First and foremost, let me state that I am not an employee of Gearbox in any form. I am not remunerated by them in any fashion, nor will anything I say necessarily reflect the opinions of Gearbox in general, or any members of their staff.
I’m speaking solely as a Gearbox customer, who was given the opportunity to moderate their forums.
A short while prior to becoming a moderator I penned the following thread; A possibly reasonable response to the Oct 29th, 2015 Patch, which expressed a few questions I had towards the detractions of a particular patch. I was simply presenting an alternative way of viewing the circumstance as a possibility. Not deriding the frustrations or issues which may have come as a result of the patch. I wish to do the same in this instance.
I will in no way be moderating this thread. That will be left up to the rest of the staff. I will also go so far as to say that I have beseeched the staff that any particular borderline derisive comments which we do not allow against our users, be allowed so long as they’re directed towards me and the content of my message in this thread.
As a business owner myself, I must say first that I do sympathize with the predicament Gearbox have been placed in. There is no such thing as a perfect launch, and this one was no exception to that rule. There is always an added difficulty when by no design of your own, your product must be placed against a paradigm of scrutiny that is wholly based off of juxtaposition. I’ve always found that a strange practice when criticism by comparison was common in film and literature, and I find it to be no different now that it is used in gaming. I’ve always judged every work on its own merits, and not against some forced subjective checklist. Yes, there is an opportunity cost in gaming, namely that one ‘could be playing something else’. I would like to think although that the majority of the gaming community has better senses to them than that. To belittle the unique experience which is felt when one undergoes a journey is something that has troubled the gaming community from its outside detractors in the past, yet I believe that it is often used as a tool of expressing preference within the community itself.
Now there is good reason for some to have frustrations with what they feel to be poor communication on behalf of Gearbox in regards to features present on certain versions of the game. The language in particular did lead to some confusion. I’m not denying that if I were in the circumstance of some of the users who were very much looking forward to accessing certain characters immediately, I too would be displeased. What I would not feel though is any long term frustration or dislike against the producer of the said game. Now, I’m speaking solely from my point of view, but I do have some experience with the topic.
Long before I became a moderator (or even a user) on these forums, I purchased for my friend a version of the “Game of the Year” edition of Borderlands 2, thinking all the DLCs were with it. It did unfortunately lack one content pack, namely the “Raid on Digistruct Peak”, which ironically was what I wanted his help with originally!
One could’ve made an argument that perhaps I should’ve read the box a little more carefully and not make an assumption. Sure, I just as easily could’ve made an argument that ‘Game of the Year’ titles tend to entitle all the content, and complained that Gearbox should’ve been more descriptive. But I really found no basis for this. I was playing the second game in a series I loved, and I had already come to appreciate what I recognized to be countless hours of work. That wasn’t the defining factor though, as the crux of it was a simple realization. Gearbox is a privately owned company that produces titles painstakingly with a crew that numbers less than three hundred. Meaning they have 5% of the employees of some of their major competitors, and as nothing more than a customer of theirs, now and at that day, I knew that they relied on making me happy. They’re as dependent on me returning with satisfaction as I am with my customers.
They’re not your international burger chain, with 1 billion served, nor are they your mom-and-pop shop down the street. They’re something in between. Blessed with enough success to spread their ideas and product to an international audience, but not large enough to rely solely on massive production. They’re very much your Michelin starred chef.
In my eyes, it makes little sense to presume that Gearbox is attempting to alienate their fans or attempting to “pull the wool over their eyes”, as it makes for poor business practice for a company who is attempting to compete. I’m not making some grandiose claim that Gearbox are ‘solely doing it for the love of the game’, they are after all professionals, and this is their means of income. But I will say to you the same thing I tell my customers when they tell me; “You never steer me wrong Giu!” Which is;
I do it for myself.
Granted, I do genuinely care about my customers in some degree of the word, and I do appreciate them. Overall though, I recognize that if I were to ever be dishonest with them, it would mean my own downfall in the long run. A short term gain with an incredibly long term loss. Sure, I toss the occasional annoying customer out of my shop when they’re getting on my nerves and they’re not worth the gain, so in many ways; Gearbox does have that above me.
In the past two years that I’ve been frequenting these forums, I have seen at least four different instances where the demands of the fans were met by this company. Gearbox staff chose to work extra hours to alter the game in such a way that reflected the desires of the community, for no other reason than to follow through with what they believe to be a moral contract of responsibility of good customer service. We are a few days in to the launch of a game, where the developers have been working at an astonishing pace to fine tune a product which was well polished to begin with. This level of dedication to the fans isn’t altruism, and I’m not painting them to be saints, but it is most certainly a great level of professionalism, and it is one we’ve seen in the past from them.
I recently purchased the third installment of a series I played in my youth, by a company whose games I purchase all the time (I’d wager I purchase more from this company than most any other). For the sake of integrity, I will not name them. The game was in short; a giant disappointment. It seemed to have a fraction of the content of their predecessor which came out a console prior to it, and the plotline had been condensed and made bawdy for the sake of nothing more than cheap shock value. I will most likely vote with my wallet and no longer buy any game in the series. What I did not do is level any threats to the producers of the game as to how I planned to purchase in the future. I find the idea of “threatening” to do something to be a form of narcissism on my behalf which does more to satisfy myself than actually aid the developer of the gaming industry in any fashion.
If I am to have an unpleasant experience in a restaurant, so long as it does not violate any facet of decency, I will simply not show up again. I also do my best to qualify human error and not allow minutia to be the concentration of my experience. I’ve been going to the same Indian place for years. Two months back I told them to put extra naan bread on my to-go package. They charged me for it, and they did not place it in. I could’ve railed against the error, which clearly had no malice, but what I did was simply explain to them the error the next time I dined there. They needed no proof, they simply took me at my word and comped me a few beers.
There has been a great deal of concentration on certain aspects of the game. All of which do not affect core gameplay. Those who feel misled as to certain versions of the game, have the right to voice their concern with this issue, but railing against a video game producer whose product you may have come to trust, over that minutia, seems to be extreme.
Battleborn is, at least to my experience, something incredibly enjoyable and unique game which I’m quite happy they produced. There are things which I would change about the game as they do not suit me and the way I choose to play, but they’d be selfish. I do not presume that the game must be tailored to suit me, as I recognize that there is an ultimate goal to be met. I must adapt to a game, and not the other way around.
My days are 11 hours long, and they’re at least 5 days a week. I take time out of my day, with joy, in order to moderate these forums. The games this company has produced have provided me with countless hours of laughs and excitement with my Missus. We’ve bonded over this product and I can tell when a producer of any art form pours their heart in to what they do. I do enjoy being a small part of something that genuinely brings people joy, especially if it has had that effect on me.
I do not think that I am alone in some degree of sentimentality towards many of the users on this board. The support for Battleborn, by both new users and seasoned ones, has been incredible. Commendations, congratulations, and overall praise has been expressed by many users towards the Developers who worked hard to produce a product they are proud of. This support doesn’t go unnoticed. As anyone who has met many of these developers in person will tell you of the heart felt appreciation they have for their community. I can assume it derives from the knowledge that they get to do what they love, namely producing great video games, solely because they’re given this level of support.
While there are several incredibly valid concerns with the Battleborn release which include log-in issues, and match readiness. As well as niggling issues with skins and other minor features, I do see Battleborn as being incredibly entertaining and as well thought out as anyone could hope for. I would like to think, perhaps simply out of my naivety, that the gaming community will often band together and see the bigger picture on many of these scenarios. That we will prove wrong the slew of accusations hurled against us, in the general sense, which claim that we’re either petty, short-sighted, or add a grandiose stroke to something which doesn’t qualify as an art form. I genuinely worry that if we continue to release a salvo against every game producer, for everything that resembles a minor error, we will only grant those who can ignore us and still succeed the ability to survive.
I’m in a position where I invest more in this company than the average person, and if anyone should’ve felt betrayed, perhaps it was I. I saw the product as it was, and I felt incredibly satisfied with the hours I spent maintaining this place with the wonderful moderating crew I’m in, to do my small part to assist in the release. Perhaps that makes me a fool in some standard, but I’d gladly take that risk if it means giving a company like this one the opportunity to express itself.