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Opinion: When a Company Takes Social Media Too Far

Mega Man Legends 3 hadMega Man Legends 3 project one of the most innovative blogs in gaming with Devroom. For the first time ever, fans had an active role in development. Visitors could vote for their favorite character designs from the top artists within Capcom, or enter their own designs into contests. The designs that win would be used to make up major parts of the finished product.

Mega Man Legends 3 was to be the first game to be made by the fans and for the fans. That was, of course, before Capcom canceled it, citing poor participation numbers.

Since their conception, companies have been using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to successfully connect with its consumer base. No longer did game companies have to solely rely on costly advertisements being seen by mostly uninterested passersby. Now, for little cost, advertisers can speak directly to thousands of highly interested customers. Any business owner with a need for advertising would be crazy not to try using this risk free method of advertising.

Mega Man Legends 3 character contest winnerHowever, social media should never be used as the only form of advertising, only as a supplement to more traditional advertisements. Expecting for a product to become a commercial success before there is traditional advertising or even a prototype is just insane. Measuring success solely based on an advertising campaign is equally as baffling when more traditional methods of market research have been around.

It is tragic to see businesses make decisions using social media as a market barometer for any reason, but Capcom took the insanity a step farther by using Devroom as the sole indicator.

Devroom required a huge time commitment for fans to show their support. In order to participate, Capcom needed fans to create a Devroom account to vote, check back daily for more content, and made people spend hours working on artwork and designs for contests. They were simply asking for far too much.

It is unfair for Capcom to say the project relied on the fans commitment to Devroom. The paying customer should not be forced to do anything but pay money to get what they want. With such a high level of commitment needed it's not surprising the numbers weren't very high. It is confusing how Capcom could even determine what numbers they needed, given the unique nature of the Devroom marketing campaign.

This doesn't make Devroom a poor idea from the start. Running a marketing campaign like Devroom is an amazing way to get fans invested in the game, but investment is a double edge sword. Investment means now the fans have something to lose.

Capcom should have never risked opening Devroom if the game might not ever make it to stores. Canceling Mega Man Legends 3 is a betrayal of fans' trust and insults the work they put into the game. Blaming those very fans for not participating enough is a spit in the face to both the fans that participated in all of Devroom's events and the ones that just wanted to buy and play the game.

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