The Evils of Consumerism
Disclaimer:This is not fully videogame related and it is also not meant to act as a substitution for a greedy companies installment of 7th Gen Gaming Woes. This is more of a one off article I needed to get off my chest.
Society is run on consumerism. What does everyone go to college for? They do this to receive a better education so that in they can get better jobs that pay more money. What is money used for? Money is used to get things in exchange for the money.
This consumerist run society is what we’re all accustomed to and seems like nothing is wrong with it, save for the expensive items here and there. The real issue comes in when you begin to realize just how many greedy corporations/ companies exist in the film and videogame industry. It is quite appalling.
It would be easy to be overwhelmed by this because there are so many greedy puppet-masters in these industries, but I will just name the ones that hurt me the most. These are the instances that make me shake my head the most and eat away at me.
I’m sure many people are familiar with the Friday The 13th movie franchise. Who wouldn’t? Jason Vorhees is a horror icon. The original movie was a fairly traditional horror movie with suspense. Jason Vorhees didn’t even make an appearance until the very ending of the movie in a cliff-hanger type ending. The popularity of course guaranteed a sequel. Then the popularity of that sequel lead to yet another. At this point, the Friday The 13th IP had spawned 3 movies and many toys and merchandise. Of course, the powers-that-be love their cash and the 4th Friday The 13th was subtitled The Final Chapter. We all know how that turned out. Including the reboot, a total of 12 Friday The 13th’s have been made. Whatever happened to “The Final Chapter”? Greed happened. The studio funding the projects wanted more money and the consumers were willing to keep forking over their hard-earned cash on endless uninspired sequels rather than something original.
The Nightmare on Elm Street followed the same formula, but with differing numbers. There were five movies in the series until the 6th was entitled “The Final Nightmare”. Guess what happened? Another installment was made by the same director just three years later. Whatever happened to taking your time with projects and letting ideas stay dead once they’ve been milked too far? What happened to integrity? Why must this constantly go on? Even Disney is guilty of cashing in on their fans. To date, Disney has made thirty five direct-to-video sequels to their major motion picture that have seen theatrical releases. To be fair, some of the direct-to-video sequels are good(Toy Story 2 even started off as direct-to-video before getting scrapped for a different version for a theatrical release) like Bambi 2 , but most are garbage cash-ins. For example Beauty and The Beast:The Enchanted Christmas and Lion King 1½ scream quick cash grabs made merely to get little kids excited and drain their parents wallets when seeing any of these movies at a video store. It’s absolute genius on Disney’s part as a means of getting money because their target audience is comprised of gullible children that do not know better. Disney has one more direct-to-video movie planned for a 2013 release. It will be a spin-off of Cars with air-planes replacing the cars.
Moving on from the movie industry and into the realm of gaming, the disappointment seems to worsen. Part of the reason for this is because of the greater emotional connection I grow towards a videogame due to the interactive nature of the medium and the other is because many companies in the gaming industry are even greedier and pull of way more shady tactics to empty gamers’ wallets.
The first instance of this that I would like to mention, but may or may not exactly be a case of cashing in is with a game called Bioshock. The original game was released in 2007 and met with very high critical praise, being one of the highest rated games of all time. The game was about a man whose plane crashed into the ocean. While trying to reach land, the player comes across a mysterious island that houses a bathysphere taking the aforementioned protagonist to an under-water city named Rapture. It was built by Andrew Ryan in the 1940. He was an idealistic man who seeked to create a Utopian society that according to him was where “the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, where the great would not be constrained by the small”. He wanted the city free of “parasites”, and so filled it with the best minds in the world to facilitate his need for a Utopian society. For a time, it went well, then Andrew Ryan ultimately failed and along with him, so did Rapture. This was a very fascinating game about discovering the mystery behind Rapture, Andrew Ryan, and the fall of the city.
Bioshock is an intelligent game that delves into the themes and ideologies of Andrew Ryan. It can be analyzed and many different people can take out something different from it. Andrew Ryan seemed to be a man that believed in or displayed qualities of objectivism and also is a strong capitalist. He hates socialism, communism, and religion, especially altruism. Bioshock is one of those games that you show off to people that claim games cannot be art. It is a masterpiece. Bioshock was heavily influenced by the works of Ayn Rand. The character Andrew Ryan is an obvious reference to Ayn Rand. There is also another character in the game by the name of Atlas, referencing one of Ayn Rand’s books: Atlus Shrugged. Much of the ideological, political, moral, and philosophical views of Andrew Ryan and other characters were heavily inspired by Ayn Rand and here books.
It was a brilliantly written game that ended perfectly. It was a surprise then, when a sequel was announced. What makes me believe this is a cash-in is that it was not made by the same developers and as such is missing the original writer, Ken Levine, who really made Bioshock shine. The sequel revisits the same city 10 years later with a new antagonist, Sofia Lamb. Throughout the game, you find audio diaries that even have Sofia Lamb and Andrew Ryan speaking together, which seems like it may have been forced because she was not mentioned in the original game whatsoever, and seems to be strongly affiliated with Andrew Ryan. This is what made the game feel forced. That coupled with the loss of the original’s writer made this sequel unnecessary.
The biggest offense for me, though has to be a company we all know by the name of Capcom. They are both publishers and developers. This company epitomizes greed. The shadiness was first noticed by me when they had Downloadable content for Resident Evil 5 that cost $10-$15. It wouldn’t be so bad because the add-on had enough content for the price, but problem is that the content existed fully in the game and consumers were only downloading a code to unlock the content. In short, you are paying for content already on the disk. This practice continues today with their most recent release Street Fighter x Tekken, containing several characters and costume packs available on the disk, but must be unlocked by paying for it. This game was released in March and there are still twelve characters they have yet to put out the unlock codes to download. There was even a group of people that hacked the game to unlock the content and now Capcom wants their online accounts banned. Is this a society we must live in? Why do we accept a world inhabited by companies that would penalize people for trying to access content on a disk that they paid full price for?
The last offense I want to talk about is Capcom’s Street Fighter 4, which saw a total of 4 re-releases with extra content. Super Street Fighter 4 came a year after Street Fighter 4. At this time, Producer Yoshinori Ono said “Super Street Fighter 4 should be the distinctive end of the series”. It wasn’t. A version was later announced only for arcades with extra content. That ended up being a lie also. This version did end up getting ported to home consoles. Even beyond that, there was a 3D edition re-release of the game for Nintendo’s then new handheld, the 3DS with its own content.
I am sick of living in a world that I must share with these people that treat their customers as mindless puppets or sheep. It is in moments such as these that I must reach out to you followers that allow this to happen. You must realize that if you would stop supporting these companies, they would cease to continue similar business practices.