It seems that unnecessary abuse is not just for our modern politicians to deal with, but one for our game makers to contend with as well. The developers from Infinity Ward have taken to Reddit to respond to messages that have been coming through to them via their Reddit pages and Twitter accounts. This follows an announcement that the Spec Ops Survival mode will have a limited period of exclusivity on PS4 up until 1st October 2020, as well as leaks claiming that new weapons will be in loot boxes and not just cosmetic items.
In the Reddit post, Joel Emslie, studio art director, highlights the benefits of having this direct connection with the fans to gather feedback, both leading up to the release of the game and afterwards. He goes on to say that everything they say is heard, including all of the comments on the current issues, be they constructive or “ultra dark toxic comments”. He says that people can and should be able to “get it out of [their] system but remember there’s a team of human beings here at IW and we have crappy days just like you”.
A scan through the Modern Warfare subreddit shows that there are a lot of people that are angry about the decision. Most of the anger is directed at Activision or Sony, but there are some blaming IW for letting it happen. Same on Twitter, perhaps even more numerous.
The games industry is obviously not a stranger to such attacks from its fans. Earlier this year, Respawn had a large backlash against the microtransactions that were included within Apex Legends as part of their Iron Crown Event, and the announcement of Battlefield V to include female soldiers was attacked as inauthentic and the developers have suffered from anger on numerous other issues ever since. Call of Duty itself is no stranger to attacks either, with death threats being sent to Treyarch following a patch that lowered the rate of fire for one of the weapons.
As is always the case, be it a game including features you wish it didn’t or someone disagreeing with your political views, threats of violence or abuse is never called for. There is obviously the fact that no one should feel threatened, but also, as Joel from IW says, there are huge benefits for them and us to be able to directly talk to the devs, an openness that is going to be decided to not be worth it if it leads to these reactions.
It is good to see the IW developers acknowledging that they are taking onboard the messages that are constructive though. Exclusives are the bane of many a gamer and segregating part of your game is in many ways more frustrating than a whole game being unavailable. It is unlikely that this particular exclusivity will change, as a lot of money has no doubt already exchanged hands, but there is hope that future deals will consider the negative impact from fans. Microtransactions are something more easily to change and the growing disapproval of loot boxes from communities and governments is something that will likely move the industry a way from this monetisation path.