Many gamers seem content to let their favorite publishers take them for a ride, but why?
Over the past week there’s been quite a bit of an uproar over the way publishers continue to bend their customers over in pursuit of the mighty dollar – seldom with the courtesy of so much as a nice dinner and a reach-around. Since revealing their DLC plans earlier this week, many have been appalled by Bethesda’s recent decision to hike up the price of the Fallout 4 Season Pass by a substantial amount ahead of the game’s first piece of post-launch content releasing on March 1. While some see it as business as usual, quite a few – myself included – tend to view it as a sad sign of things to come for the industry, as the way it was executed essentially strong-arms customers into blindly purchasing a batch of DLC ahead of time with no real idea of its measure of quality (the price hike takes effect the day the first DLC releases, which could well be the day publisher plans to lift review embargoes) or pay significantly more than early adopters. Another major point of contention has been Capcom’s catastrophic release of Street Fighter V, which, in my opinion, shipped as what can only be described as a glorified Beta form, featuring only a fraction of the content included in its predecessor alongside some gloriously mismanaged server issues. Simply put, all is not right in the industry these days.
That’s not to say publishers taking advantage of consumers is an entirely new concept: from expensive Collector’s Edition merchandise that’s built to the standard of a glorified Happy Meal toy to hugely anticipated online games that remain unplayable for weeks after launch until server issues are resolved, publishers have been more than happy to pocket gobs of cash at the expense of their loyal customers.
This comes as no surprise – the video games industry is a business after all. But one has to wonder why gamers are so content with taking it on the chin and giving these hugely profitable publishers the benefit of the doubt, only to let the cycle of of high hopes and crushing disappointment repeat itself time and time again.
Why is it that when it comes to video games so many players are eager to defend the companies that mistreat them, even when doing so almost assuredly means these shitty trends will continue, encouraging other publishers to take similar steps to that they can get in on the action? I think a lot of it comes from the fierce brand loyalty that we all see every day when skimming our favorite gaming news sites and message boards. Few communities are home to as many intensely vocal collectives of fans, especially those who are dead-set in the belief that their console of choice is some infallible, magical box. These fans will staunchly defend even the most godawful games solely based on their status as console exclusives, even when these titles sometimes retail at $60 and can be beaten in the time it takes to watch a marathon of Golden Girls reruns. I get it: players want to feel good about the shiny box you they plunked several hundred dollars on. However, there comes a time when it’s important to understand these companies don’t want your friendship – they want your money, and no amount of devotion to a corporate entity is going to ensure they treat you fairly by giving you the best possible experience for your gaming buck.
Really, I think we all deserve a bit better than that, don’t you? You wouldn’t buy a car without seats, would you? Then why would you spend your hard-earned money on purchasing a game that’s utterly incomplete based on a publisher’s promise that the the most basic componenets of a game like Street Fighter V will will be delivered over the span of a few months? It’s a bit ridiculous, don’t you think? When you plunk down hundreds of dollars on pre-orders over the span of any given year, you’re not supporting starving artists, you’re fueling the monster that the video games industry has become in recent years. The only way to stop this kind of shameful behavior is to vote with your wallet, and refuse to let publishers treat the industry as nothing more than a mob of hapless Beta testers they can exploit by delivering them unfinished products and peddling content at an added cost that should have been included in the box to begin with.
That’s not to say that every studio is some ravenous beast, hell-bent on shafting gamers for profit. After all, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt developer CD Projekt RED has shown time and time again that the best way to garner support from their fans is to treat them with respect, but it’s plain to see that times are changing, and if we want the industry to do right by its consumers, we need to act now, or we’ll only have ourselves to blame when these shameful business practices become the norm.
So, our dear readers, now that my torrential torrent of piss & vinegar has been expelled, how do you feel about the way major publishers have been treating their customers in recent years? Are you prepared to start voting with your wallet, or do you feel this is the direction the industry should be going in? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.