Game Players and Game Providers: How Does This Relationship Work Nowadays?

    • Game Players and Game Providers: How Does This Relationship Work Nowadays?

      Hello Hex Community!

      Thanks to everyone who responded to my last post concerning the Hex Team to consider Hex Gamer's ideas while we wait for set 10 to release. I appreciate everyone's passion, enthusiasm, and elucidated insight (here's especially looking at you HAVOC; the passion was REAL, homie!)

      I'm going to try to keep this created thread as succinct as I can for the purpose of instigating further community conversations about this thread's title. I am not sufficiently educated on how the gaming industry works, so I am excited to learn as much as I can from this gaming community on how healthy 'Game Players and Game Providers' relationships work.

      Question: Game Players and Game Providers: How Does This Relationship Work Nowadays? Is it not within a game company's best interest to maintain a reasonable level of communication with their player base? Is friendship and trust not developed through honesty and feasible transparency? If a gaming company possesses an excellent product (that could use a few tweaks of improvement here and there), wouldn't proper marketing, advertisement, exposure, etc., be a highly-embraced point of interest and pursuit? What is gained through decreasing the amount of healthy communication with players?

      Again, despite any perceived undertones of cynicism possibly contained within the above several inquiries (which I did not intend), I am primarily interested in this communities' insight regarding my questions.

      Thank you all for your time!
    • DetectiveHexCrux wrote:

      Question: Game Players and Game Providers: How Does This Relationship Work Nowadays?
      i/ Is it not within a game company's best interest to maintain a reasonable level of communication with their player base?
      ii/ Is friendship and trust not developed through honesty and feasible transparency?
      iii/ If a gaming company possesses an excellent product (that could use a few tweaks of improvement here and there), wouldn't proper marketing, advertisement, exposure, etc., be a highly-embraced point of interest and pursuit?
      iv/ What is gained through decreasing the amount of healthy communication with players?
      There are a lot of variables.

      i/ First of all, you must distinguish between one-off games (you buy the disc and it's over), games with some content coming from time to time (like The Witcher 3 DLCs or the way Paradox works with a patch every couple of months and a big-ish expansion two or three times per year) and games with multiplayer and evolving content, where devs need to be 24/7 on top of the game (MOBAs, card games).

      For every one of those, it is in the company's best interest to maintain a reasonable level of communication with their playerbase, yes. It is less important in [1], more important in [2] and most important in [3]. HOWEVER you should understand that it being in their best interest does not also mean that the company is legally bound to do so.

      As for Hex, it is a sub-category of [3] because, when you think about it, WE PAID for the game to be made. I'm talking about the Kickstarter, mostly, though one would say that when close to 100% of the revenue is coming from the playerbase of one game and they don't have anyone supporting them financially, it's even more so. In any case, the Kickstarting has undeniably involved all backers in the development of the game. Even if anyone comes and says "It's not legally true either", at least it's morally true.

      ii/ Friendship and trust are indeed developed through honesty and feasible transparency but sometimes you gotta hide things or tell lies to your friends for their good or for the good of your friendship. That's just in general, not sure how it would apply with HXE. HXE should not try to be honest, transparent and communicative because they want to be friends with the playerbase. They should do it because it is THEIR JOB and they've been doing it WRONG, as is pretty evident.

      iii/ Yes. HXE has totally fucked up in that aspect. I'd suggest you check the latest Topdeck Radio, specifically the part where they talk about the 100k invitational. HXE, in their arrogance (?) thought they if you have a good product, that's enough in and of itself to make people flock to you. They were trying to attract people who were already looking for a card game (you can imagine that this is a very small number of the video game players). Also, they over-relied on their players good will. I will admit that I used to daily visit different subreddits that a conversation about digital card games might pop up, in order to sneak in a comment about Hex. Other players did more than that.

      iv/
      This picture would be worse with a few dozen people on the background running around screaming. The protagonist would be more hard-pressed to maintain his composure. Basically, by decreasing the amount of communication, you distance yourself from those that remind you that the world is coming down. Whether this is so you can focus on working to save the world or because you want to bury your head in the sand until the end is debatable.
    • These days, indie developers for the most part live and die by their community. Especially indie developers who are in early access, trying to build a larger game with a smaller team. Developers who release a "one and done" product might not need to worry about this as much, but large products or ongoing, online games from small studios MUST cultivate an active, passionate, supportive community to keep things moving along and to spread the word on their game when they cannot afford traditional marketing.

      That's what Hex had. That's what Hex wasted. Now, they're kind of screwed. The absolute worst thing any company of HexEnt's size, in HexEnt's position, can do is remain silent for long periods of time. Failing to engage with and respect your audience is death to a game of this nature, plain and simple.

      The problem is they appear to think they are an EA or Ubisoft, above such things. That they can just string us along forever on vague platitudes and empty "soon" promises, and we'll keep dumping money into their garbage fire to keep it lit for them. We're starting to see how very wrong their assumptions have been. Sadly, it doesn't seem like they're attempting to make any course corrections there, despite the mountains of evidence showing them they need to.
      --ossuary

      "Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."
      - Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well
    • For KS, the relationship already ended after KS money transferred and game officially released and eventually operating at a loss. They already delivered what they can "in good faith" and many players even profited from the game at some point.
      "Winning with terrormill is not fun? Try losing with it"
    • Arkansaw wrote:

      For KS, the relationship already ended after KS money transferred and game officially released and eventually operating at a loss. They already delivered what they can "in good faith" and many players even profited from the game at some point.
      That's why I distinguished between "legally" and 'morally". Also, "good faith" is not panacea to be invoked everywhere. If HXE was forced to reveal everything (such as during court proceedings) then we'd know if they truly weren't able to deliver "in good faith".

      Hint: PS4 port and Siege were not KS goals and still got implemented before those. "Good faith" means that'd do everything humanly and legally possible, so they wouldn't waste resources on those.
    • Just about every question you asked can be answered with 'yes', except the last which is obviously not a yes/no question. That one can be answered with 'nothing, unless you consider upset players to be a 'gain''.
      Gamer. Streamer. Photographer. Writer. Anime Lover. Possessor of Stuffed Animals.

      Also... I'm terrible at this game.
    • Before we examine specifically on gaming industry, let's talk about the world as a whole. The world has evolved with time. Today's world is dominated by social media, internet and instant communication. The invisible wall between star(of whatever kind) and normal people are thinner than ever. For instance, a NBA superstar can talk to a random stranger on Twitter. Katy Perry singing live and chatting with fans on Youtube and so on. You will not see that in the past. People idolize differently in the past. Like Michael Jackson is seen as a God, is kept out of public at all time and BOOM when he comes on stage, fangirls will cry and faint as they finally have the chance to witness thy god in front of them. Now you can see stars on the street and it's no biggie. Internet have also created many stars who are "supposed to be regular people", not some tier-A superstar from Hollywood, so, again, idolization is much different now. Now fans and idols can talk like buddies.

      In Asia, idols have to be fan-friendly now. Long gone are the day where idols are cool, swaggy and "above all". Reality shows are very popular in Asia because fans want to see the "real life" side of idols(even though it's acting and edited, so...not really real anyway, but no one cares about that) and not merely the "stage" side.

      In wrestling, keyfabe(wrestling term; portrayal of staged events within the industry as "real" or "true", so, suspension of disbelief) is dead. Wrestlers used to stay in gimmick(wrestling term for "character") even in public or they have limited public appearance as to keep their in-ring relationship and character genuine. Now, who cares? You will see WWE superstars who are currently feuding against each other playing games together on a Youtube channel. Heel(wrestling term for bad guy) don't even have to stay heel outside the ring. They can talk and interact with fans like the face(good guy). In the past, it is the face who do all the public communcation and fans expo. Now it's everyone's job.

      So what am I saying? I am saying that the "king and peasant" relationship isn't the norm anymore in the current world. Constant communication has become the norm as the world has become more open for it. Devs no longer have to hide behind some walls in development phase of their projects. They can talk with people, have Q&A sessions and so on. You can just randomly click on a game in Steam, especially the Early Access titles with high rating, and you can see that most devs are very active, either having a lot of news on the update section of their Steam's game page OR they are talking a lot on their Steam's game discussion forum OR both. This is especially so for indie games. Indie games are like the Youtubers of the gaming industry. The people and their support made them and they are mostly fan-friendly as to keep growing their community and also to share the insight with their fans. We also have things like Vlogs and so on in this era of social media, so a ton of ways to interact with fans. Dev stream is also a good example to keep the community engaged if done well and how social media and internet has affected the entertainment industry.

      Of course, this is not saying that EVERYONE has to do it. AAA companies like Konami, Activision, EA and so on certainly can survive with them. All those companies need to do is to go aggressive and huge(as in dumping a lot of money; most AAA games have a marketing budget same as their development cost so a game developed for $50M will spend roughly that on marketing, it's very important to the success of AAA games) on their marketing campaign and they will largely do well. This is really the same strategy for any AAA companies in any entertainment industry. Does Michael Bay make good movie? F*** no, but he knows how to make a marketable commercial movie that can print cash, backing up by a strong marketing campaign. The general population aren't hard to manipulate. For instance, if you read the news today, you will see that Skyrim dev saying that "if you don't want us to keep porting Skyrim, stop buying them". That's how easy it is. People complaint but they still spend cash, and that's how AAA companies make bank. These companies can do whatever they want, they can f*** around with fans if they want to and they will not die unless they continue to do that for a very long time.

      However, without the capital to manipulate the masses, indie games(or whatever indie) has to find other ways. Well, interacting with your fans on the internet is f***ing free money-wise. It just costs you some time for what is free marketing. Indie companies also have no safety net if they fail. They are not AAA companies that can sustain for a very long time on their own. If they fail, they fail. This makes it so that keeping your fanbase happy is VERY, VERY, VERY IMPORTANT. Again, it's like being a Youtuber, you die without views. A king is nothing without a kingdom and a game will not survive without its fanbase. I hope that answers the "How Does that relationship works nowadays".

      Is it not within a game company's best interest to maintain a reasonable level of communication with their player base? As I have said before, that really depends. AAA companies has a much harder time to achieve that due to their long "chain of command". Basically, they have to communicate through like 5-10 layers for answers on whether they can do A or B, whether they can answer question C or D. A good example for this is MTG Arena. The devs are very active in communication but they cannot answer all the questions and so. Some say they are afraid to answer and some say it is their management that forbid them to answer. The latter part is very common for a big company. So, an AAA company will have a harder time on constant communication but I will say some do try to engage their player base as much as possible.

      For an indie company, I don't have to repeat that you better be communicating with your fanbase. "Reasonable" is not enough sometime, you better be "darn good" with it. A happy, engaging player base goes a very long way.
    • This 10,000 characters limit is stupid. What is a forum if I cannot write college-length essay on it?

      Is friendship and trust not developed through honesty and feasible transparency? This is a hard question. I think...it depends. For instance, I don't have to have a friendship with a certain company or even trust them to play their games. Many things are grey in this world, like I have been dragged by my friends to play some (to me, lame-ass) online games. Do I want to befriend or trust the company? F*** no, but I still played their game. It's kind of like I have to be friendly to someone I really hate because he is my girlfriend's best friend, or something like that. So, friendship and trust might not be important to a game, especially one from the big company. Like my sister plays The Sims because it is one of the kind. There are no alternative so she buys them even when they are from freaking EA. I guess one can pirate it but that's not the topic here.

      My point is, friendship and trust isn't necessarily important in some cases. It's a case-by-case thing. But yes, honesty and feasible transparency is good and many indie devs have done so nowadays. Transparency does have its own cons, like maybe one just doesn't want to share too much on the company's operation and so on, and that is understandable. A controlled amount of transparency doesn't hurt, though. Also, gamers nowadays aren't dumb and they can be very vocal. They see through bulls*** and they have lots of places to vent. Sometime, you might as well be transparent when they see through your lies. Honesty goes a long way.

      In short, honesty and feasible transparency does provide friendship and trust, but friendship and trust might not be super important in some cases. To an indie studio though, friendship and trust must just be the key most of the time.

      If a gaming company possesses an excellent product (that could use a few tweaks of improvement here and there), wouldn't proper marketing, advertisement, exposure, etc., be a highly-embraced point of interest and pursuit? Marketing is expensive, that's the key problem and the primary reason why not enough marketing are done on some games. As I have explained above, not every company has the budget to do so. Indie studios probably have to rely on "budget-friendly" ways like having the game played/reviewed by a famous Youtuber or Twitch streamer. This is why having people from MtG streaming Hex is good for us, because they expose the game to what we can assume to be the target demography.

      Side topic paragraph, skip if not interested -- This whole "game monetization" thing is actually still on the grey zone. The reason why most companies don't mind that is because they are considered free marketing to them and they are super effective, like 4x super effective(Pokemon, don't mind it), for an indie studio. If you have PewDiePie enjoying your game, your sales might just skyrocket. I say it is grey because some companies don't give a F about that. Nintendo is infamous for not letting anyone monetizate their game on Youtube and Youtube will automatically take all the ads income away from you and they go to Nintendo if you choose to monetize them. So again, grey zone, just most companies allow it for mutual benefit. Atlus also cause some drama because they don't want people to be streaming Persona 5 when it is first released. The Japanese companies can be pretty adamant on this, cultural viewpoint difference IMO.

      To the indie studios, mouth-to-mouth(more like IM to IM) from their fanbase became an effective marketing strategy and that is why you need to make your fanbase happy, so they can tell their friends about this awesome game and then you have initiated the butterfly effect.

      I would also point out that this world doesn't give a crap about the best game. Being mainstream has more impact than the gameplay quality. Heck, you don't even have to be darn good to sell a lot of copies if you are mainstream. The point is excellent product doesn't guaranteed success. There are a lot of great ideas and games in the world that has not well in the market. Hex, at the current moment, is a good example on one of the reason why being a great game isn't enough. Mismanagement can kill a game as good as the lack of advertising. Also, budget control has also killed games, especially many AAA games have caused studios to go bankrupt.

      What is gained through decreasing the amount of healthy communication with players? Nothing really. It's just pride f***ing around with their mind. To quote Marsellus Wallace, "F*** pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps." The only way more communication is hurting more than complete silence is if the developer communicates in such a manner so off-putting that he might as well shut up, which is very unlikely. Anyone can fake sincerity. Also, I am sure a certain princess(or games like No Man's Sky) can tell you all about empty hyping. It's really not that hard to engage with the player base, but at some point, you have to back your shit up.

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Goliathus ().

    • Very nice post(s). I will just add one thing: there are two other types of communication that can hurt a company, which I call "The Peter Molyneux" and "The Sean Murray." Both of them remind me very strongly of Cory Jones lately, unfortunately. All hype, no follow through. :P

      I will say again (and again and again). I don't know what the hell Dinotropia does with his time. I know he works hard, but I don't know what he is actually DOING. Whatever it is, it's the wrong thing. If it's his decision, or HexEnt's decision, it doesn't matter. They need to give whatever else he is doing to someone else, and make him the full time community manager he's supposed to be, i.e. actually managing and engaging with the community. Fun things, serious things, VISIBLE THINGS. All the time. Multiple times a day, more than one live stream a week, etc. Not just the copy and paste Dinobot. That is less than useless. It is actively hurting the company. They need a GOOD, active public presence to save their community and their game, on top of the many fixes and improvements they need to make to the game itself. Failure to do so will guarantee failure for the game as a whole (short of a buyout).
      --ossuary

      "Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."
      - Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well
    • Ossuary wrote:

      Very nice post(s). I will just add one thing: there are two other types of communication that can hurt a company, which I call "The Peter Molyneux" and "The Sean Murray." Both of them remind me very strongly of Cory Jones lately, unfortunately. All hype, no follow through. :P

      I will say again (and again and again). I don't know what the hell Dinotropia does with his time. I know he works hard, but I don't know what he is actually DOING. Whatever it is, it's the wrong thing. If it's his decision, or HexEnt's decision, it doesn't matter. They need to give whatever else he is doing to someone else, and make him the full time community manager he's supposed to be, i.e. actually managing and engaging with the community. Fun things, serious things, VISIBLE THINGS. All the time. Multiple times a day, more than one live stream a week, etc. Not just the copy and paste Dinobot. That is less than useless. It is actively hurting the company. They need a GOOD, active public presence to save their community and their game, on top of the many fixes and improvements they need to make to the game itself. Failure to do so will guarantee failure for the game as a whole (short of a buyout).
      You're not the only one who has been wondering that about Dino lately... it's so ridiculous... they bring in a known, reputable, recognizable community member as community manager - someone who the community trusts and respects already.

      And what do they do with him? Hide him away.
      Gamer. Streamer. Photographer. Writer. Anime Lover. Possessor of Stuffed Animals.

      Also... I'm terrible at this game.
    • Unbeknownst to us Hex has accidentally acquired Rick's portal gun and Jared and Dino are actually off on a sliders style adventure trying to get back to us. All the while Jared is quoting Rick but Dino keeps the light of humanity in his heart as Morty.

      Cory received an odd package with a piece of Lixils cloak with charcoal writing in Dinos had writing. " We need 2 more months. Dont release till we are back!!!!" And that is the real reason for radio silence and why folks are absent. Schwan sauce!!!
    • The company shell is one that sells prepackaged products to roaming board game geeks. Not one dealing with content devouring game hopping digital gamers.

      When money was coming in quickly, there was likely a ton of happiness and like how a lotto winner may overspend their winnings and be left with nothing, they overpromised, and did not consider the long term commitment and hard work required.

      Questions don’t need to be asked. It’s apparent now that the work was too hard and there is no longer a desire there to support the game, the community, or the dream, now that the lotto money ran dry long ago. There was no realistic way for the imagination to be harnessed by the inexperienced to deliver on the magic promised.
    • Eraia wrote:

      You're not the only one who has been wondering that about Dino lately... it's so ridiculous... they bring in a known, reputable, recognizable community member as community manager - someone who the community trusts and respects already.
      And what do they do with him? Hide him away.
      I just checked his Twitter - twitter.com/dinotropia - all those updates and retweets are a really sad memento of how Hex looked in May/June 2016 :(