One thing I always notice around the launch of new MMOs, is an influx of people who argue that the game is great and will be successful, regardless of logic or reason.
Some of the most common arguments are as follows:
"We just saw a beta so far, the real game will have more and be better"
"The problems were supposed to happen, it was beta testing"
"Problem X isn't really a problem, because I didn't suffer from it" (even when 20,000 other people did)
"20,000 people unable to log in is only a small minority of the game"
"I -trust- them to do a good job"
4 months later most of these arguments would seem silly. Especially when almost none are fixed and the game is turning from subscription to F2P or shutting down. I personally think FFXIV will be fine, but I still want to explain how many people are being manipulated.
In reality, there are countless ways this is happening, but in order to save time I'm going to stick to the one that I feel probably affects the most people. I will also over-simplify things for understanding, and stick to the less-complex 'classical' arguments (for any psychologists out there). If I don't get rated to oblivion I might add on a few other ways.
Cognitive Dissonance is the discomfort you feel when you experience 2 conflicting cognitions. These cognitions could be beliefs, ideas, reactions, etc. Social psychologists have demonstrated that people have some sort of motivational drive to avoid this cognitive dissonance. And this is generally done by altering cognitions to reach some sort of 'equilibrium'. Now in reality things get quite a bit more complicated than this, and there have been arguments over whether or not people are aiming for equilibrium or instead interpreting their own behaviour and interpreting what actions may have caused it (self-perception theory). But either way, this general idea seems to be affecting many people (and science would say is for sure affecting them)
The best way to explain this is through a few classic studies
The Child-Toy Study
This was carried out in 1963 by Carlsmith and Aronson
Children were brought to a room with a bunch of toys (one at a time)
Half were told there would be a mild punishment if they played with a specific toy (lets say a nerf gun)
The other half were told there would be a strong/severe punishment for playing with the toy
None of the kids touched the toy
Later, the kids were told they could play with any toy (including the previously forbidden one)
In line with this theory, the children who were told there would be a mild punishment were much less likely to touch the forbidden toy.
Why? Because the kids who were told of a severe punishment -knew- that the punishment was the reason they didn't touch the toy
On the other hand, the kids who would only suffer a mild punishment had to internally justify why they didn't risk the mild punishment. And that justification would basically take the form of "i don't like the toy as much"
Now I realize people are skeptical. So lets move to college students (or young adults)
In 1959 a very very famous study by Festinger and Carlsmith looked at college/university students
They had the subjects do an incredibly boring task for an hour or so
For example, put pegs onto a board, then take them off, then put them on again, then take them off
And then turn every peg counter clockwise 1 quarter, and repeat, and repeat.
It was meant to be boring and annoying
At the end, the researchers asked the subjects to lie to the next student (really an actor) and tell them the experiment was fun and interesting for money. The actor even said something along the lines of "my friend told me it's really boring and I should avoid it." So the subjects really had to try to convince the actor it was fun.
Some were paid $20 to lie
Some were paid $1 to lie
and Some were not asked to lie or talk to someone
A week later, the subjects were asked to rate how interesting the task was.
Those in the control group who weren't asked, and those paid $20, rated it boring
Those in the $1 group rated it considerably better
Why? Because those in the $1 group had to justify why they lied to someone for only $1. If you're getting paid $20 ( a lot at the time ), you can justify it by saying "well i got paid well to lie." But $1 wasn't that much. So to make yourself feel better about lying for only $1, you trick yourself into believing that the boring experience was actually better than it is.
So how does this pertain to FFXIV? Well this next study on post-decisional dissonance will explain how.
In 1968 Knox and Inkster went to a race track in British Columbia
They went up to 69 people in line to place a $2 bet (in the next 30 sec) and asked them to rate their horse's chance of winning
They then went up to 72 people who had just placed a bet 30 seconds ago and asked them to rate their horse's chance of winning
Can you guess the results?
People about to place a bet rated their horses chances as 3.48/7 which was a fair chance of winning
Those who had just placed a bet reduced post-decisional dissonance by rating their horse higher (4.81/7), justifying to themselves that they picked a winner
So within 30 seconds of placing a bet, people on average increased their belief that their horse was a winner.
This has similarly been shown to happen with voting.
And all three of these studies have been repeated many many times (probably over 300 times with different variants)
Always getting the same results (at least in the west. Eastern culture is a bit different)
So how are you being manipulated?
By having you pre-order a game (and bribing you to do it with bonuses), SE, and any other video game companies using the method, are creating post-decisional dissonance. In other words, you are subconsciously being manipulated into liking the game more, because you invested in it.
Further, by letting you beta test, especially in open beta, you are investing time into the game (learning mechanics, making friends, etc), further creating this post-decisional dissonance.
This is why open beta wasn't "just a test."
Open betas are designed to make you want to buy a game because you have already invested time in creating a character and leveling it up.
Many of the arguments made on these and other forums show clear signs of cognitive dissonance.
So far, based on logic, no one should have high hopes for this game. 1.0 crumbled, and 2.0 has had a massive share of obvious problems, days before tomorrows release. Put another way, if a computer were judging this games success based on logic alone, it would take a very creative algorithm to get the game a decent rating.
Personally, I have very high hopes. And I realize I've been influenced by my legacy status, my preorders, my investment in my character, etc.
I really hope the game succeeds. And I really hope it's a lot of fun.
But please just be aware that you may not have consciously decided based on logic and facts that this game will be a hit. Maybe, like the majority of the population, you've been influenced by the tactical marketing institutions of our modern day. And if that's the case, take the game for what it is, instead of hyping it up to be much better than reality.
I hope this post didn't offend anyone. I just thought some people might be interested in the marketing tactics that make games a success.