To All You Gamers Blaming The Fans For Poor DmC: Devil May Cry Sales
Capcom and Ninja Theory’s DmC: Devil May Cry is one of the year’s biggest controversies, and there are many opinions floating around the internet regarding the situation. Yes, you can say that this game is very old news by now, but the focus here is not so much on DmC: Devil May Cry as it is consumer action and sales performance in general. Of course, sales figures only release two weeks after the game, so it’s not that old. What sparked this, however, is an article I read on MCV recently (the actual post is from a while back though) by author Ben Parfitt, who has pushed my buttons in a way that hasn’t happened for a long time. But I’ll stay composed, because ain’t nobody got time for rage-posts.
Anyway, the story was that Mr Parfitt lamented the poor sales of DmC and went on to say:
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“It’s potentially a sad end to a tale brought about very much by the fans themselves. Anyone who played Devil May Cry 4 must surely of seen how desperately the IP needed an injection of new ideas and modernisation – which is exactly what the skilful Ninja Theory achieved.
Yet the fans revolted because Capcom dared to reinvent its IP for the 21st century and dared to change the colour of Dante’s hair. It’s really very sad.”
A headline suggested by a colleague: “Devil May Cry fans destroy brand out of spite.” That about covers it.
Very dramatic wouldn’t you say? Now what’s to follow here is not directed at Mr Parfitt or MCV by any means. Please understand that this is a not a personal attack, because those are childish and a waste of time. Also, I know that there are many others who share the man’s view (I know some personally) and who love the game immensely, which is absolutely fine by the way. This is more directed towards being a general outlook on gamers who blame fans for things going wrong with the sales of a game, with DmC used as a very appropriate example, as it’s both the most recent and the most relevant.
Before getting into that, if you’re unaware of the story behind the poor sales, I wrote a very opinion-detached analysis (in other words objective) of it a while back, which gives you the full story without throwing my two cents in. But today, I’m going to do exactly that. I really can’t refrain.
To get into it, I want to make three things very clear, and to anyone involved in the DmC story, if you think about it carefully, it will literally be impossible to logically disagree with the following three points.
I’m pretty confident about that. Before making the first point, let me say that I didn’t mind the new Devil May Cry. I didn’t find it as bad as many said, or that amazing. I found it to be pretty decent and fun to play, and sometimes that’s alright and it’s okay. Not every game needs to be labelled God’s gift to gaming or absolute trash. But I can understand why fans were upset. And that brings me to point one.
1) Listen please. Fans were not just upset because of “Dante’s hair colour”. If you truly believe this and you’re not just mocking, then you are either stupid, an insufferable fan boy, painfully ignorant or you just aren’t listening to what hardcore or opposing fans are saying. Pick one, or best of all pick none.
That sounds harsh or like I’m getting overly direct, but in reality, it’s seriously not nice to be made to look like a fool by others when you have legitimate reasons to complain, or you formulate a good argument. Perceptions are different, and certain things matter more to some people than others. It’s easy to stand as a neutral or as someone not as attached to the source material and preach that you’re wide-open to change, but on some level you should be able to sympathise with the concern (read it as it is: concern, not unjustified and harmful hate and rage) that passionate fans who adore the series have for such drastic change. Change can be good, and it can also be bad. Personally, I know as a massive Batman fan that if core things I loved about the character were changed, I’d also be very upset, but if certain things were changed that improved it for the better, I’d also be open.
For example, if it was announced that Batman was going to be made more kid-friendly, I’d be really upset and maybe even angry. But if it was said that a villain like the Riddler was going to be changed so as to allow him to be a more formidable foe to the Dark Knight, or to present readers with a fresh take on the character without alienating the things that made him popular, then I’d be accepting.
As such, here’s a good tip for life. You aren’t clever if you step on other people’s arguments with cop-out techniques such as reducing what they say by making their words sound silly and avoiding eighty percent of them. That right there, where you misinterpret or ignore someone’s real viewpoint so you can refute it more easily, is called Straw Manning. It’s a fallacy. It’s illogical. It’s okay to complain. It doesn’t make you a “hater” or a horrible person if you criticize something. It certainly doesn’t make you “entitled”, which is one of the most overused and irritating terms to hear on planet Internet. It’s also the cheap way of waving off complainers (no offense intended in this label) when you don’t actually have a good counter-argument. They’re complaining? Sure, they must be entitled and whiny.
You need to realise and understand that every single industry in the entire world gets reviewed by a peer body or the general population. It gets criticized constructively. Movies, books, music, games, businesses, football clubs even people when it comes to acting, sports, singing, management or professionalism or anything. Criticism is valid and it helps. It has an equal standing to praise. Provided that it is done intelligently and with the objective not being to harm, but to discuss, share, evaluate, educate or innocently vent. The intention needs to be right. And that leads to my second point.
2) You really need to stop using the minority to describe the whole group. Of course you get people who criticize incorrectly, harmfully and without logical reasoning. Of course you get people whose voices sound immature and are better off unheard. The same way you get blind fan boys who praise in one direction, pun not intended, and defend in all. So why find one intolerable but not the other?
That simply means you ignore them or, if you respond, you make sure your own argument is sound. But it doesn’t mean that because one silly person sent a death threat or hated on “emo Dante” or sent a letter to the White house, or that a bunch of people review bombed the game on Metacritic, that all people complaining are detestable worms who overstep boundaries. If you just open your mind, whether you love or hate the game, and see what seemingly intelligent or logical people say, and think for yourself whether it’s reasonable or not, you will definitely see that there are people with clever things to say that may go against your belief that the game is good. That doesn’t change the fact that you think the game is good, but it does allow for the possibility that quality-wise it’s maybe lacking in some areas. DmC is not perfect. Let people criticise it if they have something constructive to say. Likewise, it isn’t the worst game in the world, so let people give it the merit it deserves or is worthy of.
Finally, we get to my third point, where I’ll at last address the title of this article, as in the message given to the gamers blaming the fans for poor sales, and go full circle back to the quoted material from MCV in the start. Get ready, it’s a little crazy. But often that’s what the truth is.
3) What is the most common thing thrown at anyone who complains about or criticizes a game? If you take away entitled and whiny, you’re left with the famous “don’t like it, don’t buy it” argument. Which is fair really. But, here’s the shocker, and I say that because there are actually people out there who don’t seem to get the following: if you tell people to vote with their wallets, you do not then have the right to attack them when they actually follow through with that and refrain from buying the game.
Are we crazy? You tell gamers to speak and act with their wallets, and if they don’t like it go away and don’t buy it or play it, then when they do that, which is entirely their right to do, you take offense to it? Let me be brutally honest here. No developer is automatically deserving of or has the right to get your money. It’s your choice to give it to them in exchange for their product. Publishers and developers aren’t rightfully entitled to sales. So if you don’t support them, that’s your freedom of choice as a living, breathing consumer. If DmC is doing badly in sales, it’s because people don’t care for the product, don’t like it, or don’t want to support it. There are plenty of fish in the gaming sea. What’s the issue?
This certainly doesn’t mean the permanent burial of the Devil May Cry franchise, it just means some things will change. I mean look, if you objectively evaluate the situation, then of course disgruntled fans are the reason why the game is performing poorly at sales. Of course it’s not only that, as you’d have to ignore gamers who passed it up, aren’t interested to begin with, don’t support Capcom products, don’t like hack & slash games and so on. But that’s largely how it happened. The facts speak for themselves. But that’s not wrong. That doesn’t make these fans wrong. It doesn’t make them bad people. They’re just doing what’s within their rights to do. They’re acting out in the best way they can next to engaging in debate about the game and constructively criticizing it. More so than that, refraining from purchasing the game doesn’t hurt or insult anyone. It’s certainly no personal attack. Does DmC suffer for it? Sure, in terms of sales. Does the consumer who refused to buy it have to care about that?
Not really no. So how can you put the bad sales on them like they should feel guilty for it?
Do you realise that by telling them they are wrong and spiteful, and criticizing them for acting out with their wallets, you are essentially saying that they were wrong for not buying the game, which means that in some twisted way they had to buy it. That makes no sense. If your friend says he refuses to ever buy or support KFC because he once had chicken from there that wasn’t cooked properly, you absolutely can’t say he is wrong or bad or spiteful for exercising his right not to purchase KFC. You can argue that his reasoning is silly, absolutely, but you cannot condemn his choice as a free consumer. Now if your friend said that he refuses to eat KFC because he dislikes it or it’s unhealthy, then not only is his choice his own, but his reasoning is sound and logical. Apply the same thought pattern here.
It stands to reason. If you like the game and really want to share its goodness, get your friends to play it, recommend it on forums and social networks and such, trade your copy around, and debate healthily and constructively about its merits. The reverse goes for if you don’t like it. But sometimes, you need to think. Don’t talk. Just think. That goes for everyone actually. And if you give it careful enough thought, the fair answer should come. At the very least, avoid pettiness and fighting and throwing around ignorance. There’s too much of that already, and it really doesn’t help anyone.
To conclude in a simple manner, the points to take away from this are few. The first is that you should actually pay attention to what people say and not brush them off without listening unless their intentions and conduct is distasteful, harmful and not constructive. Complaining and criticizing doesn’t make you bad or wrong. Secondly, refrain from classifying an entire group by a select few, as in the minority. Not everyone who disliked or even hated the new DmC: Devil May Cry felt that way because of stupid reasons. Many had good arguments and viewpoints. Finally, you can criticize someone’s reasoning for not purchasing a product or service, for instance if their logic is flawed or factually incorrect, but you absolutely cannot condemn their decision to actually make the purchase or not, especially after you tell them to speak up with their wallets. That’s just bizarre and illogical. People don’t have to buy something if they don’t want to, and consumers don’t have to care about a product’s sales performance.
If anything, take away from this that intentions and conduct are essential in how you present yourself. Just give things careful thought before you speak out, and that’s really all it is.