Content of the article: "Your complaints don’t matter, your actions do"
Fairly casual Dota player since WC3 days and also used to work as a Product Manager at a popular streaming music company, for their Desktop product. (You could probably figure out which company if you care enough…)
My job at this company was to make decisions on how to best grow and sustain the product. This means building new features, supporting company-wide initiatives, fixing bugs, negotiating partnerships, improving reliability and also killing off features. I got to work with lots of other talented Product Managers that had come from other big, well known companies like Amazon, Foursquare, Twitter and others.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned that I’ve wanted to tell you all, it’s that posting your complaints on reddit doesn’t really achieve much, unless it’s supported by behavioural data. In the industry, most of us see reddit as the place where the most engaged & tech savvy users go to whinge. I’m generalising here but I’m fairly certain.
For example, when Foursquare made the unpopular decision to split their app into Swarm and Foursquare, the community were pissed, but it wasn’t until they saw user churn, that they realised they needed to do something about it.
Because unfortunately, it’s just as easy to say “shut up and take my money” as it is to say “I’m done, I’m leaving <Product> forever!”. Both of these statements, if I’ve learned anything about Product Development, are usually empty promises. And if true, they usually represent a very small vocal minority. Reddit is a vocal minority, ‘power user’ segment. That doesn’t mean they are powerless / ignored, but just treated differently.
If I were to guess, there’s 2 things that matter most to Volvo: – Number of /engaged/ users playing the game – Number of whales paying butt loads of money for high levelled battle passes
If either of these two metrics dip significantly, they have a problem. Whales won’t buy hats if there’s no-one to show them off to. The game won’t be as financially viable, if there are less whales.
Product companies care about qualitative feedback, but ultimately the realest form of feedback is your behaviour with the game, how often you play it and for how long. If you complain on reddit, no matter how furious you are, but you continue to play the game daily and pay for battle pass, you’re not achieving anything because the vocal minority love to complain, in a weird way, it shows how much we love and care for the game.
In a weird way, Valve are one of the purest kinds of product companies, they reward their staff on impact (ultimately $$$, or engagement that will lead to $$$).
My biggest gripe has always been smurfs / boosters. Sometimes I get fed up and won’t play for a while, but usually I just queue again and hope the smurf is on my team next time. I am not helping convince them to fix the issue.
If you want things to change, be clear on your objective and ‘protest’ together through your actions, because the truth is, the devs see your complaining day in day out and unless it hits critical mass of users disengaging, not spending, huge negative PR, or a revolt from enough pro players, they likely won’t do much.
And for a little theory crafting…
Why no new player experience? Because they’d also have to solve the smurfing problem of newbies getting smashed. Both of these are big endeavours and for what, a small number of new players, of which perhaps an even smaller number will pay for battle passes way down the track once they’re hooked. Dota is such a complex game, building a decent new player experience would be really tough.
You’ve all played this game for a long time and ultimately keep coming back. Valve make shitloads of money off it and although the numbers are slowly trending down, it likely says more about people growing older and changing life priorities than it does about being discontent with the game. There also isn’t really competition in the market because no one can compete with the nostalgia we all have of growing up with this game and investing all that time and money into it. So frankly, they can pretty much coast along.
Much <3 to you all and stay safe out there!
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