The three things I learned from Path of exile 3.19 release

Aug 26, 2022

Path of exile has become the iconic game in the ARPG genre, even exceeding its spiritual successor "Diablo2". But during the launch of 3.19 - Lake of Kalandra various changes had been conducted under the eye of the player and not mentioned in the patch note. This act brought up the widespread anxiety and depression of players. Lots of players had dropped out of the game.

You can find the details of what is happening about 3.19 in the video. Overall the situation is very bad:

  • The game has the worst retention ever.
  • The "What we are working on" post received over 78% downvote rate and became the most downvoted post in the history of the Path of exile subreddit.
  • Players and streamers are overall not happy, they had expressed feelings of depression and felt negative about the game.

I learned three things from the response of the Grinding gear game (The company behind the Path of exile).

When vision conflict with your customers

When your vision conflicts with the customers, you should be very careful, you have to watch every step of your move. Because you will tend to debate what you believe and convey your vision. This is normal, everyone has this kind of tendency, but this is not good for public relations and the vision that comes from the argument will not be persuasive.

The most important thing I learned from "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt is the metamorph of "The Elephant and the Rider".

Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.

The elephant is the emotion and the rider is the rational. This metamorph points out that emotion will always come first. So the tactics of persuading can not come from arguing, once you two are arguing you both enter the emotional mode and the communication will deem to fail.

Don't try to hide, ever!

During this release, they didn't lie to the player but hid the most important changes about the release behind the scene.

we removed a massive historic bonus to item quantity and/or rarity that applied to some league-specific monsters. We replaced it with a moderate (2-3x) increase to item quantity, to offset the fact that they often have more life than regular monsters and some cannot drop maps.

This line changed lots of things, even shaking the fundamental element of the Path of exile: The loot.

People were upset that they hid this important information, not in the patch note nor the balance manifesto, not even the casual release Q&A section. It just came out of no way and heavily struck everyone's face.

Because they hid this issue from the patch note, everything seems strange afterward. It's very hard to find the standing point if you are hiding something in the first place and to most of the players this behavior is equivalent to lying.

About the balance of PR

This is not a single bullet point but a question. In the PR world the first rule will be "Don't say anything until you know what you are doing." and this is very true. But at the same time, how to let your customers know that you are actively working on these issues?

I think the balance is harder than just saying "Don't say anything until you know what you are doing." and is worth thinking about.

The Community Director Bex is a great example. After returning to office from her vacation, she immediately posted several tweets to indicate the progression of the interior discussion. These kinds of small tweets can't be sufficient enough to solve the problem but it indeed has the ability to calm everyone a bit.

Genuinely i think this kind of post is really helpful, it gives me a warm feeling that they are listening to our voice. Even though it is so small, it does mean a lot.

After though

I really love this game, it strengthens my relationship with my brothers and friends. But this time, it's really hard to think brightly about this game's future. I even feel depressed and anxious about these changes. I guess I am going too deep and need to have some fresh air.

See you next release, exiles.

I hope you stays sane, as always.

邱柏鈞|Po-Chun Chiu