Oh they understood alright, it just didn't matter. The opportunity to complain loudly in public was irresistible. Justified or not hardly matters, either. It's the complaining that is important. Never bet your company or any part of it on the Internet being reasonable. Never. Brad and Stardock have been gluttons for punishment for even trying, judging by the results.
I think two things need to be separated here: steam reviews and forum.
That extra bit of effort of having to find and use the forum filters out quite a few of these complainers, because by the time they can write it they stomached some of the anger/disappointment allready. That's the down- and upside of steam-reviews (or bnet2-reviews for custom maps for example): As a dev you get to see knee-jerk reactions, but your game will be judged based on those.
There are really amazing reviews on steam (and decent ones on bnet2) but you have to go through a mountain of trash to find them sometimes.
I'm impressed they still show any forum presence at all. Shows a certain dogged commitment to customers, I guess.
Well, they also have a job to do, so their time is limited. Plus, sometimes you just don't want to dilute a discussion with dev postings. A forum is a tool for devs after all! It allows them to get a glimpse at how players play this games, where mechanics are less enjoyable than they relaized, things like that.
I am sure they also get reactions like "Sheesh, just use your head" every now and then readnig player complaints, which is biased since, they have more inimate knowledge of the game. This is just what happens.
What do the big game developers do? I guess they must pay developers to put in allot of game time and come up with lists of things that need fixing? All that work is done before release..... but is it really all that different to a bunch of players on the internet complaining?
Game studios use a QA (quality assurance) department for this I think. Game devs (the ones who write the code) are a little too expensive to let them just play the game all the time. The game designers will play it a little more, since they have to know what it feels like, but they are not really the ones who should do the QA either. There may be deviations in each game studio, but I think this is how it works in general.
A QA department is better than people on the internet complaining, they are paid to write a proper report instead of "shit with ships is broken (go figure out where and what on your own devs)". Every time some dev tells us to send a replay, they have allready done that. A good report can make a big difference in time invested sometimes (the developer falls on his head, instantly knows where in the code something is broken and says: "Fuck! Of course this doesn't work!"). And they are paid workers. If a dev needs more information he just makes a quick call, while e-mail correspondence can be bottle necked by the reporters delayed reply.
Ok, enough arm chair theory crafting on my end. I am only part of a team working on an sc2 map and not an professional after all x)