Developers under-deliver, players over-expect

By Reuben Gonzales - Video Game Warriors

The miscommunication between developers, publishers, and their fan base is making a year filled with good games feel less fulfilling.

This last year games like God of War, Spiderman, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Monster Hunter World came out and have seen some success.

But for every success, there are absolute failures. These come down to a few issues. First, developers are so far removed from their fans they don't know what to give them or even care to listen. 

Second, the fans' immediate uproar over new games not being 100 percent has led to some nasty comments.

One of the biggest top-tier games that fell harder than anyone expected was Fallout 76. The game was first introduced at E3 2018. Game developer Bethesda's Todd Howard came out for the announcement which turned out to be more hype than information. 

Fans of the series had a few questions about the game, Will it still feature the amazing stories the franchise is used to seeing? How will a multiplayer version impact the game as a whole?  

The answers to these questions were disappointing to most hardcore fans. Fallout 76 was going to be a primarily online game, meaning fans would have no other option but to have their console connected to the internet all the time. 

Soon after news came in that the game would only be populated with robots or enemies instead of non-playable characters for the players to interact with. 

Many fans believed this would take away from the Fallout 76's story building while also making the world feel empty. 

When the Fallout 76 beta test finally arrived, in the PC version, the game wouldn't open and would instead delete itself. Fallout 76's beta test had lag issues and would often kick players out of the servers. The lack of storytelling was apparent and fans' fears seemed to be on target.

Just like any beta test, issues were bound to appear, but with this game, but it felt like Fallout 76 was not even close to full release. 

When the game finally released a few weeks later, some of the issues such as carrying capacity and base building were still unresolved. On top of this the game still faced periodic crashes, but most of all the fans felt there was no real story.

What made this worse was the reaction from the studio, telling players there is a story but you have to go find it.

This however does not mean Fallout 76 will fail. Developer Hello Games dealt with some of the same issues with their No Man's Sky release.

They promised the game would be a great experience for players, but it ultimately fell short. But they did not give up and listened to their fans, now the game is a Cinderella story that should be a blueprint for others.

When large companies like Bethesda put out product, players expect a full game, not one that releases slowly over time. 

This has become an increasingly frustrating trend, with developers only putting out part of a full game and releasing the rest as download content for more money later.

With game prices already high as it is, players feel ripped off when games like Bungie's Destiny release most of the game as download content.

This new way of creating games is fairly recent, with major developers and publishers trying to milk the most from the fans. When Bungie released the Destiny franchise, fans grew increasingly frustrated with the few hours of gameplay in the initial launch. What made matters worse was that just a few months later they released content players had to pay for. 

Fans felt the game was not complete when it was launched. The DLC price tags didn't help,  with an average price of $20 for most and $40 for the Taken King DLC.

One other issue that plagues the video game industry is the lack of communication between fans and developers. In one of the rockiest starts to a game before its subsequent crash and burn, EA and Dice's Star Wars Battlefront 2 was packed with controversy before the release. 

Some of the issues came from developers, but a lot came from fans blowing things out of proportion while spreading bad information. Even after the issues were addressed fans still held out about the game being messed.

The game had the dreaded loot box system, which players felt was a pay-to-win system, allowing players to buy a box containing digital goods to help improve them. This is a lot like betting, with no guarantee to receive top tier items. 

To fans, Battlefront 2 felt like the same game as Battlefront, with the developer even using the same maps and characters for the most part. The game had new additions in the form of characters and maps, but still felt like just a remastered version of the original. 

The response fans got on the forums was less than stellar, with few good answers for any question. 

When developers did respond, it was usually met with more fierce criticism. All of this led to EA losing roughly $3 billion in stock value in the short time the game was released. 

But, as with No Man's Sky, this game has changed since release with a new community director and more content being added more rapidly. These changes have led to the game getting a new resurgence of players returning.

Then there is the Blizzard.  The company just plain up missed the mark with their announcement at this year's Blizzcon. The developer hyped up a big announcement for the event but when the lights were bright they dropped a dead fish on fans. 

Instead of a new Diablo for the computer or any other console, they talked about how they were going to release 2012's Diablo 3 for the Switch and a Diablo mobile game.

Fans at the event were silent as they tried to figure out why the game company went this route, with even some fans asking during the Q and A session if this was a joke.

Then Battlefield 5 come out to a bit of a shaky start, not due to bugs but due to a change in direction in playable characters. The franchise was always focused on getting everything historically accurate. This wrongfully made a big group of fans shout online about women not serving in WWII, which has been proven wrong since. 

Adding fuel to the fire was the response from EA, "If they don't like it they don't need to buy it," tweeted Oskar Gabrielson, CEO of EA Dice. 

"First, let me be clear about one thing. Player choice and female playable characters are here to stay," tweeted Gabrielson. 

This was both a good response and a bad one as longtime fans felt written off by EA. 

The fans were upset over things changing and the media coverage calling them "keyboard warriors,"" ignoramuses," and "misogynist." This, of course, led to more fan outrage with the game seeing a significant fall in sales with only about seven million copies moving by the end of the year.

One of the most difficult parts of gaming as of late is also the fans. As passionate as they are they at times overreact or take things too far, with some fans going so far as to threaten the developers on social media or by email. 

This can never be the answer to any type of anger over any media. The same goes for immediately downplaying a simple criticism of your viewpoints. In order for the gaming industry to grow, the community needs to stay level-headed.

Just because you spent money on previous titles that doesn't make you a shareholder for that company. Developers also need to remember that while aiming more diverse or new players there should be some amount of loyalty to their initial fan base. Along with this, there should be transparency with their plans for the games in the future. 

It seems that once people figured out how to make money from games both developing and playing things got more out of hand. But we should remember why we started playing in the beginning.

Playing games was about visiting far off lands or pretending to be something you otherwise couldn't. Developers will make mistakes. Bad games will come out; that does not mean they deserve to be review bombed or treated like puppets to do the player's bidding. 

As the gaming community as a whole continues to grow and become more mainstream, developers will have to make games for the new players, be mindful of these games, and developers should not forget where they got their start.

The state of gaming is moving in exciting new places and franchises are getting some great new content, so for every flop, there are great games we should focus on, not just the bad ones. 

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