So ;). You knew I was gonna have to talk about it.
During her dinner with Almir Listo, my friend confirmed what I had always suspected about his over-reliance on this emoticon. It’s a canned response he developed to questions he’s not at liberty to answer. It’s meant to be cheeky and coy, to offset the fact that you’re not getting a straight answer, but it just reads as evasive and smarmy since he uses it so often.
Look, anyone worth a damn knows that sometimes you just can’t answer certain questions when it comes to game development. It’s usually because you don’t want to give away surprises before release date. Sometimes, it’s because you’re testing the feasibility of a feature out and you don’t want to get people’s hopes up only to disappoint them later. I will hand it to Almir that he does know when to keep things under his hat, as opposed to Goldfarb who made promises early on that Overkill is still being asked about three years later (but that’s another post).
But 😉 isn’t just about questions Almir can’t answer. It’s become emblematic of a larger problem with his public presentation.
Don’t make Almir’s mistake.
It would be laughable that he seems to think a PR representative would come off as inauthentic compared to him, if it weren’t so tragic. With all his ;)’s, cutesy evasions, and “whoa there, heister” shit, he’s about as authentic as a used car salesman. He tries to be casual, but it comes off as stilted and forced. (Perhaps because he’s trying to conceal his secret disdain for us?)
Contrast that with Simon Viklund, who is almost unanimously loved by the community. Simon’s not very buddy-buddy with people. He errs on the side of professional rather than casual, and yet he has a very high approval rating among fans. This is largely because he’s fkn real with people.
Take his recent voice acting recommendation thread. Lots of people asked for PAYDAY: The Heist-style banter and he explains, chill as all hell, that it’s simply not possible, given the scope of PAYDAY 2. No shade and more importantly, no bullshit. A clear, committed answer. He was real about the fact that this oft-requested feature was unlikely to be implemented and people love him all the more for being honest about that fact.
Compare this to Almir’s response to being asked if there’ll ever be a Steam Workshop for PAYDAY 2.
“Allowing our talented heisters to create items using Steam Workshop is something we’d love to see. No ETA on this however.”
But it was easy to see through that veneer of sugar and noncommittal evasion, as user NotScrollsApparently replied, “Considering how carefully he phrased that, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.” You know what a better answer would have been? Something along the lines of a more genuine, “Yeah, we’d like to have something like that, but it’s not priority at present.” Maybe even an admission that it’s not something they’re working on, if it isn’t.
Basically, if you feel like throwing out a 😉 or telling a cute story in response to questions from your playerbase, stop and examine those feelings. Ask yourself, What Would Simon Viklund Do? And then answer that question in a real-ass manner instead.
Your fans will love you all the more for treating them with that kind of respect and honesty.