The team behind Dauntless knew that community involvement would be a key to the game’s success and attempted to nurture that community from day one. Phoenix Labs’ Nick Clifford wrote a piece today for GamesIndustry.biz that explained his company’s approach to creating and handling the Dauntless community, and it contains at least one item that lots of game companies say they do but don’t always follow through on.
Most of the piece is the kind of basic info you’d expect on how to manage a community: plan early, build relationships, offer transparency through road maps, dedicate time to interaction — all of these are things that most game companies do, to varying extents.
Another thing they all do is listen to feedback, but it’s what they do with that feedback that makes a difference. In particular, Clifford said that the team didn’t want to do ranged weapons but were convinced by the community that at least one should be an option, which led to the development of the Repeaters weapon. Early builds of Dauntless also included loot boxes, which were removed, Clifford said, because “Our community told us that spending money for a random chance at a reward felt bad.”
That’s actually something to make you stop and consider — for every game in which you or I have grumbled about loot boxes, how many developers have actually removed them? And while the inclusion of the repeaters was a totally different issue, both instances show how Phoenix Labs was willing to change a core tenet of Dauntless’s development to please fans. Contrast that with some companies that seem hell-bent on pushing their own design goals — “We made the game and we know what’s better” — and it’s a refreshing change. Maybe if these guys had ever actually listened to people outside their offices, they might still have a successful game.