Third-Party Websites: Do Developers Like Them or Not?

This is a question that I really started pondering while writing the last piece, as guidance and third-party website are basically synonymous. If the MMO you are currently playing doesn’t make a solution to your problem (whether it be a quest, a location, an NPC) readily apparent, where is the first place you are going to turn? Well, occasionally the answer to this will be other players. There are many occasions where looking it up on a website is going to be much more expedient and accurate than asking a friend, though. I can usually figure out anything that I need to know within 30-45 seconds of alt-tabbing out of the game I’m playing to find the solution to whatever’s troubling me, so why would I sit around and bug other players until I come up with an answer that may or may not even be right?

Knowing full-well how valuable these tools are, I wonder whether developers feel a certain dependency on these websites or whether they feel that they are making things too easy. To help keep things organized, I’ll break it up into four sections:

Pro’s for developers:

  • It allows them to keep some of the excess information out of the game that might bog it down unnecessarily.
  • It allows for mistakes or poor directions. If they screw something up, the players will find it and post it on these sites, which means other players will be able to easily avoid these problems and make their gameplay smoother.

Con’s for developers:

  • It prevents the use of a lot of quest and gaming functions in general. Things like scavenger hunt quests are completely worthless because the coordinates will be posted in minutes and many players will simply look up exactly where they need to go.
  • Not everything players look up on these sites is due to the fault of the developers. In many cases it’s due to the fact that players are lazy and they want the fastest way to the best reward possible. It can make things too easy for players, which could mean that a great deal of time and hard work was for nothing because players skip around certain content to save time and effort.

Pro’s for players:

  • They can always find information that they need, whether they should be looking it up or not. As stated earlier, it means that they don’t have to suffer quite so much for errors that the developers make because other players can explain what they need to do.
  • They can find all sorts of guides/hints/tips that the developers don’t have the time and/or resources to provide. Knowing what skills to choose or which class would fit you best can be wonderful things, and they don’t really hurt the way you the game should be played, they just help players make better decisions that will only increase the enjoyment they get.

Con’s for players:

  • While it’s completely subjective, having all of this extra information at your fingertips can make many aspects of the game far easier than they should be, and quite possibly less rewarding in the process. Finding the coordinates to the hidden cave means you are running around aimlessly looking for it, however, you likely won’t get the satisfaction you would stumbling across it after an hour-long search.

Though these don’t necessarily cover every point around this issue, it does provide a strong foundation for determining whether or not these sites are a bane or a boon to developers. I believe that without them, many aspects of these games would be unbelievably irritating and far too time-consuming, but I also think that they make things too easy and take some of the fun out of the game. They aren’t going to go away because the demand for them is so great, so what needs to change? Does anything need to change in the first place? Are developers thankful for these sites, or do they feel that they damage the game in some way? I have to lean towards thankful. There is only so much information and guidance that developers can build into their games, so if other players are going to pick up the slack and make things more manageable, I can’t imagine that they would shun that. Granted, there are some limitations placed on design because secrets won’t remain secrets very long, and players can skip through content that they perhaps shouldn’t, but I think the pro’s on both sides are strong enough that developers are willing to deal the the downsides in order to make their game better with the use of third-party websites.

~Kanthalos

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