The Daily Grind: Do MMO studios manipulate their playerbases with trolling and tribalism?


A few weeks ago, MOP Chris and I were discussing Star Citizen’s antics – remember the video with the coffee? – and it was so bizarre that I asked Chris whether he honestly thought Cloud Imperium is trolling everyone with these videos, doing it on purpose for hate clicks.

“During the coffee machine demonstration, CIG’s Jared Huckaby was ribbing about the bartender, saying “I’m not going to say anything about bartenders,'” Chris replied. “They are absolutely leaning in to the fact that they’re hated on.” His thinking was that it’s sort of a “Horde vs. Alliance” thing in Star Citizen, but instead of there being two arbitrary factions, in SC’s world there’s the fans and backers vs. everyone else – especially skeptics.

I suspect he’s right, but I had to wonder about the efficacy of that approach. It riles up the fanbase, but everyone else is pushed further away – and those are the very potential backers the studio ought to be trying to attract. But then again, maybe their metrics show they’re already tapped out and need to focus on the existing fanbase? I dunno.

What do you think – in your opinion, are there MMO studios out there that manipulate their fanbases with trolling or tribalism? Which ones, and how do they do it?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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