“It’s important not to have a knee-jerk reaction to feedback”
Activision subsidiary Treyarch, with the highly successful Call of Duty franchise to its name, knows a thing or two about disgruntled fans. As Sega’s team have to handle an array of Sonic fans day in, day out, so too does this company’s arsenal of community liaisons. Under any entity, it’s rare to see one speak out with such discontent.
That’s what makes a Wednesday piece at GamesRadar noteworthy. It’s the story of Treyarch community manager Josh Olin. Speaking in a larger interview about DLC for CoD: Black Ops, Olin opined on the state of games as it relates to the increasingly relevant world of social media.
“As a community manager who lives in the media or social media world every day, I think the social culture of video games is moving in a more negative direction as technology and social media continues to grow,” Olin said. “Too many developers who try new things are getting burned by ‘pundits’ and angry entitled fans who look to be contrarian, sometimes simply for the sake of being contrarian.”
The GamesRadar article explains that Olin has been on the front lines for a bevy of criticism by CoD fans about numerous bugs and other gameplay issues in several game versions. If that sounds familiar, it is; the C0D fanbase might as well have been several Sonic faithful angry about Sonic 4: Episode 1 from April 2010 onward. Unlike those pretending to be physics majors, however, a lot of Black Ops complainants tell tales of legitimate gamebreakers for the FPS, including frame rate stutters and multiplayer lag.
Despite his somewhat brutal honesty, Olin respects the opinions of fans, and has learned the art of patience against the impatient.
“This relationship with the fans is critically important, and something we value a great deal,” Olin said. “It’s important not to have a knee-jerk reaction to feedback, though.”
If there’s anything to appreciate Sega’s community team for, it is Olin’s last sentence. For all the grief endured and all the mistakes made in recent months, both UK and US teams keep their heads held high and remain a collective, committed voice of balance when it comes to what many consider to be the most ruthless, uncompromising fan base in video games.
Or, maybe Olin just said the words Kellie Parker, Kevin Eva, and Aaron Webber wouldn’t dare whisper in range of a disgruntled Sonic fan.