There are a ton of factors that go into successful game development. There are the basics, like where is the game going to take place, who will be the good guy and the bad guy, and what will its genre be? Once the wrinkles are ironed out and the game starts to shape up into what the creators dreamed, another milestone appears on the horizon: the setting of the release date. Some video games go through an early access or beta testing phase. This gives fans the chance to play it before it releases. And plenty more make changes to their title even after official release. How has this changed the interactions between developers and consumers?
The biggest shift we've seen in video games over time is the sense of inclusion. Before, games would be announced, they would release, and fans would have their opinions. But they would just be that, opinions. Now, the average title can go through a few different steps of release (alpha, beta, and early access,) with consistent player and developer interaction. Suddenly, the fans' opinions are valued and have lasting effects on titles. That's not to say that fans' opinions weren't valued before, it's just that they didn't influence the games.
Out of all the examples I could have chosen to support this assertion, the one I have might seem a little silly: Pure Farming 2018. Generally, farming simulators aren't going to find their way to the top of “most purchased games” lists, but they are usually solid gaming experiences, with passionate and excited fans. There was quite the hubbub around it, complete with a declaration going over how community feedback shaped Pure Farming 2018 and an infographic that said 130+ bugs were fixed and 70+ gameplay features and improvements were made to the game after community feedback. Apparently, over 8,000 social media messages that were received, and the game had over 1,400 active topics on Steam forums from fans wanting to make a difference.
It's clear that the community behind Pure Farming 2018 is interested and wants to see it improve. Whether these messages were scathing critiques or genuine constructive criticism, it's hard to say. But no matter what the messages and threads contained, the fact still remains that the developers made all kinds of changes to please their customers. In past decades, we didn't have Steam forums. There were no Facebook or Twitter pages that we could send direct messages to in order to have our voices heard. Even if we consider the era of email, the chances of you getting a response were slim to none, let alone your comments actually changing the game.
Nowadays, when you say something in a forum, send a tweet, or post a review on Metacritic, the chances are a developer is seeing it . Most game creators will look at feedback, criticism, and comments, no matter how harsh, and try to decide what they can change. Previously, games were released and you just learned to love them, despite their little faults. Now, games constantly evolve, and what you have to say can make them better. Developers and gamers have become more closely connected than ever before, and that is absolutely fantastic.