Editorial Note – This is not a hatchet job directed at gamers in general, but more a discussion of how negative fan interaction is detrimental to the industry from a vocal minority.
Negativity in the gaming industry and fan base is nothing new, with the Fez 2 debacle which lead to Phil Fish cancelling the entire project citing an unwillingness to put up with “abuse”, or the repulsive threats suffered by David Vonderhaar, Studio Design Director at Treyarch regarding a comparatively minor patch to the settings of an in-game weapon (summed up in a thought-provoking article entitled “Swimming in a sea of shit” by Penny Arcade’s Ben Kuchera, which has since been deleted) being prime examples of the toxic effects of this negative fan interaction. Please be aware, that I’m not attacking criticism – that’s part of my job description – but how “fan” backlash without forethought is affecting gaming.
The latest incident in this trend involves Sports Interactive’s studio director Miles Jacobsen and “fans” of the SI franchise with the upcoming Football Manager game (FM2014) regarding preview copies being released to professional footballers and celebrities prior to the scheduled release at the end of the month.
#FM14preview seems to be floating around on twitter, with members of the industry, professional footballers and even Nick Frost (who you may remember from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.) apparently having preview copies.
For the record, Coin Arcade, nor any of it’s staff received a copy, despite requesting an early review copy from SI, yet we have not found it necessary to verbally attack anyone.
Following a deluge of interaction with fans @MilesSI explained that professional footballers opinions on the game were important to the games development to an ever increasing number of Twitter users. To be fair, there’s an element of this that’s probably true. Football Manager games have always been developed with the use of expert opinions, be they from real-life professional players, managers, scouts, etc. Which has played a large part in the acclaimed realism the game manages to create, which has been noted by many within the industry, myself included. However, I’m relatively confident there is a PR element to this as well. It should go without saying that players of the calibre Kyle Walker, an England international no less, work wonders for the promotion of an upcoming title and create brand awareness.
What followed was a series of snarky comments, verbal abuse and just sheer unnecessary whining by a vocal minority who believe that they are entitled to a preview copy before release, who failed to answer the question before posting of “What do I do for the game, by having it before release?”
Instead of coming to the conclusion of “nothing more than play testing” that they should have, they instead took to twitter making comments (which have been copied without editing, however names have been removed) such as:
“Miles who does Football Manager talks to the games fans like shit. #wanker”
“What an egotistical pompous prick. Keep kissing footballers arses by sending them free copies of FM.”
In addition to a literal barrage of comments requesting free copies, early copies, etc..
Clearly these people did not ask themselves the aforementioned question. I can sort of understand their frustrations, they are eagerly anticipating the game and some of them may have been playing it since Keiron Dyer was the next big thing, but this isn’t only idiotic, it’s counter-intuitive. Yelling at Miles or any other member of SI’s staff isn’t exactly going to get you anywhere but a blocked list and is only going to detriment interaction between the developer and the rest of the fan base who seem able to act like rational human beings.
@MilesSI responded to these with a tweet clearly showing his frustration with these comments, which were becoming less critical and much more just repetitive requests for a copy of the game. Linking people to further tweets that gave expected release dates for the game, demo and beta versions, despite this he is still receiving a large number of tweets asking for them. Being a fan of something doesn’t make you entitled or the developers beholden to you, I’ve been a fan of the FM Series for a few years now, that in it’s own right does not mean that I should get a copy before everyone else, otherwise, what is the point of having release dates?
Game Devs are people too and having a bunch of their own “fans” being abusive or constantly asking pointless questions isn’t helpful or wanted. Especially with the game that everyone wants released due to be released in just over two weeks. So just think before you tweet.
That’s just my two cents.
Football Manager release dates can be found here.