Do I hear people say that I am a whiny, self-entitled gamer? Sure, I am, and I won’t deny that fact. I do, however, find it increasingly sad to see how developers and publishers have turned on the video game community throwing around this bullshit buzzword like “entitled”, in an attempt to “bully” away any reasonable expectations of quality, fairness, and good business practices when it comes to video game releases. People who keep on hammering on gamers that complain and calling them entitled are totally missing the point. Video games are all about giving your audience what they want, and you cannot deny that fact. Without gamers, there would be no video game industry to speak of.
If you treat your, fanbase with respect and create video games that’s sole purpose isn’t to fleece every single cent out of you with loot boxes and microtransactions. And they are created with love and attention to detail, which doesn’t include shipping broken or buggy games at release and delivering on promises made your fanbase will love you for it. Not only will they love you for it they will keep coming back for more while throwing money at you at every opportunity, see CD Projekt Red as an example of how it should be done. I once naively thought that being loyal to a single brand was rather stupid, but I can see how brand loyalty can work for developers and publishers.
But as important as brand loyalty is to these companies the last two years or so I have seen an escalation of developers and publishers attacking and turning on their own fanbase either directly or using video game journalists as their “mindless attack dogs”. The amount of article this year alone that attack gamers where mind-numbing, not to mention dozens of developers on social media websites like Twitter treating their fans like garbage. Sure, you can argue that certain reactions were wrong and some reactions were blown out of proportion. But like with everything in life it only takes a few bad apples to ruin it for everyone else.
But it did not change the fact that there were various articles on various online publications which saw authors openly taunt and attack gamers for wanting certain things included in games while wanting others excluded like microtransactions, loot boxes and always connected video games. To be honest, I don’t think that it is unreasonable for fans of a video game franchise who have invested 100 hours into a series and spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a publisher or developer, to ask for things like working games on release with little or no microtransactions or loot boxes, or their opinion on the direction being taken by a franchise.
Yes, there are fans out there who tend to overstep the line and attack developers and publishers. And yes, developers and publishers are allowed to make changes to a franchise or a game as they see fit, it is their creative vision after all. But most of these developers and publishers would be nowhere without our support. Gamers who blindly support these companies, either out of blind fanboyism or brand loyalty should realize how disruptive these practices are to our hobby, and how ethical and morally questionable they can be in some cases. And it has been proven both scientifically and via other research that companies are indeed exploiting the addictive nature of things like loot boxes.
It might seem like a form of self-entitlement, and pettiness, to complain about these kinds of things when we’ve got real-world issues that need solving. But the sad indictment facing the video game community and the industry today is that developers are creating these problems by insisting on questionable practices such as microtransactions, loot boxes and always on internet connectivity for video games. Personally, I think that these issues should be handled better and more openly by both the developers and publishers. There needs to be a middle ground were developers and gamers can discuss issues and try and find more reasonable and viable solutions to these type of things.
Which brings me to a subset of the gaming community which seems to be perfectly fine with their video games being filled with things like microtransactions, loot boxes, and other predatory business practices. They will even go as far as to defend these companies for whatever inexplicable reason. “But they are companies and as companies, they have a right to make a profit off their products” Yes that is correct, but when is it enough and when does it turn into blind greed? Activision made over $4 billion on microtransactions in 2017. That is over half of Activision/Blizzards revenue for 2017, let that sink in for a moment.
The CEO of EA got paid $35 million in 2018 and he owns $24 million worth fo EA in stock. Meanwhile, most video game development budgets remain static. But no let us go to bat for EA and defend them. Stop defending a company that got so greedy they forced legislators to take notice of their shady business practices, not to mention their habit of buying development studious and driving them straight into the ground. You can defend the studio’s that still work under the EA flag, and you can still defend the programmers and artists who work for them. But stop defending a company and its executives who don’t give a shit about you or their employees and walk away with tens of millions a year in their own pockets.
As a consumer paying for a product, in this case, a video game. I am “entitled” to a video game that works and looks as advertised. I like to compare video games with a hamburger at my local fast food joint. I don’t expect my hamburger to look exactly like the one pictured on the menu, but dammit if it says “comes with two slices of cheese” there better be two slices of cheese on the damn thing! Just because it is a right of a company to seek any sort of profit doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye when they act un-ethically or implement dubious anti-consumer practices in video games. And if harshly criticizing and calling out companies and developers for their obvious greed makes me a whiny self-entitled gamer then I don’t know what to say…