Asking for player feedback

It comes with my job that I know more about questionnaires than I could have ever dreamed (if I ever did dream about making questionnaires and analysing the data afterwards when I was a kid ^^). So naturally, I also watch how game companies ask for feedback. Recently, Warhammer Online set a rather sad example. They wanted to know whether the players from the last German server, Drakenwald, wanted to merge with the last remaining EU server (or do they still have two EU English servers?). If that merge happens, it also means that the German client won’t work properly anymore* and that the support won’t be available in German anymore (at least, that’s what they’d told the French players before they agreed to merge). So what did EA-Mythic-Bioware do? They put up a polldaddy poll. The answer to the question “do you want to merge”? was “NO!”. A few weeks later, a posting on the official forums appeared where players were begging for the merge to happen and the community manager was surprised. Why had they changed their mind within a few weeks? At which point I was surprised and thought: Did they really think this poll was representative? I doubt it. It was a poll on an external side. And it’s just a natural reaction that when we feel strongly about something, we want to make our voices heard. In other words, what could have happened, is that people voted several times. They didn’t want the merge to happen. Of course, it could also be that the majority really was against the merge. My point is: We don’t know. Voting several times is possible and you don’t even need to sign up for an account in order to vote there.

Which leads me to my question: Why don’t game companies add in-game polls for their MMOs? So this way, you can only vote with every account you own. Which would be okay because if you have two accounts, you paid for two. ;) But it’d keep faking poll results to a minimum.

I was just reminded of this because when I logged into Everquest 2, I was greeted by a poll. And I know that Aion has the feature as well. So far, I’ve only seen them use it to distribute extra items (you click and receive this item in your inventory). But I know it can be used for polls and I’d hope they would use it for that at least sometimes. ;)

But I do wonder: Why don’t developers use such a feature more often? From all I know, it’d make so much more sense. I know that a lot of MMO developers/community managers regularly ask for feedback on the forums and I know that the same people also state that the forums aren’t representative of the player base. So why do they use this method instead of asking for feedback within the game? They have the data and could use it for so much information!

Of course, this is just me speculating and wondering without knowing how feasible this method really is. Who knows, maybe they lose 1% of their playerbase with every poll they offer in-game because people are annoyed and rage-quit. ;) I just think it’d make so much more sense than having external polls or asking the minority of forum posters for their opinion while not hearing the opinion of the mass of players of their game.

*Another topic for another time: Client localizations… Apparently, this is a very difficult task to accomplish. In WAR, it just so happens that half of the text you see is shown in the language your client’s in. The other half is determined by the server you’re on. Which meant that when I’d switched my client to English while playing on a German server, that the quests were in English but my skills were in German (or the other way round) and other such absurd things. It did make me laugh but it wasn’t playable. So I switched back to the German client. In this case, if there’s only English servers left, it would mean having to play in Denglish or having to play with the English client which could lead to problems because not every person is capable of reading English that well (and not alll of us learned English at school, mind you! Some had Russian instead, for example).