Daybreak and Forums and Reddit

I have always been of the opinion that online games ought to have official forums.  There a costs, both financial and in political games, but those seem to me to be balanced out by having an area under the company’s control that services the percentage of the game population that wants a forum.

As we have seen, if you depend on a forum out of your control to support your game, it can quickly go toxic.  Your biggest fans, who are the type of people who would set up such a thing, can become your bitterest foes if they feel wronged.  Even Mark Jacobs, who was dead set against having official forums for Warhammer Online eventually relented.  And there was certainly no similar question when it came to Camelot Unchained, the forums were a given.

Of course, once a company has forums and a segment of their user base invested in them, there seems to be a strong temptation to simply use the forums for everything.  There is a receptive audience that will comment on anything you post.  I gather that it can start to feel like you’re talking to the whole community, rather than what can often be a very small subset of the community, in the official forums, so why not use them for announcements and such.

I sometimes feel like CCP is veering in that direction, though they will then put out a huge and detail Dev Blog or something else on their main site, away from the forums, so that people outside of the forums are at least aware that a discussion is going on.

SOE/Daybreak, on the other hand, has often felt over dependent on its forums over the years.  They have favored their forum followers with special insights, dev access, and used them as a primary form of feedback on many occasions.  To follow EverQuest II, for example, without spending time in the forums every day, you need a site like The EQ2 Wire.  You won’t seem a tenth of what you probably know if you depend on the news feed on the main web page.

SOE has, at various times, attempted to remedy this.  They have had dalliances with Facebook and Twitter and every so often they form some sort of partnership with Zam or Wikia or somebody to be an official news source.  These ventures have never really played out well, serving as more of a distraction and, of course, pissing off the long time official forum followers.  In the end, it has always been “back to the forums.”

Until H1Z1.

If you go to the main Daybreak site (which is still there under the SOE domain two months down the road) and look for forums, you will find links for every game… except H1Z1.

No H1Z1 forums for you!

No H1Z1 forums listed

There is actually a forum listed off of the actual H1Z1 site, but the emphasis since the game was announced has been on Reddit.

Smed started doing Reddit during PlanetSide 2, and when it came time for H1Z1 he and the company went full bore on Reddit, leaving the forums behind.  The General Discussion part of the H1Z1 forums points to Reddit and Twitch.  The forums are for news and support issues only.  If you want to talk about the game, the official place is Reddit.

Which isn’t the end of the world.

Well, until SOE starts pushing other game discussions towards Reddit, and then there is some wailing and gnashing of teeth.  It seems like the EverQuest II devs are now headed towards Reddit,  The EQ2 subreddit may soon be an official thing.

Never having been a part of the EQII forum community, I must admit to a wee bit of schadenfreude at their privileged position being assailed.  And, certainly, anybody who has complained about SOE’s moderation tactics, where the community team loads up the dread SOE MOD 4 to locks threads and delete posts according to some sort of Brownian motions as oppose to a clear pattern, ought to at least see some positive aspect in escaping that aspect of the SOE forums.

Not to mention being banned, as happened to Feldon of The EQ2 Wire

Not to mention being banned, as happened to Feldon of The EQ2 Wire

The thing is, here we are again at something I mentioned at the top of the post.  Here is a game company that has essentially outsourced their forums to a third party that they cannot control.

Yes, Daybreak can depend on the fanboy veto, the Reddit down vote, to hide the cranks and complainers and those who offend the true believers with their impertinence.  They were always there in the forums, fawning over every official statement, but now they have some power.  They can smite Daybreak’s foes by clicking that down arrow.

If they show up and if they click that down arrow.  Otherwise the leading topics might not end up being very Daybreak friendly.

Not all happy, supportive topics

Not all happy, supportive topics

When RadarX said, “What I can tell you is downvoting works most of the time.” I am not sure that is what he meant.  That is the site of a company letting go of control and finding out it might not be all that great.

While Daybreak has been trimming back their official forums, I am not sure they are destined for the scrap heap yet.  I certainly hope they are not.  There are long stretches of game history recorded only in those forums… because of that long SOE dependence on them that I mentioned previously.

What do you think?  Official forums?  Reddit?  Both?  Neither?

Addendum: Some of this lead to an open dialog on forum moderation and bans and such.

8 thoughts on “Daybreak and Forums and Reddit

  1. Rohan

    I wonder if Daybreak could contract with Reddit to run the forum. I.e. Reddit hosts it, and it uses the Reddit system and user accounts. But the moderators are all SOE employees, and Reddit will enforce that.

    It seems to me that would be the best of both worlds. Daybreak has control of the forums, but Reddit provides the software and structure, rather than Daybreak running their own. The biggest issue would be that there would be no explicit link between Reddit poster and game account.

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  2. Osgz

    It is against the EULA to use third party program in game why should it be ok for daybreak to use a third party website?

    Like

  3. bhagpuss

    I just wonder what the future is for Official Forums…or, indeed Forums. I feel it would probably be a mistake to move to something like Reddit for MMOs like EQ and EQ2, which have. frankly, quite an elderly and conservative playerbase by video-game standards. Or so, at least, you’d certainly believe from reading the official forums where, historically, many posters would have no truck with newfangled gimmicks like Facebook, Twitter or electricity.

    On the other hand, maybe those people aren’t, in fact, representative of the majority of people playing the game at all. Maybe on Reddit a whole new kind of EQ2 player will appear, one more receptive to, well, anything. It’s a development I’ll be watching with interest.

    For new games, though, I foresee a dearth of Official Forums. They feel quite noughties now.

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  4. dsj

    I was subscribed to PS2 for 2 years before canceling over (2) issues. First was the lack of game direction or new content, and second was the absolutely pathetic communication effort by the PS2 team. The PS2 team almost exclusively uses twitter and reddit to run out ideas and generate discussion. As someone that doesn’t feel welcome in a large, chaotic, and generally low signal to noise community like reddit, I feel like the least a company can do is provide a smaller forum for the most basic discussion and communication of up and coming plans.

    Go to the DBG forums for PS2 and click on the tracker for DEV posts. What you find is that RadarX almost only ever posts to kill discussions DBG doesn’t like. You will find almost no actual developer discussion of anything relating to real future plans. This trend goes back almost 18 months. The official “Roadmap” area of the forums was officially nuked after the take over. Reddit and Twitter are a dodge by developers of real discussion. They may not like some of the discussions but they are also able to avoid the kind of problems a permanent forum area like the “Roadmap” provided. After all if you host an official forum and have a “Roadmap” area your customers actually expect you to post something and engage.

    DBG is claiming that they want to engage and deal with the communities surrounding their games positively. But what I see is a company that has deeply withdrawn from criticism and engagement. The forums and the long slow disregard they get within DBG is just one part of it.

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  5. flosch

    Maybe this is just showing my age, or my inability (or unwillingness?) to cope with some new media, but I still haven’t understood the concept of reddit. I guess it’s like Usenet for people who were born in the 90ies? But without kill files, and “crowd-sourced” scoring, instead of tailoring your own one? Oh, and no dedicated user clients.

    With respect to your main argument, company forums vs. out-sourced venues, I think you’re on the right track. I don’t really get why you would want to use a system that you can’t control, either. Except for saving money, I guess? Which spells, “we can’t be arsed to spend the minuscule amount of money it takes to run a forum compared to all our other expenses”. It feels… unprofessional, in a way. Doesn’t mean devs can’t mingle with the reddit readers on occasion. But it shouldn’t be your main way of getting information out. It’s a bit like mailing from a hotmail address, I guess? At least it feels to me like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. barbERIan (@ausj3w3l)

    I actually like reddit for a lot of things as it’s more a community voice of a game, or whatever really but then I wouldn’t want it to take over the function of official game forums. Topics get lost often enough and in some of the larger groups there is a lot of noise there as well. I also find certain groups are rather populist. Chasing upvotes and such more than a discussion.

    I also just like having an official and easily referenced source of news like game sites. It’s much easier to go to those, scroll through news section to understand what’s happening rather than troll through a few pages of reddit posts

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  7. Topauz

    I like Reddit. It is a fun site to kill some time. That being said, it should not be the main communication hub for any game. I have always been against using third party sites to hear any news. For SOE games, you need to check facebook, twitch, twitter and now reddit? News should all be on your own website and then use the other social media to point you to your own site.

    This is why I enjoy Massively. They take all the news and put it into one easy to read site. But it really should not be necessary or this difficult to find out anything new.

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  8. Mike

    Coming from the old guard of business pr I would absolutely want to be in control of my own forums. Not to suppress dissent, but you definitely don’t want your fans to be your choice for the reasons you’ve given. Gamers can be a fickle bunch!

    Reddit seems interesting because it gives off a more democratized vibe, isn’t controlled by any one group of players, and you don’t have to pay to ward off ddos attacks.

    Still…. We spend a lot of time building platforms to market our games and bring in players. It seems like a cop out to flip your paying customers somewhere else

    Like

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