The Automatic, “Anonymous” Feedback

Just because current technology allows to store, process and analyze any kind of data imaginable, doesn’t mean every bit of information HAS TO be stored, processed and analyzed. This seemingly unknown idea leads me to a news piece I read earlier. More and more games therefore (because they can) try to collect all kinds of usage data and player statistics automatically in the background while people are playing them.
The first realization that triggers in my mind, is that most of the best games of all times were made, before such options existed. That for itself raises the question, if that is really necessary. It was just the right crowd working on every of those games. If those dudes are players themselves, they already know what’s important.
Typical data that is collected, lets the company know how often players “died” in levels and where or how long it took them to reach certain places.
Equally typical reactions to such information are, to lower the difficulty level where most people failed the first time or to design even more straightforward environments.
Now, who really believes, that a game is more fun, when it’s impossible to loose or to get lost for a second? Sometimes this is exactly what is motivating or keeps things interesting. Alterations of that type, belong to the same category, of games who have no longer the difficulty setting “easy” and rather call it “casual”. That’s ridiculous. Is it supposed to be an insult now, when someone chooses to play on easy? Not when he’s just playing casual! Duh!
I can live with these “feedback” options, as long as they can be switched off by the user (as an official menu option without using any “tricks”). The next step (oh wait, e.g. Valve’s Steam is already doing that with some titles) is automated transmission of “everything” players do while their games are running. It’s truly astonishing, with how much stuff game companies can come up, that will take away even more resources from the actual game development, while most problems in shipped games are the result of a lack of focusing on… THE ACTUAL GAME DEVELOPMENT! And yes, that especially includes having enough time, instead of wasting it on silly marketing schemes.

PS: See? It’s perfectly possible to talk about negative aspects of this, without going for the even more obvious privacy angle.

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