Abyssal Pixels: Fight The Power
For all the praise that I shower on us gamers, I’m in full understanding that we are a fickle bunch. When we don’t like something, we make it known and the vocal minority is all but ready to ruin it for the most of us. When you think about it, we’re not much different than any other medium, but we are much more prevalent on online platforms because we already have access to the technology. If you’re able to play a game on your PC, you’re probably able to hop online and make your opinion known or break down the opinion of others.
Some say us gamers are overly negative and like to complain a lot, but sometimes we are completely justified in doing so. The gaming industry is not beyond treating us like cattle and we get fed about it. So like a select group of people within any generation or as Public Enemy would say, we fight the power. However, we’ve only just recently discovered the power of our collective voices and it seems this caught publishers and developers by surprise.
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The industry possibly thought that we were becoming complacent with their stupid practices and incredibly obvious greed, but we’ve started fighting back and this has wielded some tangible results. Results is the most important part of that sentence. We can scream and be upset, but most of the time the storm faded and we end up accepting whatever we fought against anyway, prompting no change. But now we can orchestrate change.
The most evident example of recent memory is the whole Deus Ex Mankind Divided’s ridiculous “tiered pre-order” system where it worked similar to a Kickstarter’s stretch goals in the sense that more pre-orders means more rewards that will be unlocked. Basically, they held content hostage unless a set amount of people pre-ordered the game, and as we like to reinforce on this site ad nauseam, never pre-order. Pre-ordering gets you nowhere unless you’re ordering a super rare collector’s edition that you just have to have.
When the community caught wind of this and saw it for how it is, a greedy bunch of bullshit, the backlash came in droves. The YouTube video announcing the system had a gigantic dislike bar, there was all kind of vitriol in the comments, there were a multitude of articles that condemned the decision and so on. There was no divide within the community either, this was unanimous. Nobody was arguing for its value or saying that “it isn’t so bad”, everyone was up in arms.
All fine and well, but then something magical happened. Square Enix actually cancelled it and readily admitted that their decision was misguided and that they are sorry. Yes, we’ve succeeded. We didn’t sit down and take it uncontested, we made our voices heard and we managed to convince a billion dollar company to change their ways. You can also trust that they won’t pull this sorry shit again anytime in the future.
Moving on to another franchise that has been the target of many controversies, Assassin’s Creed. The release of Syndicate has been a rocky one and one that displayed how horribly Ubisoft have screwed up their consumer trust. We’ve come to accept the yearly franchise, but since Unity was so dismal and broken, fans have started rising up and making their voices heard. Sometimes to a worrying degree.
I direct you to a video from one of my favourite YouTubers, Boogie2988.
He obviously took a sponsorship from Ubisoft to promote Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and when I saw that video in my feed, I braced for impact. As I expected, the comment section was full of people making their voices heard, exclaiming that the game looks terrible and some even went to task counting the number of times there were frame drops and glitches. Poor Boogie thought people were attacking him for taking the sponsor or endorsing the game, which is perfectly logical as most comments eluded to an unhappiness towards him.
But most weren’t attacking Boogie, some would even be his closest fans, they were attacking the game. Syndicate is going to have a lot of eyes on it when it releases. Is it stable, will there be the same ridiculous number of glitches and will it be any good? Ubisoft did some major damage to their flagship franchise by creating an unstable mess and shattering consumer confidence. Like the North, we remember. We are not sitting down and taking anymore bullshit or be complacent with buggy messes. I’d even argue that if Syndicate messes up, the franchise will be in flux and will require some major damage control to get it back into relevance.
While some take it too far, as is often the case, the sentiment behind it all is really commendable. If we complain enough, things will change. We have the ability to widely spread our message and cause such an international uproar that companies become afraid of us. This isn’t pandering to entitled gamers either, this is simply justice. If your pre-order bonuses attempt to exploit your customers, we will be there with pitchforks and lynches. If your game is a buggy mess and a clear cash-in, we’re not going to lie down and just take it, we will expose it.
Gaming industry: you have to understand that you’re dealing with some fickle motherfuckers here. Think carefully about what you’re doing or you’re going to get on our shitlist and stay there until you fix your nonsense. I’m not saying be afraid of gamers, I’m just saying that you have to tread carefully. And my fellow gamers, keep on fighting the power.