Video Game Tuesday: Setting Expectations

Michael Blaker
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Michael's blog, Windborne's Story Eatery.
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This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m talking about the importance of a very key factor when discussing future games or plans for content. It’s all about¬†Setting Expectations!

Expectations?: So recently we’ve had two really good examples of how NOT to set fan expectations both prior to announcing something and afterwards. The Diablo Immortal Issue, and Final Fantasy XV’s cancellation of almost every future DLC and PC support.

Diablo Immortal: Let’s get this one out of the way first. Blizzard royally screwed up with the announcement of Diablo Immortal at the recent Blizzcon. I don’t think I remember them screwing up so bad, ever. There was the Real ID fiasco that occurred years ago, but that wasn’t as bad I think. They could and had plans to announce not only Diablo Immortal, but also Diablo 4 as well at the end of that announcement. Instead they just announced Immortal, which was a huge freaking mistake. First hardcore gamers in general, and PC gamers in particular, all hate the idea of Mobile games, add in the fact that Blizzard was teaming up with NetEase to make Diablo Immortal and the whole situation looked like a huge betrayal of the Diablo fanbase. One of the developers incredibly poor response during a particularly pointed question during a Q&A session later only¬†exacerbated the issue. They should have gone with their first plan, as it was would have been much better. People would’ve been upset, and arguably rightly so in some views. Having multiple teams working on separate projects for Diablo could be seen as overly ambitious, and division of potential labor towards the quicker goal of completing Diablo 4, as well as the blatant cash grab that was the initial response to Diablo Immortal. I don’t agree with the direction of making a Diablo game for mobile, first it seems like it could easily be a poor clone, and while the demo available was apparently okay, that was a controlled demo that was made to showcase the best of the game. The rest of the game could easily be a huge disappointment, and the response from the people who played the demo doesn’t rule out that possibility. The Blizzard seal of quality has meaning, and if they handle this poorly they could end up repeating Bungie’s mistakes that cost them pretty much every shred of credibility with the gaming community.

Final Fantasy XV: The loss of Director Hajime Tabata seems to be the root issue of this issue, and frankly it’s a huge disappointment. I was really looking forward to playing the second wave of DLC, and because it was announced I hadn’t touched the first wave of DLC. Now I’m not sure I will for a good while. I’ll probably have fun with the Final Fantasy XIV crossover stuff, but I’m highly saddened that Square Enix is cutting back on the entire DLC plan they had for 2019 and beyond. Unlike many, I was looking forward to seeing a different ending that would’ve been included in the Noctis DLC, as while I really enjoyed most of the game and the story, the later portions of the story were incredibly depressing. Knowing that we lost this DLC is highly discouraging and a huge black mark on Square Enix’s record of making Final Fantasy games for me.

How can Developers handle expectation better?: Honestly, knowing their consumers better would prevent many of these issues in my opinion. Nintendo lost many hardcore gamers with their decision to cater to the casual market with the Wii, and they are still feeling the repercussions of that decision still. Granted that the Switch is a huge success, but they lost a lot of trust with the decision to pursue gimmicky controls with the DS and Wii. Others should take note of their mistakes and keep them in mind when they are planning announcements.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday!

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