time is spent on any game system they won’t use. They don’t even hide it; they come right out and say that’s why they’re doing it, so you wind up with a relatively small group of loud people who vote down almost everything to keep the game as static (and stacked in their favor) as possible.

If all of this sounds familiar, like it maybe applies to something else… yeah. Yeah.

I’m particularly frustrated because as a hardcore sandbox, SWG is one of those games that lives and dies on the diversity of its playerbase. It’s really important to me that a whole lot of things I don’t care about are in the game and are polished to a fine sheen because those are the things other people play, and other people being in the game are what makes it tick. Those are my customers! Those are the rangers and industrialists who sell me resources! We need everyone to be supported here – not just me.

What do you think: Should players be allowed to vote on an MMO’s design? Is this a good idea, or should games chuck it in the bin?

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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