Tobold's Blog
Thursday, September 03, 2015
 
Entitlement

Azuriel is complaining in this post that "When you use the word “entitlement” as a pejorative, all you are doing is asserting that someone has unreasonable expectations about something, without actually bothering to offer an argument or explanation as to why it is unreasonable.". Well, I'd be only too happy to offer an argument and explanation of gamer entitlement.

A game is an entertainment product. Somebody produces it, a process which involves cost, mostly in the form of manpower cost. Then he is trying to sell or otherwise monetize the resulting product. If he manages to make a profit, he can then produce the next game. If he doesn't make a profit, sooner or later he has to shut down shop and stop making games.

The gamer in this story is the customer. His value as a customer to the game developer is proportional to the amount of money that he is spending on the game. Whether the gamer is "a big fan", or "plays the game for hundreds of hours", or "is really skillful at this game" is largely irrelevant. It doesn't pay the developer's bills. The effect a "fan" has on sales by promoting the game is frequently rather small and insignificant.

The problem with entitlement is frequently that gamers think that the time they spent playing a game entitles them to special consideration by the game developer, in spite of them not having contributed more financially to the game than other players. They demand more content than the purchase price of the game justifies, they demand special exclusive content designed just for their needs, they even demand changes to the game that keeps other players out or restricts the content those other players can use.

I do think that there are cases where a player is entitled to be heard by the developers, for example if he spent $5000+ on the Crowfall alpha access diamond bundle. I do not think that somebody who is paying the same amount of money as everybody else, but is playing the game more, is entitled to any special consideration. That gamer already got more bang for his bucks by playing more, why should he receive any further favors without paying for them? The game is a product that is sold "as is", you take it or leave it. Game developers don't owe you anything unless you gave them a lot of money some way. It is unreasonable to demand special consideration from game developers without special financial engagement.

Comments:
I would disagree in only one area. A lot of games are sold today not as a product but as a service. In those cases the customer expects a quality "service" just like they would expect from any other service. Games that the developers bill as a service should be held to a different standard then something that is just a product. Diablo 3 comes to my mind as a good game that is using a "service" model. The latest Simcity would be on the opposite end of that.

Otherwise you are spot on. The only thing gamers are entitled to is to receive something that is in working condition, just like any other product.
 
I don't know if I agree with that.
On the one hand I do agree that the customers do not 'deserve' or have the right to get more. They did buy the product as is.

That said, I don't think that means they don't have the right to complain. A complaining customer is still someone who cares enough to stay and wants more + all the complaints combined will have useful feedback. Without the complaining a lot more people would just leave
 
It seems someone feels entitled http://tobolds.blogspot.hu/2015/09/minor-comfort-feature.html to more ore and herbs than other players just because he flies around more, while paying the same subscription.

Mining and Herbalism will NEVER come back. They were killed by Garrison Mine/Garden on purpose, because the exclusive ore and herbs in the garrison give equal income to everyone. Deal with it, you basement dwelling no lifer nerd!
 
I mostly agree when games are products. You buy the game and at that point the entire investment is sunk. You aren't entitled to anything extra. You paid for what you got so you got what you paid for. The only exception would be where you were mis-sold on an expectation that materially differs from the end product.

I disagree when games are considered to be services. You are no longer making a one-off payment but a series of transactions to maintain the relationship. The user is entitled to an input and consideration on how the service provides value for both parties. That's why the games-as-services argument is silly.
 
They demand more content than the purchase price of the game justifies, they demand special exclusive content designed just for their needs, they even demand changes to the game that keeps other players out or restricts the content those other players can use.

So in short, as a player you have to shut up, never criticize the game and pack up and leave in silence if you don't like it?
 
The user is entitled to an input and consideration on how the service provides value for both parties.

I have lots of service providers, e.g. for my telephone and internet, or for the electricity and gas in my house. Have you ever tried to even *contact* one of your service providers? It is nearly impossible, you'll end up in endless telephone answering machine loops until you finally get to speak to a guy in Bangalore who has no idea how to help you. Why would games be any different? If you don't like the service, you can try to find a better provider. Other than that you aren't entitled to any input.
 
So in short, as a player you have to shut up, never criticize the game and pack up and leave in silence if you don't like it?

I never said that. You are entitled to complain as much as you want. You just aren't entitled to anybody listening to those complaints.
 
Correct. but hey, gamers are special when it comes to their fandom and emotions towards a product, we've all been there. ;) I think some are also mentally stagnating in an era where gaming was still this geeky niche and everyone, devs and gamers, cozied up together.

Something I find interesting about the entitlement issue is that as you say, a product has already been exchanged for cash - yet, there is the underlying assumption that this deal is somehow unfinished. Something is still owed, as if the money I am paying is too high for what I received in return?
Subs are even trickier, they really feel like an investment deal to players, a forward payment rather than status quo /backward payment.
 
His value as a customer to the game developer is proportional to the amount of money that he is spending on the game.

If this were true, why do you suppose any game developer bothers to communicate to their customers at all, in any fashion? Clearly the game companies themselves put a dollar amount of value on engaging with their customers, else they would not do so.

As others have mentioned - and you yourself have exclaimed many a time - games aren't products anymore, they are services. And the difference between game services and telephone companies that are fine redirecting you to call centers in India, is the fact that reputation/good will/etc makes up a huge portion of the value of a game company or IP. Depending on your area, you might be stuck with Comcast or maybe one other telephone company. Meanwhile, nobody at all is stuck with one particular MMO or game.

The game is a product that is sold "as is", you take it or leave it.

That is not even remotely true anymore. Games are updated with patches all the time, which can include balance considerations (or more!) based on player feedback. Was Mass Effect 3 packaged "as-is?" Nope, Bioware changed the entire ending structure based on player feedback, including their roll-out of DLC. And the game was better for it.

In any case, my greater criticism with the word "entitlement" is how it's so often used as a shortcut in arguments. It's like calling something "bad game design" without bothering to present an argument that that is actually the case. Why is it bad? What would have been better? Of course, there are people on the other side who throw out insane suggestions or have the expectation that a game will be built entirely around themselves. Simply dismissing them as "entitled" though, does not dismiss the arguments they make (assuming they made any).
 
The gaming world has become more complex than that.

Players who pay no money in a F2P game are often part of the product. If a game looks "dead" then the people who do pay for it, won't.

Also, fan sites often pay with their time and passion. A form of free advertising or customer engagement. That is why a game company has community managers and fan site programs. Without these types of non-monetary systems, the engagement is less, a game population diminishes and... well, see my last point.
 
I do not believe you addressed Azuriel's statement at all, which stated that people use the word "entitlement" without backing it up, but rather went off in your own direction about who you personally believe developers should listen to. Those are two related concepts, but your post doesn't come all that close to his point.

Of course, your statement went off into its own narrow little corner, assuming that dollars spent is the only measure by which a gamer has value to a developer. So a guild leader, who keeps a group of players together and happy and paying for a game longer, has no more value than somebody who buys the box and then plays for a couple months?

Put a little more thought into this please. I bet you can come up with other examples of players who paid exactly the same about of money as everybody else, yet bring more value to the game. Not even just in MMOs. How about people who run fan sites or create mods?
 
"The effect a "fan" has on sales by promoting the game is frequently rather small and insignificant."

A certain blog kept a certain MMO online for months longer than it would have lasted otherwise, and personally was a rather significant factor in said MMO getting a sequel. Said blog also made quiet a bit more than a cup of coffee off said agreement.

And as much as I generally dislike them, it would be hard to ague with the influence a top streamer has, or major eSport stars. Valve and Riot aren't spending millions yearly on a tiny, tiny subset of their playerbase without a damn good reason, and that reason is ultimately 'these players make us a lot more money than the average gamer'.
 
Said blog also made quiet a bit more than a cup of coffee off said agreement.

We should report that to Gamergate. This is clearly an example of corruption in video game journalism!

I bet you can come up with other examples of players who paid exactly the same about of money as everybody else, yet bring more value to the game.

I can come up with a million examples. Hey, I myself contributed to some games in terms of publicity, and I even had a few devs asking me my opinion. But my point is that in the larger picture that contribution isn't really all that important. We, the people who try to contribute to make games better, have an often very inflated opinion of ourselves and the value of our contribution.

As long as we are talking extreme niche games, maybe we can. We can promote Darkfall or A Tale in the Desert and have a measurable effect, because our monthly pageviews are larger than the number of players of these games. But often we are talking about games the size of World of Warcraft, Destiny, or League of Legends. A game that can afford full-page magazine ads doesn't need word of mouth promotion.

And even if we managed to somehow make a contribution, I still don't think that entitles us to demand major changes in a game. I never said players can make absolutely no contribution to a game, but the small contributions they do make do not entitle them to a place at the development table. I can make a contribution to the success of a restaurant by picking up some trash in front of it, but that doesn't entitle me to change their menu!
 
I have occasionally fantasized that if I e.g. won the lottery, I'd try to pay Blizz to design/animate/etc/release certain things that I want (I want a proper black pajamas style ninja costume, not something I cobble together out of various uncommon quality gear that doesn't really look right. I want a black and a blue version of both Firelands mounts, stuff like this).

More to the point, I don't think Tobold and Azuriel are in as much disagreement as it might first appear. Azuriel's point about overuse of a term is a very common problem in all internet reporting and commentary, and Tobold's point that entitlement is an actual problem is also succinctly made.
 
What SynCaine said. The idea that fans don't have significant influence over company fortunes, particularly in entertainment media, is very 20th Century. We don't live in that world any more. We live increasingly in a culture driven by fandom.

Older people, even older gamers, who like to think they are part of that culture and understand it, really aren't and don't. Businesses wanting to make money from ventures that appeal in large part to customers under 30 (and even more so under 20) have to understand it. They have to recognize the power of their "fans" to make or break them. Just making good games and selling them isn't enough any more. Not even close.
 
@Derrill

Indeed, Tobold is trying to answer my question of "what is unreasonable with X suggestion?" However, as others have pointed out, cash payments aren't the only measure of value that a game company needs to succeed. It's super important, no doubt, but as the frequent articles on the harm of Steam/Amazon/Metacritic "review bombing" indicates, money isn't everything. And we haven't even started in on the value that community (guild leaders, fan websites, etc) brings in.

In any case, hinging anything on cash-paid is basically ad hominem IMO - either a given suggestion or criticism stands on its own merits, or it does not. I have never played EVE, but if I say X mechanic is dumb and things would be better if it were Y, that can actually be the case. You don't have to pay $5000 or be a veteran player to make a compelling case for change. A game designer ignoring a good suggestion simply because you didn't pay (enough) is just insane. The signal-to-noise ratio is probably pretty bad, but not the underlying philosophy.
 
And we haven't even started in on the value that community (guild leaders, fan websites, etc) brings in.

Why do you assume that value is net positive? I would say that somebody like The Mittani or the general community of League of Legends has a net negative effect on the financial success of the game company, as they drive more people away than they attract. And some so-called "fans" are a games most severe critics.

A game designer ignoring a good suggestion simply because you didn't pay (enough) is just insane. The signal-to-noise ratio is probably pretty bad, but not the underlying philosophy.

You don't understand. You live in a free country with a right to free speech. You have the right to propose anything you want or criticize anything to want. That right is not based on anything, neither on money, nor how much time you spent with a game, nothing. You have that right.

But the right to free speech does to extend to the right to be listened to. You are not ENTITLED to be listened to. The game developer has the full right to ignore you. And honestly, what does it say about the artistic vision of a game developer if he always caves in to those shouting the loudest? I know a bunch of cases where games would have been significantly better if the devs HADN'T listened to the players. Players make for lousy game developers.

The argument that public opinion drives sales does not change that. Because everybody has the right to a public opinion. Some feminist who is making a stink about too scantily clad females in the advertising of the game can get the artwork changed even if she never will buy the game and never play it. Being "a gamer" or having played a game a lot does not make your opinion on the game more worth listening to than that of the feminist. If you say "game developers should listen more to public opinion", you will be negatively surprised about the consequences that will have, because we will end up with more politically correct games.
 
Tobold,

Once again you use money versus time in an attempt to define something that has nothing to do with the issue, and then you go on to insinuate that someone who spends $5000 on a game should somehow be given a higher pedestal of existence over someone who spends less. If anything reeks of entitlement, it's this type of thinking. Gamers are allowed to have expectations of quality and service just like any other brand of consumer, regardless of how they choose to support a game.

There are well documented examples where developers have made open promises about what gamers could expect from their game, such as Bioware with Mass Effect 3, and then failed to deliver. They openly stated that they would provide a satisfying conclusion to the series, but when they failed to deliver, the media and pundits turned the tables on the fan base and called them whiners, complainers and entitlement kiddies. But you know what? Bioware correctly responded to the criticisms without being seen as pandering to the so-called entitlement crowd, they responded in such a way that let the fan base know they were listening and cared that a great many of them were upset with the game's outcome.

There are also other examples where gamers have openly asked for a PC port of a game or a sequel(gasp!), in the numbers of tens of thousands in open petitions, only to be labeled "entitled" by the media and industry pundits. Remember the X-Box One incident at E-3 2012? Microsoft was lambasted(by gamers!) for requiring a 24/7 internet connection along with the inclusion of restrictive DRM measures, and as a result Sony took a huge lead in the console war. You make it sound as if these gamers should be considered "entitled" with the way your post is constructed.

The Gaming industry is the only industry where you see the "gamer entitlement" meme being thrown around. You don't see or hear of this moniker when movie or book fans clamor for a sequel, or when a good representation of fans have a negative opinion of their experience.

Game development is a creative industry, and as such the consumer has a vested interest in the released product, regardless of how much they spend -or- how much time they invest. The media and industry pundits seem to have injected themselves into the omnipotent role of determining what is acceptable in terms of what is allowed as a proper criticism. Again, only in the Game Development community do we see this.
 
The Gaming industry is the only industry where you see the "gamer entitlement" meme being thrown around.

Well, when was the last time you saw a horde of movie fans protesting about the end of a movie and demanding it should be changed? The word entitlement is used a lot on gamers because gamers feel more entitled to influence about the entertainment product they bought than other customers of other media forms.

And you don't think that somebody who pays $5,000 for a Crowfall Kickstarter project should at least have his opinion heard by the developers who couldn't have made the game without him? He is buying alpha access; shouldn't the devs listen to their alpha testers instead of listening to some guy on some forum with no proven loyalty to the game?
 
"I would say that somebody like The Mittani ... has a net negative effect on the financial success of the game company, as they drive more people away than they attract"

The above is absolutely insane, regardless of how you feel about Mittani the person or EVE the game.

The Mittani organizes entertainment for not just the 10k or so pilots directly under him, but for the tens of thousands all those pilots interact with. Without him, a huge source of 'content creation' is gone, and an MMO like EVE relies more on such people than any themepark. There is also something to be said about his longevity as a leader (years), his ability to keep the CFC running for so long (again years), and his groups overall contributions like the news site and game design influence.

Without people like Mittani, EVE wouldn't be nearly the outstanding success in the MMO genre that it is.
 
The word entitlement is used a lot on gamers because gamers feel more entitled to influence about the entertainment product they bought than other customers of other media forms.

IGN and other media hacks are responsible for the interjection of "entitlement" into gaming related verbiage. The issue is the Pavlovian adoption of the term by those who still don't get that games are consumer goods.

And you don't think that somebody who pays $5,000 for a Crowfall Kickstarter project should at least have his opinion heard by the developers who couldn't have made the game without him?

You really believe this? His input in an Alpha, Beta or otherwise is no more important than someone who got invited for free. In the case where the only Alpha participants were those who paid the $5k - I would be extremely leery of such a game as a consumer.
 
So you don't think a guy who while drunk makes a public speech on video asking other players to try to drive a mentally unstable player into suicide has a negative effect? Not on the *existing* players, but on the much larger number of potential players who read these stories about EVE and decide that this isn't the game for them? I am pretty certain that the Mittani deliberately tries to scare away the less ruthless sort of player, that the "content" he creates is deliberately designed to show EVE in a specific light of a game for cutthroats only.
 
In the case where the only Alpha participants were those who paid the $5k - I would be extremely leery of such a game as a consumer.

I'm pretty sure that people otherwise closely related to the company can get into the Crowfall alpha too, buy what does that change? For the random gamer with no connections the choice is either to pony up the $5,000 or wait for a beta version open to the public. The price tag for Crowfall is particularly high, but Kickstarter games giving earlier access for people who donated more than a certain sum of money is pretty much industry standard these days.

I'm extremely leery of Crowfall anyway, but maybe Syncaine can work his magic on that as well and make it as successful as Darkfall is. :)
 
Tobold you do realize the CFC is, by a large majority, made up of very casual EVE players right? That The Mittani is creating content for said casuals? That the events that The Mittani created or was instrumental in (Burn Jita, BR5, destruction of BoB, etc) draw in thousands of new players to EVE?

But yea no, he has totally done more harm than good for EVE because of one incident you are either intentionally misremembering or never had the facts straight for to begin with. He's so terrible other MMOs devs from major studios literally beg to have him try their game or even just mention them to his following.

Like I said, feel free to think what you want about the person behind the pilot based on rumors or random half-truths, but trying to argue that The Mittani isn't a major plus for CCP and EVE is insanity of the highest order.
 
Wow

Mittani as a content creator. I guess urging other players to commit suicide is a content creation at its finest.

That incident alone must have made CCP mega-loads of money and a plethora of players. WOW must be shaking in its shoes.

I played EO. Mittani and crowd were complete non-entities while I was in the game. In fact Tobold is correct. The game play that this guy and like minded are what keep EVE from breaking out. They are deterrents. The fact that they are so dependent upon him is a warning sign not a boon.
 
The problem is the shortening of 'self-entitled' to just 'entitled'.

There's a very important and significant semantic difference being lost/ignored, there. If you are entitled to something, then yes - you have through law or promise or other arrangements secured the right to be entitled to that ting.

If you are self-entitled, then you yourself have declared that you should be entitled to something, regardless of whether any other involved party has actually agreed to this.

It's the difference between being invited and being self-invited. If someone is entitled, they were invited. If someone is self-entitled, they invited themselves in. One is acceptable, the other is rude.

Unfortunately, people use 'entitled' and 'self-entitled' interchangably, which has distorted the true meaning of entitlement, assigning that negative connotation.
 
EVE wouldn't be nearly the outstanding success in the MMO genre that it is.

12 months ago World of Warcraft had 6.8 million subscribers. Today it has 5.6 million subscribers, a loss of 18%.

12 months ago EVE Online had a 30-day average of peak concurrent users of 28k. Today it has a 30-day average of peak concurrent users of 20k, a loss of 29%.

Your statements about the health and success of EVE are based on your core beliefs, not facts. You probably also believe that Darkfall is a highly successful game.
 
I wonder if banning thousands of bot accounts that are online 23/7 has any impact on daily peak concurrency...

You're hole is now a mile deep if you have gone from "Mittani is bad for your MMO" to "EVE isn't a successful MMO".

List all MMOs released, now eliminate all the ones that didn't survive for over 3 years. How many remaining MMOs got a sequel or survived another 3 years? DF is on that short list. If you want to limit 'success' beyond that, neat.
 
By your definition any small team niche MMO is a success, as you can keep a low budget game afloat pretty much forever as a hobby project, see for example A Tale in the Desert. But those games certainly aren't *financially* successful. Aventurine survives on subsidies, not on income from Darkfall, that is quite well documented even on their Wikipedia page.
 
If that was even vaguely true, why isn't Glitch still a game?
 
Yea the list of 'low budget' MMOs that have closed down isn't short, and ATitD is far more of an outlier than any sort of standard.

Nice to hear you take rumors on a wiki page as fact. That's fun.
 
That Wikipedia page quotes Aventurine SA press releases and their web page, are those rumors as well?

Anyway, whether a MMORPG shuts down or not depends usually on whether the investors pull out or stay put. City of Heroes was still profitable when it shut down, just not profitable enough.

Mere survival as criterion for "success" is putting the bar extremely low. Just have a look at the MMORPG.com list of all MMORPGs, it has tons of games that survived more than 3 years. If that is "success", then I am a "successful video gamer".

If that was even vaguely true, why isn't Glitch still a game?

Huh? Glitch *is* still a game, kept alive by a small team under the name of Eleven. Which proves my point.
 
I agree with a lot of what you said but bristled because I find a lot of the 1337 use the wrong E word - Entitlement where, for me at least, Extortion is more accurate.

For example:
1) 1337 pushes for some restrictive or niche content that not coincidentally they like
2) people remark that they don't like it and it is too restrictive to be viable
3)standard 1337 rant about entitled players and don't have to see everything. But what is fair and what you and the company want or think has zero influence on my spending decisions.

E.g., I don't tell McDonald's what I am entitled to. They have every right to make $10 veggieburgers; I won't buy them but will buy $1 cheeseburgers. Ergo, they make cheeseburgers. That is not entitlement, that is extortion. I have the same problem when a hardcore gamer rants about people commenting about wanting less forced grouping. It is not complaints on the forums that cause game companies to change - 10% read 1% post on forums. It is the masses' spending patterns that cause them to be listened to.
 
Eleven is not a live game. Whatever it might be, it isn't even out of alpha. Considering Glitch came out 5 years ago, I'd say the fact I can't play this 'Eleven' thing sure is evidence that Glitch doesn't exist. And hasn't existed for years.
 
A fan will write guides, will advertise on forums, will create addons and organize guilds and events..surelly fan contribution is not only their sub fee..the bring players to the game and help the game retain players
 
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