I don’t often blog about the world outside of WoW, since this is, yah, a WoW blog. But I do watch other games closely. And yes, that includes STWOR. I guess it’s assumed that the main reason I don’t want to play it is because I have never heard of George Lucas and his progeny. That’s a negative, Ghost Rider.
In an interview on Eurogamer (as pointed to by Massively), the Game Director for STWOR, James Ohlen, had this to say.
Star Wars: The Old Republic Game Director James Ohlen isn’t surprised that the game’s received the flak it has from a segment of reviews and fans. In a candid interview with Eurogamer, Ohlen addresses both the issues of being a "big target" for critics and the claims that SWTOR’s lacking innovation.
For the most part, players and critics have praised the game, Ohlen shares, and BioWare is seeing an "exceptionally high" desire among its playerbase for continued subscriptions. But was BioWare prepared for the backlash as well? Ohlen says it was: "We knew that there was going to be people who wanted us to fail. But that’s just the nature of the game. If you’re going to build a huge game and try to go out to a lot of people, you’re going to have people who just react poorly."
Basically, he seems to say, if you have something bad to say about the game, you’re a hater.
In one fell swoop, he attempts to reduce any criticism – legit or not – to just plain "haters gonna hate, bro" and thus, in his mind at least, can move forward about talking about how wonderful the embroidery is on the next tier of armor or whatever.
I’m not going to address the concerns expressed elsewhere either collectively or individually. Not my concern. But when I see a video game company handle legitimate criticisms in such a cavalier fashion, it really annoys me. It’s a sleazeball move and it just paints the whole development team in a bad light – and usally they don’t deserve that.
Well, sure, he works at EA, and we all lower our expectations whenever we talk, shake hands with, or generally share space with someone at EA these days1. But that does not excuse the practice, any more than if it were someone at Blizzard2.
If I ever have a critique of a game, it will be based on the game and not on nature of the players within or the nature of the content. The fact is that the "franchise" does not interest me, but that is not a critique of the game itself. What I’ve heard of the game itself has been largely positive. I’ve heard more negative about the community around the game than the game itself. That doesn’t make the game a bad game, any more than LFR makes puggers into bad people. They are mechanisms only, and should be judged on that basis.
When you try to insinuate bias without proof, you come across as a sleaze, plain and simple, and when you do that, you inch closer to losing a sale from those that care about that sort of thing.
Now, do I actually believe this guy meant things that way? At the moment, I’m on the fence. As usual, reading the full article embellishes things a bit. But this is the bit getting the widest exposure, and it so far hasn’t been walked back too briskly, so I don’t know what to think about this guy.
What I DO know is that this is a practice I have seen over and over again, from game makers at all levels (including Zynga, ew). So if it’s gonna quack and walk like a duck, I’m going to lay down the duck-like attributes on it.
The practice itself is just not cool, it shouldn’t be pandered to, and "reporters" on the scene should call it out when it happens instead of nodding and smiling and holding on to that free pass for one more quarter.