“The Wrong Direction”
So I was sitting listening to random music the other day and came across this little diddy, not my usual musical choice mind you but you know how the streaming services are they will just play something that they deem similar to what you are listening to and make you question what algorithm decided that English-folk-rock sounds like System of a Down? Anyway, this song caused me to think about past love, and then video games. Look, don’t question how my mind works even I couldn’t tell you the jumbled connections it makes and how they make sense. So this song is called “The Wrong Direction” and it is by Passenger. and it has this verse:
So what’s the point in getting your hopes up
When all you’re ever getting is choked up
When you’re coked up
And can’t remember the reason why you broke up
You call her in the morning
When you’re coming down and falling like an old man on the side of the road
‘Cause when you’re apart you don’t want to mingle
When you’re together you want to be single
Ever the chase to taste the kiss of bliss
That made your heart tingle
How much greener the grass is
With those rose tinted glasses
But the butterflies they flutter by and leave us on our arses
Yes I understand this is about people, but I think it also could be used to talk about our, “The consumers” relationship with video game publishers. In a day and age of lootboxes, paygates, locked content, and failed expectations, we the gamer have tumultuous relationships with certain publishers/developers, and rose tinted glasses with others. And I am here to pull back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz.
We all know the Wicked Witches of the East and West¹, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, they are the continuous perpetrators of crimes against the gamer. With their lootboxes, their over-hyped games that always fail to meet our expectations, their lies about content, and “pay-to-win” games²! But what if I told you Glinda the good witch was just another evil witch but we ignore her warts. Why is it we let the Blizzards (unofficially named ActiBunzzard) and Bethesdas off with a free pass?
Now, we all know the video game industry is a business, there are stockholders and employees who would like to get paid. So the publishers have to ensure a profit of their titles, (kind of why I think some companies are afraid to let go of an IP looking at you Assassins Creed), which has caused them to add consumer unfriendly features to their games. Virtual gambling in the form of lootboxes, pay to win (whether it is in story assistance, ie Shadow of War and soon Devil May Cry 5, or free to play “boosters”), Cosmetic purchases like skins in SMITE or CS:GO, already installed content locked behind a pay wall like Black Ops 4 and Destiny, are becoming so prevalent that we are just expecting it from new titles. I get it, in the end it is about the almighty dollar, and I don’t have a huge problem with most of these cases (EXCEPT PAY TO WIN this needs to stop no matter if a game is free to play or not!).
Here is the problem though, we lambaste the companies that have a “reputation” for screwing over the consumer and give a pass to other industry darlings whose crimes are just as egregious . EA is criticized for every implementation of “cash grab” they do like when Star Wars Battlefront 2 had a silly card perk system. Ubisoft is thrashed by people with every game because of their history of unfinished content like Assassin’s creed Unity and the Division. ActiBunZzard is praised at every turn, even though Overwatch is the model other companies look towards with a successful (monetarily) lootbox system, Call of Duty’s yearly titles have been extremely underwhelming the past 5-6 years (minus this year and you can read my review here), Destiny 2 had many of the same faults from Destiny when first released and wasn’t able to keep my attention after spending 1800 hours in Destiny, and World of Warcraft charges a subscription and then charges full price for expansions³. Bethesda is another gamer darling, but why? Like Ubisoft they have been guilty of releasing games full of bugs and unfinished products *cough cough* Skyrim 20 times *cough cough*. They have done it so much that people just expect it from them now. Shoot, they released a statement about Fallout 76 is going to release with a ton of bugs that they know about and they will look to the community to help fix these issues. Really Bethesda? Really? You are making people buy your game to play test it for you, I thought it was supposed to be the other way around, you know hire game testers to push your game to the limits and find bugs that you will fix. You are a Triple A publisher, you aren’t an indie developer who uses early access to help the 4 people in a small office find and fix bugs. Let alone the creation club. The place where you can buy mods approved by Bethesda, that if you were on a pc version of the game you could get for free. Rockstar, oh Rockstar, don’t think I forgot about you, GTA Online has been a treasure trove for you guys with the shark cards and necessity to purchase the online currency to keep up with the Jones’. But we the consumer tend to overlook your blemishes, because we have a love for the titles.
I want to conclude with some final thoughts. Yes, I am guilty of being a fan of these companies, because besides all the crappy things they do for the most part I enjoy their games. I love Ubisofts Tom Clancy games and Assassins Creed and I am looking forward to Skull and Bones. Battlefield V is still on my to purchase list. I have enjoyed some time in Overwatch and love Black ops 4. And in my 5 hours of playing Red Dead Redemption 2, Oh my God! (but that will be a review for a different post). But if we the consumer are going to criticize one company for a money making practice, we need to hold all of them to the same standard.
Love and Tentacles!
1. Keeping with the Oz theme
2. In EA’s pay-to-win it was the perk cards and wasn’t a real pay-to-win seen in many free to play games
3. It is a personal problem I have with WoW and I don’t base it on any actual knowledge of the cost of upkeep compared to income, I just have a problem paying for subscriptions to MMOs that also charge for expansions and part of the reason I stopped playing MMOs.
4.If you would like to listen to “The Wrong Direction”-Passenger