Take any recent Nintendo game where there’s any other NPC to talk to, and if said NPC isn’t outright at the player’s throat over everything, then someone will be very vocal about having a problem about it. Maybe that’s putting the example too vague and general, but it’s been a general thing in the terms of Animal Crossing and Pokémon. Maybe people are tired of nice people in games and want a reason to hate them. A bit like the general populace in Grand Theft Auto or Postal games where it ends up being a satirical range of stereotypical jerks for antagonists or even civilians so maybe one might not feel as bad reducing the population of those games into enough blood to paint all the roads in town dozens of times over. Or maybe they just want more progression to be shown in softening up a demon. For all I know it’s that, but the lens of online has naturally defied any moderate views and only shows extremes of people wanting to be abused by their games. Maybe that’s how Dark Souls and its dozens of prequels and sequels and spiritual whatevers got so popular.
People have been vocal about apparent rival NPCs in Pokémon games effectively being pushovers because they pick the monster weak to the player’s starter and they’re more just being some kind of overly friendly type who keeps showing up randomly and doesn’t seem to get mad about losing to the player constantly. These people mostly miss having Gary/Blue as a rival, where in the games he acted more like a punk who wanted to win before the player character. And he did win before the player. Then the player has to take him down as well. Maybe they really miss the character progression. In the sequel games, the rival settled for being a Gym Leader and acts a bit more mature, while the previous game’s player character ran off to sit on a mountain for some reason. Not sure what kind of progression the latter is.
Anyone with an issue with the most recent Animal Crossing is bound to reference any line in the GameCube game where the animals are calling the player stupid and ugly. The animals did throw a lot of shade at each other as well in that game. There was some sort of way to have them be less mean over time, as they accepted being a neighbor and possibly stopped trying to actively scam the player at every moment, just fewer moments perhaps. Maybe it’s nostalgia taking over, but I wonder if Nintendo would decide to just take every personality in that game for the next one and have them actively antagonize the player, not just in dialogue, but they could just randomly steal money from their bank account, or wander in drunk and smash up their house, or even run around hitting the player with a net or an axe. Maybe they’d even just jump on the player whenever they’re trying to fish or catch a bug. And the twist here would be that the animals wouldn’t improve at all because they’re all just complete asses. They just end up hating any humans who wander into their village and antagonize them into leaving. And say this extended up to shop and visitor NPCs and the like. It would be an interesting experiment to make the next game like this, and depending on who actually ended up liking this scenario, it would be easier to pick out who’s complaining about a lack of variety and who’s just a masochist.
In general though, they market these games toward families and kids and such, so they want to be nice, so that the kids don’t pick up bad words from the games or something. If they want games that are meaner toward the player or have features that are still missing after all this time from some corporate entity that just wants to sell games, indies may just have to take over for that. A big thing in the indie realm is making the games that Nintendon’t, including racing games similar to F-Zero or weird RPGs or edgier monster catching games that end up being nearly the same as Pokémon but the characters swear constantly. And then inadvertently turning those monster catching games into MMOs because people have really wanted a Pokémon MMO since whenever. And of course exclusively using the types that a bunch of fan creations involved, like “light” and “radioactive” and “sound”, and having the rival effectively murder the player at every turn because they wanted a rival who was the exact opposite of a pushover, as in they would shove someone off a cliff if they had the chance, and have probably done so before over minor altercations. By that point it’s obvious who they’re catering to, people who want to act like their next product is the true Pokémon-killer while falling into other things like microtransactions or whatever. But really, calling anything an anything-killer hardly actually works. The one thing I remember it working on is Call of Duty, where that was codenamed a Medal of Honor killer, and if you’ve seen any game from Medal of Honor recently, it probably wasn’t the best it could be. Most recently I think it was some weird VR experience, and prior to that probably some template modern shooter thing. It’s pretty much been dropped in favor of Battlefield as far as EA goes.
In any case, if someone wants a game where NPCs are actively antagonizing the player and there’s an easy way to get back at them, there’s definitely options involving a lot of murder. Sometimes some people end up doing this type of psychopathic stress relief, so as long as it’s kept virtual, that’s the important part. But maybe people just really want a petty neighborhood drama simulator. Some version of the Sims might work better there. And if someone wants to play the Sims and have psychopathic stress relief, it’s definitely doable in the game itself, and can be enhanced with mods. I wonder what kinds of mods someone might come up with for an Animal Crossing game to make it more “ideal”.