The sad but true fact is that some people just don’t listen. Unfortunately, many of these people are in charge of our gaming content. As a writer, I would say a very good percentage of my job is asking for and receiving criticism and/or praise. Any professional should always look for ways to improve their work. If you're a plumber and think you know how to fix a certain problem, but there's actually a cheaper and easier way to do it, wouldn't you want to know that? As a writer, if my writing is not grammatically correct, messed up facts, or is plain old boring to read, I'd want to know that. If I'm given negative feedback, then I can make improvements. If I'm given positive feedback, then I can make sure I continue to do that thing that people enjoy. It's just the way of things in any industry. When someone unfortunately doesn't realize this, it can cause major problems for them.
I actually discovered a tale with such a moral recently. A certain developer, Phantom 8 Studios, asked for feedback on a game called Past Cure on Twitter. This title was not faring very well in reviews. When a review site posted their overridingly negative review in response to the developer's feedback request, the developer reacted quite negatively on Twitter. They even went so far as to say, “Not interested in bad reviews.” They also said, “Is someone out there who would review the reviewers work? Thanks.”
The second statement is very clearly a more emotional response than one would reasonably expect in the video game industry. The developer in question is a brand new studio, so they might not have much experience with responding to negative reviews or comments. The common sense statement of “you can't please everyone” should stand, however. Keeping that in mind, the developer could have said something like, “We appreciate your feedback and are looking into the things we could have improved that you pointed out.”
I'm sure we all have some review sites or specific reviewers that we absolutely don't like. I've even met plenty of people in my time, developers included, who just really don't like the video game press. Even still, it's in your best interest not to alienate your audience by speaking badly about them. Obviously, if I released an article stating that I think all gamers are basement dwelling idiots who will never succeed in life, it'd be your prerogative to hate me and most likely not read my work again. For a developer to say that they want someone to check reviewers work, making it irrelevant, it will give their name a bad taste in certain people's mouths. The potential is there that some review sites might not want to work with such a developer in the future. It could also give potential customers an improperly bad view of the company. They might consider them immature and not want to support them or their games in the future.
This is all toppled completely by the fact that the developer asked for feedback and then reneged on the statement by saying they didn't want bad reviews. If I asked you, dear reader, to tell me honestly what you think about my work, I have to understand that (at worst) you might not like it. I also have to understand that you'll probably have at least a few things you don't like about it. If you told me that my writing was dry, boring, and in need of some spice, I'd take that to heart. I wouldn't respond with something like, “Well I don't like negative comments, so there!” If you're asking for responses, you can't be upset by the responses you get.
As I said before, you can't please everyone. You could say something like “I love the color red,” and seventeen people might step up and say, “You're an awful person, the color blue is better!” When it comes to something as complex as game development, companies (especially young ones) need to understand that it's not all sunshine and rainbows. There will almost certainly be people who don't like what you have created, and you need to prepare for that fact. Your feedback-givers might thoughtfully explain their reasons, or they might just say, “This sucks.” It's important to be prepared for both realities. And on the consumer side, we should be able to say what our feelings are (good and bad) about a game, with the knowledge that our comments will go to good use. If we don't get exactly what we're asking for, hopefully it will at least sway the way the developer looks at the issue we pointed out.
If you have any experiences with developers that you gave feedback to, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!