zerocrossing (User)

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"Video game journalist and gamer enthusiast."

Gamers, Start Holding Publishers And Developers Accountable

zerocrossing | 237d ago
User blog

Many of you may have noticed a few story's here and there regarding Microsoft and Machinima getting caught trying to "bribe" popular video game related youtube channels (basically asking them to not say anything negative in regards to the Xbox One) I know this is pretty much "yesterdays news" but I'm bringing it up again now so we can avoid any knee jerk reactions.

It's no secret that certain video game publishers and developers have been responsible for questionable business practices, and anti-consumer behaviour, all in the name of expanding their profit margins and many of which have had a direct negative impact on the gaming community, and gaming as a whole.

With that being said, I pose a question to you all. Should gamers be holding video game publishers and developers responsible for poor services and anti-consumer behaviour? Well yeah, of course we should. That's the obvious response and the answer I'm sure most of you would agree with, but as is often the case, our actions are not always representative of our convictions.

First of all, yes Microsoft and Machinima were both in the wrong. Machinima may be taking the brunt of the gamer backlash now, but they certainly wouldn't of gone ahead with such a underhanded scheme without Microsoft giving it the OK. But hey, bribery in the video games industry is nothing new, there are many stories about video game companies offering financial and/or material rewards for those willing to bend over for them, but the fact that this is still an ongoing issue is very disconcerting to me. However, I believe I know what the root of problem is.

Video game publishers and developers are directly responsible for the continual development and distribution of popular titles and franchises that we know and love, that being the case we are all too often, all too willing to forgive and forget when we have been crossed or wronged. Many of us now are far too busy fighting amongst ourselves for the sake of our chosen creed, all too willing we are to defend our chosen company's poor decisions lest we provide more ammunition for the other side, not realising that we all share a far more damaging common enemy. If we could only look past such petty disagreements such as who's plastic box is the most superior, then maybe we could get on with preserving our remaining and declining consumer rights.

Take EA for example, a company that looks set to receive the award for worst company in America for the 3rd year running, yet they are still going strong and still up to their old tricks. EA have been at the forefront of anti consumer claims for quite some time now, with one of the most recent claims being linked to Simcity 2013 and the controversial decision to have the game playable exclusively online, only to have the whole thing blow up their face when nobody could access the servers at launch. You'd think they'd be more prepared after such a PR disaster but no. Battlefield 4's launch was also plagued by a great many server errors, bugs and glitches, rendering the game pretty much unplayable for many.

EA may be one of the most popular publishers to hate on, but they certainly aren't the only company responsible for some very questionable activities.

Gearbox Software, developers of the highly successful open world FPS franchise, Borderlands, were also subject to anti consumer claims along with Sega last year, regarding Aliens: Colonial Marines. After a lengthy 6 year development cycle, a number of development diaries, trailers, screenshots and a now infamous "vertical slice gameplay trailer" all of which consumers were led to believe were representative of the finished product. However, upon the games official release gamers were outraged. after receiving a broken, buggy mess of a game that consumers later found out Gearbox had in fact outsourced to Time Gate Studios. If that wasn't bad enough Gearbox had also decided to take the funds Sega provided them for work on Aliens: Colonial Marines and instead used it to develop a sequel to Borderlands.

Now, I know there are quite a few hardcore Borderlands fans out there, but can even you honestly condone this? Simply put, what Gearbox did was wrong, more than that it was anti-consumer. They lied to Sega and all the fans who waited 6 years for what? An atrocious Aliens game. Every dollar, heck every cent that Gearbox has earned off of Borderlands 2 provides them with negative reinforcement and is akin to gamers literally telling them "Well done", you may have screwed over thousands of gamers but at least you made a fun game." I don't know about all of you but that just doesn't sit well with me.

Gamers should be holding publishers and developers accountable for these poor business practices, but instead many of us are giving them a free pass, due either to being long time fans of the companies themselves or any of the IPs that they own, or due simply to the fear that if something were to happen to one any of the companies mentioned above, or any company who is responsible for a game or franchise we enjoy, that we may loose that game or franchise forever.

Basically, what we are doing is choosing to overlook poor business practices and anti consumer behaviour, due to publishers and/or developers holding video games to ransom. We are choosing to condone these companies decisions to screw over consumers because they are in charge of providing us with our favourite hobby.

Personally? I don't like this, I don't like the fact that many companies walk over their consumers, creating cash barriers and new policies, knowing all to well that we will abide by them in order to get our fix.

If you take anything away from reading this blog then let it be this. Always hold video game publishers and developers accountable, especially if they are pushing for anti-consumer services and/or are attempting to implement certain features that will only prove beneficial to them. Remember that most companies will cave well before they choose to go out of business or risk looking like the villain.

As always thanks for reading my blog, if you have anything you want to say then please leave a comment below.

dedicatedtogamers  +   237d ago
You make a lot of great points and I do think the gaming community could do a better job of holding companies accountable. We spoke up with Xbox DRM and it pretty much saved the future of the console (if not the entire brand) even when others were sitting on their hands and saying "wait and see".

There are some people who don't want to hold publishers accountable, and the reasons differ from person to person.

Some people honestly don't care. They take a stance of "all corps are evil so why bother?" and that assuages their conscience, I suppose. Fair enough.

Or, similarly, they are simply in it for the games that are being offered right now, regardless of who makes them. Maybe they don't care about the business side so they just buy the brands they like. Fair enough.

But I think there are also some people who simply lack self control. They cannot comprehend the notion of saying "no" to a product or to a company on ethical grounds, so they weave their own excuses and buy the product anyway. It goes something like "yeah, I know EA tried to rip me off countless times and lied about their products and released buggy games...but I just GOTTA get my Battlefield fix".
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zerocrossing  +   237d ago
I agree over all, and you make some good points yourself.

The thing is, I don't mind passing on games to make a point, but it seems like such a waist now when so many gamers blindly purchase what they're told to.

EA wouldn't even be in business now if consumers learned a little restraint. I'm not saying I want EA to go bust, but the way they are now they are nothing but a problem.
jessupj  +   237d ago
"But I think there are also some people who simply lack self control. They cannot comprehend the notion of saying "no" to a product or to a company on ethical grounds, so they weave their own excuses and buy the product anyway. It goes something like "yeah, I know EA tried to rip me off countless times and lied about their products and released buggy games...but I just GOTTA get my Battlefield fix"."

It seems there's a lot of people out there like this. Way too many for me and people like me to hold these companies accountable.

Take the X1 for example. Millions have very easily and quickly completely forgotten about the DRM that would have completely destroyed console gaming as we know it.

It was abundantly clear well before E3 that the whole internet HATED the DRM MS was trying to impose. If MS actually listen then it would have been ok, I could have eventually trusted them again. Unfortunately MS only changed their policies after the pre order stats came in.

MS's motivations are easy to understand, but what baffles me is the MILLIONS of people that seem to have no worry supporting a company that tried to do this. That tried to take away their rights.

What also baffles me is people calling me a fanboy because I love gaming and don't want to see it die a slow, painful death.

What baffles me the most though is people that actually defend MS's BS.
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ravinash  +   236d ago
Fair points. But I think it just boils down to this:
Most people if they want a game, they don't get to decide who makes it.
It's not like if you don't like one make of car, you can get another make.
If you want one game, that game is being made by one dev.
Now unless your going to wait for the reviews and general public opinion to appear some time after the game comes out, a lot of people will get the game first day.
Now with each company producing a game every one - two years, patterns can either change for better or worse.
If a bad game comes out people will often hope that next year the company learnt what they did wrong and then make the next game better.
Of course, thats not always the case, but people keep hoping if the game keeps coming out.
There's also the patching argument to say if the game is having problems, it can be fixed after release.

So if all that fails, and it can be years before you see a pattern, then the company's reputation can start getting destroyed...but this can be a long process as people usually keep hoping that their favorite IP will get fixed with the next release. Resident Evil is a good example of this.

As for the financing issue with money for Aliens Colonial Marines being moved to Borderlands.
It is up to the company to take the risks with it's finances. The risk are basically what I just said above.
If Sega gave finance to this game and then the money was used else where, then it is up to Sega to decide what well happen with any future finance.

We just need to decide if we like a game or not.
Look at the companies reputation to know what to expect.
If they don't have a good reputation, then don't get it first day. if you hear good things then buy it, otherwise it's up to you.
If a company has a bad rep and known not to patch, then you only have your self to blame if you get a lemon of a game.
Godmars290  +   237d ago
The problem with trying to "hold publishers accountable" is that there is only one real traditional method: not buying the product. Nevermind that many recent actions they've taken, from pre-orders to subscriptions and digital downloads, are slowly eroding even that.
zerocrossing  +   237d ago
There are other ways such as complaining and spreading the word. But yeah, refusing to purchase a game is the best method.

Personally, I'd rather pass on game from a crappy publisher than encourage them to keep screwing consumers over. Anyway, It's not like you can't get a game second hand if you really must have it, and if it's online only, well you'll probably be doing yourself a favour if it's published by EA.

Digital downloads are pretty much taking away the consumers basic rights. If you purchase a product and are not satisfied with it (i.e there are some glaring issues) then you should be able to get a refund. Sadly though we no longer even own games, we're just purchasing the right to play them and can have that right revoked if we refuse as a simple TOU update.
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s45gr32  +   237d ago
There is the long way which is petitions, group projects like operation rainfall, letters, and boycotting. Yes it takes long to solve the issue at hand but it works. There's always kickstarter.
theChickGamer  +   234d ago
I think that the ability for the gamer/consumer to get a refund would work MUCH better than not buying a game.

For example, I'm totally pissed off with the lack of a party system in Battlefield 4, it makes it excruciating to play with friends.
Who could have imagined something like that? Lots of people buy a game certain to get something, if it's not the case they should be entitled to bring it back. Having hundreds or thousands of Battlefield returned would speak louder, I feel, than having them unsold. It's a much clearer message and I also think it's about time gamers earn some rights, because, as things are now we have none.

Sure a game it's a work of art, so one can like it or not, but when something fundamental simply does NOT work, then we should be entitled to have our money back... think about all those that lost their saves in SimCity: wouldn't it been fair to return the game for a full refund under such circumstances?
DragonKnight  +   237d ago
"but they certainly wouldn't of gone ahead with such a underhanded scheme without Microsoft giving it the OK."

THANK YOU! Do you have any idea how hard it is to get people to see that Microsoft is lying through their teeth when they said that that part of the contract where there was an NDA was something they didn't know about? Of course Microsoft knew about it. Their response is the same kind of response the White House gives any time there's a scandal with the government. "We knew nothing about it" and then it gets brushed under the rug or someone else takes the blame (Machinima) for it.

Just because Microsoft says they didn't know about it, doesn't mean they are telling the truth. Admitting they knew about it could potentially bring down the FTC on them and they don't want that.
zerocrossing  +   237d ago
I know exactly what you mean, it's just people being naive, ignorant or simply apologists.

Really, are we supposed to believe Microsoft is the kind of company who so flippantly signs contracts that they aren't 100% clued in on.

I mean who do people think wrote the agreement in the first place? Elves?
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jessupj  +   237d ago
Exactly.

I'm very surprised boogie2988 actually believes MS didn't know anything about it, because most of the time he's a very level headed person with rational opinions.

But if we take a step back and ask our selves, what would be machinima's motivation for putting a clause in their contracts for youtube producers to not say anything?

That's right people. There is no reason why Mach would do that. They don't benefit at all from that clause and only stand to lose if it gets leaked out, like it has. The only possible reason it's there is because MS told them to put it in.

It's just another one of MS's lies to be thrown on top of the mountain of BS they've spewed previously. I find it laughable that people that think MS is telling the truth about this.
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cgoodno  +   237d ago
This is akin to telling alcoholics to stop advertising towards the younger market by using practically naked women and instilling the idea that beer will make them more liked, better looking, and somehow give them a ton of money to do practically anything and own anything.

tl;dr: Realistically, this will never happen.

alternative tl;dr: people are stupid
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zerocrossing  +   237d ago
I agree. The chance of gamers uniting and passing over a game in order to teach a company a lesson, or to prove a point may never happen.

But I wonder, just how far will publishers push before gamers are forced to take a stand? We saw what happens when gamers unite when Microsoft first unveiled their DRM riddled Xbox One. Gamers caused them to change it, not because MS care or understood the problem from our side, but because they had no other choice.

Or at least that's what I believe to be the case.
zero_gamer  +   237d ago
It took a combination of gamers, retailers (especially ones that market in used games), the media, Microsoft's stocks dropping, and Sony announcing a console that was cheaper, more powerful, and more consumer friendly.
HonestDragon  +   237d ago
You beat me to the punch. I have a blog set up for exactly this same topic regarding gamers not taking the wrongdoings of video game companies seriously. That is reinforced from a particular saying that I hear all too often: "it's just video games". It's a built up mentality that was at first forced on us from the general public opinion and slowly creeped into the minds of actual gamers, but I'll cover that subject more when I post it.

On topic: I completely agree with everything you said. Video game companies should be held accountable for their actions. Just because a developer made one good game doesn't mean that they should be excused from criticism for forcing a practice that gamers don't like on their next game. Just because a publisher is using underhanded tactics to get more money out of people doesn't mean they get a free pass. We should know our consumer rights and call out companies for the crap they pull.
zerocrossing  +   236d ago
Thanks, glad you liked the blog. It's easy to cave and buy a game from EA like dead space (when dead space was good) or Aliens from Gearbox (because it's freaking Aliens!) But we need to be picky now more than ever, especially if we want to discourage such poor anti-consumer behaviour going into this new gen.

Anyway, I look forward to reading your take on the matter :)
HonestDragon  +   236d ago
I will see about posting it by tomorrow. Most of it is done and just needs some editing. =)
s45gr32  +   237d ago
Excellent blog
Einhert  +   237d ago
This is why I will never watch machinima and I will always stick to Polaris.
zerocrossing  +   236d ago
Machinima never really interested me anyway :/ But seeing how easily they can be brought, I think I'll steer clear of them altogether.
Roccetarius  +   236d ago
Normally i refuse to purchase games from certain companies, but games like The Evil Within is sadly published by them. I want to see a return of the Horror genre, and so i wish to support Shinji Mikami.

People can easily tell someone to take a stance against EA, for example, but it's a small piece of a large puzzle. A large piece will believe anything companies say, and then there's the impulse purchase etc.
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zerocrossing  +   236d ago
The Evil Within is being published by Bethesda right? What is it they've done that makes you want to avoid them? Just curious since I like to be in the know regarding problem companies.

Yeah that's the problem, people are either ignorant or blindly loyal. This "day one" nonsense and pre-order BS is only making matters worse. I'd rather get a good game 6 months after it's release date than fund a corrupt company.
Roccetarius  +   236d ago
My memory is pretty much hit and miss most of the time, but i'm avoiding Bethesda mainly because of beta tester issues. These issues i expect in MMO games, but other games isn't off the hook that easily.

Basically, it's a quality issue. Not to mention that Bethesda haven't always been a fan of fan projects, and in some cases took them down.

I fully expect Shinji's team to deliver a enjoyable experience.
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NYC_Gamer  +   236d ago
The truth is publishers/developers and companies in general won't change until massive consumers stop feeding them
DCfan  +   236d ago
I see it as this, gamers don't stick to their guns. I was interested in GT6, until they announced there would be microtransactions.
Same case with COD, each year you'll see complaints on the net, people swearing they won't buy it, then november comes and they buy it again.

I stopped buying games at full price a long time ago, seeing the publishers practices, i refuse to give them my money.
zerocrossing  +   236d ago
Voting with our wallets is the best option for consumers, that or purchasing games second hand. Although, soon second hand purchases may not be an option, once we're all forced to purchase a game digitally then we'll have no choice but to fund shady companies like EA, that's if we want play certain titles pubished by them.
DCfan  +   236d ago
Last EA game i bought was SSX.
I buy games either second hand now or from amazon for cheap.
The day gaming goes digital, is the day i stop gaming.

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