If Bungie Fixes its Communication Problem, We'll Just Get Bad News Faster
Bungie is hiring a new community manager. When the /DtG subreddit discovered this, it was initially assumed that Deej was being replaced. The consensus, now, is that there's a more likely reality: Bungie is duplicating Deej's position.
This, of course, was good news to many. Bungie has been accused of having a communication problem. Their opaque operations mean that community discussion is forced to rely on a variety of player-lead feedback. This is almost never good, since all possible negative outcomes are aired. Bungie could reduce this smog with clean lines of communications.
But how much would this actually fix?
As Kotaku's Jason Schreier points out, communication from Bungie follows a predictable loop:
1. "The game is opaque about a feature
2. "Players wonder if something is wrong.
3. "With now real information, players make up their own tests to calculate that something is indeed wrong
4. "Bungie promises to look into it.
5. "Bungie apologizes and promises to be more transparent in the future."
Bungie could avoid this entire process by just outright explaining what they're doing. They implemented an XP cap that rightly infuriated players. In covering that scandal, I explained that it's most likely that it was a poor attempt to balance the loot system for both casual and hardcore player-bases.
If they had just explained the solution, people could have told them what a terrible, awful, no good idea it was.
Instead, they implemented it silently and hoped players wouldn't notice. So, when players inevitably realized it existed, they had to do Bungie's communication work for them. Why was this XP throttle there?
Was it to force players to buy Bright Engrams? Was it to stretch content as thin as possible to artificially inflate the grind? Was it to prevent hardcore players from being rewarded more than casual players?
One of those is probably the case. But in the court of public opinion, Bungie is now guilty of all of them. That's the failure.
Bungie is going to improve their communication with players, and fans are rightly enthused about this possibility. But I don't they should be.
I had terrible grades during my sophomore year of high school. Eventually, my parents caught on and asked me why I hadn't communicated with them. Of course they were angry about my atrocious grades, but they were disappointed that I hadn't communicated this with them earlier.
So, the second semester of my sophomore year, I spent every weekend explaining to my parents why my grades were terrible. A bad situation was now made infinitely worse. I was forced into routine humiliation for my own failure (mostly deserved), while my parents were forced into the agonizing loop of watching me self-sabotage. Communication is essential, but it's not a solution.
If Bungie communicates properly, you're just going to get bad news faster.
Bungie needs to make many changes, and communication is absolutely one of them. But don't expect it to have a tangible impact on the game any time soon. If Bungie truly believed in their vision for Destiny 2, or even understood how to fix it, they would be communicating it with us. There's no new communication staff they could possibly hire that can change that.
The bad and incorrect takeaway from this is that Bungie is beyond repair and all attempts to heal the gap between dev and player are in vain. In reality, the process of fixing Destiny rests in far more reliable, seasoned hands that have been at Bungie all this time.
Put your focus on the designers, artists, directors and writers who are making upcoming expansions and titles. Don't expect people standing between you and them to somehow alter your enjoyment of their work. Root for them, not the people who represent them.