DestinyMap

Outrage Isn’t Working

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There’s been quite a bit for us gamers to get angry about over the last couple of years hasn’t there? Poor PC ports, stupid comments from developers, poor digital store curation, nickel-and-dime pricing structures, manipulative marketing, preorder culture… the list of things for us to be angry about goes on and on. Most entries on that list are valid reasons to feel annoyed or even angry with those responsible, but I have to wonder how much good our righteous fury is actually doing. Every time a developer or publisher does something stupid or shady, the gaming community works hard to make our discontent clear. Once it becomes clear that we’re angry, those responsible always issue some sort of apology, sometimes offer us an extra little-something to show their sincerity, and we let them off the hook since we don’t want to be the entitled jerks we’re made out to be. This would be fine if the same people didn’t keep doing those things that made us angry in the first place. It’s often not long after the big “we’re sorry” that the same garbage is pulled and we all get angry all over again and start yet another instance of this cycle we’ve been stuck in for so long now. Perhaps it’s time to try another approach.

Take the recent fiasco that erupted over Bungie/Activision’s “The Taken King” for example. Ever since it was announced, fans have been upset. Initially it was because of the proposed price of the expansion: $40 (also £40 and €40). With Destiny’s previous “expansions” barely justifying their $20 price point and few details regarding the amount of actual content in the new “expansion”, $40 seemed insane. After all, we’re talking 2/3 of the price of a full game, and the actual price of a full game if you’re a fan who deals with pounds or euros. So we got angry, and they fed us more details in response. This dlc package does indeed offer a little more than the previous packs, but I’m still of the opinion that it’s not worth what they’re asking. At any rate, the details calmed the fanbase down and everything was cool again, at least until we got wind of the “collector’s edition” for the expansion.

This was to be sold for the price of $80 and would include the base game along with all three expansions, some physical goodies, and some exclusive in-game content (most notably character animations, armor color shaders, and a couple of cosmetic items). The problem with this version was the exclusive in-game content it included. Current players felt short-changed. After all, why should they have to re-buy content they already owned just to acquire some extra content? Why couldn’t it be sold separately so that those who want it can pay a reasonable price for it? So Destiny fans got angry once again, a Destiny developer said made some tone-deaf comments which inflamed the fans even more, and so Bungie/Activision finally responded with another apology and graciously announced that they would make the extra content (again, not even a handful of armor shaders and cosmetic items) available to be purchased separately…for $20. This was followed by the announcement of an advertising partnership with Red Bull, the deal being that Destiny fans are expected to buy cans of Red Bull in order to unlock a mission in the game, a pretty good one too if their hype is to be believed. So once again the Destiny fanbase is angry, and this has all only taken place over the last couple of weeks! Simply getting angry and demanding a response isn’t working, and it hasn’t been working for a long time now. Unless we take a different approach, this cycle of announcement, outrage, apology and appeasement is just going to continue.

Instead of getting angry yet again, I propose that we each start exercising a little patience. Seriously, what if we all just decided to wait beat, even if it’s just a day or two, before going out and buying new games from problem publishers or developers? Better yet, we each decided to move on from a game next time an Activision or an EA tries some sleazy tactic to burn or squeeze money out us? No big public backlash, no internet flame storm, no demand for an apology, just a silent refusal to go along with it. I think that would be a more powerful message than even the ugliest eruption of anger that the online gamer community could muster. After all, anger can be responded to. Anger can be appeased. How could they address genuine loss of interest or fans deliberately waiting for a price drop though? Well, not easily. All they’d be able to do is continue then crash and burn, or take the hit and learn from it. Video game publishers aren’t stupid; they do these things because they know they can get away with it. They’ll only stop doing it once it stops working.

I’m not proposing boycotts or calling for people to stop preordering games altogether. It’s not about depriving yourself of the games you enjoy. By all means, buy a game if you want to play it, even pre-order it if doing so makes financial sense for you. All I’m saying is that perhaps, if we were to shake off this “I need it now!” mentality, the publishers would notice the decline and stop. With just a little patience and resolve, we each individually could help solve a problem that all the anger and outrage in the world could never hope to fix.

I’m convinced that this would work, but I’d still like to read your take on the situation too. What do you think should be done to get gaming out this mess?

9 thoughts on “Outrage Isn’t Working”

  1. Great article but I have to disagree a little.

    One thing I have seen an increase of (just as a gaming enthusiast) is that there has been (seemingly) an increase in review embargo’s that end on the day or release or the day before making it impossible to find reviews of the particular game so you can find out more about it and if there are any outstanding issues that would dissuade people from purchasing it (as we have seen recently with the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight which for the most part a unplayable mess unless you have a top-end computer and even then there are problems).

    This is why I firmly believe that a boycott of pre-ordering games could and should be applied. I am not suggesting we deprive ourselves of the games completely but rather we take a sensible approach to our gaming, if it is a developer or publisher that has in the past been known to put out games that are absolutely terrible on first day, then instead of pre-ordering the game you wait a week or so till after the release date and see if there has been any fixes/patches to repair whatever problems there are with the game.

    Also maybe this will go part of the way to address the increasingly annoying culture of ‘Limited /Special/Collectors’ Editions of games that for the most part offer little more than paying extra money for in-game content (that has been put behind a pay wall to be sold as DLC) which is so exclusive that within a month or so most of it is usually available for download or on whatever platforms it hadn’t been previously exclusive to

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    1. You are correct that Collector’s/Special/Limited editions are also an important part of the problem, and for the most part I agree with you. A special edition that only has digital content, or digital content with a couple of physical knick-knacks isn’t really all that special, and that digital content really shouldn’t be behind a “collector’s edition” paywall to begin with. Perhaps we need to work on better recognizing these things for what they are.

      As for pre-orders in general, while they’re mostly only good for the publisher/seller, I just wanted recognize that there are exceptions where preordering might be better. The examples that come to mind are for niche games that only see limited release in a person’s country (preordering can help you avoid missing out entirely), and instances where one can take advantage of a given seller’s deals/rewards to get themselves the game for less than the day 1 price. Other than that, there’s really no reason to preorder, as all it does is encourage all these shady practices; review embargoes and bugged launches included.

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  2. Great article! While reading, I couldn’t help but wonder if any other industries operated in the same manner with their content as the game industry — trying to meet (ill-)promised deadlines with broken content, releasing half-finished games, expecting that people will pay money up front for a game and then pony up more money later for more content… The only thing that came close in my mind was the music industry back when people waited in line outside stores for big-name, new releases, but it wasn’t like they were rewarded with half a CD.

    That’s a little offtrack, but it seems that the game industry is experiencing some growing pains — we want more, more, MORE from them and the games they produce, and the only way they can do that is with money, and the only way to get money is…yeah. It’s a nasty cycle. Plus, now more than ever, developers are in such close contact with the fans that dealing with the input must be overwhelming. I with you in the exercising patience routine. And then, if a game doesn’t live up to its promises, we are well within our rights to say something about that — whether boycott or blog post.

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    1. Even though game developers need money, which I understand, it seems we spend more money for less nowadays. That’s what bothers me the most. I used to spend $50 on a game that was complete the day I bought it, and now I spend $60 for only part of a game. I spent $60 on Hyrule Warriors, and now I am expected to pay more for extra characters, even though, in the past, we simply needed to complete tough challenges for bonus characters. It used to be about skill, and now it’s about money.

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      1. The thing is that top-tier games do cost a lot more to produce than they used to. They require more time and more people to make now than they ever did before. So wanting more money for the product is understandable. That said, I’m of the opinion that if games are too expensive to produce as they are now, then perhaps the production values and features should be scaled back in some cases.

        Independent developer have shown us that the envelope doesn’t need to be constantly pushed in order to produce fun and worthwhile games. So why not scale back the production to something more reasonable?

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  3. If BioWare Released a Jade Empire 2 that might be the only game I would be first in line to buy. But I am always in the silent disinterested world when it comes to any kind of DLC or half made games. I refuse to pay full price for a game first off only because they continue to skyrocket in price but never hold their value so I just wait. Then the DLC most of the time is more half the price of the game itself. So I just wait, the game isn’t going anywhere and if I never okay the DLC they only person suffering is the developer by trying to squeeze every cent of cash in my wallet. I still haven’t purchased the DLC to Dragon Age: Inqusition and I only recently downloaded the DLC to Dragon Age 2. Am I silently boycotting price? You better believe it. Maybe my plan might never work but in my own little way I am refusing to purchase games that the price the company is asking me to pay as well as all the add ons. I complete agree with this article that this approach might give developers pause when they don’t see people rush to purchase half made games and sad excuse to additional content.

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    1. I completely agree with you. I don’t buy DLC, and I never will, even if it’s something I want. Games cost so much nowadays, I refuse to spend more than I have to. Games used to be $50, now they’re $60, not including DLC. Then, what? I’m spending $70, 80 per game? I can hardly afford games before the DLC, let alone with it. So I, too, am boycotting such practices. And maybe if enough of us join in, something might change. I can download old games for $8 that give me far more value than the ones released nowadays, and they come complete. I miss the old days.

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      1. DLC is nice when it’s a genuine addition to the game and worth the cost. The ‘Broken Steel’ dlc for Fallout 3 comes to mind there. However, that kind of dlc seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

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    2. Everyone has their absolute favorite that they’d be happy to shell out for no matter what. Otherwise, it’s just about resisting all that hype they throw our way.

      Just getting to the Dragon Age 2 DLC now eh? Did you get all of it? I’ve only gotten the one with the Warden prison in it, so I was wondering if the rest is even worth it.

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