For the longest time, I was primarily a supporter of very large, very Japanese developers. Nintendo, Enix, Konami. Those guys who didn’t really care what the Western fanbase wanted (or so it seemed to my ill-informed young mind). Honestly, half the time, it still seems like they don’t care. I mean, hell, look at Operation Rainfall. These guys have been trying for months to get three ‘core’ titles released for the Wii, two of which are coming to Europe! And what did they get? They got a post on the Nintendo facebook page saying there aren’t any plans to localize the games, but hey, don’t stop buying our stuff. What I’m saying is this: They were old, traditional companies ran by old, traditional people.
Fast-forward a few years. I started to play more Western games because my computer could actually handle them. I began taking a greater interest in the companies who brought me my entertainment because they weren’t as shrouded in mystery, which is something that Nintendo’s still infamous for. But then… Then I started to really get invested in two particular games (and by extension their companies): League of Legends and Minecraft.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’ve never seen the developers answer questions and requests before. I mean, I played World of Warcraft for a few years. I was used to the devs coming out and talking to us. But Riot and Mojang do it differently. Let’s start with some of the best examples I have, courtesy of Riot.
About a month ago, Surprise Party Fiddlesticks was released. This came as a massive victory to the fans because, as I assume most of you know, fans created the idea. The actual model and sounds were the work of Riot, but if it wasn’t for GreenEyedMonster’s post on the forums, we wouldn’t have what I consider the best legendary skin out there.
A bit before that, someone had suggested on the forums that Pantheon’s Spear Shot should deal critical hits when smacking about an enemy with only a bit of health left. They listed a decent number of reasons why and, within a patch or two, it was in. Not only did Riot let the fans help design a massively popular vanity item, they also let fans influence the game itself. Looking at this from someone else’s point of view, it’s not that big. “So they got some support and Riot changed the game, so what?”
This was absolutely mind-blowing to me, coming from my background of dealing with big faceless companies who didn’t give a damn whether you were happy or not, so long as you bought their product. I’m not saying that Iwata and Miyamoto don’t care about us, but overall, Nintendo is infinitely more opaque than companies like Riot.
Now, let’s take a look at Mojang. This is probably the greatest example of a company being able to effectively use stuff like social media and reddit and whatnot to deal with the community. Remember back when the Endermen were revealed? Someone on reddit suggested that, while wearing a pumpkin, you should be able to look at Endermen safely. Go on and try it. It works. Then, when 1.8 came out, Endermen dropped the really useless Enderpearl item. Everyone on r/Minecraft was posting about how it could be used. Enderchests that shared items between themselves, the ability to teleport back home, the ability to teleport at all! Well, Notch (or perhaps Jeb) went and added teleportation. Sure, it comes with a cost, but… Again. We got to directly influence the game. This isn’t even taking into account the release of the Enderdragon’s model, when r/Minecraft posters threw up a mockup of it looking infinitely less derpy. Or the handful of AMAs from Riot staff.
We’re legitimately changing the game. The developers are listening. We’re not dealing with big, faceless corporations that don’t care about us. Our input finally matters.
Also, we’re getting an armored bear in a few days.