BioWare Community Manager Says Hostile Replies Make Developers Less Likely To Engage

In a recent post on the Anthem subreddit, BioWare community manager Jesse Anderson explained that the increasing negativity has driven some of the game’s developers away from wanting to interact directly with players, demonstrating what a fraught relationship the constant feedback demands of Reddit can create.

“To start, things used to be a lot friendlier here for dev team members who normally don’t talk on social channels or forums,” Anderson wrote in response to a long post critical of BioWare’s dwindling communication. “They could answer questions, give information and know that they aren’t going to have people getting upset at them.”

He went on:

Why would a dev team member take time away from working on the next update to post when they know it’s likely to be met with hostile replies, or they get flamed because [they] can’t answer other questions that players are asking? I don’t mind posting here when things aren’t so nice, but that’s because it’s my job. For the devs it isn’t their job, and I’d like to ask that people remember that when replying to them. When some people say "be nice or the devs will stop posting" it’s 100% true.

During the final stretch of Anthem’s development, some of its developers such as lead producer Ben Irving and development manager Camden Eagar could frequently be found commenting directly in the subreddit, explaining mechanics and thought processes.

In the last two weeks, as the negativity on the subreddit has hit an all-time high, posts by those same developers have become much rarer.

Anderson’s post struck a chord with a lot of commenters in the thread. “I love the updates, but THIS is the most important thing out of the entire post honestly,” read one of the most upvoted responses.

“I’ve seen it with every game I’ve played. The devs jump in, have open discussions, share ideas and talk about areas of improvement etc. Then the toxicity of the community comes along and ruins everything.”

“I wish players would stop chasing away the devs,” it concluded.


Comments

    Don't release a rubbish game, don't get hostile customer feedback.

    Just look at the response to The Division 2 vs Anthem. The reactions from customers is night and day.

      I think its particulary worth noting the 2 in The Division 2. Anthem was biowares first attempt at a game as a service of this kind. The Division 1 was not without its problems.

      Presumably they're not talking about people simply saying they don't like the game though. There's lots of examples of negativity in the form of personal attacks against individual developers, voice actors, etc (often in cases where the individual had no control over what is being complained about). That kind of thing is toxic, and I'd want to stay away from it too.

        That's a good point and it kinda comes down to how you define "nice". I think a better phrasing from Anderson would have been "polite". Nice implies only saying nice things eg: "oh its a great game". Polite implies that you can say negative things but respectfully like "the game has a problem with weapon balance" but NOT negative things disrespectfully eg: "your game sucks and you suck".

        Polite, constructive criticism is the key to resolving issues. Sadly a lot people on forums seem to think that calling the devs idiots and insulting their work is the same thing :(

          He specifically calls out "hostile replies" and "flaming developers for not being able to answer a question" as examples of what he is talking about. I think he is fairly clear what he means by "nice" in this context.

      Can we have the combat of Anthem with some of the mechanics of Division 2.

      I've been playing Division 2 for maybe 8 hours now, and I'm already sick of the combat.
      Anthem I played for maybe 30 hours, and never got tired of the combat.

      While Anthem is not close to perfect, I think there was this stupidly negative/toxic fervour with Anthem which was just not justified.

      Just because you might consider a game release poor is absolutely no excuse to be hostile with your feedback.

    They knew this since at least SWTOR, they also knew that people don't like a shit product and yet still are more than happy to deliver them.

    You feed flames you get burnt, not surprised.

    Repeat after me everyone:
    F**k Reddit.
    Reddit posts are not the voice of everyone and should stop being treated as such.
    They are the voice of people who enjoy loudly complaining about things on the internet.

      Nonsense. The Ubisoft "For Honor" team particaully their "Community Manager" directly interacts with the community on their reddit and it's generally a pretty productive time with a lot of back and fourth.

      The reddit crew streamlines the recent patches and game changes into a readable state every week too which is very handy for those of us that wanna keep up without piling through pages and pages of notes.

      What a load of crap. Reddit can be sour just like anywhere on the net. It it can also be very positive.

      Last edited 16/03/19 9:07 pm

      Eh that's super generalising. Some subreddits are full of complainers, some are not, (or the complainers get called out by other members).

    Release a decent game and maybe you'll have the pride and content to backup your claims and debunk the complaints. Surely they know they've shit the bed with Anthem.

    Can't just scam your customers and then expect to be met with all positivity, those people are pissed off because the developers have not done the right thing in the first place. Having worked in a creative industry for a very long time, you need the "smack-down" as i call it, the harshest criticism is always the most honest.

    The part about "I've seen it in every game iv'e played" is absolute bullshit. The ONLY place this happens is with games where the developers barely reply and are most often sitting on the most gigantic high horses. take for example blizzard, who romp in only when a thread gets too big and makes gaming news, tells the customers they are wrong then piss off without even so much as a slight engagement.

    Larian Studios (makers of the Divinity series) are an amazing example of how you can have a hugely positive audience with nothing but positive interaction with players by being transparent about everything and talk at a face to face level.

      Can't just scam your customers and then expect to be met with all positivity

      What scam?

      Yes the game has issues and they really dropped the ball but there was no scam... ALSO, and perhaps more importantly, it is just as important (if not more so) for consumers to protect themselves before buying a game. So even if there was a scam, if the consumer actually used their brains and did their research they wouldnt be conned. But seemingly some dont have that level of reality. Why bother using your brains and exercising caution, when you can just jump in blinding and scream that others are in the wrong later. Because lets face it, with this game, there wasnt even good reviews, so if you bought it, that is kinda on the gamer.

      EG during the demos and Access the game would barely ever launch, yet I still didnt cancel my preorder. So after launch every time I still got that error, I know and accept THAT IS ON ME. Sure the devs should fix the damn thign already, they are at fault to a degree, but also, I was the moron who still bought it on 'faith', THAT IS ON ME. Some gamers just keep blaming devs, yet fail to blame themselves for not heeding the many warnings

        OMG.....are you really arguing that it’s the consumers fault for buying a broken game because there were issues prior to launch? The pre launch stuff that is designed to find and fix said issues?

        That is some seriously dumb shit.

          Yes. Not entirely. But still some, yes. Anyone who has ever bought any games ever knows that is always a risk, especially with always online games right out of the gate. It shouldnt happen, but does. Thats just simply reality. Game devs producing subpar products, that is entire on them. Naturally. BUT Buying something you know is going to be busted by reading/watching/research before you buy it, and then still going through with it and buying and then to whine about it. THAT is on you, the consumer. There are many ways as a game consumer to protect yourself before you spend money, if you choose not to do any of it, that is all on you.

        The real scam is EA not tooling the engine there forcing every dev bar Respawn from using. Frostbite is a good engine, but when the devs are spending more time on making the toolkit to build the game than actually building the game, you end up with trash games.

        I don't think you deserve the massive downvoting you got. While I do agree with others that the devs should fix the issues, you are dead right. If there are a ton of negative reports and reviews and you choose to ignore them then it's on your own head.

        "Don't buy that, it's buggy and sucks at the moment"

        "Imma buy it anyway! OMG it sucks! Why does it suck!"

        *facepalm*

          What you are doing is called victim blaming. It's generally frowned upon.

            Rubbish. There's a difference between victim blaming and being a savvy consumer. Especially in an age where the reviews are so easy to see. If you can't take five minutes to look for them before buying something then you deserve what you get.

          I guess the only real problem here would be the massive push for pre-orders, leaving consumers understandably tilted when they receive their game to play. So I guess there is a lesson to learn about "investing" in a video game. I never picked it up as I had my assumptions and personally it looks like it paid off.

            That comment I do agree with. You're paying before there are reviews (I've done the same with a kickstarter). But again, I'll say that you're taking the risk. Essentially the consumers are taking a punt that the game won't turn out crap.

            Would you buy a car without seeing it as a finished product?

              HAHAHAHA eff no I wouldn't, another reason I don't buy into this pre-release garbage. That said I will go against everything I stand for when Sekiro gets released this week. So much juice.

        Not sure why you have so many downvotes my man. You make sense.

    Sure the game should have been left to cook longer. Sure the game has issues and sure EA and Bioware really dropped the ball, but once again I have to say the very worse thing about Anthem are gamers. The mass hysteria from the loot stuff was frankly embarrassing, yes there is more work to be done there, but the depth and the level of the outrage was simply out of scale with the reality of the situation.

    I truly believe some gamers really have lost perspective of the true importance of the game they are playing and they most definitely loss sight that the people they are rubbishing (simply because their idea of fun is difference than theirs) are actually real people just doing their jobs. And if anyone was to treat those gamers with the same lack of respect in their job, they most definitely wouldnt be so tough then.

      I doubt many of those gamers who are rubbishing game devs have actual jobs. I have been playing the game when I can make the time for it for periods of 1 to 2 hours and I have had fun with it everytime. Sure there are problems and some main missions are grindy as... but the core experience is fun and I am sure the devs can build something great on this strong foundation.

    Hostile replies make developers less likely to engage?
    Funny, dodgy marketing and PR nonsense more likely to make people reply with hostility...

    So the path to less hostility is in your fucking hands, you can't expect people not to be angry when you don't want to give up the bloody practices making them frustrated in the first place.

      Aww you beat me to it... What they said

      And how are developers responsible for dodgy marketing and PR nonsense? Why be abusive towards the people who are trying their best to make the game better?

      If someone frustrated at PR and marketing is taking it out on a programmer or designer, that's entirely on that person. Companies aren't monoliths, they're made up of a whole lot of completely different people. Being angry or frustrated may or may not be justified, but being abusive towards someone who had nothing to do with what you're frustrated about is completely inappropriate.

        I'd also add that being frustrated and angry about it is fine. But simply abusing the devs is not going to get it fixed. There is a tremendous difference between a negative comment and a hostile one. Outline the problems in a polite manner without name calling. If the devs still refuse to comment at that point, then you know the devs suck :P

    No use engaging the community if there's no constructive feedback. What kind of person wants to abuse developers on reddit when that line of communication could be used for good?

    When they don't post everyone's upset. When they do the vocal and toxic minority blow it up.

    Amazing how many people here think it’s reasonable behaviour to attack developers, be toxic, abusive - all because a game they bought doesn’t match their expectations. It’s the very definition of bloated consumer entitlement.
    There is no justification for toxic behaviour. None.
    Game isn’t up to your standards? Oh the humanity.
    Fucking grow up.

      Depends on what they consider "hostile".
      Seems these days companies feel they can just label any criticism as toxicity and live in an echo chamber.
      They could just engage in one-way communication for a while if their feelings are getting bruised.

      While in general your sentiment is correct, I refer you to the Mass Effect 3 ending debacle. Where consumers went "this ending is a dumb pile of excrement, and here are all the reasons from a writing perspective where you failed."

      Developers: You're wrong.

      It's a two way street. Don't release crappy games, and you get criticised for doing so. It's a pretty simple formula.

        'Don't abuse other people' is an even simpler formula. This isn't about criticism and never was; it's about the way criticism is delivered. 'I'll have basic human decency when I talk to you' isn't a bargaining chip to be exchanged for favours from the other side, nor should it be a threat made if people don't get what they want. It's the minimum expected behaviour.

          Oh, I wholeheartedly agree. But the definition of what is "toxic" is what I'm talking about. I don't know what kind of stuff has been going on with Anthem, but again with ME3, there was a lot of intelligent and reasoned debate, which the devs/EA brushed off as "the whining of entitled fans" or otherwise generally went "we don't give a hoot about your opinion."

          When it comes to genuine toxicity, abuse, or hurling of insults, yes, I absolutely agree that it's unacceptable. But people getting upset that they can't play a game because it's crashing all the time or it's clunky as hell - that's justifiable.

        Yeah being critical in a reasonable way is pretty different from abusing someone but attacking developers is all kinds of stupid - it’s more the publishers and their shareholders that cause games to be rush released or released in an unfinished state.
        In the case of ME3 it was the developers decision re: the ending, but there are likely other factors also, other people making decisions.
        I feel like many gamers seize the opportunity to rant at developers without ever considering that it might not be their fault directly.

    Hostility doesn't make people more open to communication?

    Colour me shocked!

    I thought the title read 'Hostile Reptiles'

      Bahahahahaaha I read it exactly the same way and I’m like what? Reptiles?

    The game sucks donkey balls big time, I'm trading it in for Division 2. I never trade in games I like to collect them but seeing this game on my shelf just hits me deep and personally, it has potential but I guess the crew who made the game have different ideas. To have very little rewards for doing missions and in game stuff, is just not worth it. After spending over 2 hours the other night and not getting anything with a higher level, I'm done I hate this game now.

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