Game Developers Should Unionize

Time was, I worked at Walmart.  I stocked shelves at night.  It was, hands-down, the worst job I’ve ever had.  Nothing else even comes close.  During training, we had a whole day devoted to the group I was hired with getting a big education in why unions are bad, and those who work for unions are bad, and how we are so much better off because we don’t have a union.  Orwellian as fuck, but that’s how it goes at Walmart.  The corporation is pure evil, so what else did you expect?  Not sad that I lost that job.

Story after story is coming out about how AAA-game publishers are forcing those who work for them into some of the worst working conditions I’ve ever heard.  From the 100-hour work weeks that was uncovered at Rockstar, to the Bioware nightmare while Anthem was in development.  Activision Blizzard treating testers in a way that is subhuman.  EA as well, but EA is so evil that it defies comprehension.

While we’re on that, did you hear the thing about the guy at EA who is just absolutely baffled, for 25 years, why people think that EA is full of “bad guys”?  That just blows my mind.  This dude has seen how the company treats their employees.  He’s seen how they will lay people off when the money isn’t coming in enough instead of treating their employees like they care.  Or how EA treats their consumers as nothing more than cash machines instead of actually trying to give them a quality product.  How about the thing where they try and defend lootboxes as “surprise mechanics” and make a point about how they are part of the pioneering spirit of EA?  This dude can see all that, but is totally baffled as to why people think that EA is full of scum-fucks.  Maybe this dude is so out of touch, but I refuse to buy it.

Apologies for the digression, but that was too good not to talk about.  EA is one of the most evil companies ever.  It hurts me inside that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order looks so good.  Part of me is wondering how EA is going to secretly screw everyone over.  They said no lootboxes, but maybe there is some other “surprise mechanics” in the game.  Fuck EA.

Even CD Projekt Red isn’t immune from this.  There was an expose published about the development of The Witcher 3 and what hell it was for those who were involved.  The company has promised that that kind of thing is not going to happen again.  We’ll see.  I’m always skeptical.  Blame the fact that these companies have a reputation for being liars and treating people like crap.

Which is why I genuinely do believe that game developers, testers, all of those groups should unionize.  It’s LONG since time that they did so.  As we have seen with the lootboxes fiasco, these companies won’t learn from the horrible things they do and will just make excuses.  Hell, there was an article where one head of a company was laughing at the idea of them unionizing.  Since these companies can’t be trusted to do the right thing on their own, it’s time for those who are stuck in this nightmare to step up and band together.

Naturally, there’s the thought about what companies would do if this were to actually happen.  The answer is pretty obvious – not hire anyone associated with the union.  They’d outright tell people that if they unionize, they’ll just fire them and never hire them again.  They know how many people are desperate for a job and would accept their ultimatum of staying out of the union to keep their job.  Gotta love a profession where people live under a constant threat of having no income if they don’t tow the corporate line.  Or with the testers, being treated less than human and paid virtually nothing.

The only way this would work is if enough developers/testers were to get together all at once and make this happen.  It can’t just be a couple of people.  It has to be a large effort.  But it needs to happen.  It should have happened so many years ago.  With gaming getting bigger and bigger, employees need the protection a union brings.  That way these companies can’t pull the bullshit that they do.  There are so many stories of the work environments, the stress levels, the burnout, even suicides in connection to how awful it is.  It’s high time for those in this profession to band together and actually look out for one-another.

What would this mean for gamers?  Several things.  For starters, yearly releases would be a thing of the past.  Less crunch would mean that things would have to be paced out.  Games would be on CDPR time – coming out when they’re done.  Given how unfathomably impatient gamers are (I admit that I am an impatient man myself.  But I accept when there are delays because I want things to come out perfect), this could have a lot of people bitching and moaning about the delays.  They’d have to suck it up and deal.

Because we never see the people who makes games, it’s hard for people to understand the human cost.  In this age of apathy, plenty of people probably don’t care.  It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for people to rationalize not caring about what happens to other people.  With homeless people, it’s just fantastic.  Part of me wants America to just ditch the pretense of empathy and just kill the homeless.  It’s painfully obvious how little people care.  I had to overhear two coworkers talking about how awful it is that they are everywhere.  What would they prefer?  The way I see it, nobody cares, so let’s stop pretending.

Sorry, another digression.  AAA gaming needs to change.  It needed to change years ago, but now more than ever, it’s time for the people being exploited by corporations who treat them like cattle to band together and step up to them.  They would fight tooth and nail against them.  They’d fire, threaten, and make life hell for those who do this.  But in the end, they could succeed.

Part of me is hoping that AAA gaming is gonna have a collapse.  EA is a company that I would LOVE to see brought to heel.  People lament the idea of EA collapsing.  Not me.  I think it’s a great idea.  Maybe one or two of these companies need to topple in order for the rest to learn that they can’t keep being as greedy and scum-sucking as they are in order to survive.  A man can hope.

Until next time, a quote,

“It’s been a day of firsts.” – Lt. Richard Winters, Band of Brothers

Peace out,

Maverick

EA Defends Lootboxes as “Surprise Mechanics”

Did you know that EA is evil?  Anyone who has been paying attention to the gaming industry with any amount of scrutiny over the last few years does.  There is a big group of AAA gaming corporations who are now associated with being pure evil.  You have Activision, Ubisoft, now Bethesda, and EA.  These companies are all rushing to the center to tell you, the consumer, how much you need to buy their unfinished, microtransaction-laden games.  But EA really has risen above the rest in terms of sheer greed.

Microtransactions, more specifically lootboxes, have been coming under increasing scrutiny by the various governments of the world.  Denmark and Belgium outlawed them in games available to young people entirely.  The US put forward a bill designed to do the same thing.  It’s recently gained bipartisan support.  Now the UK is stepping up to the plate, and EA decided to put their “best foot forward” and have a representative come and talk to them about why their views on lootboxes are dead wrong.

For starters, did you know that the term lootboxes is a derogatory term for “surprise mechanics?”  That’s the line that EA had in the testimony that I highly recommend you check out.  It will blow your mind just how much euphemisms the EA representative tried to use with the Parliamentary representatives.  It was just too great to watch the look of exasperation on the face of the guy questioning the EA rep as they feed them line after line of complete bullshit.  The person talks about how it’s just like a Kinder egg, or a pack of cards.

That is some weapons-grade BS.  Those things are NOTHING like gaming lootboxes.  For starters, when you open a Kinder egg, you know that inside will be a cheap plastic toy.  It is a guarantee that that is the produce that will be inside.  What kind of toy it is, you don’t know, but it will be a plastic toy.  Same with trading cards, except you know there will be trading cards instead of a plastic toy.  Lootboxes, meanwhile, can have something that is valuable to you in a game, or complete crap.  In fact, by design, they will almost-certainly have cheap crap more often than genuinely useful things.  There are patents that have been made with this stuff showing how they are deliberately made to keep a person strung along and paying more money.  Specifically kids, with their parent’s money.  What’s more, they play little sounds and light up and it gives you a rush of endorphins.  Like when you win big on a slot machine.

Watch the video of the committee in the UK talking to the woman EA sent.  It’s pretty fantastic how you can see the committee representative questioning her getting more and more exasperated as she is feeding him more and more crap, clearly written by a lawyer.  But then you think to yourself – EA is scared.  They have to be.  Their office must be shitting bricks right about now.  See, lootboxes are their big cash-cow.  Microtransactions in general have been a cash cow for big gaming companies, but lootboxes took it to a whole new level.  Since it is gambling (there’s no way to argue that it isn’t), they can make more and more money off people who want the thing they want in a game.  The gaming audience fights back when it’s pay-to-win mechanics, but even with cosmetic items, they still make money like gangbusters.

With more and more countries starting to introduce legislation that is getting large support among various political parties, companies like EA have to be scared to death that their big cash cow is about to be dried out, leaving them to have to make money the old fashioned way, by actually giving people what they want.  There’s a scary thought.  For them.

No joke, it really is.  Look at how hard they pushed that single-player gaming is dead.  They continually tried to push that games as a service model is the future, and people just don’t know it yet.  Since tons of gaming journalist websites are just shills for big gaming companies, they played along with articles written about the topic.  Meanwhile, developers who know better took the time to have a LOT of fun at EA’s expense marketing their single-player games.  Bethesda was the big one.  How ironic, given how far they’ve fallen trying to cash in on the games as a service model with their shit-tastic Fallout 76.  CD Projekt Red also did, and given what they’ve shown of their latest project, I can say that they are well within their rights.

At E3 this year, they unveiled their latest single-player game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.  The gameplay trailer looked pretty slick.  EA also put out a statement that the game would have no microtransactions and no lootboxes.  But given that they now consider lootboxes to be “surprise mechanics,” who knows if we can trust this statement anymore.  Oh, and while we’re on the subject of this game, it seems that Disney doesn’t like the violence and has forced EA to censor it.

Let’s take a digression to talk about how evil Disney is.  Wanna know something fun about Disney and how evil they are?  If you live in Kyrgyzstan and make $5 a day with a business you have putting characters on cakes using a sugar gizmo that can do that, and you put Disney characters on cakes, their lawyers will seek out your tiny business and sue you.  No joke.  They are the so protective of their shit that they will hunt down anyone, anywhere, who is using it without their permission and take them to court.  Disney is the most evil corporation in existence.  Let’s not even get into their cash-grab remakes that shits on their licenses and the legacies of people (looking at you, Aladdin remake).

AAA gaming publishers are nervous right now, and I say all the better for it.  I hope that companies like EA lost hundreds of millions of dollars when their cash cow dries up.  I hope that their investors turn on them like rabid dogs.  Of course, that will mean they are just going to lay off employees because they will screw everyone else before they screw the people in charge of these corrupt corporations.  Lots of people say it would be really bad if some of these companies go under, but not me.  I want one or two of them to fail so that the others will start to realize that they need to change up to survive.  Go back to what EA used to stand for – power to the players.  But that’s just me.

Until next time, a quote,

“Wake the fuck up, Samurai.  We’ve got a city to burn.” – Johnny Silverhand, Cyberpunk 2077

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

I have such a confused amount of emotions right now.  See, on the one hand, Activision is an evil corporation who, over the last few years, has produced some of the biggest piles of shit.  They are money-grubbing cocksuckers who don’t care about anything but milking players from their wallets.  The stories about them are plentiful, and they have earned the hatred players have for them.  So when I heard that they were rebooting the Modern Warfare games, I was all aboard to hate it.  I love the original three games.  Even the third one, which has its problems but is still fun.  It’s an okay conclusion to the saga.  So when I heard that Activision was rebooting this, I figured that I would have nothing but negative things to say about it.  However, with the trailer for it finally having dropped…I’m sorry, but this looks awesome.  I feel so bad saying that.  How can a game in this franchise look this good?!  Let’s watch it, then talk about it.

We start with some absolutely breath-taking visuals, which the trailer promises me are in-game footage.  There’s a very British guy narrating, about the rules changing (a phrase that needs to die.  It’s been used in fucking everything, and it needs to die), and how him and his are being sent into places that nobody knows about to do bad things.  Okay.  Then we zoom in on the British guy and see that it’s Captain Price.  Only voiced by a new person this time.  Kinda bummed about that.  I loved the original voice-over of Price.  But let’s see where this goes.

Following this, there is a breath-taking montage of visuals that are just incredible.  Our special forces guys are breaching a home and killing people.  Then there are some Army dudes jumping out of a plane.  That’s cool too.  A cut to what seems to be some kind of riot, and a dude shooting at someone in a car.  Then it seems we are in the perspective of a cop, shooting back.  Wonder what the story is there.  Riding along with some tanks in a Middle Eastern nation, with a fighter blowing shit up, and troops on the ground getting caught in an explosion.  It looks like the primary backdrop of this game is in the Middle East, where shit has gotten real.  Okay.  To be fair, that is modern warfare.  Proxy wars in the Middle East.  Liking what I see.

Then it cuts to…a child soldier?  Damn.  I had heard Infinity Ward was going to be going all dark and gritty, but I genuinely didn’t expect them to go to this level.  Not complaining.  I love some darkness, so long as it is handled well.  Too many times, dark things in games are either brushed aside or handled poorly.  But this is Infinity Ward, after all.  They did make Modern Warfare 2, which had one of the darkest scenes in all of gaming.  So let’s see where this goes.

It concludes by telling us that the game is coming out October 25th.  Again, I’m sorry guys, but it looks cool.  A promise of a rich campaign, with a compelling narrative, made by the guys who made the best games in the original franchise.  I’m not gonna lie, I wanna play.  It’s trendy to hate on Call of Duty these days.  They’ve made some real shit in the last few years.  Their parent company is a money-grubbing asshole.  But maybe this is what it will take to pull them out of a rut.  Going back to boots on the ground with a compelling narrative and good characters.  A man can dream, right?

Initial Verdict
I feel dirty liking this

Peace out,

Maverick

Blizzard Doesn’t Care About “Inclusion”, Neither Does Any Other Corporation

Recently Blizzard announced that Soldier 76 in Overwatch was gay, as part of their big push to be all progressive and whatnot.  However, a former employee who recently went public with the harassment they were getting at work decided to squash this idea that Blizzard cares about inclusivity pretty hard.  The post they wrote was pretty interesting, for those who think that Blizzard is adding themselves to the list of companies that they believe care about the LGBT community or any minority community.  As for me, I wasn’t surprised at all.  It seems that Blizzard says one thing, then does another.  For some, the revelation was shocking (assuming what the ex-employee said is true).  Not for me.  This all made perfect sense.

I have talked, at length, about the fact that companies like Disney are nothing but shilling to make money.  They put out info that they believe will get them social justice points because that’s mainstream, and Disney is all about pandering to the mainstream.  However, when you look at all their black and other minority characters, you can’t help but notice something – that the LGBT community is not represented at all.  Not even a little.  Strange, right?  I mean, Disney will preach on and on and on about how they want to promote diversity.  Wasn’t Finn supposed to be the first gay character in a Star Wars movie?  Well, that died and got replaced with him sucking face with a fat Asian chick.  Fat-ish, anyway.  Why did it get replaced?  For the same reason that Disney is full of shit – China.

China has one rule in American cinema that gets shown there – no ghosts, no gays.  The LGBT community does NOT make an appearance in the movies that go across the pond to an audience that is eclipsing the American one.  As streaming gets bigger and bigger here, that eclipse is only going to get larger.  And as Hollywood and the major corporations only care about making money, they won’t let that market slip away, regardless of how many people bitch and moan.  So all you #GiveElsaAGirlfriend and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend people, you’re fucked.  Because Disney doesn’t care about you.  Hashtags be damned, you don’t mean shit to them.  They will swear up and down that you and yours are so important to them, but you are just a dollar sign to them.

So, when I hear that Blizzard is equally full of shit, saying one thing and then doing another, I am not surprised.  After all, this social justice stuff is just as much of a dollar sign to them, and since social justice stuff is the mainstream view right now, and Activision is their new overlord, they can’t afford to not do whatever they think the mainstream wants.  Ham-fisted pro-LGBT characters?  Sure, why not?  Even if it’s just another Dumbledore being gay or Lando being pan, talked about but never seen in the actual films (or books in the former example)  Never gonna be in the game, but it’s out there for the brownie points.

To all you social justice types who are so pleased about Blizzard making some rando character gay, or inclusion in Disney films, keep this in mind – the SECOND that the public at large is tired of all this social justice stuff (and make no bones about it, that day is coming), they are going to sell all this inclusion nonsense up the river just like Joel did to humanity in The Last of Us.  They care about your money, nothing else.

Until next time, a quote,

“But the chart says…!” – Rob Walker

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Reveal Trailer

You ever see a concept for a game that could be really cool, then you realize what developer or series the game is in and realize that it’s going to be a steaming pile of shit?  Yeah, that’s this game.  Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the Call of Duty franchise has been getting progressively-worse over time.  Ever since Modern Warfare 2, the games have just been getting more and more like shit.  The set-pieces are always bigger, the tech and weapons are getting more and more ridiculous.  It’s has become a parody of itself.  But the franchise will keep limping on until Infinity Ward and Activision go belly-up.  Which I honestly wish would happen, because then maybe the big AAA companies would realize that making unique products should come first.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s look at the trailer for this latest entry into the hyper-action, Bayhem franchise.

First things first – fuck this trailer for using a shitty cover of an Elton John song.  You haven’t earned the right to touch anything from him, much less make your own shitty version of it.

Okay, so we got space ships coming down and blowing shit up all over the place in one of those cliche security-cam footage sorts of montages.  Alright.  So this in the future.  Got that.  Then we hear through cliched news-clip style that this is some unprecedented attack from some kind of human force that isn’t on Earth.  Where are they?  Is this like Gundam, where it is some colonial empire?  That could be kind of cool.  Is it some kind of Mars colonial force?  That could also be cool.  Are we in the middle of a war for independence?  And we’re fighting against them?  Not gonna lie, there’s a lot of potential here for a cool game.  But then you see the CoD logo and you realize the truth – this is likely going to suck.  Why?

First, because the Call of Duty franchise hasn’t told anything approaching a smart story since Modern Warefare 2.  And even that wasn’t perfect.  It was still pretty Bayhem, but in a way that worked because of the genuine tension and the use of quiet-time.  Man, remember when there were quite moments in CoD games?  Haven’t had that for ages!  A FPS game about being on the side of keeping an extra-planetary colonial force fighting for independence subjugated to the reigning government(s) of this world could be cool.  I honestly want to play a game like that.  That sounds pretty fucking awesome.  Especially if we could get some character growth along the way.  Hell, a game like that would open itself up for sequels.  Like seeing the war as it goes along.  Maybe the mechanics wouldn’t change too much, but you’d get to see this story evolve.  Have it be kind of bittersweet.  Maybe you get to make some choices about if you stay on the side of the Earth forces or go and fight for the Colonials.  Who wouldn’t want to see a game like that?!

But then you remember – this is CoD.  This is a yearly-franchise pumping monster that has to make sure they get a new game out every year.  And they can’t be too interesting or unique.  They have to follow their formula to a fault.  Instead of being really interesting, we get the same cookie-cutter experience. I honestly want a game about a war for independence between two unfathomably-powerful militaries.  Maybe have some quiet moments where we get to truly understand how horrific this war could truly be, when the weapons of mass destruction can be used on a scale of wiping out whole continents, like with asteroid or colony drops or something.  Again, looking at series like the original Gundam.

Oh, and to make matters worse, we get to see that Infinity Ward and Activision are giving their audience the finger.  Do you want a remastered version of Modern Warfare?!  You bet your ass you do!  How do you get it?!  By paying an extra ten dollars to buy CoD: IN SPACE!  For real, you can’t get the game separately.  You have to buy this other game and pay more money to get a game that CoD fans actually want.  Talk about a kick to the balls.

I guess it all comes down to what I think about this game, though.  Let’s leave the stupidity of this move with Modern Warfare to the rest of nerd culture at large.  Like the rest of the more recent CoD games, this one looks like another cookie-cutter game that has a premise that could be the most unique one yet.  But will all eventually just devolve into nothing approaching unique.  Though, the irony isn’t lost on me that CoD: IN SPACE has space battles, while the new Battlefront didn’t.  Suck on that, fans of the franchise!  Oh, and the next one won’t either.  EA means for that to be their new yearly-franchise.  AAA gaming has kind of devolved into shit, hasn’t it?

Initial Verdict
5 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

The Future of Big-A$$ Gaming Companies

Yeah, another post about video games.  Don’t hate on me.  To be honest, the reason that I am talking so much about this and not other things is because right now, there aren’t a lot of other things that are interesting me.  For real, that’s it.  Come summer, I will have film reviews, and I will actually be able to get back to the series I was doing on here.  I haven’t forgotten it.  I will get back to it.  And I will also be talking about stuff that comes up that gets my attention, most of it things that piss me off or confuse the hell out of me.  But right now, video games are the thing, and that’s because this year has a lot of talk about the future of this medium, with the release of the PS4 and the new Xbox console on the horizon.  And for those of you who think I should do book reviews, well, you can shove that right up your ass.  Because that would take a million years and involve a lot of pretentious discussion about the themes, character archetypes and all that.  I don’t want to do that.  With films and games, it is a lot easier.  So I will enjoy my books at my leisure.  Don’t like it?  Your problem, not mine.

The fall of THQ took the entire gaming community by storm.  We didn’t expect this.  We didn’t understand this.  We didn’t know what to think.  A lot of people talked about why they failed, and there was a lot to talk about.  The reality is that the reason that THQ failed (and I am going to be making a REALLY big hyperbole jump here), in my opinion, is the same reason that Zynga is dying on the vine and big companies like EA and Ubisoft have a bad habit of breaking even these days.  The reason is this – their formula is getting old.

The best way to show this is to look at two of the games that were not anywhere approaching AAA budgets, but sold unbelievably – The Walking Dead and Journey.  These two games are awesome.  They combined atmosphere, character development and my personal favorite – story-telling over action.  Both of these games were small Indie projects that were done by companies who want to expand the medium and challenge players instead of give them lots of things to shoot at.  But the formula of having lots of things to shoot at is almost ubiquitous to the medium these days.  That’s not to say that having lots to shoot at is a bad thing.  Far from it.  Games like Mass Effect, Dead Space (minus the boring third act), and any number of games that have action but don’t have guns, such as Assassin’s Creed or Final Fantasy and the series’ they inhabit have been fun to play and enjoyed by their respective fans.  But did you notice something in that list?  All these series’ are having their respective problems.  Some of them are done, like Mass Effect (hopefully).  But on its way out, Mass Effect felt less and less like an action RPG and more and more like just a regular old action game.  That’s not to say that it was bad.  Far from it.  I still did and still do love the series (minus that god-awful ending of the third and the god-awful way they tried to fix it).

Let’s do a tangent here and talk about big-ass gaming companies.  Big-ass gaming companies are big.  Hence my unofficial and totally dickish approach in talking about them.  But being big is not necessarily bad.  For real, there is nothing wrong with making money.  I may be a far-left whack-job liberal, but I am not against making money.  What I am against is making money and not respecting your customers, along with a bunch of other things like not exploiting workers, the laws of your respective nation and the people in general.  The problem with being big is that you become so big that you eventually try and think up ways to get even bigger.

Before the crash of 2008, the gaming companies were soaring high with profits that you can’t even begin to imagine.  After that, their stock prices plummeted.  But so did every major corporation’s at the time.  No big deal there.  However, the sudden turn of the economy, along with new hardware created a new trend that we are still seeing, even today – the rise of the Indie market.  See, the big gaming companies had a formula that was so repetitive that it was getting a lot of gamers bored.  More Call of Duty?  Yay…(see sarcasm)  We wanted something new.  Something different.  A return to games that tried new things, not knowing if they would work.  They wanted to make games instead of having companies make money.  The introduction of nickel-and-diming DLC didn’t help.  But there were new groups out there.  New companies with just a few people who were trying new things and making it work.  People were staying tuned.  People wanted to learn more.  The gamers wanted to see where this new growth of the medium would take us.

You may think that I’m rehashing my “The Future of AAA-Gaming” post, but I’m not.  See, the thing that needs to be kept in mind here is that we are talking about the corporate side of this.  EA, Ubisoft, Square Enix and Activision have all fallen into step into a predictable formula – get big hits out and get them out quick.  Big games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and almost the entire FPS market is full of this.  The reason they do this is simple – big money in the short term.  But this kind of short-sightedness is going to kill their companies.

For those of you who are going to come back at me and say something like, “But what about Michael Bay?  He makes the same kind of shitty movie over and over again and still makes a gajillion dollars!”  You’d be right, but here’s the difference – Michael Bay doesn’t have a bad economy to fight it out with.  The fall of 2008 hurt the regular Joe pretty damn bad.  The job market was torn to ribbons here in the US, and the incompetence of our government is showing that this problem isn’t going to be fixed any time soon.  Instead, we are having to do the best we can with what we can get.  And getting a game isn’t as cheap as sitting through Michael Bay’s crap.

Enter Steam

Steam was a game-changer.  Steam is the least talked about next-gen console there is.  It is giving gamers the games that they want.  It is giving new game companies with small budgets new platforms to have their games on.  Sure, it has hit a roadblock or two, but all things considered, it is still doing well.  What’s more, it affordable.  Very much so.

Then there’s Kickstarter

Kickstarter projects are changing the game in other ways.  Now, groups who were marginalized and consumed by bigger companies have splinter cells who want to go back to the way things once were, but still want to make good games.  So, they are making games that are pushing boundaries while also giving people a taste of the familiar.  You can have both world.s  It’s been done before, and well, too.  What’s more, it allows small game designers the chance to make the games people want without needing big studios to supplement their budgets.  They can get this money directly from the consumers who want their products.

Meanwhile, back at companies like EA and Square Enix, things aren’t looking too good for them.  The AAA market is getting more and more unsustainable.  The short answer to why is because of the crash of the economy and it’s stagnant growth.  The long answer is…well, forget that.  Parts of the long answer are because the budgets that these companies need to invest in these games is getting unbelievable, and they are not throwing a bone to new talent and taking chances, because the reality is that their bottom lines are breaking even.  They can’t afford to take too many chances.  They are stuck in their respective ruts and it will drive them into the ground.  Not today or tomorrow, mind you.  It will still be a while.  But once the ground has crashed out from under them, the fallout won’t be pretty.

We’re already seeing it start.  Following the Mass Effect 3 catastrophe back in 2012, EA and Bioware released statements that they would listen to the fans and fix what was widely perceived to be a mistake.  By the fans.  Not the gaming journalist machine as a whole, and especially not the PR behind them.  They promised us DLC that would address this problem and give us a solution.  What did we get?  We got a continuation of an ending that was already broken and didn’t make sense.  And nobody won.  The fan base who wanted a new and better ending didn’t win.  Bioware lost because they were now losing customer loyalty from the billions of holes that bad forum response gave them.  EA looked worse than they already did.  A trend they have been continuing, by the way, with their stupid-ass decision to have always-online DRM for SimCity.  The media just wanted this to be over so they didn’t have to talk about it anymore.  Nobody won.  Bioware has redeemed themselves a bit with the release of some fun DLC, like their latest, Citadel, which feels more like closure to the game than the actual game itself.  Still, this is the start.

However, for the consumer, all is not lost.  Games are going to be still be made.  New software makes creating very good-looking and smooth-playing games much cheaper than before.  A team of college students with only $100,000 made the game Cube, which looked amazing and wasn’t a massive project.  And there is an even stranger trend with games that are absolutely massive being released for free and free to play.  These things are awesome news.

For the big companies, they will still be making money, but the ground beneath them is starting to turn to sand.  Brace yourselves, people.  Years down the road, the same crying that got the Zynga CEO famous will be making other big companies famous, too.

Until next time, a quote,

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  -Apple, Inc.

Peace out,

Maverick