Former EA DICE Employee Laments the Disconnect Between Management, Development, and Players
Update: The poster clarified that they did not work for DICE, but with them. They were not a dev on the game, but rather on the social and community team that supported it, which is likely handled on the EA side.
Original: As media channels allow faster and more direct communication between creators and consumers, the reality of that which is being created can sometimes become skewed. There is both a benefit to this ease of communication and a rise of the “vocal minority,” shouting so loudly that it seems like its the only opinion to be heard. Taking to Reddit, a former EA DICE employee talked about how the company’s upper management handles ongoing complaints for games.
Take this with a grain of salt. This is one person’s experience, and their identity is unverified, as they wish to remain anonymous.
Reddit user Schamottriese, claiming to be have been part of the Social and Community team at EA DICE, responded to a Star Wars Battlefront 2 thread asking the current DICE community manager if the “corporate overlords actually read Reddit.” Schamottriese started by saying he understands player frustration, “I really loved my job, the games and amazing people I worked with. I also liked the Community although it could be very abusive and stressful at times but I get why [sic].”
They quickly pivoted to tell the community that corporate managers rarely read Reddit or other community voice channels. “The vast majority of middle and upper Management that I ever met, these are the guys who decide what idea and issue get forwarded and prioritized and which one isn’t, does NOT read Reddit, Twitter or even the EA AHQ Forums after launch week with few exceptions.” They continued be clarifying that DICE leadership certainly does, but typically, EA managers do not.”
“I had to answer many ridiculous questions in pre and post-launch meetings concerning Reddit, how it works, why it’s important, why we don’t drag all that traffic over to AHQ where we can monitor and moderate it, extract research data etc.” The former employee said. “They often did not understand why people would even use Reddit or Twitter rather than go to AHQ.”
The employee went on to talk about daily reports that they would send about the community, including sentiment, tech issues, content suggestions, and more. Often it was only the massive issues (like the loot box fiasco) that would get their attention, while most others would get two or three (out of 300) people replaying asking for questions, follow up, or clarification.
“Very few mid and upper-level Managers and actual decision-makers outside of the programming and design teams even play the games,” they lamented, talking about a specific experience they had with one EA manager. “I remember talking to a Manager in a 1 to 1 meeting and was told that Star Wars ToR and BF (Games and movies) was “silly” and “adults playing these games are pathetic and have no life.” Schamottriese indicated that this individual was a crucial decision maker, and that this wasn’t the only incident where something like this was said.
The Passion of Developers
Of course, not wanting to leave the actual developers out of the equation, they proceeded to talk about how passionate the development teams are.
However, the exact opposite applies to the programming, design and general development teams in DICE Stockholm. RARELY have I met more passionate and talented people in my entire life and career. These guys work themselves half to death for you, sacrifice free time with friends and family, not taking into account the moral impact of setbacks because of things that go sideways or work that’s already done and then gets canned instead of being released. They take this very personal and it makes me furious and sad at the same time when I see some of the things being thrown their way from gamers and their leaders alike. They come up with all these AMAZING ideas they want to implement, stuff you guys would love if you’d even know half of it. But they got and still get shut down by leadership and Management on a regular basis.
Schamottriese finishes their post by stating that there is a complete disconnect between management (publisher side), leadership (development side), and the players. They also mention the rigorous process of sending everything for approval through Disney and LucasFilm (at least for Battlefront 2, being a licensed game).
“It’s selective hearing at the best of times and what’s about to happen will prove this once more.” Other community members are surmising that this line refers to rumors that Star Wars Battlefront 2 support may be ending much sooner than anticipated, however, later in the comments, Schamottriese says “Realistically speaking? I think live services will remain online for the foreseeable future.” Again, take all of this with a grain of salt. The user’s identity is unverified and they wish to remain anonymous.
Whatever is “about to happen,” we’ll keep our ears to the ground. Heading into E3, we’re likely to hear a lot more about what EA and DICE are planning for the future.