Game Companies, Stop Micromanaging Players

office space bossIf you have spent anytime playing video games, you might start to feel like a game can bully your sense of independence or freedom. Sometimes game developers can place too much focus on patches and updates that hinder player behavior to the point that it can frustrate the community. While some titles have legitimate issues post-launch, it seems that most balancing issues should be found during testing (I already wrote about internal testing, so maybe it doesn’t happen enough). Players can start to feel like we are testing the games for them in a strange experiment.

We aren’t paying beta testers

Part of the frustration for the way some companies make changes is that it feels like a glorified beta test. They analyze the behavior of the community, see where there is imbalance or what they consider exploitative and they patch accordingly. Granted, some actual unintended bugs or issues may need patched in any game, but games like Destiny are proving to more concerned about fine tuning every nook and cranny of the weapons, economy, and leveling, than just providing a fun experience. Some might say that the changes in Destiny have been improvements, and they aren’t necessarily wrong in seeing it that way. While there can be some benefit from this type of continual tweaking, as a game improves on functions or aspects that aren’t working as intended, it can still start to feel like the goal posts keep moving. Especially when players invest lots of time upgrading and leveling their character or items only to have them change at the whims of some faceless development team.

Boosting doesn’t matter

Too often quality control and patching gets bogged down in fixing exploits or boosting paths that some gamers are determined to find and use. The reason this doesn’t matter is because these gamers ruin their own experience. Obviously exploits need patched in PVP games, but for games where boosting doesn’t affect a players ability to beat another player, it shouldn’t matter. I heard someone once recommend that you could complete reading assignments much faster if you just read the first and last sentence of every paragraph. Does this mean an author should focus on being just incoherent enough so this speed reading method doesn’t work? Absolutely not, and the same applies to game developers. I already talked about how incentives drive player behavior more than restrictions in PVP shooters, and that sentiment applies here as well. Rather than worry about stopping people from using an op weapon or exploiting that one over looked mission that gives out too much xp, focus on incentives and rewards as a means to change player behavior. You want players to feel they are choosing their own paths and methods of moving forward in your game. So stop micromanaging and start incentivizing.

Freedom = Fandom

The more free and empowered gamers feel within the worlds you create, the more likely they will be dedicated fans of your game and franchise. If they feel punished, restricted, or as I outlined above, like a paying beta tester, then loyalty is highly unlikely. The more organic the experience, the more immersive the game, the more memorable your title and brand will be. Just be sure to give us freedom as well as direction, as I’ve already said elsewhere.

What’s your opinion on game companies micromanaging your experience? If you liked this entry please share it on facebook or twitter.

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