David Gaider, the lead writer for Bioware's Dragon Age IP has published a blog post lamenting the "increasingly toxic" atmosphere on the studio's online forums.
The post was published in response to a question about whether Bioware's staff was aware of how many fans now avoid the Bioware Social Network "like the plague." Gaider agreed that, "the overall tone of the forums has become increasingly toxic," and he has retreated from using them as a source of feedback as a result.
"Spending too much time there starts to make me feel negative- not just about the games we make, but about myself and life in general. That's not a good feeling to have," Gaider said.
"I'm sure there are folks there who would bristle at that comment, suggesting that all negative feedback is justifiable and that ignoring it is the equivalent of us sticking our heads in the sand. How will we ever improve unless we listen to their scolding and take our lumps like good little developers?
"That is, of course, ignoring the idea that we haven't already digested a mountain of feedback- both positive and negative- and there's really only so much of it you can take. Eventually you make decisions (informed by that feedback, though only in part- it can only ever be in part) and move on."
"Perhaps there is also something to be said about whether the games BioWare makes still satisfy our core fans"
David Gaider, lead writer, Bioware
Bioware has been the target of significant criticism from its community over its recent games, specifically Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3. In the latter case, the anger from fans was intense enough to prompt Bioware to change the game's ending through a post-release patch, and release DLC that offered further explanation of its backstory. When Dragon Age 3 was announced last September, Mark Darrah, the game's executive producer issued an open letter to fans reminding them that, "We've been listening, and we will continue to listen."
According to Gaider's post, however, listening to the fans' feedback has become increasingly difficult due to the marked increase in vitriolic posts. While there are still many "keen and intelligent" posters, Gaiden claimed that "the signal to noise ratio does seem to be worsening."
"Eventually you get the feeling like you're at one of those parties where all anyone is doing is bitching. It doesn't matter what they're bitching about so much as, sooner or later, that's all you can really hear," he continued.
"I think there's something to be said there about the level of rhetoric and entitlement among online gamer communities in general. Perhaps there is also something to be said about whether the games BioWare makes still satisfy our core fans."
Thanks to Polygon.