Positive Affects and Effects

To adapt a line from Scott Adams, what matters is how many people love your game, not how many people hate your game.

If you make the best MMO ever, the most popular MMO ever, there will still be approximately 300 million Americans and 6.5 billion other people who will not be playing your game. That is your best case scenario. Even amongst gamers, most will not play it, and you will be ridiculously successful if you can get most MMORPG players to download the trial. Even if you are the WoW-killer, your game is still a niche in a niche.

This is a freeing insight. It does not matter how many people hate your game. Their dislike has no more effect on your success than the indifferent billions. Your game is not going to be all things to all people or even most things to 0.2% of people. You can focus on the base and make the game for them, rather than trying to reduce the scorn of people who are never going to be on your side anyway.

It does not matter how many people hate Darkfall. They quite happily fill a niche that has some very passionate support. It does not matter how many people hate Twilight. Stephenie Meyer is making her millions from the people who love it. It does not matter how many people hate xkcd or Rob Liefeld or Justin Bieber or the New York Yankees (although you can monetize some of that anti-fandom).

For the success of your game, vaguely positive is the same as indifferent is the same as opposed is about the same as vocal hatred. They are all non-subscribers. The people who matter are the ones who will play your game, who will pay to support it, who will recruit their friends and set up fan sites and build support tools and run in-game events. Unless you actually do suck, you get ahead by increasing your positives, not decreasing your negatives.

: Zubon

12 thoughts on “Positive Affects and Effects”

  1. Oversimplified and not exactly accurate in the MMO genre IMO.

    How many people avoid Vanguard on the simple fact they believe the game is going to shut down? How many people avoid it because they heard it was really buggy (at launch, years ago)? How many people avoid Darkfall because they read on a forum that you get ganked 24/7 as a noob and all combat is like a CS knife fight? How many people are going to avoid Mortal Online because the beta was a shitshow? How many potential customers did Mythic lose because months after it was no longer the case, the perception of WAR was that it was nothing but a scenario-grind?

    I think you were more on-point in an earlier post, where you stated that devs should not be influenced by those who will never be customers but rage about the game. I disagree however that the same can be said about player to player communication. Due to how social (most) MMOs are, the opinions of others, current customer or not, are in fact important in influencing the overall opinion of a game. I’m not saying a dev team has to spent a huge amount of time/resources trying to mold their games image, but you can’t totally ignore it either, especially if you have made significant changes and fixed issues that are still being perpetrated by the general MMO gaming community.

    How you do it is another issue, but I don’t believe you can sit in your happy customer-only bubble and ignore everything else.

    1. Fair, although that is about managing perceptions rather than actually changing the game. I would have been more on-target by framing “not caring what they think” as not developing for those people rather than not worrying about slander.

      In fairness, with some of those examples you gave, I did say, “Unless you actually do suck…”

    2. Well.. His point is that it doesn’t matter HOW MANY people dislike your game. Your point is more that it matters WHO doesn’t like your game. So I would say you are both right.

      If your core audience and target market doesn’t like your game — that’s a problem, no matter how many people are included in that group.

      Likewise, a single very prominent and outspoken individual can lay waste to a game/book/movie with criticism.

      That said, neither of these things matters at all if you have a very solid and vocal group of supporters. As Apple proved, even a small group can keep a company alive until the company can reinvent itself.

  2. Anyone in the actual business who needed this pointed out to them would have been in the business for only an infinitesimal amount of time, thus rendering it a merely academic point for nerds like us who aren’t in the business.

    1. Established business have never failed by trying to be all things to all people rather than focusing on its core customers, and non-customers do not demand that every business suit their preferences whether or not they will ever spend money there. Check.

      1. As you say (and as I said) such businesses fail. Also, such non-customers are by definition not-in-the-business. Check indeed. Check. In. Deed. -_-

        1. You’re free to make whatever arguments you want, but if counter-examples to what you’re saying are on our front page, you might address them. Also, a commenter above you calls this obviously wrong rather than trivially obvious. Let’s you and him fight.

  3. “Pirates aren’t your customers”, writ differently, perhaps? Make the people willing to pay happy first, then deal with other things if you have the time and money. Stardock seems to do well enough focusing on those who like their games.

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