Public Relations is a tough job. You’re responsible for making the actions of others look good and absorbing the flack from unhappy customers. It’s a thankless, difficult, and tedious job that very few people are cut out for. Unfortunately all of the people that aren’t cut out for it wound up as community managers and PR reps in the games industry and it fucking shows. Day after day these people prove they are not up to the task.
Luckily, there is hope. I will take up this cause. I will lift this burden upon my mighty shoulders. I will turn my considerable wisdom to this conundrum and teach these beleaguered corporate meat shields how to rise above their failures and stride forward with the competence of a moderately intelligent human being. Because it’s not that difficult to give the gaming community at large what they want: respect and honesty.
Let’s begin by breaking some bad habits. The following phrases should be removed from the vocabulary of any public facing games industry employee:
“We have heard your feedback.”
“We are listening.”
“We value your opinions.”
“We are working to resolve these issues.”
Are these bad things to say? Absolutely not. Are these bad things to say if you don’t mean it. Yes, yes they are. It’s been proven that anyone from a major developer or publisher that says this does not mean it so don’t. Just don’t. You’re lying and you’re grounded from these phrases.
Replace these empty phrases with actual answers to the community such as:
“Our development team is meeting to discuss a solution and we will have an announcement on *insert date here*.”
“Due to concerns over *insert issue here*, we will be implementing *insert solution* through *method* on *insert date*”
See? Not only is it a short and simple way to provide legitimate feedback to the community, it also requires the companies to actually fix their broken bullshit that should have been fixed before. Everyone wins!
Let’s break another bad habit. Here’s a few more phrases to stop using:
“We are making what the community asked for”
“We care about player choice”
“We want people to have options with how they play our games”
Anyone who has been watching major game releases in the last few years could be forgiven for getting various titles or franchises confused. Between the far chasing and the continued homogenization of game design it’s clear that most major titles are being designed for one thing: to sell as many copies to as many people as possible by making everything fit the mold of focus group approved design. None of these companies give two fifths of a rats ass about artistic integrity or innovation. It’s about making something that will sell to the least informed members of the buying public. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s what they want to do then more power to them. Just don’t like about it. If you’re going to pack your game full of microtranactions covered by a generic beige color pallete shooter then okay. That’s your prerogative. It’s my prerogative to tell you you’re full of shit.
Now let’s get into some more… philosophical aspects of how to handle your job.
If you’re involved in community management or something similar and someone comes to you with a concern and you don’t have an answer, just say so. Don’t spin it, don’t sugar coat it, just say “I don’t know”. If you have ways of finding out, and intend to do so, then add in “I will try to find out and I will get back to you as soon as I can”.
If the majority of your game’s community is mad about something, show a little empathy with them. Don’t brush them off with some bs non answer. Say something like “I understand why this makes you unhappy. I will do my best to find out when a resolution will be coming and I will keep you all in formed.” Then, do that!! Find out what’s going on. Then tell people. Even if it’s an answer they won’t like you can at least give them the chance to respect your honesty. They may not like the company but they’ll think you’re a decent person and will probably cut you some slack.
If fixes for an issue are going to be a long time in coming, or if the games developers have no intentions of doing so then let the community know. You can simply say “at this time there are no plans to address *issue*. If that changes I will make sure you know as soon as possible.” Just because it’s not the answer they want doesn’t mean you have to lie about it.
Don’t assume that people playing your game don’t know what they’re talking about just because they aren’t game developers themselves. Theyay not understand the mechanics of how a game is made but they know when a game has an issue. Also, since I’m here having to tell you how to do your job it’s obvious that not all “professionals” have the answers.
Last, be honest about what your companies goals are. We probably already figured all that out so there’s no point in lying to us. We know why loot boxes exist. We know why games get rushed out with bugs. If you’re the one having to defend it you have to have to be able to give your customers a reason to stick around.
I have one last piece of advice. Like most good advice it’s simple, but it’s not always easy (there’s a difference). If you can’t do these things listed above, if you’re not allowed to be honest with consumers and no one in the company you work for will give you information and let you do your job right, get the fuck out of there because you’re working for a shitty company. You’re being used as a disposable hate sponge. They don’t care about you and your well being. Find someone who does.
Stand for what’s right,
Sour Pineapple
The Revolution is a weekly series from Bro Seriously highlighting the shenanigans of the game industry and how consumers can fight back. Join us every Tuesday to go once more into the breach and change the world one game at a time. Follow us on twitter @thebroseriously & @bssourpineapple to stay up to date on all things Bro, Seriously.