TechRaptor writer Wyatt Hnatiw published an article on March 28 pointing out what should be, but often is not, fairly obvious to the average gamer: game developers get away with flagrant abuses of their own fan bases because, well, it makes them good money. Mr. Hnatiw deserves some credit for not taking the easy route and going deep into social justice territory about how horribly unfair it is that women and minorities are not more heavily represented in gaming. He also points out that the basic reason why game publishers and developers keep taking safe options in gaming is because they are simply highly conservative:
[I]ts [sic] easy to say the bigwigs at EA, Ubisoft & Activision are just misogynists or racists but truly they are something more mundane: incredibly risk-averse. These companies are not driven by the artistic merit of games or a desire to see everyone in the world represented positively – they are driven by money. When you are trying to guarantee success for your game, the best source of information is past sales data. Publishers can look back at the recent history of video games and see a lot of games starring white dudes making a ton of money. To a publisher, putting out a more generic product they believe will sell well is not anti-progress, it’s pro-keeping their jobs. I’m not saying a female protagonist or a black game cast should be shied away from, far from it, but analysts will point to deviations from formula as reasons their latest AAA game failed. Taking a dramatic risk can be great if people like it, but with the massive budgets AAA devs are working with these days, a failed risk can mean the end of a company.
The evidence certainly bears out the hypothesis that the safe, boring path offers the greatest rewards. Take a look at the list of the top-selling video games of 2014 and tell me what many if not most of them have in common, and then take note of the Metacritic average reviewer and user rating given after each one:
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Critics ~80%, Users ~58%)
- Madden NFL 15 (Critics ~ 80%, Users ~65%)
- Destiny (Critics ~75%, Users ~62%)
- Grand Theft Auto 5 (Critics ~97%, Users ~82%)
- Minecraft (Critics ~ 89%, Users ~65%)
- Super Smash Bros (for 3DS and Wii U) (Critics ~91%, Users ~90%)
- NBA 2K15 (Critics ~83%, Users ~70%)
- Watch Dogs (Critics ~78%, Users ~55%)
- FIFA 15 (Critics ~82%, Users ~54%)
- Call of Duty Ghosts (Critics ~73%, Users ~35%)
That list above confirms precisely what Mr. Hnatiw alluded to in his article. In that entire list, there are precisely two original titles. The rest are all sequels or franchise spin-offs or continuations and upgrades of existing IP. And we already know that game publishers—though not necessarily game developers—will take any possible opportunity to rip off the average gamer.
And now take a look at some of the newest sales data for 2015, courtesy of VGChartz:
From this data, we can draw several useful conclusions that those of us who favour real games designed for real gamers can use to our great advantage in the wake of the massive consumer backlash generated by and within GamerGate.
1. Social Justice Warriors Cannot Compete In A Free Market…
Note that the only game in the data sets above that can reasonably be considered “SJW-friendly” is Far Cry 4. And if that is the industry’s idea of “SJW-friendly,” then there isn’t very much to be particularly worried about. As my colleague Steve Alexander pointed out in his detailed demolition of the SJW narrative in that game, this game may well have been an epic trolling job by Ubisoft on the social justice crowd.
SJWs can’t sell games based on their merits in a free market because all they have to offer is self-loathing and anger. They cannot tell good stories. They cannot develop interesting characters. They have almost no talent in marketing their games. They have zero ethical sense. They have absolutely nothing to offer beyond their own self-hatred and a regurgitation of the Satanic evil of Marxist ideology, and that makes for very poor games indeed.
In order to counteract these deficiencies—which are to be expected from anyone with an r-selected psychology, as possessed by virtually all SJW types—the rabbits of the SJW set resort to devious and underhanded tactics, which they must do to survive in the hyper-competitive world of video games. They do this by ruining the plots of what could have been great games with socially repugnant ideas and sexually deviant practices. They are very good at this: cultural Marxists have had more than 50 years to hone their skills in infiltrating and destroying once-beloved institutions, because their basic mode of argument is essentially formless.
2. … So Use The Market Against Them
Yet even cultural Marxists need money in order to do their awful work. Where do they get it from, and how do they get it?
It certainly doesn’t come from honest, hard work, that’s for damn sure.
They do it by using tools like Kickstarter and Patreon—which are entirely legitimate sources of crowdfunding revenues for ideas that the rest of us take an interest in and would like to see become successful—to make money dishonestly and contribute it to their ideological allies with as little transparency and oversight as possible. And they do it by exploiting personal relationships within large corporations to land windfall donations that allow them to continue poisoning the wells of gaming and the culture.
Given that we are already well into a clear-cut case of 4th-Generation war here with #Gamergate against those who would seek to destroy all that is best about video games, we need to take the lessons of 4GW tactics and combine them with the economic facts and realities of the industry to our advantage.
SJWs like to claim the moral high ground by stating that they are trying to give a voice to women and minorities in gaming, which tends to win over a lot of corporate managers taken in by the whole “corporate social responsibility” nonsense. Any corporate sponsor that chooses to support these utterly corrupt people—often in violation of their own internal ethics policies—deserves to be hurt, hard, by the power of the consumer’s wallet.
3. Gameplay, Plot, Character: In That Order
Returning to the list of bestselling games noted above, the games that have done really well tend to be the games that focus on the basics. Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask remains one of the best plot-driven games ever released, while Minecraft is (so I’m told) maddeningly addictive thanks to its simple and intuitive gameplay.
These are all things that game developers and especially publishers should be rewarded for. They should be rewarded by gamers for taking a risk and producing great games driven entirely by these three main attributes. Let the SJWs concentrate on attempting to market games with right-on progressive themes and ideologies, which we know from their repeated failures in producing anything of decent quality that they cannot do.
4. Risk Aversion Is Not A Strength
The greatest science fiction novel ever written was, and probably always will be, Frank Herbert’s monumental masterpiece Dune. Toward the end of that magnificent book, Paul Atreides confronts the Spacing Guild by threatening to utterly destroy the one thing that the Guild needs more than anything else: the geriatric drug melange. His threat works because, as Muad’dib states bluntly,
The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it. You’ve agreed I have that power. We are not here to discuss or negotiate or compromise. You will obey my orders or suffer the immediate consequences!
The same lesson applies in gaming. The reason why some of the highest-selling games keep getting such terrible user reviews is because they have almost nothing to offer by way of real storytelling or real plot development. We keep seeing such massive gaps between user and critic reviews because not only are the game publishers risk-averse, but so are game critics. The latter know full well that their paydays and careers in the industry often depend on how well they manage to massage the egos of the corporate types who run the big gaming houses, and so are generally loathe to be truly critical of a game unless there is simply no way to avoid its awfulness.
The Power To Build And Destroy
There is a swift and terrible way to punish this sort of thing, though. And WE, not the SJWs, possess it, through advantage of sheer numbers. Commenters Van Sayre and Subtle Gestures cut straight to the heart of the matter in their responses to my last article. I quote Van Sayre in full:
The Consumer Is Still King
The rise of secondhand game retailers like GameStop, Best Buy, and others has given the average gamer a degree of power never seen before. And the publishing houses know this, which is why they are doing everything they can to cut GameStop out of the market. They know that secondhand gaming will destroy their bottom line. They know that getting a game at a massive discount through Steam or GoG.com severely harms them, and they’re fighting it with everything they’ve got.
But they’re still ultimately dependent upon the rest of us to support them.
The route to winning this war is simple, but it means giving up on buying the latest blockbuster game right when it comes out. And that means certain hard choices for us as gamers. But, if you want your games to focus on the things that really matter, then you have to be willing to punish game developers and publishers for forcing unplayable garbage upon you. It is just that simple.
The time for talk is past. Make your choice—great games that support age-old values, or terrible games that use whiz-bang graphics to compensate for their utter lack of morality, soul, or decency.