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This week, gamers saw the announcement of two updates to two popular games; one you’ve played and one you probably heard about. The former, Grand Theft Auto Online, will receive “The High Life Update” on Tuesday May 13th. The latter, Don’t Starve, will receive a new multiplayer game mode called “Don’t Starve Together” sometime by the end of this summer. Both updates will be free of charge. Rockstar Games’ update comes with baggage while Klei Entertainment’s come with fanfare. What can Rockstar learn from this small indie developer?
Grand Theft Auto Online’s launch was a mess. We all remember. A lot of gamers seem to forget how fun the game is when you play with friends on party chat. Instead, players focus on the lack of heists and balancing issues. While there aren’t any numbers of how many people play still, I can definitively say that the community is at least at 50% of where it began. However, every couple months the game sees large free updates. These updates fix complaints and they also add new weapons, cars, guns, and clothes. Here comes the kicker though, still no heists. Hell, it’s not like the heists will bring people back at this point.
GTA Online came out too early. If they released the game with heists and then all of this DLC, gamers would be praising the game. Rockstar promised heists and everyone jumped on the hype train. In their absence, gamers see content that they aren’t asking for at all. Until Grand Theft Auto Online gets the update that was promised over 6 months ago, no one will care about a few cars and guns. Gamers want that original promise from Rockstar to be fulfilled before they put anymore time into the game.
Then there’s Don’t Starve. Don’t Starve has been on Steam for just over a year. The game went through an early access process that transformed the game, rather than GTA Online which was crushed by millions of people on launch day. Don’t Starve slowly built a fanbase that eventually shaped the game into what it is today. It was released when the developers deemed the game to be finished.
People were happy and content with the original game and then Reign of Giants came out. People didn’t need more Don’t Starve but they gladly took it. Reign of Giants brings new biomes, new enemies, and new playable characters to the world of Don’t Starve. Oh and giants. Then two weeks after Reign of Giants was released, the developers, Klei Entertainment, announced the multiplayer mode for the game. They worked on making a game and then on adding small things to change the experience. This gives gamers a new reason to play your game(new content) and it prevents the original player base from forgetting about the title.
Hype can be a dangerous thing. Oh, and breaking promises won’t help at all if you are a video game developer. Perhaps the lesson in this case is that the bigger you are, the harder you fall. A lot of people had a lot of faith in Rockstar and they’re left only to be burned. On the other hand, Klei Entertainment’s reputation could be relatively unknown to the average gamer. With no expectation, there is no disappointment.