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September 15, 2013

Are Fan Ideas Always Bad?

You know, with the upcoming release of Pokémon X and Y in a little less than a month, I spent a long time looking around the Internet for previews of the new generation. Each time something new was revealed, you can be sure I was going to find out soon enough.

With video games, a company is certain to gain a fan base, especially if a series becomes very popular. The developers are often listening to the fans. They don't have another choice, if the fans are denouncing bad glitches. However, they also get lots and lots of suggestions, some of which would make no sense. After all, fans don't always have the right grasp on the series; Their ideas might not fit in the franchise, others would be simply ridiculous.

That begs the question. Are fan ideas always bad?

Well... To be fair, sometimes even the developers can have bad ideas. ...Okay, that was a little joke. But on the other hand, fan ideas could be even worse. There are many factors that lead to ideas that are not as good; maybe the fans dont take into account the technological aspect of game-programming, maybe their suggestions would take too much space on the same disk or cartridge. Maybe the idea has just a little something that makes it different, too different from what the video game series usually gives us. Maybe the idea is, well... just inappropriate. Maybe it just doesn't make sense. Or, Hell, maybe it's an idea that would work better as its own game... or as a new game for ANOTHER franchise, oh the irony!

But let's be serious for a moment. Are fan ideas unsalvageable, always bad? Well, no. If the fan is devoted and knows all there is to know about the series, maybe that fan can shape up a plot that would fit into a new game for that series. Maybe the idea isn't for a whole game, maybe it's just for an aspect or a mechanic that could be added in a future game. This is already simpler to work with. Maybe the plot would fit perfectly into the spirit of the series, without a single faux pas anywhere in the script that would make it different from what is expected of that franchise.

However, we have to take into account another important detail: Video game companies receive tons, and tons, and tons, and TONS of mail from fans. Usually, the creators are on social networks, so they can discuss with the people buying their products. And since most video games are distributed pretty much all over the world, that makes a world full of fans to listen to. Thus, ideas come by the thousands, often by the millions, so developers can't really pick between all those ideas. It's not that fan ideas are bad, it's that the people behind the games receive way too many of those ideas!

And it would take so much time just to read all those ideas that the developers would rather not take their already precious time reading all this. It has less to do with the quality of the ideas and more with, well, being very busy video game creators. They must still look through their mail for glitch reports, so that they can correct those programming mistakes in later games. And, of course, considering all the problems I noted with fan ideas, only very few of said fan ideas would work in a franchise. And after a while, wouldn't it suck to constantly read ideas that will never be used?

Actually, I saw this picture today.

Maybe it's not truly a quote from Satoshi Tajiri. Maybe it was made up. Maybe that last sentence was added by someoe else. Who knows. But that long quote says everything. If the developers listened to all the contradicting opinions from fans, the games we'd end up with would be a complete mess. Maybe thats why the developers won't listen, after all... it's not just that the ideas might be bad or that there are too many, it's that the ideas are contradicting each other, and in some franchises some minor fan bases are so persistent with their nonsensical ideas that, by the end, the good ideas, which sometimes are ideas brought by a single fan, are overlooked.

...That's pretty sad.