Great points, and I really don’t know.
I feel like they were getting strong with the community for a while in Gears 4. Granted, Gears 4 was my first and only Gears experience so I don’t know much before that.
When I first came along to the forums they had just hired some new community managers who were actively doing outreach and feedback.
I remember their twitter was super responsive when I would send them bugs or questions.
They had forms of public test servers for tweaking tunings and mechanic changes.
Rank stats were not super transparent but they did make very large attempts at explaining it and trying to make it as transparent as possible over time. Roughly by season 5 I began to learn the swing and know exactly when I should expect to be moving up, staying in place, or losing percentages and it was pretty damn accurate to my expectations and predictions of where I was in the ‘background skill’ calculator.
Slowly, this began to fade away as they went into hard dev mode for Gears 5… so relatively understandable.
But to seemingly abandon a lot of the knowledge and experience from Gears 4 and instead try to reinvent the wheel from scratch… I dunno why. Maybe they wanted to use as little assets as possible from the previous titles in order to stand out on their own - even changing the title to Gears instead of GOW.
(I mean, they have 2 web domains instead of just merging Gears 5 into the existing GOW web space in the primary section and keeping previous titles accessible from a menu bar. Even the forums are kept on this old, dusty domain. Almost like Gears 4 is the kid living under the stairs)
The two most frustrating things are that they released it way, way too early without proper QA testing (or knew the issues and released anyway) and the tanking of community outreach. They don’t come to the forums and they don’t respond on twitter.
I realize Clevens has come out to answer questions here on the here, which is nice… but it’s a little too late and that isn’t really his job. He drops nuggets here and there that, from a TC perspective, probably isn’t the best thing to put out there - that isn’t totally his fault though. He’s not a PR rep.
And even though the truth of the matter is always great to know, it can sometimes be disconcerting to learn the real reasons behind some changes that were made or getting into direct conflicts with customers (for whatever the reason). Buffers are a good thing in some cases.