Guest Editorial: Gamer VS Publisher
(For the uninitiated, Ben Paddon is the guy behind Game Journalists Are Incompetent F*ckwits; essentially a guide for what not to do when you’re a games journalist. It’s something that I try to adhere to, and although Ben shut down the blog earlier this year, he’s still keeping busy between his other blogs and his new job at what can be charitably described as a money sink for nerds. When browsing his GameJournos off-topic blog earlier this week, this particular entry jumped out at me. As someone who’s inching ever closer to the indie downloadable market for his main sources of interactive entertainment, a lot of what he wrote here rung true for me. So, with his permission, I’ve decided to repost it here for you all. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.)
I learnt a lot of things about the games industry last year. I learnt that publishers don’t actually give a flying fuck about gamers. They don’t. They see gamers as anthropomorphic coin purses, jingle-jangling towards stores and walking out with $60 discs that become $15 disappointments the moment they leave the store. They see those gamers who can’t afford the $60 and so instead opt to pay $40 for a used copy as vermin, eating away at their bottom line.
I learnt that marketing departments will say and do anything, anything, to get people to buy their game short of doing anything that might allow them to make an informed decision, such as showing them gameplay footage or releasing a playable demo.
I learnt that gamers themselves will bitch, whine, moan and stamp their fat little feet over things like draconian DRM and over-priced downloadable content, and still fork over their hard-earned dollarpounds again, and again, and again.
Perhaps most importantly, I learnt that I already knew all of this, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to put up with this bullshit anymore.
As of now, I will not be buying nor accepting complimentary copies of any game that costs more than $30, and doesn’t feature actual gameplay footage in any of its trailers or commercials.
This probably means I’ll be missing out on some truly brilliant games this year. I don’t doubt that. It means that I won’t be buying or playing Mass Effect 3 for quite some time.
This also means that the majority of my game purchases for the foreseeable future will be iPhone games, Xbox Live Arcade titles, and games developed by indie developers who know that if you have the time to write, storyboard, block, render and release a two-minute trailer featuring absolutely zero content from the game itself, then you have a few hours to plug your console into a video capture card, play the game for a while, and edit together a trailer made up of the most tantalizing moments of the game.
I love games. I love playing them. I love talking about them, sharing stories and memories. I love sitting on my own to solve a mystery, or getting together with friends to take down a killer boss. But as of right now, I have zero respect for the games industry. I have zero respect for the people who work in it. I have less than zero respect for the people who write about it.
Chances are I’m the only one, and I doubt my decision to no longer engage publishers on their terms is going to hurt their bottom line. Chances are there are a bunch of people out there who think I’m full of hot air (which is hardly a new development, but there we are). That’s fine. I’m not doing this for the industry, and I sure as balls ain’t doing it for any of you. I’m doing it for myself, because I realized some time ago that I stopped making the decision about the games I got excited about, and I delegated that out to people who work in an industry that despises me and everybody else like me who just wants to sit down and play goddamn videogames.
I’m taking back that control, and I’m sending that message. Granted, that message will undoubtedly be drowned out by the fratboy who buys seven copies of Call of Duty: This Time They’re In Canada! for himself and his friends, but it’s not always about having your voice heard. Sometimes it’s just about excising your right to speak.