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Should The Influencers Get Preferential Treatment Over The Rest Of The Players?

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Should The Influencers Get Preferential Treatment Over The Rest Of The Players?
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Ylliarus's Avatar


Ylliarus
02.21.2019 , 05:37 PM | #1
I'm making this thread to centralise the discussion that was started in the Revitalization Petition thread by the following post by Eric Musco:

Quote: Originally Posted by EricMusco View Post
Hey Ylliarus!

To try to calm any tin foil hats spinning up from that image you linked, let me try to provide some context. The reason you cannot find that post anywhere on the forums is because it came from our Influencer forums. For those that donít know (and we have a blog in the works for this very topic) we have something called the Influencer Program. This group contains content creators of all sizes who we aim to support via promotion, etc. One of the components of the group is that they have access to a closed, under-NDA forum where we sometimes seek out early feedback on things, address questions from their communities, and more.

The image you are linking to is from a specific topic that was brought up by some folks in the group. They were looking to get into creating content for Anthem in addition to SWTOR and were asking for similar support/access to what they have in our Influencer program. What you are seeing is my response to that request. There are a number of EA-wide influencer programs, most prominently the game changers group. We built our own program for SWTOR separate from that as we had very specific benefits we wanted to provide. As a result, being in our group doesnít automatically mean that someone receives those same benefits on other EA or BioWare titles. So all in all, this post is really just me directing our influencers who are looking to expand into other EA games to investigate the EA game changer program.

That is the full context of that post, so I hope that clears up any concerns.

-eric
Let me top it off by saying that I have interacted with some of the Influencers in the past and I think that much of the things they do for our player community is great. I absolutely don't have anything against the Influencer programme and am happy it's there.

What does invoke feelings of unease and uncertainty within me is that there seemingly is a hidden special forum where there is a lot more communication between player and developer, while here on the normal forums we barely get any communication. We're sometimes thrown a bone, but that's it. It feels - and from what I have seen on the forums I'm not the only one thinking this - as if there is no meaningful or noteworthy communication between player and developer. Or that communication with the mundane mortal players doesn't matter enough.

It gives off a certain feeling of elitism, that a small group of players gets special access to the developers but everyone else is excluded from it. And I get that the Influencers frequently have said in the past they're the voice of the players or that they're there solely for us, but getting noticed by them in their communities is often just as hard as getting noticed by the devs on the forums is. The smaller Influencers really engage with their communities and listen to them intensively, but - from my perspective - this is not always the case for the bigger ones. And the Influencers don't speak for all the players, because to this day I talk to players who have absolutely no idea what a Bioware Influencer is. They're not represented by the Influencers, but yet they don't get special access to the developers like the content creators do.

If there was an equal level of communication, meaning that the engagement the Influencers get on their special forum was the same amount we got on our own forums, I bet people wouldn't be too bothered by it. But now there is a severe discrepancy in the level of communication that both get, they get seemingly non-stop contact and information while we get some scraps very sporadically. Do you have to be an Influencer to be meaningful in the eyes of the devs? Does being an Influencer make you the better/more worthy player? I'm not asking these questions rhetorically, but I mean them genuinely. Because now I do feel like the lesser player, like the player that doesn't matter as much and I think others here feel like that too.

So I genuinely want to ask the question in the title: should the Influencers get preferential treatment? I mean, why not give the normal players - us mortals - the same level of engagement, transparency and communication? Like surely that can't be such an outlandish concept? Paradox for example has a very deep level of communication and transparency on their forums, with a considerable amount of engagement with their playerbase. And they don't need special Influencers for that to happen, they just communicate with the players.

So I'm genuinely curious about what people here feel about this and what some of the Influencers here think about it, if they'd grace us with their time and attention, that is
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Lhancelot's Avatar


Lhancelot
02.21.2019 , 05:56 PM | #2
Quote: Originally Posted by Ylliarus View Post
I'm making this thread to centralise the discussion that was started in the Revitalization Petition thread by the following post by Eric Musco:



Let me top it off by saying that I have interacted with some of the Influencers in the past and I think that much of the things they do for our player community is great. I absolutely don't have anything against the Influencer programme and am happy it's there.

What does invoke feelings of unease and uncertainty within me is that there seemingly is a hidden special forum where there is a lot more communication between player and developer, while here on the normal forums we barely get any communication. We're sometimes thrown a bone, but that's it. It feels - and from what I have seen on the forums I'm not the only one thinking this - as if there is no meaningful or noteworthy communication between player and developer. Or that communication with the mundane mortal players doesn't matter enough.

It gives off a certain feeling of elitism, that a small group of players gets special access to the developers but everyone else is excluded from it. And I get that the Influencers frequently have said in the past they're the voice of the players or that they're there solely for us, but getting noticed by them in their communities is often just as hard as getting noticed by the devs on the forums is. The smaller Influencers really engage with their communities and listen to them intensively, but - from my perspective - this is not always the case for the bigger ones. And the Influencers don't speak for all the players, because to this day I talk to players who have absolutely no idea what a Bioware Influencer is. They're not represented by the Influencers, but yet they don't get special access to the developers like the content creators do.

If there was an equal level of communication, meaning that the engagement the Influencers get on their special forum was the same amount we got on our own forums, I bet people wouldn't be too bothered by it. But now there is a severe discrepancy in the level of communication that both get, they get seemingly non-stop contact and information while we get some scraps very sporadically. Do you have to be an Influencer to be meaningful in the eyes of the devs? Does being an Influencer make you the better/more worthy player? I'm not asking these questions rhetorically, but I mean them genuinely. Because now I do feel like the lesser player, like the player that doesn't matter as much and I think others here feel like that too.

So I genuinely want to ask the question in the title: should the Influencers get preferential treatment? I mean, why not give the normal players - us mortals - the same level of engagement, transparency and communication? Like surely that can't be such an outlandish concept? Paradox for example has a very deep level of communication and transparency on their forums, with a considerable amount of engagement with their playerbase. And they don't need special Influencers for that to happen, they just communicate with the players.

So I'm genuinely curious about what people here feel about this and what some of the Influencers here think about it, if they'd grace us with their time and attention, that is
I think it's fine to use influencers to bring promotion to the game, that being said I don't really get why influencers have more say in development decisions than any other player of the game.

If they focus their attention on communicating with influencers instead of the majority playerbase this is dumb and shortsighted. That's probably what is going on too.

Seeing we get zero meaningful communication via the forums to the BW community team, one has to assume that attention is going to these influencers.

That would explain why so often than not, it really seems BW and even the very ones communicating with us on the forums seem so out of touch with what our concerns are.

They also never use constructive feedback proactively, instead they only seem to react to meltdowns after large game changes and by then subs have dropped and/or many active players are resentful and angry.

I suppose it wouldn't be such a big deal if they were mostly acting on influencer feedback if they at least gave some semblance of consistent communication to the forum plebs.

Just a little window dressing would hide the reality that our opinions mean nothing and make the whole situation a little less jarring and obvious, but BW seems too focused on other things to even bother trying to pretend to care what we think.
The Revival of SWTOR: Petition for More Funding and Resources
(Click link Below For More Information)

http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=959696

Ylliarus's Avatar


Ylliarus
02.21.2019 , 06:06 PM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by Lhancelot View Post
I think it's fine to use influencers to bring promotion to the game, that being said I don't really get why influencers have more say in development decisions than any other player of the game.

If they focus their attention on communicating with influencers instead of the majority playerbase this is dumb and shortsighted. That's probably what is going on too.

Seeing we get zero meaningful communication via the forums to the BW community team, one has to assume that attention is going to these influencers.

That would explain why so often than not, it really seems BW and even the very ones communicating with us on the forums seem so out of touch with what our concerns are.

They also never use constructive feedback proactively, instead they only seem to react to meltdowns after large game changes and by then subs have dropped and/or many active players are resentful and angry.

I suppose it wouldn't be such a big deal if they were mostly acting on influencer feedback if they at least gave some semblance of consistent communication to the forum plebs.

Just a little window dressing would hide the reality that our opinions mean nothing and make the whole situation a little less jarring and obvious, but BW seems too focused on other things to even bother trying to pretend to care what we think.
I do find myself agreeing a lot with what you wrote. The problem of the Influencers getting more communication, way more communication, than the rest of the playerbase wouldn't have been an issue if we at least had the semblance of noteworthy communication. But as I said in the OP, it's scraps and a small bone we're thrown from time to time or as you said it, a far too late reaction to a meltdown on the forums. It's never consistent meaningful communication, which seemingly is something that the Influencers get on their special hidden forum.

I can't imagine it being so hard to be as transparent, open and communicative with us as the devs are with the Influencers. What makes them more worthy or better than any other player? Not asking this in a negative or critical way, I'm being again being genuine here. What can we normal players do to attain the same level of communication that the Influencers get? What do we lack that they have?
The SWTOR Revitalization Petition
This MMO deserves a revitalization, by receiving more funding, resources, manpower and publicity. If you agree with this, sign the petition to EA and Disney here!
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AureliaSulis's Avatar


AureliaSulis
02.21.2019 , 06:09 PM | #4
This is my post from the other thread:

Quote:
What I'd really like to know is what groups do Influencers represent? Is there a fair and equitable spread across all playstyles and demographics, or do most influencers predominate in raid/operation endgame combat.

For example, who speaks for me - an Aussie battling red-dot lag, who would appreciate a West Coast server, would really like an Odessen Stronghold, the Alliance as a third-faction, and my choice of companions to accompany my characters in their adventures.

Going by recent decisions (5.10) I see no-one speaking for me and no plan to speak for me in the future. So if no influencer speaks for me, and no-one with influence listens to me (or most other people here), then what exactly do these forums accomplish except to corral everyone with a gripe against the game or an aspect of the game or a good idea for improving the game into one place where they can be easily ignored?
So to answer the question: Should The Influencers Get Preferential Treatment Over The Rest Of The Players?

Unless BioWare works like a political campaign where donors who cough up additional $$$$$ get preferential and special access to candidates; then my answer would be No, and especially Influencers shouldn't get preferential treatment over subscribers when it comes to communication and developer access. We all here pay to play and thus our voices should possess equal weight.
Eric Arthur Blair was prescient.

Lhancelot's Avatar


Lhancelot
02.21.2019 , 06:17 PM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by AureliaSulis View Post
This is my post from the other thread:



So to answer the question: Should The Influencers Get Preferential Treatment Over The Rest Of The Players?

Unless BioWare works like a political campaign where donors who cough up additional $$$$$ get preferential and special access to candidates; then my answer would be No, and especially Influencers shouldn't get preferential treatment over subscribers when it comes to communication and developer access. We all here pay to play and thus our voices should possess equal weight.
I got to be honest, I immediately thought of how many political systems works when I read about the influencers.

It reminded me of how a small group of people influence the direction a country goes with the idea they are doing it for the people. in reality often times it's not for the people, as all of us know.

The funny part is in most political cases the people usually vote for their representatives, whereas in this situation no one voted for these influencers to hold sway over the game developers. This is assuming that BW communicates and acts on the whims of the influencers, which I don't know that to be the case.

It's hard to not wonder though, seeing just how we the commoners get little meaningful correspondence with representatives of the game (devs etc.) I always assumed it was just a crappy job on the part of the communication team's part, but hey, maybe they really are communicating quite actively, just not with us.
The Revival of SWTOR: Petition for More Funding and Resources
(Click link Below For More Information)

http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=959696

aerockyul's Avatar


aerockyul
02.21.2019 , 06:41 PM | #6
I imagine the "preferential treatment" has to do with a couple of things

An influencer can probably say, without much hyperbole, that they speak for dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of players and it actually means something more empirical than what forum players want to believe. That carries more weight than the people who mostly frequent these forums who think they're extremely anecdotal complaints and "evidence" constitute immediate and all-important action on the devs' part. You probably get less statements from influencers like these: "I really hate this, so do something about it or I'm going to complain endlessly;" "Me and my one friend really hate this, so do something about it or I'm going to complain endlessly;" "My small niche guild really hates this, so do something about it or I'm going to complain endlessly;" or "My personal observations during small periods of time in-game represent the entire data you have at your disposal and your numbers and observations are simply wrong if they don't mesh with my personal observations." Let me pile on by saying that influencers probably react to bad news or unpopular data (true or not) less with insults and petty demands and threats to unsub than forum-goers do.

Influencers can probably be trusted to be shown or communicated harder data than what we get here without calling BW liars or incompetents simply because a few vocal people don't believe it. There are many examples but the ones that come to mind are the sub numbers after 4.0, the conquest participation after 5.0, and the amount of people willing to grind out Ossus day in and day out. BW and the actual in-game players (the actual population, not the tiny population surrounding the average forum-goer) show one thing, and forum-goers will not have it. You're wrong and stupid for seeing it any other way. Influencers probably don't react that way.

I don't know the influencers personally but the few times they speak in the forums here they are usually level-headed and informative. Two of them in particular have done more for me in the history of this game than any other person or source combined. They're less likely to give off elitist or insulting or snarky responses to questions or rail against EA/BW endlessly or become petty and/or try to derail threads with their personal pet peeves.

I know who I'd turn to for extra communication and give preferential treatment to and it certainly wouldn't be from me or most of the people here (there are of course many exceptions). I love how Musco posted three times today and got nothing but snark, sarcasm, and vitriol. "Communicate with us!" "Ok, here's some communication" "It's not what I wanted personally! You suck!"
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kodrac's Avatar


kodrac
02.21.2019 , 06:47 PM | #7
Judging by the state of the game and the general flippant attitude they've displayed over the last year or so I'd say they probably don't listen to influencers either. As for is it fair? Nope. As Lhance points out, I never elected anyone to speak for me. i'm perfectly capable of doing that myself. That being said, for every one of me that doesn't mind speaking out there are probably hundreds that don't for various reasons.

So it's a decent idea as a way to indirectly gather information from what people watch on youtube and comments, stuff like that. But when they have am official forum where they can directly interact with paying customers they can identify with, it's mind boggling why they don't. In the days before Musco (BM) they did. I'm not saying it's Musco's doing but they clearly decided after the last guy left, can't recall his name now, they decided to go a different route and create a clique program.

It's almost like they wanted to insulate themselves. Like how certain types want to surround themselves with yes men. Not saying influencers are paid shills like some review sites are, but who is influencing who I wonder? How much is BW influencing them to showcase and thereby reaffirming themselves what they want to hear, aka insulating themselves. I especially wonder given all I learned after the hullabaloo about youtubers getting blacklisted recently.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ri02bAAePY This guy spells it out pretty well.
Quote: Originally Posted by aerockyul View Post
Iíd find it hard to believe this sort of thing goes on in the preferential treatment forum.

TrixxieTriss's Avatar


TrixxieTriss
02.21.2019 , 06:49 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by Ylliarus View Post
I'm making this thread to centralise the discussion that was started in the Revitalization Petition thread by the following post by Eric Musco:

Spoiler


So I'm genuinely curious about what people here feel about this and what some of the Influencers here think about it, if they'd grace us with their time and attention, that is
No they shouldnít when it comes to the feed back they give BioWare about the game or what the players want. Every players feed back counts and should be taken on a player by player basis. At the end of the day, the influencers are just players the same as the rest of us. Their opinions matter, but no more than yours, mine or anyone elseís just because they have a website or a podcast or YouTube channel, doesnít mean they speak for the community as a whole.

But, they do add value to the game through promotional work, helping players with guides and other important content stuff. So they should get something for that hardwork.
I think many of are grateful to these guys and wouldnít feel any resentment if BioWare gave them free subs, rewards or other stuff for proven unpaid service to support the gameís population.

The issue I have with the influencers program isnít what they do for us or what BioWare gives them. At the end of the day, the issue I have is BioWare interact with them and listen to them over the broader community instead of engaging directly with the player base themselves.

Why do we even have a community manager if he hardly interacts with us, doesnít respond to ledgitmate questions the community asks or feedback we give is ignored or not clarified?
Relying on the influencers to provide all of that or to support them with communition and listening to their feedback more than us is fundamentally flawed.

If you really want to know what the players want or their feedback, then you engage them. You donít use third party influencers to do so. Which letís face it, many of the players donít know about or care about. Paying customers usually go to official forums or official social media, not third party people to give their feed back to the actual game developers.

I know many of the influencers are good people and passionate about the game, but there is nothing stopping any of them from using their personal contacts at BioWare and influence to push their own personal agendaís to get what they want in the game at the expanse of what the wider community want.

They are players first and foremost and many of us players want stuff personally that may not be what the wider community likes. What makes their wants or opinions more important than any other players?

If BioWare are relying heavily on these influencers to get third hand feedback at the expense of the rest of the community providing first hand feedback, then the influencers are partially to blame for the sorry state of the game.

I know many of us passionate forums posters donít always agree, but when we do and see over whelming agreement and support, BioWare should be listening to us over these influencers (no offence). The pts for 5.10 provided overwhelming feedback on this terrible gearing system. But still it went ahead, bugs and all. Why did that happen? Was it because of the influencers saying itís fine or because the 3% Raider community wanted it at the expense of 97% of the player base.

Letís look back at all the terrible decisions made just before and during 5.x. The single gearing system, the grind, the low Bolster in pvp, the bugs... etc... the changes to conquest... making the game unfriendly to playing multiple Alts...the feedback about class balance and the process they use to get there (so faulty)... there are just too many to list and that is just from 5.0 onwards.
We can go back further to BioWare dumbing down the vanilla game, adding lvl sync, making the game more solo player and less MMO group player. The Makeb expansion was the last real MMO expansion in swtor. Everything else leads to a more solo SM experience.

So, how much of the stuff weíve seen change in the game for good or bad is because of the influencers? If they arenít giving the right feedback or are only telling BioWare what they want to hear, what good are they? If BioWare ignore them too, then why communicate with them more than the rest of us?

The answer is simple. The influencers have a public platform to assert opinion on the game that is outside Biowares control. If BioWare can get them feeling like they have an inside track and encourage them to provide only positive feed back publically, then they do the job of promoting the game for BioWare so they donít have to do it themselves.

BioWare can also use them to put a positive spin on stuff that the rest of us disagree with or hate. I canít remmebr the last time and influencer publically pushed them hard in a podcast to answer the tough questions the community wanted to know. Anyone who would do so isnít part of the influencers program (ie Snave isnít and influencer probably because he pushes for an answer and makes Musco sweat ).

Most pod casts are recorded and edited to suit Biowares requirements or they donít get the interview. The last one I bothered to listen to with Musco was just a big jab at the pvp community and our persistence in bringing up the desync problem. The whole way through the interview Musco was laughing with them and making fun of a ledgitmate community concern. Musco even said they were Biowares favourite pod casters and thatís why theyíd got the interview.
They were YES MEN and they are part of the influencers program. Itís obvious they donít speak for the community and are BioWare white knights. I know not all influencers are, but if some are, it highlights the problem with the system.

If BioWare were serious about the influencers program, they would also allow them to publically criticis or question their choices when they disagree with them and ask serious questions that the community wants answered. If they canít have some semi independence to push for answers or bring up the topic, then they arenít representing the community, only their own self interests.

So no, the influencers should not get preferential communication or feedback treatment above the rest of the players base.
Yes, they should get free stuff and the podcasters get told of up coming NDA stuff for promotional / hype reasons only. Not because they white knight for BioWare and if thatís all theyíre for, their podcasts should be taken with a grain of salt.

I applaud content creators like swtorista, vulk and others for their hardwork and community support. They are true champions helping the community and I donít know where weíd be without people like them. But they donít speak for me, you or anyone else when it comes to our opinions, wants, needs or feedback. We all have a voice and it should be listened to as equally as theirs and given just as much weight and consideration.
This should be done through official community engagement from Bioware, via the community manager to find out what the community wants. Not through a third party.

Anyway, thatís my take of the question you posed in the thread title. Iíve nothing personal against any influencers, most are good people I support.

AllisonLightning's Avatar


AllisonLightning
02.21.2019 , 07:30 PM | #9
It's to the point where you get angry at the idea these Influencers were given heads up over the West Coast server shutdown. The eight medal crystal for me was a reminder that PvP used to be something for me and part of a perfect storm that made me call time, despite almost having a month left of sub time. When you have to kill yourself to be on to raid at all the right times and so much else, I didn't realize how much I used to PvP in my downtime to unwind and importantly, see different things.
There's so many little things that went wrong and soured for me on Monday for me to nail down simply one issue. All the respect to Trixxie, if the two subs help you play PvP as APAC but I think simply trialling the ping reducer program- I'd reinstall just to obliterate my legacy and never come back to the game.

These influencers did not do their job when it came to fighting for APAC region which I think has a much bigger factor in why Satele Shan's ended up being the server on the population backfoot and why they lost more than APAC from the game entirely. We were part of a picture which included Americans who played at certain times.

As for special treatment- no because it fundamentally taints a perspective which allows you to get an accurate insight- it's no different to gaming journalism and how buying them out does not ensure a healthy playerbase for your game.
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Damask_Rose's Avatar


Damask_Rose
02.21.2019 , 08:32 PM | #10
On an emotional level it makes me feel very undervalued. I have been feeling pretty ignored for years now, and this just makes it feel worse. Do we need to be petitioning the influences to carry our concerns to the developers so we might be heard?

On a more objective level, I have grave concerns.

- If Bioware were just using these influencers for promotion, I would have no concerns at all. If Bioware can get advertising for a few t-shirts and cartel coins, more power to them! Though, Dulfy, Exile, Snave and undoubtedly others should also be getting that largess for the work they do.

- If they are relying on the influencers to disseminate information, the program is problematic. The information isn't getting out there. If the influencers are getting any information from their super secret forum, they aren't passing it on to the rest of us. Musco should be disseminating that information first hand and not playing telephone with it.

- If the devs. are weighing influencer feedback higher than other players' feedback, they shouldn't. Just like most players don't read, let alone post, on the public forums, most players don't interact with influencers. How representative of the playerbase are they? Are all niches represented in the same proportions as the playerbase, or are some play styles over represented? Are the influencers obligated to speak for all of their viewers, or are they merely speaking for the ones they agree with? How much dialogue are they expected to have with their viewers to give them superior knowledge of what the playerbase thinks or wants? (I know my husband has next to no dialogue with his followers and subscribers...) What criteria was used to chose these influencers in the first place? When SWtOR big fish like Dulfy are passed over in favor of some pretty tiny fish I have to wonder who the heck they are "representing".