Tea Talk: Developer hijinks

I brewed some tea

In general, despite me really hating their business model at times and feeling really iffy about their new VIP system in Paladins, I like Hi-Rez. The devs actually put a lot of effort and love into developing the game. Paladins have been growing rather well, its community vibrant, its playerbase number is rather respectable (though we won’t know the actual player count since you can launch Paladins directly through Hi-Rez’s launcher instead of going through Steam), and its eSports scene is growing. This is in no small part due to Hi-Rez’s continuous efforts to develop and promote the game.

But that isn’t the only way Hi-Rez endears itself to its players. Nope, one of the things that endears Hi-Rez to the community that I haven’t mentioned is humour. Just watch the video in which the devs use Grover as an excuse to make tree puns talk about the development of Grover. Or the video talking about Paladin’s growth and the company. Or announcing the amount raised at a 24-hour charity stream. Or the one announcing their sale. Or the one where Drybear announces his announcer pack. Or maybe the one where they got Nevercake to promote the game.

And let’s face it, Hi-Rez isn’t the only developer having fun. Valve the developer does it too. Remember the time where the Meet the Spy video got leaked? They used the opportunity to crack a few jokes at their own expenses, as well as firing some people Robin Walker hates. And even when they’re chastising people for abusing the system, they managed to have a sense of humour about it and provide some lore as well. Pretty sure that just makes people think it’s a joke and cause them to not take this seriously, Valve. If they do, you won’t have to make another such blog post again. And again.

Even now, when Valve is slowly turning from a developer into a publisher (we don’t talk about Artifact), they haven’t really lost that touch. Just look at how they announced Kritzkast’s Meet Your Makers event. Or the blurb for the Meet Your Match update, which left a smile on my face until I actually witnessed for myself how the update was first implemented. Or even recently when they make a blog post about Team Fortress turning 21. By the way, put the baby back, TF2 team. And for goodness’ sake give her a more sensible name.

Speaking of publishers, we can’t miss out Devolver Digital. They got a lot of goodwill with their E3 presentation, poking fun of how exploitative big publishers can be, as well as making jokes at E3’s expense. Personally, I doubt they’ll be invited back to E3 next year, which is a shame.

Thing is, humour is amusing. It brings laughter. Not to mention, humour humanizes the company in question, making them more endearing to their customers. As a PR move, cracking jokes at your own expense, provided that you’re self-aware about it and not just blindly going through the motions, is actually a rather effective tool for engaging your customer base. Although active communication and being transparent and non-exploitative is a rather large part of creating goodwill too. Not to mention creating or having good games and maintaining them well, which is the basis of it.

So yes, crack jokes, have fun, and let loose once in a while. Just don’t forget to do your job.

I finished my tea

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