Official Forums: CodaSeptember 22, 2008
A lot’s been said about Mythic’s decision to eschew official forums for Warhammer Online, both good, bad and passionate. I’ve wavered in the middle of the discussion for the most part, flip-flopping between understanding completely where they’re coming from and frustration that the community is left to pick up the slack for this gaping hole.
Not gonna talk about that today. I do, however, want to quote a bit from a MMORPG.com interview where Mark Jacob’s defends his position:
From there, I asked Mark what he could say to people who complain that not having an official forum is a way to escape accountability for the company and for issues with the game.
“What is accountability?” Mark asked. “Is accountability the fact that you can get a community manager who has nothing to do with the game development (not saying Mythic but at a lot of companies the CM has nothing to do with the game other than being community managers)… to go on the forums and have abuse heaped on him? That’s not accountability. That’s like putting out a goat for the Tyrannosaurus in Jurassic Park. Accountability is when the players vote with their credit card. That’s accountability. If they players feel we aren’t doing our job, they should cancel. I’ve always said that. We are accountable that way.”
“In terms of reaching out to the community,” he continued, “nobody in this industry does it better than us. Not on the large scale. I can’t talk about the smaller games, but if you look at EverQuest and WoW and LotRO or any of those games, we spend more time reaching out to the community than any other development team. I’m on the boards, other people are on the boards and we will continue to be going forward. We are accountable that way, but we’re more accountable to the players by their use of their credit cards. If they don’t like the job we’re doing, they should cancel. That’s the best way to send any developer a message.”
He rounded out the answer by saying that, “If people think that accountability is just their need to vent their spleen at some community manager, that’s not accountability. That’s just people heaping abuse on somebody in order to feel better.”
Right or wrong, it’s pretty clear-cut where they stand. When I read this, the one big niggling worry over the whole “lack of official forums” issue remained: where does one go, then, if they start having serious problems with the game, particularly technical issues that prevent them from running the game at all? I mean, they’ll lack the in-game response of a CSR, and the lack of official forums means that they’re bobbing in a sea of problems without a clear-cut way of presenting their issue to the Mythic tech guys and getting firm help. Do they turn to the unofficial forums and hunt down player work-arounds? Do they shout on unofficial forums as loud as they can in hopes that a dev might stumble onto their neck of the woods?
Putting myself into the shoes of a hypothetical player who can’t get their game to work, I looked at my options. I was prepared to be disappointed by the lack of official forum help, but right on the WAR front page is a big shiny button that says “CUSTOMER SUPPORT”. Clicky that, and a page full of help options — including in-game, knowledge base, support forms and even (gasp) a telephone number — present themselves.
So. Color my potential argument null and void. It might not be as fast or extensive as an official help forum might’ve been, but there is help out there for those in need.