You—yes, the person reading this article right now—have the ability to change the face of gaming as we know it. You can change what the next installment of your franchise of choice looks like. You can alter what companies do with patches and DLC.
See, your opinion as “Joe Gamer” is noticed by some of the biggest publishers and developers out there. Contrary to popular belief, there are people at these studios reading the rants that fans post in forums and reddit threads. A surprising amount of developers will try to get their finger on the pulse of their fandom. So yes, many productions and development decisions are made because of you, and that means that sometimes you are partially to blame for some of the crappier ones.
It’s not hard to see how public opinion can affect the decisions of a game development team. Just look at the multiple patches and revisions that Street Fighter IV has had. Each of these new balance tweaks were made with the player base in mind. If players complained enough about a certain strategy, Capcom altered the game so that strategy was less effective. That’s an example of fan communication causing direct change.
We don’t have to look much further than Capcom to see the power fans have to affect companies negatively as well. Just look at Street Fighter X Tekken’s on-disc DLC fiasco. When fans discovered this, they complained to the Better Business Bureau in force, causing Capcom’s rating to actually fall. Pressure by fans caused Capcom to release this DLC earlier than they originally planned, as it was originally supposed to coincide with the release of the Vita version of the game. This, combined with general fan disdain for the game’s mechanics, has caused Street Fighter X Tekken to “die” an early death in the eyes of the pro gaming community.
Yet, in the face of this pressure, Capcom has decided to update the game with a 2013 patch that will make games faster, fairer, and more balanced, once again due to the immense fan outrage the game spawned. In fact, the fan outrage against Street Fighter X Tekken is rumored to be spilling over into NAMCO Bandai, holding up the development of Tekken X Street Fighter. Once again, this is an example of fans profoundly changing a company’s plans.
As long as we’re on the topic of Capcom, let’s take a look at Resident Evil 6. Fans asked for the ability to move while aiming, a reduced emphasis on inventory management, a larger cast of characters, and a reduced difficulty. Guess what? That’s exactly what they got. Unfortunately, this made the game more of an action fest, which many gamers reacted negatively to. It seemed as if the fan base wasn’t aware that they were asking for the characters to have more power and the game to get easier overall, and so when Michael Bay’s Resident Splosions 6 came out, gamers began yearning for the old days of atmospheric survival horror.
Gamers have flooded the Internet with complaints, saying that they want the franchise to go back to its horror roots. I bet you dollars to donuts that Resident Evil 7 will do exactly that, and that it will thus spawn complains about the game moving too slowly and not having enough action elements.
Plenty of gaming’s more questionable decisions were, at one point, ideas in the minds of excited fans. Final Fantasy MMOs? Fans were pretty excited. Goldeneye Remake? Fans were going nuts. Refusing to give up on Duke Nukem Forever? Fans practically demanded it! Yet none of these ideas was very good in execution, and some of them were downright horrible.
Of course, I’m not saying that the fan base is directly responsible for every bad game out there. Developers still have a responsibility to make the best game that they can possibly make. However, fans have certainly been partially responsible for some pretty horrible ideas. When a company listens to fan outcry and everything turns out swell, fans see that as a dedication toward pleasing the fan base. But when a company listens to fan outcry and things turn out horribly, that’s often seen as just a poor development team ruining a franchise we all like.
So I feel the need to ask you to think about what you are saying the next time you complain about a game. Are your suggestions and the suggestions of the fan base really going to make the next game better? Are you really looking for some sort of huge change in game balance or mechanics, or are you just slightly peeved at a mechanic that you aren’t that much of a fan of.
All of us, as gamers and fans, need to think about how we react to games in the future. It’s easy to come to snap judgments, but we as a fandom notoriously have no idea what we really want. In fact, some of the best games ever made come from experiments that flew directly in the face of fan demand.
So the next time you go on a rant about what the next big game release needs to be and why the current version sucks, try not to think, “What would make me happy?” Instead, think this way: “What will honestly make this game better?”
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: December 20, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*