With modern video games, game developers and players always go hand in hand when talking about how to increase longevity and fun.
The relationship between player and developer is easy to establish in indie games, but huge and competitive games like Dota 2 have too many players and too few developers to make a harmonious relationship with. This calls for a bridge that can act as a medium between player feedback and developer updates. A person who could act as that bridge between the two is often referred as a “community manager” in the video game business.
Community managers are considered official staff of a game’s host company, and they are primarily focused on communicating the different things that the community has to say, and relaying the developer’s updates and own feedback to the opinions of the community. They are what make players feel like they have a voice, and they help developers shape a game into one that will make players happy and generate revenue.
The question now is: would Dota 2 be better as a competitive game if there was a community manager?
Why a Community Manager is Needed
Dota 2 is mainly developed by IceFrog and the game company Valve. Besides IceFrog and Gabe Newell, the co-founder and president of Valve, we don’t know much about who else is involved. We are unfamiliar with the many developers that the company has and who acts as the pointperson in the level design, gameplay, art, and other aspects of a video game.
For a game with prize pools that top the charts, Dota 2 has established itself as one of the leading Esports titles in the whole world. As a primarily competitive game, there are things that players wish to be fairer and heroes that need some long-needed changes to either stop their dominance, or make them playable at a competitive level.
Having a community manager solves two things for Valve: first, the need to communicate what’s in store for the players can be done by them so the developers can focus on creating the content, and; second, it’s a sign from Valve that by having a community manager that is committed to the job, it means that they do care for the game and its players, both casual and competitive folk.
Players love the game that they are going out of their usual routine to say something or create something beneficial for the company, and so it is just that Valve should replicate the same passion as the developer of one of the biggest games in Esports history by keeping in touch with its loyal playerbase.
Addressing Community Woes
As of late, there have been several rants coming from noted members of the community, especially when it comes to the competitive scene of Dota 2. For instance, analyst and caster Kyle Freedman expressed his frustration in a livestream regarding the lack of updates on the Dota 2 Pro Circuit.
This led to discussion among the players of the game on what Valve is doing when it comes to the competitive scene. For the company to be able to raise hundred millions of dollars in prize pools and not listen to the passionate players, it is quite the bad PR for one of the biggest games in the world developed by one of the biggest companies in the industry.
SUNSfan and syndereN, hosts of the We Say Things podcast, also discussed the matter of Dota 2’s lack of updates that is manifested by IceFrog’s infrequent tweets. They notice the seemingly apathetic Dota 2 announcement that acknowledges the global pandemic but also acknowledges Valve’s lack of communication on a plan that will entertain the playerbase for the following months to come. However, the problem still exists, and the players have little to expect for Dota 2 as of writing.
What could happen if this downhill trend keeps up?
At this point in time, the community is mostly feeling frustrated with Valve when there are major problems that require fixing. The amount of threads in the Dota 2 subreddit are a testament to how much they love the game, and wish to see the game prosper. In addition to that, the lack of things to do besides wait for the Windranger Batle Pass Arcana and watch third-party tournaments like the Omega League is appalling.
As the pandemic continues in the latter half of 2020 with no end in sight, players are constantly looking for entertainment, with some former players returning to Dota 2 to entertain themselves during these troubling times. However, with nothing to expect in the game or in the community, players are looking for other games to enjoy and sate their need to pass the time.
The more that Valve fails to communicate things that matter to the playerbase, the more that Dota 2 will likely fall into obscurity. When the community asks for things like the teased New Player Experience, they need to know what’s happening about the projects. When the developers can communicate what’s going on behind the scenes without having to deal with the harsh words of the toxic playerbase, it balances things out and makes the community less volatile when it comes to the lack of news and updates from the developers.
By having a community manager to help both developers and players communicate and be transparent with each other, the community may grow into a less oppressive state where the amount of rant threads can substantially reduce.
If you were to nominate a community manager to bridge Valve and the Dota 2 playerbase, who do you think is the perfect person for the job?