It's not uncommon for Kickstarter projects or indie game developers to ask fans what features they want in a new product, but it's a bit unusual to see a mainstream videogame studio using the same tactic. Developer Konami wants to release a sequel to "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance," but not until fans select what features would compel them to buy the game.
Konami has posted a survey relating to the potential sequel to this year's action-heavy spinoff of the stealth-focused "Metal Gear" series. The survey is exhaustive. It asks participants about their demographic information, gaming habits and what they know about the original, absurdly named "Revengeance."
If you indicate that you did not buy the original title, the survey ends. Otherwise, it begins an exhaustive examination of how you liked its marketing campaign, gameplay systems and storyline in relation to other "Metal Gear" titles.
As the survey winds down, it asks two telling questions: "If the sequel to 'Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance' were available, do you think you would buy the game?" and "If the sequel to 'Metal Gear Rising' were available, what would you expect from the game?"
The overall breadth of options is surprisingly substantial: "More stealth elements," "Fierce battles with enemies" and "Element of science fiction in the story" are simple enough. "Elements other than fighting," "Longer total playing time" and "Online multiplay" could change a sequel in significant ways. "Want enemies to be human rather than cyborgs," "Want enemies to be cyborg rather than human" and "Want to cut more in the game" get freakishly specific.
Asking for fan input on game design is a relatively new phenomenon. Game sequels have been around almost as long as gaming itself, but up until the advent of the Internet, there was no easy way to correspond with large amounts of fans simultaneously. Even then, it took social media platforms like Twitter to spark a real (and often very hostile) dialogue between fans and creators.
Turning game design over to fans may sound like a great business strategy: No one knows what fans want better than the fans themselves, so by catering to their desires, you can craft a surefire hit instead of a gamble.
Under closer scrutiny, however, this philosophy exhibits a number of flaws: Fans have no idea what they want, fans often don't know they want something until it's introduced, and designing a product for mass appeal harms a product's artistic integrity.