Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two minutes hate: not unique to Eve Online

Before I started playing Eve Online, I was a Second Life resident. I got quite involved, too, reading blogs, forums and such. I was blogging, too, and in January 2008 I wrote this item: The Bitching Base. A few quotes:

One of the things that's really wearing me down, is the incessant bitching that can be found in certain parts of the SL userbase. Whatever Linden Labs does or doesn't, there's always complaints - usually quite vitriolic, and there's no boundaries to the ignorance or malice that will be ascribed to Linden Labs.
Either someone is complaining about ancient graphics, or someone is complaining about Windlights' greed for grapics computing power, is only about 'pretty' - or how a skin doesn't look perfect in it.

Either someone is complaining about how LL suffocates freedom in SL by instituting more and more rules, or someone else is complaining about how the lack of law enforcement or oversight enables fraudsters to steal thousands of Lindens from gullible residents.

Linden Labs always communicates too late, too early, not explicit enough, too explicit, at the wrong location, to the wrong people, didn't invite the right people, invited everyone but meeee, doesn't care about Second Life they only care about ... On and on it goes, often in the comments to blogpost at Second Life as well.
Read 'Eve Online' for 'Second Life' and 'CCP' for 'Linden Labs' and we have the exact same story in the Eve Online community, a few years later. There are really quite a few parallels between the introduction of 'Windlight' to SL and now Captains' Quarters in Eve. In both cases, the release of an improvement deemed critical by the game studio, infuriated an already dissatisfied part of the userbase. And later, in 2009 when Linden Labs changed the rules on prims and tier, again the user base exploded with rage against a developer accussed of 'not caring' and 'being after the money'- much as a part of Eve Online's userbase now says about CCP.

It's a strange phenomenon which I have now witnessed a few times: a critical, vocal user base who, provoked by a game studio's actions, goes into full rage mode. What follows is a stampede of anger, a feeding frenzy of hate and verbal violence against the developers of their game.

Like I wrote in 2008, it's perfectly possible that the complaints themselves are justified, that's not the point here. It's the seething anger which I don't get.

But I am working on that, I have a 'Dr. Phil' theory! Often the most vocal users are the ones who are the most passionate about the game. They are deeply involved, they care, it is a big part of their life. But in the end, they are just users like everybody else - and the developer can, if they so chose, do whatever they like to the users' beloved game. Users who deeply care, who are committed, are - in the end - powerless to stop a development they deem (very) objectionable. There's a lot of potential for frustration and anger there, as impotent users rail at a game studio who really can't be stopped.

Second Life survived the turmoil of 2008 and 2009 and turned 8 years old recently. According to their own claims, Linden Labs had the best quarter in their company history in 2011. It's going to be interesting to see whether CCP can survive the current onslaught of community anger.

(edited for spelling and clarity - Sered)

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