This is cross-posted with the E:D suggestion forum
I do not think that it is controversial to say that there is a problem with the communications between FDev and the player base. I suggest that we look to how another popular space based game responded to a similar situation to find a solution.
I’ve played since the start of E:D and seen the various patterns of behaviour that FDev have when it comes to responding to the player base. One recurring theme sticks out as a problem. I have dubbed it the “the communication two-step”. It goes like this:
1. Something goes wrong.
2. FDev say that they need to communicate their intentions and plans better and commit to doing so in the future.
3. Shortly after they walk back that commitment, usually citing not wanting to give players unrealistic expectations of future developments.
So the constant “we should communicate better” followed shortly after by “but we won’t” has been going on since the start of the game. It’s a cycle that contributes to the ongoing cynicism about FDev’s attitude towards their players.
Unfortunately, communications from both sides are problematic. FDev communications are sanitised as it is a corporate entity. Any statements have to be approved by PR, marketing and legal departments which robs it of detail and immediacy.
Player-side communication has the opposite problem. It’s a million unfiltered voices on forums, social media and YouTube comments, each with their own opinions, preferences and agendas. Without a unified opinion or coherent position, it’s difficult for the developers to address what the players want and easy to dismiss things they’d rather not address.
So we have one side with a sanitised singular voice against the uncoordinated roar of the multitude. How do we address this? Let me tell you a story.
In 2011 EVE Online released a DLC called Incarna. It was a DLC that put spacelegs into a game where players had been, to that point, represented by vehicles. There were problems with the delivered product not living up to either the hype or expectations (sound familiar?). There were also concerns about the sale of preposterously expensive cosmetic items. This sparked massive forum backlash, in-game protests and a decrease of subs and active players. Luckily for the developer, CCP, they had the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) as a point of contact with the player base. The CSM are an elected group of player representatives who were able to provide a coherent, singular representation of player expectations and provides a means for players to pushback on what they view as problematic or undesirable developments. Consultations with the CSM identified a way forward palatable to both CCP and the majority of players. Ten years later and EVE Online is still going strong after recovering from a potentially game-breaking breach with the players.
That’s what I think we can do to address this cycle of releases that do not meet player expectation leading to community anger and disappointment. We should have an elected council of, by and for the players to represent them to the developers. They would also communicate FDev’s plans to the community without using ambiguous, corporate, marketing approved language.
Before anyone leaps to conclusions I will state now that I am not suitable to be on any such representative body and would not put myself forward for consideration. This is the first time I’ve posted a comment in the forum. There are people active in the community who would be suited to represent the views of players.
Is it a perfect solution? No democratic system is perfect. However, FDev might want to look at their dropping stock value and dwindling player numbers and re-evaluate the merits of their current autocratic development model.
What do you think?