The Cheap “Woke” Ploy

Hey, did you know that the latest Star Wars film has the first same-sex kiss in any film ever?!  The Hollywood Reporter said as much in their click-bait-y headline says as much, along with other equally-stupid media outlets.  Much like how Star Trek: Discovery had the first black Captain.  Or the first black female Captain.  Both of which were equally wrong, and bless the Internet for being the most potent fact-checker in the universe.  To the Rise of Skywalker, what is the context they’re talking about?  Definitely not the first film to have a same-sex kiss.  Not the first film this year, or this decade, or certainly ever.  Maybe the first science fiction film?  Oh man, not even close.  The first big blockbuster?  Nope, I’ve seen it in those too.  Not often, mind you, but there’s a reason for that which we’ll come to.  So why is this such a huge deal?

I’ll tell you why – because it gets cheap points for a film that is being panned so hard right now.  It makes it so that Disney can try and re-frame this terrible movie as being pro-LGBT, so if you don’t like it, you hate gays!  Or lesbians, in the case of this film, as it’s two women kissing.  This happens all the fucking time, and every time it does, I roll my eyes because I see stuff like this for EXACTLY what it is – a cheap ploy to get “woke” points.  And the big thing that gets to me when I think about this is – why does no one in the media see it too?

On the one hand, it’s obvious – because they are being paid not to.  Disney owns a massive chunk of entertainment media, and the Hollywood machine in general owns pretty much all the rest, and they all have a vested interest in this stuff.  But on the other hand, with how every media outlet that isn’t some conservative gossip rag like Ben the prolapsed donkey anus Shaprio’s site is so about the social justice narrative, part of me wonders if they all have this huge blindness to stuff.

Whatever the case, the simple truth is that it’s a play.  One that always makes my eyes roll every time I see it.  After Blizzard was rightfully being brutalized for what they did to a Hearthstone player who championed the Hong Kong protests, and you saw them in full damage control mode, there was this popular talking point online – which Overwatch character are they going to have be gay next?  It’s an easy dodge.  “What’s that?  You’re mad at us for basically kowtowing to the Chinese government and making ourselves look like their bitch?  Look over here, this character’s gay now!”  Easy dodge, and they’ve done it before.

Now we have a Star Wars film that has two women kissing for two whole seconds of screen-time.  Two characters who we don’t know or care even the slightest bit about.  For a kiss that will be easily edited out of China’s version because Disney wouldn’t DARE risk losing out on that sweet China cheddar.  It all reeks of bullshit to me.  It all reeks of trying to find an easy way to dodge this film’s criticism.  To try and get people arguing about something inconsequential in order to detract from the fact that every major reviewer I’ve watched has done nothing but shit all over the film for being worse than The Last Jedi.  The review I’m waiting for most is Red Letter Media.  That should be amazing.  Jay and Mike having a cynical tear-down of a film that is nothing but massive exposition bombs, no character development, no atmosphere, horrific pacing, an an ending that is absolute bullshit.  It will be nothing short of incredible.

How much longer can films do this, I wonder?  I mean, you can’t argue that this is female empowerment, or lesbian empowerment.  Two women we don’t know or care about kissing!  Yay…feminism?  Remember when they were talking about Po and Finn being the first gay couple in a Star Wars film?  Yeah, I get the feeling that Bob Iger came down personally and said that’s out.  Can’t have two central characters in a franchise be gay together, otherwise you couldn’t edit it out for China.  It has to be characters who have absolutely no significance to the plot at all.

Are there any detractors for my point of view on this?  Who can defend this and not see it for what it is?  Do you like getting cheap points?  Do you think that your side is winning by having two women kiss for two seconds at the end of a film?  Two characters we known nothing about and care even less?  That’s just dandy for you?  Doesn’t it bother you that a major company who claims up and down to be all about the rainbow flag represents you in a way where they take no actual risk doing so?  Not to mention, let’s have two dudes kiss.  Why?  Because then people might actually get upset.  See, two girls kissing is seen as hot by the culture at large.  Two dudes kissing is seen as awkward.  Oh wait, that’s also a risk.  Disney can’t do that.  Modern Disney isn’t about risk at all.

I’ve talked about this quite a bit over the last couple years or so.  It just bugs me every time I see stuff like this and the news just fawning all over what seems to me to be the most obvious feeding of a line thing ever.  I suppose it probably is just corporate media parroting a narrative because they are told to.  But they have dumbass readers who buy into their narrative.  Who don’t think for themselves.  And so they are looking at the forest and missing the trees.  That leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.  Maybe it’s my old journalism passion flaring up again and making me hate that all modern news is just infotainment.

Kind of a bummer, really.

Until next time, a quote,

“They fly now!” – Terrible line from Rise of Skywalker that they felt the need to repeat three times

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: The Reason Final Fantasy versus XIII Never Got Made

While everyone is mad at Blizzard (and rightly so) for basically being a giant bitch for the Chinese government, along with the NBA, I thought it might be worth bringing up how something that had the potential to be amazing got totally screwed because yet-another AAA game developer wanted to appease the Chinese, and in the process ruined what could have been the greatest Final Fantasy game ever.

I remember when the first trailer for Final Fantasy versus XIII came out.  It took my breath away.  The world looked so much like the modern world, and you have a very broody hero facing down an entire army.  They open fire on him, when you see glass-like swords deflecting them.  That was awesome!  For a LONG time, there was nothing.  Then in 2011 they released another trailer!  This one looked even better.  Again, so much like the modern world as you see the Prince and his father driving in a car, with the father ragging on him for being so glum.  In the distance we see airships floating there!  Then we see things get real with gameplay.  It looked sick!  You have this city where things are going to shit, with you having to escape with your friends.

The plot of this game had the makings of something unlike anything we’d seen before.  A young prince, cursed with a deep bond with death.  A young woman, with a connection to a goddess of life.  Both star-crossed, but on opposite sides of a conflict.  You have to fight your way out of the capital, with the goal being to find a way to take back your home.  Some appearances that this may be a story taking some cues from Hamlet, and the makings of a masterpiece were all right there.  Even when the game changed names and became Final Fantasy XV, it looked like there was still potential.

Then the game released, and we realized that it was mediocre beyond all reason.  Clearly rushed out the door just so they could have it be done.  There had been an amazing idea there.  So what happened?!  For years, this question dogged me, until recently I figured out that someone had answered it.  It was discovered that the reason for the end product of all the years of work on this title being for nothing is because of China.  Why am I not surprised?

See, there’s a thing about China – they have a TON of rules in order for a game to be marketed there.  It’s the reason that Disney will never, EVER have openly gay characters in their movies.  The rule on top of all the little nit-picky ones is – no ghosts, no gays.  Either one and your work is dead on arrival.  The reason this ties into Final Fantasy versus XIII is because the Prince and his family have a connection to a god of death.  Noctis can see the light of expiring souls.  But that won’t fly in China.  And Square Enix wanted in on that sweet China cheddar.  The way that so many other companies have been.

Which is why we got a final product that was rushed to market and felt half-baked.  Which is a real fucking shame, if you ask me.  Because I can only imagine what the original product would have been if it had actually been allowed to go to completion.  Star-crossed lovers, forced to do battle because of their affiliation.  A war over a power source to keep and empire alive.  A prince working to retake his home after it’s captured.  What that could have turned into is anyone’s guess.  But no.  I’m really starting to think that Square Enix has lost the spark of what made it great.  Seems like the only stuff they’re putting out is remakes of classics, because they don’t have any original ideas.  And since the remake of Final Fantasy VII is still gonna be released episodically (no joke, they said that’s still a thing), it leaves you to wonder if the spark will ever come back.

AAA gaming is really disheartening to me lately.  Sony is the only one who is taking risks with huge ideas that may or may not always play out.  Well, them and CD Projekt Red.  I miss companies with big ideas and a foolhardy sense of passion to just throw whatever against the wall and see what sticks.

Cool game concepts going to die, microtransactions everywhere, games becoming gambling.  It’s depressing to see the industry.  But a guy can hope.  Every now and again there are real diamonds released.  Sometimes…

Until next time, a quote,

“Always, and never.” – Dwight, Sin City

Peace out,

Maverick

Bad PR 121: Blizzard, Hearthstone, Blitzchung, and #FreeHongKong #BoycottBlizzard

Oh man.  It’s been fun to watch Blizzard take the classic Open Mouth, Insert Foot approach to damage control after they prove what absolute ninnies they are and how utterly enslaved they are to a foreign power.  This is almost incredible.  Sometimes you can see the point where a company does something so astronomically stupid and you think to yourself – how are they POSSIBLY going to get out of this?  I mean, what do they say?  That’s how I’ve felt watching all this drama unfold.  Lots to talk about here, so let’s get down to business (to defeat, the Huns!)

For those of you who didn’t know, there has been a huge string of riots and civil disobedience in connection to the People’s (Commie) Republic of China looking to reign in the freedoms of the city of Hong Kong.  It’s a huge political deal, threatening the future freedoms of that city and the people who live there by an authoritarian nation that will absolutely clamp down on them.  Seeing people so willing to take to the streets and fight for their freedoms is heart-warming.  If only America had done that after the Patriot Act.  Oh well, that’s a topic for a whole other time.

During a Hearthstone tournament (a card game made by Blizzard), a Hong Kong resident by the username Blitzchung said an eight-word statement in defense of Free Hong Kong and their efforts.  It wasn’t condemning China, just appealing to keep the people in his city free.  Eight words.  However, Blizzard, who is partly owned by a Chinese company (Tencent is one of the major shareholders), decided to clamp down on this really, really fast.  Not only did they slap Blitzchung with a one year suspension, but they took his prize winnings from Hearthstone away.

From there, the news went out like wildfire.  It didn’t help that the company issued a statement that Blitzchung was out of line with his statement and that it was all his fault.  However, at the same time, they released a statement to China that was pretty much a ball-washing of how China is great and how angry they are at Blitzchung for saying what he did.  It was found out that the two people interviewing him were in on the ploy, and both of them were fired.  The stark contrast, along with the absolutely insane punishment that was so beyond the pale of what they would do to Americans caught international media attention immediately.

The Internet took off.  The story went viral in a nanosecond and soon the hashtag #BoycottBlizzard took off.  There was a ton of artwork, including turning Mei the Overwatch character into a symbol of Hong Kong resistance.  They made some rather charming Hearthstone cards detracting Blizzard for being a complete bitch to China.  And my favorite, having the Blizzard logo super-imposed over the Chinese flag.  At the same time, it was found out that plenty of employees at Blizzard were rightfully pissed about this.  There were walkouts, and they covered up parts of the piece in the center of their campus with statements in support of free speech and every voice mattering.

So the big question was, what was Blizzard’s response going to be?  I mean, it isn’t like they could say nothing, right?  Keep that thought in your mind, we’ll come back to it.  But we just got an official response from the company, and it was about as complete bullshit as one would expect.  Here is YongYea’s video on the subject –

Never in my LIFE have I seen a statement that was as clearly written by a lawyer as this one.  There wasn’t a single authentic word in any of that.  Hell, I bet a team of lawyers went over this to make sure there wasn’t a single thing that could offend their Chinese masters anywhere in that.  Blizzard saying that their relationship with China had nothing to do with their wording couldn’t have possibly been more bullshit if they tried.  This is the Internet, moron!  People have already seen the translated message that was sent by Blizzard in China, which was a harsh condemnation of Blitzchung and kissing their country’s ass!

But it goes further. See, a collegiate team of Hearthstone players decided to do a little test.  During a game, they held up a sign with #FreeHongKong and #BoycottBlizzard during a tournament.  The response to this by Blizzard was nothing.  It was non-existent next to what they did to Blitzchung.  The people who did this posted on Reddit, quite rightfully, that while their actions were nowhere near as a reckless and potentially dangerous to their freedom as what Blitzchung’s, they did prove a point.  So which is it, Blizzard?  Is having a political opinion only dangerous to audiences that China can see, or will American ones be treated with the same gloves?  Please, enlighten me.  This company is so absolutely full of shit that it is staggering.

As one might expect, they decided to walk back just a fraction of their punishment on Blitzchung, such as giving him his winnings back, in the desperate attempted to try and save face.  Not gonna work, Blizzard!  Your press release from the head of your company looks like bullshit, so you doing that is just a pathetic attempt to deflect.  How is your team of lawyers not able to bullshit better than this?  Between your lawyers and your PR team, there should have been some grade-A bullshit in this

So, what’s the PR lesson here?  Something I learned in the aforementioned (and horrifically boring) Comm. Law class is that there is an option in a crisis situation that one can take.  It’s risky, but sometimes it’s the best option that you have at any given time.  And that option is…do nothing!  Do absolutely nothing and hope that all of this will blow over.  Quietly do things to try and mitigate the worst of it, but have zero official response to anything.  Basically, do a media blackout of the whole affair until the storm blows over.  I gotta say, in this instance, I think Blizzard would have been a thousand times better served by just saying nothing than what they did.  Because if anything is going to fan the flames of this, that response was the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a tire fire.

And all this proves a contention I have made a long time ago – all theses companies who claim that they are super LGBT-friendly are full of shit.  It’s a lie.  One that they perpetuate for the same reason that they are condemning Blitzchung in China – because they want money.  Being pro-LGBT is in right now.  Not saying that’s a bad thing, but that’s what it is.  But it’s all for the same goal – securing as much money as they possibly can.  It’s why you know they don’t talk about the LGBT stuff in China (no ghosts, no gays, that’s the rule).  How people are able to believe that this company or Disney or any of the others aren’t just playing the game of profits with this social ideology is beyond me.

They really shot themselves in the foot here.  If the company can’t learn from this and take the smarter approach to just keep their mouths shut, then Blizzcon at the end of this month should be an absolutely fantastic shit-show.  Really hoping it is.  Desperately hoping that the audience decides to just troll the living daylights out of Blizzard as they unveil their next big mobile game that gives the finger to PC gamers where they made their fortune on.  I’m sure investors won’t notice.  Just kiss China’s ass enough and they will keep giving you those truckloads of microtransaction dollars.

The lesson is – if you have no good response, then don’t say anything.  Trust me, you can’t look much worse than this.

Until next time, a quote,

“With all the variations, one wonders how many deaths are hidden poisonings, with the truth known only to the dead.” – The Count, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

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

Gaming News Panders to Big Business, Demonizes Gamers

A lot of things have been happening recently that have gotten the attention of gaming companies and because it damages their capacity to rake in a fuck-ton of money on the back of microtransactions.  Naturally, when big gaming is hurt, they have their bitch-boy media in quickly to defend them.  This should come as a surprise to nobody.  We’ve seen, time and time again, the gaming news publications are bought and paid for by gaming companies.  We saw it with review scores and how the utterly corrupt outlets like IGN, Gamespot, and Kotaku will give favorable reviews to almost any AAA game, regardless of quality.  How Fallout 76 wasn’t able to get this treatment boggles the mind.  Maybe some rational part of gaming news realized that if they gave that game a favorable review, their audience would laugh them off-stage.

Not that they should care.  Games media being corrupt is nothing new.  Despite what every mainstream outlet says, #GamerGate uncovered a TON of collusion and corruption in the industry.  The synchronized “Gamers are Dead” articles, the synchronized articles demonizing Christina Hoff Sommers for her take on the controversy, and the endless series of personal and unprofessional relationships between developers and games media, they are corrupt to the core and it’s known to everyone who isn’t a total sheep.

So it comes as no surprise to me that all the recent controversies of big gaming engaging is unpopular shit has mainstream games media jumping to their defense without a second thought.  Like when Activision/Blizzard announced Diablo Immortal at Blizzcon when people were expecting a real game, and then subsequently talked down to their fans.  What has followed since then has been a dumpster fire that makes them look worse and worse, with information coming out that they are going to sell ALL of their IPs up the river to mobile, and how the new Diablo game is just a reskin of another game the mobile developer has done.  The side-by-side comparisons are too obvious to ignore, despite Blizzard saying up and down that that isn’t true.

Naturally, the “journalists” in games media came rushing out to defend Blizzard, demonizing the fans and called them “entitled.”  Well, hot on the heels of that little bit of corrupt protection through “objective” journalism, we have Ubisoft getting some flak as well for their announcement of censoring Rainbow Six: Siege in order to meet the criteria for Chinese censorship.  A tactic that would set a dangerous precedent, if followed through – that video games will have their creativity crushed in order to appeal to a market in a country with strict laws about what is appropriate to show.  The fan backlash was immediate and heated, to the point that Ubisoft walked back that announcement.

As is to be expected, games media ran to the company’s defense, with one of the most baffling defenses I have ever seen.  The author of an article said that Ubisoft should be encouraged in this endeavor, in addition to their announcement of the inclusion of loot boxes, which happened this year as well.  Why?  Because they are a big company and should be able to make as much money as possible!  What a “pro-consumer” thing to say.  “Don’t yell at the corporations!  That hurts their feelings!  They need lots of money!

It’s so weird to me that games media has turned on their audience so hard.  Article after article after article for years following #GamerGate telling gamers that they should feel bad for having opinions.  Isn’t companies listening to the feedback of their customers a good thing?  In an age where gaming companies are continually ignoring backlash in order to sell out and make a shit-ton of money at the cost of their product, the fact that SOME companies are actually listening to feedback and taking it to heart should be a good thing.  Granted, Blizzard can’t seem to put out their dumpster fire and only make it worse, but they at least pitifully ATTEMPTED to address the controversy.

I’ve seen so many “pro-consumer” publications and even YouTube personalities just become corporate shills.  It’s why I don’t watch Angry Joe anymore, or Jim Sterling.  Well, in Jim’s case, it was when he supported Ben Kuchera when he said that doxxing is a good thing and he has every right to do it.  He sold out to the SJW community a LONG time ago.  You have Angry Joe yelling at consumers for being mad about the blatant historical inaccuracy of Battlefield V, though that game got much more substantive criticism later, like the fact that it was rushed out unfinished with the online component being a complete mess.  Still, seeing someone who I always thought was at least partially on the side of the consumer kissing EA’s ass all because of political ideological allegiance is frustrating.

These people should be championing consumers speaking out when something bothers them, and encouraging companies to at least listen to what they have to say.  They don’t have to agree or kowtow to us, but at least hear where people are coming from and take it into consideration.  What’s the problem with that?  Oh right, it hurts the feelings of multi-billion dollar companies and they might earn a few million dollars less than they otherwise would have.  Oh, and have to work a little harder into not making their mainline games worse and instead make a localized version for China.  Yeah, I feel so bad for them.  The poor babies.

Until next time, a quote,

“You know what this is?  It’s the world’s smallest violin playing just for the waitresses.” – Mr Pink, Reservoir Dogs

Peace out,

Maverick

Bad PR 119: Blizzard, Mobile Gaming, and Making Things Worse

You know what I love?  A good dumpster fire.  Not literally, of course.  Those smell bad and aren’t nice to look at, but just watching something beautiful burn in their own hubris is so fucking beautiful to watch.  We’ve seen it happen over and over.  There was the fire every step of the way during the development of Mighty No. 9.  There was the Yooka-Laylee voice acting fiasco.  Don’t even get me started on the beautiful destruction of games journalism during #GamerGate.  Now, we have the saga of Blizzard and their mobile gaming.

For those who didn’t know, all of this started a week or so ago at Blizzcon when they announced a new Diablo game.  Now, this is an event for PC gamers, because that is their core audience.  They hinted at a new Diablo game announcement before this event, but tried to walk that back because some part of them must have realized this could blow up in their face.  If only they had that foresight when they ended the big press conference event by showing off that the new Diablo game was for mobile platforms.  The way the room suddenly went silent was deafening.  Even the announcer could feel it, and you can tell that he was sweating pinballs.

Things got worse at a Q&A panel where one person asked if this whole thing was a “late April Fools Joke” and when asked if there was any way any of this was coming to PC, they got booed when they said no and then subsequently attacking their audience.  But it didn’t stop there!  The company who makes this has already made games that are basically Diablo knock-offs, and people were noticing how this new game looked like a reskin of the old one.  To which Blizzard doubled down on it not only being a good idea and the future of gaming, but not a reskin.

Following this, Activision’s stocks took a nose-dive.  They lost billions in stock value in a day.  Which leads me to today.  Seeming seeing the writing on the wall, and not wanting to lose more money, Blizzard decided to triple-down on mobile gaming being the future by saying that not only are they going mobile with Diablo, but they are going that way with ALL of their IPs.  Everything is gonna be mobile now.  They said that because of this, they have more projects going than ever before and they are going to make a huge profit.  This kind of speak sound kinda funny to you?  Like it isn’t gamers they are talking to?  Yeah, sounded that way for me too.

Because it isn’t gamers they are talking to.  It’s investors.  Activision Blizzard saw the massive decline in their stock and have run to assure investors that everything is great and that this backlash is nothing to be concerned about.  In doing this, they showed that not only are they focusing all their IPs on mobile titles, but they are putting their best talent to work doing this.  Needless to say, the backlash has been deafening.

How a company can be this out of touch with their audience just blows my fucking mind.  It really does.  Any corporate venture knows that investors are great, but if there is no demand for your product, their stocks are worth just as little.  But then, perhaps there is some logic to this.  After all, they are probably right that these products are going to make a shit-ton of money.  Mobile gaming is big, especially over in Asia.  China has become not only a mecca for Hollywood to make money, but also mobile gaming companies, as people will sink hundreds of millions into microtransactions.  This market has mass appeal in Asia.  Which makes the setting for this announcement for more fitting.

So perhaps Blizzard isn’t out of touch with their audience.  They have just written off that if they ignore western audience and focus on eastern, they lose nothing.  Perhaps there was financial calculus being done by the company at how much they could destroy with this dumpster fire and still coming out clean on the other side.  These games will make a fuck-ton of money.  They know that before they even do it.  It will be microtransaction heaven, which will make even more.  In these countries, people will pay.  So what does Blizzard stand to lose?

Still, it is nice to see Blizzard do more of a scorched-earth response to audience backlash than Konami.  I mean wow.  It’s more than a little impressive.  To give your PC audience the finger not once, not twice, but three times!  They could have come out and made a video to assuage their PC gaming community who was made them big.  At a time when they are making new characters for Overwatch while the game is filled with bugs that need fixing desperately, they continually show more and more tone-deafness to their core audience.  It blows my mind.

The PR lesson is this – if you are going to take this kind of tactic with your audience, the consumers who buy your products, you better know for certain that you are going to get a return for your investment in the long run, because not only is customer loyalty a huge part of corporate success, but so is brand recognition.  If people know your company as one thing, and you are selling that thing up the river to be a different thing to pander to a different community, you better know that this is going to work before you get started.  Otherwise, it will be event after event where games journalism (the bane of all gaming) will kiss your ass, while the audience dries up more and more.

Good luck, Blizzard,

Until next time, a quote,

“Forgive me, I don’t know the local custom, but where I come from, when you hear a prayer, you say ‘Amen.’  Because that’s what you just heard – a prayer.” – Lawrence Garfield, Other People’s Money

Peace out,

Maverick

Bad PR 118: Diablo Immortal and Blizzard’s Pathetic Damage Control

How many of you remember the launch of the Xbox One?  I do.  Super Bunnyhop’s video on it was one of the funniest things I had seen in ages. All the features in the console that fans absolutely despise – the always-online DRM, the Kinect camera that you couldn’t disconnect or turn off because that doesn’t sound orwellian at all, and the inability to share used games because of corporate greed.  It made for some FANTASTIC material for Sony to absolutely destroy them with.  Their video on how you share games on the PS4 was comedy gold.  Yeah, that was a PR tire fire, and they haven’t recovered from it to this day.

Gaming companies are big to capitalize on other companies stupidity or greed.  Like when EA said that single-player gaming is dying, and you had companies coming out of the woodwork to ridicule them.  Bethesda really seized the day with that and took them to town.  Not a second goes by that some company doesn’t do something really stupid and their competitors are more than happy to make them look like asshats because of it.

Which makes me wonder what is going to happen to Blizzard now that they are in the crosshairs because of their own stupid decisions and corporate greed.  What do I mean?  I mean the damage control saga of the cinematic trailer for Diablo Immortal.  Easily the most hated game trailer on YouTube, without a single contender.  I don’t think even the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare trailer got this much hate.  Except, if you see it now, you wouldn’t know just how bad it ACTUALLY is.  There’s a reason why.

Blizzard decided that they were going to take a franchise that had always existed on PC, as a staple of the genre, and turn it into a shitty mobile game, created by an outside company, and guaranteed to be loaded up with microtransactions.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  During the reveal at Blizzcon, they actually had the people on stage attacking the audience for booing them when they said it wasn’t going have a PC version.  No joke, they said “what, do you not have phones?”  Whew.  Suddenly got flashbacks to the video where Microsoft told people who didn’t like the always-online DRM, they could just stick with the previous generation of consoles.

However, the story didn’t end there.  When the trailer for this game became a dumpster fire, as is want to happen, some of the people following this started to notice something.  Comments on the video were disappearing, en masse.  Thousands of them.  Tens of thousands.  But not only that.  Negative ratings on the video were going down.  Not the positive ones, mind you.  Just the negative ones.  But thanks to some people at Social Blade and those doing screen-caps of the video, it was shown that Blizzard was working with YouTube to remove negative feedback on their video.  Wow.

This is PR disaster in a way I haven’t seen before.  Here’s something to keep in mind when you make a product, regardless of what kind of product it is – the fans of your products are the ones who control your sales.  What does that mean?  It means that if you tell fans that you hate them, or deliberately ignore their feedback, your sales will suffer.  That’s the nature of this medium.  Remember the Xbox One rolling back ALL of the features that people didn’t like, because the sales were in the tank?  That’s just one example.  We could talk about the Ghostbusters (2016) fiasco and how Paul Feig attacking the fans of the film was a terrible decision, along with Sony trying their own hand at damage control on the trailer.  Or maybe Rian Johnson attacking Star Wars fans and how that blew up in Disney’s face.

Now we have Blizzard hoping that if they can just make the negative reaction to this video seem not as bad as it otherwise would be, that will help to sell a product that everyone hates.  EVERYONE.  The tone-deafness here is baffling.  How any company can be so blind to their audience is stunning.  You sell video games, Blizzard!  You know how you keep making money in this industry?  By selling video games that your fans want!  If you start selling things that they don’t want, watch how fast the audience dries up.  Ask Bioware how that’s going for them.  This industry has become, in large part, a matter of brand loyalty.  But people don’t seem to get that it’s a fickle creature.  Piss off the fans often or hard enough and that loyalty can be irrevocably destroyed.  And the Internet is too smart for a tactic like this to work.  Everyone saw what you did, Blizzard!  We saw it right in front of our fucking faces!  You can’t fool anyone!

The fact that they are working with Google or YouTube directly to remove negative feedback is especially alarming.  This means that they have corporate help to remove your opinions.  They don’t want to hear it.  They don’t want audiences to hear it.  Did you hear that?  Blizzard, a gaming company who ostensibly sells games, will trash-talk you on stage and then try and get another company to help them not hear the negative things people say.  I’m sure that this isn’t a PR nightmare waiting to happen.

Here’s today’s lesson – brand loyalty is everything.  It’s why Pizza Hut continues to make mediocre pizza, and McDonald’s keeps their doors open, even though their food is just awful.  There is loyalty that people have, and it isn’t going anywhere.  Gaming is even hard about this.  If you want to shit on your fans, you better hope that you can avoid the damage that this brings.  But I don’t think you can.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be working so hard to damage control!

Until next time, a quote,

“Hurry now!  My muse is a fickle bitch, with a very short attention span!” – Sander Cohen, Bioshock

Peace out,

Maverick

Did EA Learn NOTHING From Diablo III?

Let’s whisk you back to last year.  Blizzard says that Diablo III requires a constant internet connection.  Having always-online DRM has been a bad idea every single time it has been SimCityimplemented.  And the launch of Electronic Arts’ new SimCity was no exception.  Just like Diablo III, the launch was a total disaster with people losing connections, having no connections available and even losing some of what they had done in their cities.  I was hoping to do a review of that game back-to-back with the new Tomb Raider.  As it stands, I should have listened to that little inner voice in the back of my head that knew that this would happen.

This story literally played out just the same as Diablo III.  The fans could see this coming from a mile away, but did EA listen?  No, they didn’t.  Even for single-player, you had to have an online connection.  Why?!  This was a dumb move, and now it has come back to bite EA right on its ass.  This company is not doing well.  Last year saw the unbelievable back-lash to the god-awful ending to Mass Effect 3.  This drove a couple nails in the coffin.  The year before, they were in deep because of the linearity and being a Call of Duty ripoff that Crysis 2 was (though thankfully, they have remedied that in a BIG way with Crysis 3).  And this year, they started off the year with a sub-par sequel to Dead Space 2 that was clearly rushed to market, almost feeling like a cash-grab.  This company seems to go from one bad decision to the other, and the worst part is that the solutions are easy.

For real, they should have just gotten Bioware to red-con the ending of Mass Effect 3 and give it a new one as free DLC.  But they did as they are doing now – responding to the massive outcry from annoyed gamers with promises of making what is clearly broken into something that might just work.  The solution to this problem is easy – make single player offline.  Boom, easy.  Keep multiplayer online.  That will keep a TON of the load on their servers off and let gamers play.  And despite how stupid this mistake was, people flocked to this game.  Everybody did.  Everybody wanted to play.  The building of cities hadn’t been seen like this since the pyramids of Egypt.  But, because of the enthusiasm of the fanbase, who had been waiting for YEARS for a new iteration in this franchise, EA has now gone back to the forums to make apologies.  And the worst part was that the solution to this problem was right in front of us.  We all saw it, and still do.

So, EA, the next move is yours.  Are you going to take the simple and direct path to fixing your problem?  Or are you going to do something really fucking stupid?  Given the Mass Effect debacle, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Until next time, a quote,

“Who’s the bigger fool?  The fool, or the fool who follows him?”  -Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars

Peace out,

Maverick