Better Communication Could Solve this Game's Toxicity Problem


#1

I’ve been a part of many forums of many different games. Pretty much any online PvP game that has an MMR matchmaking system and claims to be competitive is going to have some frustrated people calling the game garbage and ranting about balance.

I’ve read a lot of posts on these forums as well and one thing that stands out here is that the developers only communicate about the game when there’s a new patch coming. In the time between patches the community is left to jump to its own conclusions using nothing but the latest changes, some brief developer comments, and the frustration of the rest of the community. This causes ridiculous ideas like completely deleting Brigitte to start showing up and actually gain a little popularity.

Another thing I noticed is that some of the development team’s design logic, especially around controversial issues doesn’t always make sense.

This quote directly from the developers says that Mercy is supposed to be able to heal more than the other healers and that she’s supposed to be the pick for raw healing power. From a design perspective that would make Ana and Moira completely obsolete and that’s not how it works in the actual game. Most of Mercy’s role comes from her mobility and resurrect.

Something else strange that’s been bothering me for a while is in this developer update, the one from January with the Valkyrie nerfs. It says that Mercy’s Resurrect isn’t working like a secondary ability. It also says that having Resurrect and Valkyrie at the same time is too powerful, but Resurrect has only received one change since then and it only changed the ability during Valkyrie. It seems they openly stated Resurrect wasn’t working like a secondary ability then repeatedly nerfed her actual ultimate both directly and indirectly until Mercy no longer had two ultimates.

If the developers stuck around even for just a few days after new patches hit live and answered a few questions about why they made the changes they did the community probably wouldn’t spend the next week ranting about the developers changing the wrong thing and not caring. Of course there will always be some toxicity. It’s present in pretty much every game that’s ever labeled itself as competitive.

Better communication would fix the abnormal amount of toxicity directed at the developers. Maybe then they could spend more time thinking about the affects of the change they’re about to make instead of worrying how long it will take the community to stop complaining about it.

tl;dr

  • Devs don't discuss the game unless a patch is coming
  • Some reasoning behind changes is odd or doesn't make sense
  • The community speculates about the development team's logic and quickly jumps to extreme conclusions
  • Answering questions directly after patches would fix this

#2

Absolutely, great post! :slight_smile: Personally, I’d like some explanations about their contradictions with the Mercy rework, ngl. Communication is super important.


#3

This hasn’t always been true, look back in the day, there were dozens of dev posts. Right now, they have been focused on developing core features which are not yet ready to be revealed yet. Still I agree I miss the interaction here on the forums that used to take place frequently.

I maintain the Overwatch Blue Post Directory to give a complete archive of all developer responses and I have a pretty good idea on the goals and intentions of the Overwatch Development Team. One thing to remember that even if the goals and intentions of any feature, hero balance or development goal were one thing back in the day, they are still subject to change. So while looking back to past developer responses is good, just know not everything remains certain and there is perception to certain things such a hero balance that should not be taken overly strictly.

To be bluntly honest, this happens in every game’s online open community (forums/Reddit/Social Media/etc.).

So yeah, I too would love more dev responses these days, (even if simple ones), but I am hopeful their absense is a sign of great things to come.


#4

Most of the changes and their reasoning is good and fine, but having multiple nerfs to Mercy’s actual ultimate without changing Resurrect after saying that it was acting like a second ultimate still seems a little strange. The developer update and the changes to Valkyrie weren’t incredibly far apart to where their balancing goals would have shifted so drastically since then. The development team’s view of Mercy’s role in the support patch thread seems like it’s an idea left over from before the concept of main healers as a role existed.


#5

Better Developer communication will do nothing, because Developers live in their own reality of balance.

Do you remember how they were bragging about how the new teleporter can save a team from Zaraya hanzo ultimate?

Then add a 2s delay to the Teleporter to even spawn?
Developers imagine it to be played one way,

The problem is they are playing against the exact same players all the time unable to accurately predict how their ideas are impractical in a real world scenario.


#6

Good thread, but the problem is (with all respect to them of course) is that it feels like they’ve gone more into hiding than actually engaging with any of the community (except the pros or popular streamers/content creators who get interviews arranged every so often). This started possibly around the huge mess of Mercy’s rework and since then has been more noticeable every month in how absent developer communication is in general. You can’t even see when they’ve last been on the forum any longer (at least not the main/common ones), which is such a shame.

I won’t name other games, but one that released about a month ago (an MMO) definitely has reasonably close ties with community feedback and the changes they make are generally representing that, which is great. If Overwatch could be a bit more like that then I think we could see great improvements and strides for this game. However, I think we may never reach that point while it appears eSports is a considerable priority.

In another reference, if you look at the thread posted on here a while back regarding LFG reducing toxicity and some statistics… well, EU stats were never posted to this day despite being requested which I guess means that wasn’t truly a success. Engagement with the community feels extremely rare and disconnected, with only certain posts (such as praise or something rather random) generally getting an official response.