Reader Submission #108 – We’re Not Alone

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Viral Marketing is something we’ve talked about at length here on PRC.net, and today’s Reader Submission is no exception. We’re now at a point where it’s commonplace to insert shills into a gaming community with the sole intention of praising a product, a tactic I myself find absolutely ridiculous, and something that thankfully other people are quickly growing tired of as well. Thanks to our boy BTP, we’re getting a look at how other genres handle viral marketing tactics – and no surprise here – they do it just as poorly. Will companies ever learn that this just flat-out isn’t fooling anyone? Only time will tell…


2864415-launch_16.pngGood afternoon, James and crew. How are you guys doing? Hopefully it’s been well. I believe it’s time for me to write my first reader submission. You guys can call me BTP, I believe that won’t cause me any issues around the forums.

We need to shine some light on the fact that the bad moves made by certain developers are not exclusive to sim racing. I need to say something pretty quick before addressing this issue. I’m mostly a hardcore gamer; I’m spending much more time on First & Third Person Shooter like Uncharted 4, The Last of Us, Counter Strike Global Offensive, and Rainbow Six Seige, but I do find time to dig out my Logitech G27 and run laps in both Assetto Corsa and Automobilista. I’m not a decent virtual driver and I’m aware of that. Most of the time I just enjoy turning some practice laps at my own pace, but right now jumping into competitive events isn’t my thing.

Anyways, as the title of this submission suggests, we’re not alone on developers going full Stalin on us. There’s this game called Killing Floor 2 on Steam, that’s achieved a bit of a following. It’s a fun game, and the co-op elements are fairly well done. I had a couple buddies who were big into this game, and they’ve recently told me that a fair bit has changed behind the scenes. According to them, and many user reviews, TripWire have been “silencing criticism.” The company implemented microtransactions and haven’t fixed issues that have been around forever. This sounds a bit familiar, hey? Developers trying to monetize content rather than prioritize bug fixing….

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Some users even discovered that TripWire had been using Free Weekend events on Steam to generate fictional positive reviews blindly praising the game. There are users playing the game for minutes, even seconds, and then giving the game a recommended review while specifically downplaying things the dedicated community around the game is upset about. Suspicious, to say the least…

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I can understand that this is not a sim racing example, but at the end of the day it’s the same thing, over and over again. Viral Marketing is getting tiresome, and I wish it would stop. Do developers think we are fools and will believe such obvious lies?


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You’re right, this submission is a bit off-topic, but the point you make is still valid, and I’ll try to bring it back to our world with a more relevant example. Now for the longest time, I’ve been probably the most outspoken and abrasive person within the sim racing community when it comes to discussing viral marketing. And I’m like this for a very simple reason: this community is already small as shit and it’s hard enough to find people who genuinely know what they’re talking about when it comes to hardware, software, or the overall simulation value of certain games. The last thing this hobby needs, when finding helpful info is already difficult in the first place due to the sheer number of people who can’t fucking drive, is for 30% of sim racing message board personalities to be acting as used car salesmen for their game of choice. All this does is confuse people.

I mean, it’s sad really. You can’t go on the iRacing forums, what’s basically the biggest sim racing message board on the internet, and ask about other racing simulators without being beaten into the ground by adult manchildren who are convinced you’re somehow inferior to them by having any sort of desire to play something else. And after Need for Speed 2015 tanked hard, any valid criticism on the game’s official Subreddit was met with apologists whose entire post history was spent sitting on the Need for Speed section defending the game. Imagine you’re just some dudebro who’s bummed that the new game he bought was kind of shit, and you go on Reddit to see if anyone else feels the same way, and you’re met with this weird army of people trying to tell you that you’re the problem – and before you know it, there’s this whole ecosystem of haters, apologists, and trolls locked into this eternal nonsensical war… And it’s all fueled by the developers themselves.

Oh, there’s people out there who don’t believe the developers play a role in this, and think it’s all just a bunch of beta orbiters standing up for their favorite game? I have a buddy’s login info for the Project CARS WMD forums, a place where 80,000 individuals came together to help shape the development of Slightly Mad Studio’s most recent racing simulator, and these forums were essentially used as an “open office” to organize the game’s development. I want the skeptics to take a good, hard look at these posts I’ve captured below from a 1450+ page thread dedicated to Press Articles on Project CARS, because viral marketing is absolutely, positively, 100% real.

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Two guys brag that they’ve basically ran to the comments section of each article screeching at their respective authors, begging them to change certain details that portray Project CARS in a negative light. One guy actually celebrates the fact that EuroGamer obeyed his commands. A third urges WMD members to rig the vote of an Austrian review site. But we’re not done yet.

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A journalist for some Xbox magazine in Europe, a user whom financially backed Project CARS, gave the game an honest review and drew attention to the abundance bugs found in the Xbox One version of the title, was promptly bitched out by the IT Manager of Slightly Mad Studios for not “knowing what has been done here”, and claims “there are different ways to express an opinion”, adding that the author, Matthias Brems, “doesn’t deserve the Press tag.” So not only were there shills running around in the comments section of every Project CARS article, but now we’ve got Slightly Mad Studios staff themselves implying that Press members were intended to give the game a positive review.

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So we get to these last two posts, and again, I seriously want people to tell me I’m making all this stuff up. Go right on ahead. We have one guy saying straight up that they were “too late to influence the voting” on some Russian awards website, and another guy saying “the power of WMD is needed here” after our boy Ian Bell made some interesting comments about the Nintendo Wii U version of Project CARS being abruptly cancelled. In all three examples above, we can clearly see average sim racers – who should otherwise chilling out and playing games with the rest of us – instead collaborating on a private message board to push a certain product on the rest of the community. That’s not cool. We barely even have enough people to fill online rooms. Hell, we barely have anybody playing online at all. We don’t need to cut an already small population in half by turning some of them into used car salesmen.

But the bigger issue is viral marketing itself, and there’s a simple explanation as to why it will absolutely never work as intended. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together will simply question why a flood of fictional positive comments are needed if the mainstream gaming review scores claiming the game is great are indeed accurate. If the game is as good as IGN, Gamespot, PC Gamer, and GamesRadar say it is, why are developers bending over backwards to create an army of shills in the first place? They shouldn’t need to.

Unless the game isn’t very good.

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55 thoughts on “Reader Submission #108 – We’re Not Alone

  1. ” Do developers think we are fools and will believe such obvious lies?”

    Yes, people are fools, especially gaming consumers.

    Western culture is marketed to so much its natural for us to respond to shilling. The few that recognize and criticize this are no match for the scores of Communications majors out there infecting every aspect of the culture.

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      1. I’d love for it to be, but its not. Its pretty obvious. Its about as insightful as saying American voters are [insert parade of ungenerous but accurate insults].

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    1. Seems like an evolution of marketing. The salesman is intrinsically untrusted, the shill is pretending to be a consumer and granted a higher level of default trust. If a couple shills can align their tactics within one place, the uninformed consumer simply sees brand-positive messages from happy consumers.

      I would wager it’s far more effective than standard forms of advertising and also needn’t cost as much. As you know, some will even do it for free (WMD example).

      It’s actually pretty alarming and I don’t think we have hit the peak yet.

      ‘Water Army’ on google will yield some stuff too.

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      1. You make some good points. The social media revolution has really upped the ante on this tactic as well. Facebook recently revealed that their algorithm for how it prioritizes news via the site is based firstly on what your close friends care about and second what is generally considered “important” as news.

        The future of a world where the gatekeepers of the media are brought down by the atomized architecture of the social media driven internet should indicate that marketing must become more insidious because we’re no longer looking to authoritative sources as much as our own circles.

        Its both exciting and potentially alarming. One thing is for sure, those among us who can’t wait to sell out have finally had their gold rush.

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  2. “One guy actually celebrates the fact that EuroGamer obeyed his commands. ”

    Martin was actually a dev. He just corrected some technical stuff Eurogamer guessed…

    Can’t you stay factual instead making false accusations?

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  3. That’s a dev that has corrected some false (but let call them wrong, since the eurogamers journalists aren’t developers) claims… and he did it right.

    Also reading all the those forums posts, I see many “fan boys” but none of them pretended to “fake” a review or such, they just wanted to do “justice” to the game they like… you may say that they are wrong, but they really believe that the game is good.. and there’s nothing bad with this.

    I also agree that a “journalist” cannot do a review mentioning “thousand bugs” (when clearly there’s no “thousands” bugs) or by using a similar “kid language”, he/she should remain professional.. he may have found bugs, but saying “thousand bugs that makes the game unplayable” is just a false accusation.. if the game is (or was) unplayable, how the hell there’s thousand people playing it every day? So yes.. that’s not a journalist, but a kiddo from a blog and doesn’t deserve the press tag.

    To resume: all those posts reported by you may comes from biased people, but none of them is technical wrong or does no justice to the simmers world, instead that’s the prove of how much cohesive is the community over there, and this is good for the gamers world.

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    1. “”To resume: all those posts reported by you may comes from biased people, but none of them is technical wrong or does no justice to the simmers world, instead that’s the prove of how much cohesive is the community over there, and this is good for the gamers world.””
      ——————————————————————————————————————————

      Fuck off, Hitler and Stalin were pretty cohesive in there “marketing”,didnt really work out well for rest of the world did it.

      How the fuck does WMD spastics running around the sim community talking shit,do the community any good? wtf, there has never been so much division in the “Sim” scene since WMD tards started their campaigns.these pricks lack father figures and desire nothing more than approval from their adopted father figures (insert dev here).

      Every word you wrote is just BS, anybody can review how the fuck they want, if some fucking idiots takes “thousands of bugs” literally, thats their own stupid fucking fault, its clear if that language is used in a review its certainly worth taking note of bugs and very very probably not literal.

      lets flip it around, with positive marketing am I to believe Pcars is the, and I qoute…

      “The most beautiful, authentic, technically-advanced, and intense racing game on the planet!”

      Just an outright lie, wheres your outrage and correction skills on this one hmm?

      James should of also mentioned the time Bell PUBLICLY pulled bram up on allowing criticism on RD forums to go unchecked after he “received free copy’s” of pcars, that in it self is evidence enough from the horse’s mouth in a PUBLIC FORUM, fuck me you apologists twats have a fucking short memory.

      But feel free to “correct” , “censor” and tell people what opinions they should have, mein fuhrer.

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      1. Really, you cannot write 1 comment without the childish swearing and anger issues can you? You come across as a very instable and angry young fellow. I’m not surprised noone takes you seriously. You might want to work on that dude….

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        1. “Really, you cannot write 1 comment without the childish swearing and anger issues can you? ”

          Could if I want to, but where fuck is the fun in that, childish? shit you have some naughty kids, if my kids spoke like that, Id beat their arse, figuratively of course, for the snowflakes that just shat em selfs.

          “You come across as a very instable and angry young fellow.”

          Angry? pfft my state orded psychiatrist disagrees with you, although you may find common ground with some of the little cunts I have hired.

          “I’m not surprised noone takes you seriously. You might want to work on that dude….”

          Yeah well you can tell “noone” I dont take him seriously and he can go fuck him self, fucking Noone opening his big fucking mouth, you tell him im looking out for that cunt.

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            1. Fucks sake “anom” I expected some witty arsehole replys this morning , not some “lel your gay” grade school shit, Ive heard better insults from my little girls, try harder, dont give me the lame arse insults the high school bully directed at you.

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        1. OI fuck head, you reading this? you comprehend english? what has devs got anything to do with the part you mentioned, like I have many times for dipshit wannbe smart arses daily, I will break it down for ya….

          Anom, Pcar shill:
          ” all those posts reported by you may comes from biased people, but none of them is technical wrong or does no justice to the simmers world, that’s the prove of how much cohesive is the (WMD)community over there, and this is good for the gamers world.”

          Hash, the dipshit slayer:
          “Hitler and Stalin were pretty cohesive in there “marketing”,didnt really work out well for rest of the world did it.”

          You comprehendy amigo? pat on the back for trying to take a shot at me without calling me “gay” though, but unfortunately not only did you miss, you were holding the rifle backwards, try again bitch tits.

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    2. The number of bugs is closer to infinite than it is to <'thousands'. Easily 2k bugs have been in this game since release.

      Come on man, be real. Your unpaid shilling is a little much to be under the above article.

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  4. Hash is right. The PCars fiasco was one of the worst cases of viral marketing I’ve ever seen, and it’s hilarious how simply pointing out that PCars suffers from a staggering amount of bugs gets the shills and viral marketers all agitated.

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  5. Austin, you’re better than this.

    “Oh, there’s people…”

    When has “there is people” ever sounded correct?

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  6. “The last thing this hobby needs, when finding helpful info is already difficult in the first place due to the sheer number of people who can’t fucking drive, is for 30% of sim racing message board personalities to be acting as used car salesmen for their game of choice. All this does is confuse people.”

    which is why it’s really frustrating when PRC quotes these chucklefucks to support their simcade purge.

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      1. PROJECT CARS HAS THE MOST ADVANCED PHYSICS, THEREFORE THE SIMPLE MINDED MASSES CANNOT COMPREHEND THE SKILL REQUIRED TO DRIVE AT A COMPETITIVE LEVEL.

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  7. Would be nice if you stopped pushing your “not enough online racers” agenda onto others, James. There’s a lot of problems in the simming community, I agree. Not everybody likes to go online, however. And not necessarily because they “can’t fucking drive”. Sounds like you are more concerned with proving yourself to be a fast driver, rather than with the actual state of the community.

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      1. Yea most people play games for the fantasy aspect, when that fantasy is shattered with reality when they go online they tend to stay offline or turn to bashing and parking in corners on the track. When they become tired of that they turn to shilling to get praise for there efforts, very sad reality of the consumer fuck life cycle.

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      2. Then is there any particular reason you race cars? To me it’s the driving aspect that is the most important and fun. And other cars and people on track just get in the way.
        Why do you care about “being faster than others”? It’s just something you personally fancy. No need to push that onto others. If someone likes to drive offline, that’s their business. Even if someone doesn’t drive fast enough, it’s still their business. You don’t need to tell others what to do. And judging by your frustration in the articles, the majority of sim users prefers to drive offline anyway. You might not like it, but you have no right to try and make people do what you want. Some just enjoy the very aspect of driving around in a simulated car in such places and at such speeds they would hardly attempt to try doing in real life. Is it that hard to understand? Not everybody wants to race. And of those who do, not everybody wants to race other people.

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        1. “Other cars and people on the track just get in the way.”

          This is some meta level shit. I’m going to sign up for a Flight Sim community and tell everyone I don’t actually take off at all; just taxi around the various airports to go sightseeing. I will report back with my findings at some point. Wish me luck.

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          1. You might be surprised, but some people actually enjoy simulated driving for what it is. There are also those who prefer racing AI only, just like there are fps players mostly into co-op instead of deathmatching. In terms of flight sims that would be flying offline instead of online all the same. No need to come up with silly crap like “taxiing around and not taking off”.

            Racing is just a way to overinflate your ego, which is already dangerously inflated. And you don’t really need cars for that. But if you insist on some “natural intelligence” opposition, why not go a more proper path and join your “racing family” on an actual track? Otherwise it’s kind of pathetic mentioning your real life competitive roots, yet driving a cheap-ass “toy wheel”.

            On the matter of toy wheels… It might come out as a shock, but most of the people who bought theirs did that for their own fun. Not for yours. What’s with that arrogant “you should earn your wheel by beating me” attitude? Why do you think anybody should give a rat’s ass about beating you or some other bloke to begin with? If you have fun racing others, well… just find those who share your outlook on the fun of racing. There should be enough of them around already… And if there aren’t, then maybe the whole racing thing is a bit overrated, eh?

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            1. Man you do what you want. If you want to drive in a city without a chrono, get a driving licence simulator. Of course this sim is full of race cars, don t you think it is not to fight against the Chrono ? against the AI (poor) ? against other players ?
              You should be the only one playing soccer (like Fifa) without the ambition of winning.
              I think he respects every gamer, even you who visually bought the wrong simulator for what you are looking for.

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              1. Of course I do what I want. And I drive any sim that I find to be useful and realistic enough. Don’t need anybody telling me what to get and how to drive. I prefer rally sims though. There nobody gets in the way.
                “The wrong simulator” is any one that doesn’t have proper physics, I’d say. Like that “driving license simulator” you mentioned.

                If you feel the need to be constantly proving to others you are the fastest, maybe you just need to grow up a little? If you don’t enjoy the driving for what it is, is there a reason to drive at all? You could find out who is the fastest or who is the strongest in much more natural and realistic ways.

                As for soccer, I don’t really care much about idiotic activities.

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      3. “The whole point of racing as a sport is proving yourself to be faster than others.”

        If you’re interested in approaching it as a sport maybe. However does that mean that everytime someone just tries to play catch with his daddy he isn’t taking the sport of baseball or football seriously enough?

        I get the feeling you’re the guy that turns the beer league weekend games into a grudge match nobody wants to come back to.

        Like

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