I’d like to take yesterday’s Reddit AMA as opportunity to write about a topic I’m interested in for quite a while now. Whenever the devs go and answer questions, you are going to see a lot of frustrated players, endgame mostly, that don’t feel like “their” topics were properly tackled. I’ve already mentioned in my piece about the most recent “State of the Game Stream” that they basically answered questions for an audience that wasn’t there. On Twitch everybody was yelling “dungeons” and “balancing” and they brought in an expert opinion about the Foundry.
Again, I absolutely support and appreciate the idea. The segment with David most definitely was the best of the whole show. But are you really surprised players took offense that such an “insignificant” topic got so much airtime? I think Julia even realized during the stream. At one point she apologized for topics “that might not be important to you but important to someone”.
The Ones That Give the Most Feedback Are Heard the Least
And that’s pretty much the dilemma I want to ponder about today. Why is there apparently such a massive discrepancy between topics the players want to talk about and topics the devs actually answer? Who do they, the devs, listen to? Being heard is mostly important to some folks in the endgame community. They invest a lot, be it money or time, and think they should be part of the process. Whether that’s actually true or not is a question for another day by the way. But it’s certainly interesting that it feels like the ones that give the most feedback are heard the least.
This creates an unfortunate situation where players that give feedback get increasingly frustrated. Let’s say you’re a hardcore player and theorycrafter. You play the game a ton and probably know at least one class fairly well. At some point you start dishing out your own ideas for changes or new concepts. And then nothing happens. You dish out your next one… nothing. You repeat the requests… still nothing. At worst you realize that they went the opposite way of what you suggested in the next mod, and the mod thereafter. That’s discouraging to say the least.
Turnaround Times Are a Mess
That being said, the turnaround times they have around here are a major part of the issue. Even if you feed them a suggestion that they actually like, your best bet is that it’ll get introduced in like a year. Because that’s the time it usually takes to append a task to their list and find the resources to pull it off. In a crowded market that most likely feature games that already have what you want, that’s not ideal. It nonetheless helps to realize that “on our radar” means a change is still months away.
However, it’s not like the devs eventually fill all requests of endgamers, it’s quite the opposite to be honest.
The Vocal Minority
Which brings us to a term that I truly, deeply dislike: the vocal minority. It’s something devs mostly use to trivialize a shitstorm. You basically say, well, there’s a lot of noise here, but you only see a very tiny amount of the game’s population posting their discontent. And the others, the satisfied majority, isn’t represented. There’s an emotional and a factual aspect as to why I take offense to that. First of all, you’re talking to the most dedicated players of your game. They care and give feedback, and you basically tell them that their voice does not count. That’s obviously not very kind.
But more than that, there’s an actual issue ignoring the vocal minority. Those are probably guild leaders, streamers, ingame personalities. They represent or influence a lot more players than only themselves. So by ignoring and frustrating them you risk that you lose other players in the process. A community of a guild that gets sold because its leader decided to quit might never recover. An ingame friend you lose might make you move on as well.
Oh, and have you stopped by the Neverwinter Twitch channel lately? The amount of bitching and negativity there is staggering. Do you think new players that happen to go to Twitch to get a feel for the game will play it if every other streamer, and pretty much any bigger one, is like ‘dude, this game sucks balls, because the devs never listen’. And trust me, that’s not me calling out our streamers. It is simply what you get for ignoring your vocal minority.
The Truth Hurts
The other part of the truth might hurt even more though. As much as I dislike the term, endgame players in this game are in the minority. Which means that naturally, they will get fewer content than other groups. You might bang your head in the wake of the 100th campaign, but if that’s what 90% of the players want, what can you do? And by “want” I don’t mean actively vocalizing it, but playing the game, spending money. Trust me, if the game had the type of player base for five dungeons per mod, the devs would absolutely try to do it. It’s not that they don’t listen, they can’t. The market simply does not demand it.
That’s what makes being an endgame player (or PVP player, or Foundry author) in Neverwinter so frustrating. All opinions you read, listen and watch to probably completely match your own, because it’s endgame players like you that post, broadcast and stream them. That creates the illusion that “everyone” agrees with you, but the devs still “don’t listen”.
Difficult for Devs as Well
I by the way could also envision this to be a difficult task for the devs as well. The official forum, Twitch, and Youtube are their main sources of feedback one would assume. Yet the players that post there do not represent the majority of players of your game. How do you even put the comments you get into a context that makes sense? Anyway, this piece wasn’t meant to be about empathy for the devs, but empathy for the endgamers.
I don’t want to leave you guys without hope either, because there’s actually a simple solution to this problem. Instead of banging your head against a wall, bring more likeminded players in! Sell that the game already has great dungeons, and together you could demand even more. The game has great combat and PVP, but could use a few more bodies on the battlefield. And the game has a great UGC foundation in the Foundry, but what we need is more players to be able to build on that.
I get this is a difficult concept for some, selling something that could be instead of something that already is. But if you’re an endgame player, and care for the game as much as you claim, then this might be your only shot.
What’s your opinion on this topic? Do you agree the ones that post the most feedback are heard the least? And is it an unsolvable issue of being a member of the “vocal minority”? Share your thoughts on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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