Managing communities for video games can be a difficult and often thankless job. The community reacts to the things that the community managers do as much as the things they don’t do. This truth is no more evident than in the current Valve Diretide fiasco.
Peeling back the onion layers on the Diretide reaction is difficult. This is classic internet rage manifestation and, as is often the case, there is a kernel of truly legitimate criticism inside of the unbridled internet rage machine. Even from the outside it seems odd that there was no Halloween themed update for Dota2, which is one of Valve’s most popular games. The only update was more tickets and hats. Valve did update their other games with Halloween themed updates.
Valve chose to do Halloween updates for their other games, while only adding paid items to Dota2. The reaction has been reminiscent of the Eve Online Monoclegate, where CCP added high-end paid items to a new store before adding more affordable items. In the Diretide incident, as well as the Eve Online incident, a few seemingly small items come together to create a ground swell of negative sentiment in the community. Each of these elements alone would not spark the outrage, but together they fuel an internet bonfire. This convergence of factors is well put by Tim McDonald at IncGamers.com:
In fairness, Valve never said that Diretide would happen this year. On the other hand, their general insistence in not giving the community any idea of what’s coming up, what they’re working on, and what may or may not happen is starting to take its toll, particularly when said community is given hat after hat after hat rather than the heroes/events/fixes that are actually desired.
– Valve successfully trolls Dota2 Community over Diretide
So, here is where things diverge. The Eve Online rage was very much focused on CCP. The players revolted, CCP talked to them, they bombed the crap out of a Jita monument in protest, they talked some more, the players kept venting, but CCP kept moving towards resolution.
Eventually, CCP updated the monument with new graphics, showing it destroyed and a text update saying this:
This was once a memorial to the winners of a riddle contest sponsored by the late entrepreneur Ruevo Aram. After standing proud for half a decade, it was destroyed in late YC 113 by capsuleers who were staging a mass uprising against an intolerable status quo of intergalactic affairs. Today, the ruins of this once-great work of art stand as a testament to the fact that change is the universe’s only constant.
Valve hasn’t had quite as much time to respond, and they don’t have a persistent world in which they can make an update showing contrition either–but Valve has been very silent. So, the playerbase has chosen to vent their feedback on Volvo. Which sounds random until you realize that many Valve fans jokingly call the company Volvo.
Does Volvo Make a Halloween Edition?
Your first question, like this Russian Dota2 fan’s question, might be whether Volvo makes a Halloween model.
Sadly, according to the video, Volvo does not make a Halloween model, but they can get you a model in black.
Rage Flows onto Volvo Facebook
The Volvo Facebook has lit up with calls to “GIVE DIRETIDE”. What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall of the social media team at Volvo when this flood started coming in:
It looks like Volvo is using social media kung-fu and directing this rage energy to their benefit as you can see on Twitter.
Shots Fired on Twitter
While the Dota2 twitter feed, and all other channels as far as I can tell, remain silent on the Diretide controversy, the Volvo twitter account aims a very direct shot right across the bow.
— Volvo (@volvocarsglobal) November 2, 2013
Where does this go next?
It seems like this bit of rage has a touch of staying power on Reddit and has reached that “humorous to participate even if you don’t exactly feel strongly about it” internet riot phase.
Unlike many other controversies, the core issue of communication and managing expectations seems legit even, if the response seems a touch over the top. I expect this will simmer down a bit and Valve will release some sort of apology next week. If that apology doesn’t hit the right notes, though, we could see this flare back up and if the other community issues, especially communication by Valve, are not addressed, then we could continue to see this boil over in other ways. Only time will tell.