January 28, 2023

Where Video Game Developers Fail at Listening

By Evan Spisla

It’s important to any industry that a brand monitors its customers. Actively listening is necessary to maintain a relationship where all parties are left satisfied. This is especially true when the success of your brand relies almost entirely on the dedication and devotion of a tight fanbase that can communicate with the click of a button.

Enter the video game industry.

In the year 2020, games are no longer finished, polished products, but consistently-updated universes with life cycles that can last decades. A good game designer can observe issues and frustrations that players have with their games through forums, subreddits, Twitch streams and other forms of social media, while communicating with players and even issuing patches to make the game a better experience for all.

You would think that within community so increasingly interconnected, consumers would have a great impact in the development of the games they play.

This is often not the case.

Here are three ways in which video game developers fail to listen to their audiences (and provide responses that maintain a community of pleased fans):

1. They only listen to compliments, not complaints.

It’s very easy for a brand to pick and choose which tweets it responds to. However, it’s important that a game developer doesn’t close themself off to criticism, like the many that only engage with sponsored streamers that have nice things to say.

By widening the scope of media monitoring, developers can find that gamers have lots of strong opinions about what they want more from their games.

It hurts knowing a game like Halo 5: Guardians could have avoided the echo chamber of praise that ultimately lead to its downfall.

2. They don’t prove it with action.

Okay, so sometimes they do listen. But most players would never know. Gamers are often left with empty promises of change and mere recognition of the problems that have them feeling ripped off.

Simply put, developers need to actually fix their games.

A relationship must be built off not just open communication, but responses that truly address the conversation.

3. They can’t distinguish between raving fans and those on the fringe.

Most of the time, a game’s most obsessed players are its biggest supporters. Sometimes, they’re its biggest critics. Either way, they tend to know the game better than anyone else, from it’s beautiful moments to its immersion-breaking imperfections.

Outside this bubble is a cloud of uninformed opinions from those that may have never even downloaded a copy. This doesn’t mean these sentiments don’t matter — understanding them is key to gaining new players.

However, it’s absolutely necessary to know where the voices are coming from. Being able to separate them will allow a developer to address the problems that are real while finding ways to silence rumors and break misconceptions about their product. 

By actively observing trends while addressing these three pitfalls, video game makers will be on the path to building a lasting community that players that are excited to be a part of.

Twitter @EvanSpisla; Instagram @e.spisla

3 thoughts on “Where Video Game Developers Fail at Listening

  1. I agree with your standing point. Video Games could not be designed without accepting suggestions from masses. The Game Company needs to establish a platform to keep close relationship with fans. To illustrate, when the creator designs some plots, they could post some specific choices that need be voted by fans. With this regard, the polularity of games could improve sharply.

  2. I agree with your standing point. Without fans’ suggestions, the game designs are not successful. As far as I am concerned, the designer should establish the platform to keep communication with fans. The designer should post some questions on this platform and collect the cherished suggestions from fans. For some questions, he could provide some multiple choices. Fans could vote for their favorite choice. I think this mold is the splendid way to comply with fans’ demand. Simultaneously, the popularity of games would improve.

  3. I completely agree with what you said about there being countless unheard opinions about video games coming from those who aren’t super fans nor haters, but somewhere in between. If it’s true that people on either extreme end of the dichotomy are inevitably going to voice their opinions, how do you think developers can extract valuable thoughts and information from those in between? How do developers motivate those that are lukewarm to take a stance and talk about it? I’m sure if this was done correctly, the average game would appeal much more to the average player/consumer. And I’m also sure it would take more than a simple survey to attract these consumers. I wonder how developers and gaming companies do that, or try to do that, now.

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