Your Dollars Create Your RPG Environment
I don’t care how much you like a company or the people that work for a company, if you don’t really like a product, you shouldn’t buy it. Even great people put out crap from time to time, and if you buy it because you want to “support” them overall, not because you like the product, you are subtly encouraging the notion that they just push product out the door.
I learned this lesson by buying every single Forgotten Realms product that was put out, even when I was really starting to question my enjoyment of some of those items, because I bought the line that “if you don’t buy it, they may quit making it.”
But if you buy everything, they learn that all they need to do is slap a title on it, and they expect it to sell. Even good people are tempted to fall into this habit if this is the lesson that you teach them with your spending patterns.
I won’t point fingers, but I recently visited the message boards of a company where someone very politely asked if there was too much of a given type of supplement to the game, and 90% of the posts in the thread went into full assault mode, questioning the original poster’s ability to run and manage a game and their understanding of the rules, and then threw in a few asides about how they could pick and chose what they wanted to use.
What seemed to get lost was that this was a customer that had identified themselves as liking the product overall, but was offering their opinion on what they would be willing to buy in the future and what might cause them to quit buying product. The members of the forum, rather than acting like fellow consumers, acted like members of an organization that were trying to re-educate a fallen member of the group.
It’s fine in response to a post like that to say “this product that you don’t like is the kind of thing I enjoy buying,” and it’s even better if you add, “for these reasons.” It’s not really great if your response is “either get your mind right or you are dead to me–if you continue thinking this way you must not be part of the group.”
When someone points out that they don’t like a given product, that person should give details on what they don’t like and why, and they should do so in a reasonable manner, otherwise the people producing the product don’t know what the concern is. The person that has the concerns does not have any kind of responsibility to come up with an entirely new marketing strategy that would produce the same amount of money for the company, as some of the responses seem to indicate.
Having loyal fans is good, but having zealous fans may not be. In the thread mentioned above, if the person with the concerns had been answered with people stating what they do like about the same products, someone from the company can look at that and say, “okay, there is some concern about X, but not enough that it will effect sales, let’s keep an eye on it.”
But when 90% of the thread consists of people rabidly proclaiming that they will continue to buy X until Hell Freezes Over, it casts the person who first posted as some kind of outsider troll who is on their way out of the community anyway, and that they can comfortably keep producing X because the “real” fans like X a whole lot, even if they don’t plan on ever using it.
I’m not implying that people from the company are too blind or ignorant to understand the difference, but it’s a subtle, insidious thing. Beyond that, the vehement reaction to a reasonably stated concern also tends to dissuade others that might think like the original poster to not post their agreement, because they don’t want to get the same kind of aggressive, and honestly, disproportional replies.