Why Does The Video Games Industry Hate It’s Consumers?

Why Does The Video Games Industry Hate It’s Consumers?

The video game industry, at least in it’s modern state, seems to hate it’s consumer…and we just accept it. It’s utterly bizarre that a industry which shows such disdain for it’s customers is still reaping the rewards. It’s hard to suppress the cynical side when you sit and look at the industry on the whole, be it those hopefuls on Steam Greenlight, to those big names pumping out ‘Triple A’ games.

The recent release of Arkham Knight, one of this years biggest games, was yet more fuel to the fire. Warner Brothers, and Rock Steady, willingly shipped a broken product into the public retail space. While the console version has faired well technically, the 12 man team made PC port has been a utter train wreck. Spare me your system bias, for this is a matter that concerns the state of the industry as a whole, and not just your little corner of it.

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The PC version of Arkham Knight is a prime example of the mistreatment of the consumer. The product barely works, it under-performs in all most every aspect. Capped at 30 frames per second, stutters and spurts on high end systems, includes hidden DRM, all capped off by Warner Brothers pulling the game from sale. This is a huge spit in the face for not just PC users, but video game consumers. The game’s altered footage was used to sell Nvida hardware, footage that lied to the consumer. Look around at modern video games, so many of them are full of business practices you wouldn’t expect, or accept, else where.

Buy a game at £40, open the case, see a advertisement for downloadable content, play the game, discover half the content is missing, this is the modern way. Titles like Destiny are a perfect showcase for how the industry is becoming increasingly toxic towards it’s audiences. Bungie/Activsion shipping half a game, and releasing the rest through £20 packs. Less than a year later and a new expansion is announced with a hefty tag of £40.

The Destiny scam doesn’t stop there, new players wishing to enter the game can purchase the core game and all the DLC for £70, while veteran players (who supported the game from release) will have spent £140 collectively via buying each DLC. This would not be acceptable anywhere else. The craziest thing about all of this is the fact Destiny somehow manages to maintain positive press coverage. Fresh off the back of  it’s ‘Game of the Year’ BAFTA, Destiny continues to a presence on major sites, while the business practices are largely ignored. Does anyone even care about the players? The consumers?

In all fairness, should we really expect the press to care about anyone but themselves? This is the same press that killed off gamers only last year, and enjoyed profiting from two ugly sides going toe to toe in a war of social media and pateron. Even video game culture is no longer safe from profiteering leeches.

The regular release of broken games from big names, Ubisoft/Konami for example, is worrying, in fact it’s terrifying. The lack remorse shown towards the market and it’s consumers is alarming. Broken games are released with DLC plans and seasons passes at the ready, in some cases games are straight up abandoned in order to flog DLC (Warner Brothers/ Arkham Origins).

Main stream video games are no longer a experience, but a exercise in how to give customers as little as possible, while selling them as much as possible. Buy a core game, get sold everything else after, the DLC way. The argument of ‘you don’t have to buy the content’ was a fair point back in 2006, but that was when DLC was a fresh new concept, and not a stick used to beat consumers. The truth is, DLC has become abusive, intrusive and dangerous. Instead of things getting better, they’re only getting worse.

Micro-transactions started life as a valid option in most free-to-play titles. Play a game for free, get the core experience, if you like what you see, pay a little bit of money. This was, and for the most part, still is the beauty of free-to-play. The issue is, micro-transactions are no longer just a free-to-play thing, they’re now making a home in numerous retail games.

Content once unlocked by, you know, playing the game is now hidden behind a pay wall. Want a different skin/costume for your character? There’s a microtransaction for that, want your weapon to look a little nicer? There’s a microtransactiuon for that. It’s disgusting that this is becoming common place in major games, and now we hardly look twice when a game contains them. It’s just another exercise of reducing content while maximizing profits.

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These microtransactions aren’t just part of some games, they’ve spawned their own culture. EA’s Fifa games have become defined by it’s Ultimate Team mode. What initially started as a enjoyable, and fresh, concept of collecting players from around the world to form a dream team, has no became a question of whoever spends the most money (much like real football). Players are gained by buying packs with coins, which are earned by playing the game or selling players. These coins are slow to grind by playing matches, thus EA offer the option to buy packs with real money.

Transferring real money into Fifa points, which are used to buy the packs, has created a truly grim culture of hyper-consumerism. Buying packs with masses amount of coins has now become a event within the Fifa culture. Player blow hundreds, I dare say in some cases thousands, on Fifa points in order to get the best players. This trend of ‘unpacking’ player packs has became a hot event for Youtuber and twitch. The problem is, this creates a severe gulf between the player base in Ultimate Team. EA happily influx their game with special player cards with buffed stats, which are only available at certain times, this of course is a huge incentive for those Fifa point happy players to go buy more packs. EA are actively killing their games community by promoting huge investment in Fifa points, and they don’t care.

Sure, you may not care about Fifa, but the issue of pay-to-win is seeping into other games. Battlefield and it’s ‘packs’ offer advantages and short cuts to those willing to pay, and has done for the past three entries. Their greed, is detracting from games, the experience and the product. Why should a customer be at a disadvantage just because they aren’t willing pay as much as someone else? Why are they punished for not spending more money?

Kickstarter is also becoming a weapon, at least when it’s handed by certain industry ‘icons’. Peter Molynuex’s infamous Godus project, which was built upon lies and broken promises. Tim Schafer’s Broken Age, which received $3 million in funding (far above the requested amount) only for Scahfer to turn around and ask for even more money. Both Molynuex and Scahfer used their standing in the industry to mislead their fans and supporters. Molynuex left Godus before it’s complementation, and Broken Age turned out to repeat various assets throughout each episode, proving that not even ‘heroes’ of the industry care all that much about the their consumer.

Even Nintendo has shown a sly grin of it’s pointy teeth to it’s customers. Amiibo fever produced huge amounts of money for Nintendo, mostly thanks to their artificially created supply and demand nature. Nintendo happily produced small amounts of certain Amiibo in order to create a false sense of ‘rarity’. It’s sad when a company like Nintendo stoops so low in order to ensure their new product is a success. The Amiibo stock has be addressed, and they seem to be making amends, but we shouldn’t forget what they did.

It’s not all doom and gloom of course. There’s still a number of developers and publishers trying their hardest to please their customers. The Witcher 3′s stream of patches and free DLC is a great example of this. Cd Projekt Red are the shinning light in how to do big budget games right. Their approach to fan feedback, their views on DLC and their general business practice is admirable. When the industry was in amidst of intrusive DRM methods. They are one of a slowly growing number.

Can the industry truly afford to mistreat the consumer? Who will truly speak up for me, you, and everyone else involved with the interest, and the culture. We can’t rely on the press, who cheer when being littered with gifts E3 2010 style, or Youtubers who take a paychecks for plugging a game, or a ‘donation’. The consumer dedicates the market, not the producer. If supply and demand is truly the way forward, let’s demand better treatment, demand complete, and functional, games. Demand a better industry, supply discussion, just don’t supply abusive companies you money.

 

 

@linko64

Sean Halliday


3 Comments

  1. Ndibu
    July 2, 2015, 2:21 am

    Agreed all the way. Why no twitter or Facebook share option? Or am I missing it somewhere?

  2. Ndibu
    July 2, 2015, 2:22 am

    never mind, found it

    • Sean Halliday
      July 5, 2015, 3:54 pm

      Sorry, i forget to update the plug-ins :( the joys of keeping up to date with them :D

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