Name the obvious games where people have tried to get their message across to either fix or improve a franchise. Half-Life. Call of Duty. Final Fantasy. Those are the three franchises that spring to my mind, so you might see them occur a lot throughout this article. 10 minutes ago (in terms of 10 minutes before I wrote this very sentence), I spotted an article where Gabe Newell praised the usefulness of fan feedback. But then a few months earlier, a lot of articles cropped up saying how fan feedback should just be ignored by the developers, where it’s “their” game and “they” can make the game how they like. Should there be fan feedback? Lets look at both sides.
Let’s start off with the good side; where some believe that fan feedback would help create a brilliant game. Half-Life 3 has still not been released, and many believe it’s either due to laziness from Valve, or the fact that they have a lot to live up to purely for the fact they’ve left it for so long. So when I read Gabe Newell’s thoughts on fan feedback, it makes you wonder if such a system is worth looking into when developing your games. Who better to ask how they can make the perfect game than to ask a gamer? A developer who is also a gamer is one thing, but being a developer of games makes you see things differently in the world of gaming. As a student in video games development, I already start to see gaming differently. Don’t get me wrong, I do still most games as something fun, enjoyable and believable, but I also find it easy to spot the bugs, glitches, and sometimes even the invisible walls. But to ask somebody who is just pure and simply a gamer, sure they might see what a developer see’s, but not in as much detail. Most gamers just see the game, which is one reason why fan feedback is a good thing.
A developer creates a game to please a gamer, so when a gamer picks up a game they want to be good, but it’s not, a developer would want to know where it all went wrong. This is why we have reviewists, forums for gamers, wikis, gaming conventions and more; places where gamers can voice their thoughts, and without them, gaming might have taken a turn for the worst. In terms of finding the bugs in a game, you might think “well that is what QA testers are for”. Let’s face it; they’re being paid to find bugs that may or may not be there. They need to play the same game over and over and over and over and over, and no doubt that’s going to drag them down and make them miss the odd bug. Heck, a bug which occurs for you may not have even happened for them, so feedback may fix that. This is something Activision does not do; they seem to think “Oh. DLC will fix the bugs that have occurred. Let’s release more” when no. It does not fix it, in fact it worsens it because they’re pretty much placing more bugs in more content on top of previous bugs whilst fixing little to none of them. To be honest, I have no idea how people are still playing such broken games.
Lets turn the paper over and start fresh, as we talk about the bad side to fan feedback. The first point is clear: the developer is making the game for the gamer; think of it as a surprise you have to buy. You might argue and say “If you don’t tell an author how to write their book, or a movie director how to make their film, why would you tell a game developer how to make their game?” If a gamer gets too involved in a games development, they might end up knowing more than they should, hence minor leaks and rumors that are stirred. Another problem to fan feedback is that if they get too close to development, some gamers are right dicks and may even expect payment, a discount, the game for free or their names in the credits; heck some people believe they deserve a job at the company in question. I’ve seen it before, especially last year with certain hackers.
Some people even say that fan feedback might even ruin a game, with a collaboration of ideas being put into a game, which may at first seem good, but in the end, it would almost seem like the fan feedback just wasn’t needed since it became a train wreck anyway. Think of how many games might not be the same if gamers had got to involved; Skyrim may not have used shouts, Metal Gear may never have used radios for communication, Halo may never have used “Spartans”. Could fan feedback really ruin gaming if gamers got too close? Heck, if developers take fan feedback too early in a games development, the game might even be leaked months before it should. Sure, the gamer would be in trouble, but at least the secret would be out, making it spoil the surprise to gamers.
Please don’t take what I said and think that I am for or against fan feedback as I tend to switch over from time to time. What my article was merely stating was what may have occurred or could occur if gamers got into a games development too much just for being a gamer, and not a developer.