Recent trends in the video game industry seem to include the following vicious cycle:
1. Company makes some questionable moves and shady business practices
2. People complain about that
3. "Vote with your wallets!"
4. More brainless mobs than protesters buy the controversial games
5. Company receives positive feedback and is unhindered by any backlash, resulting in no change for the better
This includes but not limited to: increasingly suffocating DRM, always-online DRM for single-player games, splitting the game's content into DLCs before release, releasing buggy games, locking base content behind pay walls or arbitrary grinding. It also includes hyping games to the point where people buy more hype than the actual released product.
And that's bothering me greatly.
Every now and then, a No Man's Sky comes around and actually breaks the protective barrier of uncaring consumers, resulting in major backlashes and it puts the industry in some sort of perspective, where you go "Companies will now know they can't outright lie to their customers and deliver a different product than advertised!", and everyone feels accomplished. But... companies still advertise lies, and their games still sell stupidly well. And not only are the companies not worried, but they also get a new protective shield: a combination of shills, hardcore fans and just people who think everything needs to have an agenda behind it who ALL pull a collective ad hominem on the complainers.
Instead of protesting that the game's developers are acting shady, the blaming finger is diverted at the protesters themselves.
I'd like to bring up some examples of recent games that had controversies surrounding them, but all seems forgotten at the end of the day. And you know they'll sell like hotcakes, if they haven't already.
First is Marvel's Spider-Man. You heard of the PUDDLES, I'm sure. There was an evident graphical downgrade between a certain gameplay trailer and the release, and one of the easier-to-see evidence was the reflections in the puddles on the ground, which were less detailed in the released game than in the trailer. In addition to that, people saw other graphical downgrades in shadows and lightings. Point is that there was a downgrade. And downgrades are unfortunately plenty in the gaming industry. First case I heard of loudly was Watch Dogs.
So you'd think people would uniformly agree that there was a downgrade what with all of the evidence, right? Well, no. A vocal group of folks, between developers, marketing teams and just random easily persuaded individuals, started diverting attention from the issues of the downgrade and turned it onto the people who complained about it. "You must be really petty to go apeshit about some PUDDLES! Gamers are so entitled!"
An absolute ad hominem, the illegitimate argument tactic of attacking the opponent himself instead of refuting his arguments. It's an ugly tactic, but it's been in use quite strongly. Instead of talking about WHY the game got visually downgraded, they all attacked the character of gamers as a whole, saying they're all nitpicky. Now might be a good time to remind you, the reader, that the gamers are the customers. In what other industry are the customers lied to in advertising then gets talked down at before buying the product? In what other industry will the customers STILL buy the product? I don't know.
The game got raving reviews and showed great profits. So why should devs stop lying and blame their customers?
Next up is Battlefield 5. I was hesitant of bringing it up, because as far as EA and their advertising team care, every time the game's name comes up, even in controversies, is good publicity. However, there's a point to be made here, and not about the game. I honestly don't care about the game. What I care about is the response to the controversy of HISTORICAL ACCURACY. The Battlefield brand, I became aware around BF3, prides itself on presenting realism. From graphics to sound design, it's supposed to look and feel real. In recent games of recent years, some shooters elected to add female characters to the multiplayer, for players who wish to be presented as such. I don't mind that, nobody should, really. It's not a new and revolutionary move, Unreal Tournament had female characters as well as bipedal space cows back in 1999. The issue that bothered people was that set in World War 2, the single-player campaign depicts a female protagonist fighting in the war.
I'm no history expert, but I'm pretty sure men fought that war. Women took part in it as nurses and drivers and other important supportive roles, but not as frontline gun wielding troopers. And this matter seemed to spark some dissatisfaction with players. Twisting history is wrong, be it for one agenda or the other, and is illegal in some countries.
So people raised their voice. Not because "ooga no women allowed in my game" and not because "booga game is not a simulation of real life", but because the single-player campaign features a factually inappropriate casting for the protagonist. And the response? Seemingly the same group of devs, shills and easily persuaded idiots retorted with more insults at gamers: "You're sexist, gamers, you chauvinist pigs, can't stand to see a woman in a main role?" and "And RESPAWNING is realistic?". Both responses don't really respond to the issue at hand. The first insults the complainers and all gamers in general, and the second argues about game mechanics in multiplayer, which is not at all the issue. I think the second is called "straw man".
Now, what good does that do? Insulting people instead of explaining yourself... That's just poor manners. Did the game sell well? I don't know. Like I said, I don't care about it, so I didn't check any news regarding its release. But it's EA. They've been selling shitty business practices for years.
Achievement Hunter has a few members who are in the camp of the devs, shills and easily persuaded idiots, and that's honestly disappointing. Hiding behind the "progressive" mask, they just spew the same nonsensical and inappropriate responses to defend huge corporations that don't care about anything or anyone other than profits.
And there's an issue there. If before I could assume the idiots were just outright shills pretending not to be shills, hearing the same idiotic arguments on the Off Topic podcast simply shatters this assumption. There are people THAT gullible, and they are among us.
Fallout 76... Not much to say about it, as everything was said recently. The protective force field was pierced, like with NMS. People are angry at the buggy game. A 60 dollar Fallout 4 online expansion. Physical copies of the game have cardboard disks with a download code. No refunds. Beta players can't uninstall the game without buying the game.
And... the $200 collectors edition comes with a cheap nylon bag, instead of the advertised canvas duffel bag. Why? "Too expensive to produce, and the picture is just a concept picture, you shouldn't even be complaining in the first place". What's the compensation to prevent people from filing a class action lawsuit? Some in-game currency, valued $5, enough to change a hair style, so I heard. This is some outright false and misleading advertisement that gets scoffed off by Bethesda.
This whole ordeal needs to stop. People need to stop licking corporate butts. People need to boycott companies who insult them, companies that see them as walking wallets with no dignity. The recent year's uproars seem louder and more frequent, but at the same time there are no real implications on sales figures.
Here's to a new year of actual change for the better.