I was watching random videos, passing the time, when I came across one on one of my favorite gaming websites – Gametrailers. Their reviews are some of the best I have seen, and I often agree with them. However, I came across the latest episode of their show “Bonus Round.” In it, we have Geoff Keighley, who has already proven himself to be nothing but a corporate shill. The video of him in front of a thing of Doritos and Mountain Dew, with a totally blank stare, talking about the gaming media industry perfectly capsulized the view that people have of this guy, and always will. For real, Keighley, you are never coming back from that. You are a corporate shill, and always will be.
With him, he had a panel of three other people. The first was David Jaffee. He was the creator of the God of War series and is still a game designer. Then there was Michael McWhertor, who is a gaming journalist for Polygon.com. The final member was some guy named Jeff Cannata from a group called Newest Latest Best.
The first big panel question was – what’s the deal with the controversy behind always-online DRM? And what I got to see what three guys who literally just did not get it and were quick to defend the corporations. For real, only one guy got why people have a problem with this. One panel member got pretty close to what people’s problem with this is.
The first major problem is that not everybody has internet. I don’t know if Keighley and Jaffee (the two most outspoken critics of the critics) know this, but America is getting this HUGE divide between the lower and upper class. There used to be this cozy place called the middle class, but that has now divided into the middle-upper and middle-lower classes, and the divide is growing every single day. Money isn’t just raining out of the sky for us. So there are a lot of gamers who have their systems never hooked up to the internet. Myself among them.
The next big problem is that it isn’t just the internet connection itself. Most internet plans in this country come with a data usage limit. It’s one of the many reasons why America has the worst internet of the developed world. We can thank the corporate overlords that this group of panelists are clearly shills for for that. And guess what can just eat through a person’s data usage? Online gaming. If an internet connection is needed to play, then you bet your ass that there is a data transfers, which eats up data usage. And the fees that one gets when one goes over their data limits are hardcore steep.
In the video, however, you hear these talking heads not only not getting why people may have a problem with this, but also mocking the complaints that gamers have with this issue. Which, by the way, are very legitimate complaints. Basically doing nothing but calling the people who buy these products whiny brats. Yeah, that’s a great way to expand your customer base.
This sort of thing is yet-another reason why I am starting to think that the gaming companies don’t give a shit about their consumers. And that is NOT a good way to play this. For real, let’s look at the evidence. The new SimCity releases, and when the always-online DRM leads to server problems, the game goes dark for the majority of players. They can’t even play single player. Previously, Blizzard has the exact same problem with Diablo III. But whereas Blizzard quickly worked on patches for this problem, EA doubled-down. They basically just told the consumers to shut up and go away. This trend of always-online DRM has never once done any good.
More evidence of the lack of respect for their customers was with the handling of the Mass Effect 3 debacle. EA held firm right until the point where consumer rage reached critical-mass. Disney decided to close up Lucasarts after buying the Star Wars license. When consumer backlash went critical mass, there was almost nothing heard from Disney. Square Enix has shown nothing but contempt for their consumers, pandering to the fans of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts to keep the capital still flowing in. And how well is that working out? Then Capcom had the brilliant idea to decide to make a bad joke in the new Devil May Cry which was mocking the previous games. I’m not insulting the new DmC. I love that game. Ninja Theory did a damn good job. But giving the finger to the fan base when you make a new game is NOT how you keep consumer loyalty.
The gaming companies need to stop abusing the loyalty of their customers. This kind of thing needs to stop. In an age when consumer backlash is so easily amalgamated, gaming companies need to stop spitting in the face of their consumers. You can only insult the people who are being asked to buy your products so much before it comes back to bite you right in the ass. It’s happening already.
The crowds who want a new Final Fantasy games are becoming nil in the US. In Japan, there is still a lot of loyalty, but that market alone won’t save them, and they know it. I could go on all day about how Capcom has fucked up and how people don’t like seeing their name on new games. EA has been labeled the worst company in the US (a designation that is hyperbole, by the way) because of their business practices.
But the reason that this issue is as controversial as it is is because of the fact that it shows just how detached the corporate side of gaming is with the consumers and how little they care. When the consumers point out the mistakes, they simply brush us off or worse, insult us. This is a major issue, and the fact that people like Jaffee or Keighley just want to brush us off and tell us to just shut up is beyond insulting. This is how you lose customer loyalty.
And for the major gaming companies, I want you to think LONG and HARD about this. Because the Indie market is growing every day. New and better ways are being made to reach consumers. What side of this do you REALLY want to be on?
Until next time, a quote,
“We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” -G.K. Chesterton