The Game Was Made for All of You.
Games are, in a way, like ecosystems; in order for the whole to be healthy, individual parts must be nurtured and allowed to thrive. While some parts may receive more or less developer attention, all of them matter. A great recent post made by Ion Hazzikostas of Blizzard summed it up well; “almost every facet of WoW is an activity that caters to a minority of the playerbase.”
When the ecosystem of a game starts to fail because one group receives ALL of the focus, it becomes, again quoting Ion, “ a far smaller game in the process.” And he’s right, because I watched that happen in SWTOR. I watched most of my PvP friends leave, and many in the community said “good riddance. Then I watched top end PvE guilds leave, to be met with the same “good riddance.”
It’s normal to feel like a game community is home, and that can make any criticism, no matter how constructively offered, sting like your own family is being attacked. But treating it as a personal attack is not healthy; no one is perfect, not even game developers, and we have to be aware of our mistakes before we can learn and grow from them. (As a side note, I believe that almost all game developers care about the games they are producing, even if the end result ends up not being what we wanted.)
I was told, after watching most of my PvP guild leave over the removal of ranked 8v8, “this game was not made for you; if you don’t like it, just leave.”
So I did.
I had previously been a big cheerleader for the game. When everyone wandered off to check out Guild Wars 2, I stayed. I talked many of my friends into coming back to the game; some of them twice.
But then I was told I wasn’t wanted. Don’t criticize, if you’re not happy with the current state of the game, just go play something else.
So I did.
Sometime later, I watched history repeat itself as many of my friends who enjoyed operations were told they would not be getting any new content for the foreseeable future. As many of them had formed their own close knit guild families, they felt the same sting I mentioned earlier as those guild families were threatened and started to suffer. When they expressed their frustration at this, they were told the same thing I was; “this game was not made for you; if you don’t like it, leave.”
So many of them did. Among them were guild leaders, guide writers, theorycrafters, podcast hosts.
The game became smaller. Subscription numbers may not have reflected this yet – but the whole of the game is bigger than the sum of its parts, and the loss of these community leaders caused it to become a “smaller” game.
The game was made for all of you. And every time you attack a member of the community who enjoys a different part of it than you, you make it smaller.
Try making it a bigger community and game instead.