A principle sometimes used to contrast economics and politics is that exit is more powerful than voice. That is, the capacity to take your business elsewhere has a stronger influence on most companies than asking them to change things. This is contrasted with politics because your exit options are smaller in political situations: you might leave your town, but things need to get pretty dire before you leave your country. (It is a related truism that you can quickly judge the freedom and prosperity of a society by which way the border guards face. No one was trying to sneak into East Germany.)
Gamers treasure voice. I mean, here we are on an online gaming blog, so we talk at length about what we like and would prefer. The advantage of voice is that you can send a more precise message. “I think it was a bad idea to add the Living World PvE content to the WvW zones. Please remove it.” Exit is a blunt weapon: you leave, and the company can draw its own conclusions. Of course, the discerning company is going to draw its own conclusions anyway, because what people say and what they do often differ (another major economic principle).
This is a common MMO concern and disconnect: activity X is not fun; an incentive is added to activity X; more people do X; the company now believes X is popular, rather than realizing it has pushed itself into a death spiral of teaching players its game is not fun; players exercise voice by explaining that X is bad content, while the company’s internal metrics show that players are spending an increasing amount of time doing X. Most developers think they are discerning, including (especially?) the ones that make bad enough decisions to make exit your preferred choice.
Economist Bryan Caplan recently quoted Peter Gray in an explanation of how exit applies to a single server/match/whatever, rather than my comments about game development as a whole:
Lesson 1: To keep the game going, you have to keep everyone happy. The most fundamental freedom in all true play is the freedom to quit. In an informal game, nobody is forced to stay, and there are no coaches, parents, or other adults to disappoint if you quit. The game can continue only as long as a sufficient number of players choose to continue. Therefore, everyone must do his or her share to keep the other players happy, including the players on the other team.
This means that you show certain restraints in an informal game beyond those dictated by the stated rules…
Some players take driving off others as a point of pride, “qq they ragequit lol.” After all, matchmaking systems are frequently designed to feed new sheep to the wolves; if you drive everyone from your map, new victims will come along. When you do not have an incoming supply, say on a playground or other place where people must actively opt into a particular server/destination, Bryan’s observation applies better, as it might to guilds, events, etc.:
Under normal circumstances, the mere threat to quit is enough to elicit civilized behavior from all participants.
Reference Shadowbane, the PvP game that someone won. The losers left. The game shut down.