Why Do Gamers Hate Video Game Companies?

Look around on the internet or in real life, and you’ll find that there’s no greater disconnect between consumers and producers than in the gaming industry. Indeed, you’d be forgiven for thinking that gamers hate where their video games come from, as there is no shortage of online criticism—particularly from me—as well as unconstructive hate—not from me. After all, this was the community that voted Electronic Arts the ‘Worst Company In America’ twice, in 2012 and 2013, both times edging out the Bank Of America. So why is it that some gamers hold such a disdain for the biggest companies in the gaming industry? 

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Well, before we begin, I think it’s incredibly important to make the distinction between video game developers and video game publishers. To put it simply, the former actually makes the product, while the latter uses its money and manpower to delegate resources, provide a marketing push, and ultimately sell the game. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that exists across several industries. However, as they are the public face and also the ones who seem to screw up the most, the publisher is who generally receives the most criticism, which is what we’ll be discussing today. 

What spurred me to write about this topic, to begin with, was a situation concerning WB Games, corporate miscommunication, greed, and charity. Recently, Monolith Productions (the developers behind Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor), had one of their team members pass away, and to memorialise him, the developers at Monolith had him made into an NPC in their upcoming game, Middle-earth: Shadow of War. The NPC’s inclusion would be done through paid DLC; however, for every purchase of the content, $3.50 would be donated to the family of the passed developer. 

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While this seemed like a perfectly genuine attempt to pay tribute to a fallen colleague and give charity to the affected family, the efforts of Monolith were marred by their publisher’s fine print, which stated that the donation wouldn’t apply to purchases outside the United States. This, as you may have expected, caused quite the uproar, as it essentially seemed like WB was attempting to profit off of a dead man. However, in response to the outrage, the company had this to say: ‘Neither Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment nor Monolith Productions will profit from any sales of the Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC regardless of the territory in which that DLC is sold.’ If that statement is true, then it turns the entire ‘controversy’ into a futile argument. Indeed, it’s more likely WB was never intending to make a profit from the DLC, but that they were prevented by law and bureaucracy from carrying out the donations on a global scale. Of course, there are other ways they can achieve their charitable goals, but WB’s inability to communicate the situation immediately and effectively is indicative of a wider problem with the gaming industry’s biggest publishers. 

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The term, ‘corporate greed,’ is something that gets thrown around a lot in the gaming space. And truly, there are multiple shady and shameless business practices that companies like Activision, EA, WB, and Ubisoft have indulged in, from carving up game content to maximising profits with microtransactions. But, for a moment, allow me to play devil’s advocate and say there’s nothing wrong with corporations doing their best to make money. There is nothing wrong with ‘greed,’ but it should be in a company’s best interest to not seem ‘greedy.’ That’s what these publishers appear to fail most at. From disliked business practices to cringe-inducing E3 conferences, a lot of these companies have more of a PR problem than anything else. 

When you largely have an audience of tech-savvy, internet-using, young people, it can be hard for any company to have their dirty laundry go unnoticed. The problem is further compounded by the fact that most of these companies have their PR and business departments made up of people who don’t come from the games industry and don’t understand its audience. 

The issue at hand is one that can’t be ‘solved,’ necessarily. From the companies’ standpoint, the best option would be to become more transparent and less opaque in their public dealings. But let’s be honest here, rarely does any of the outrage or criticism in the games industry have an actual outcome. In the world of business and transactions, the written and spoken word have far less impact than the almighty dollar. Soiling a company’s name is one thing, but refusing to give them money is another. 


5 thoughts on “Why Do Gamers Hate Video Game Companies?

  1. I’ve got a post scheduled for later on today regarding the farce surrounding this whole WB ordeal with Shadow Of Mordor. News is they’ve gone back and altered a few things, purchases across the globe will be donated to the Forgey family instead of just the select US states.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do think a lot of problems are caused by miscommunication between the consumers and (usually) the publishers. And in the age of the internet, it’s hard for things to go unnoticed and not be blown out of proportion. I can’t believe that publishers don’t see the anger, though, so if the general consensus is that gamers are seeing themselves as cash cows for publishers to milk, that’s the time to step back an reassess your business practices. People will pay for content, but they need to also feel like they’re not being taken for a ride at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A lot of people cite corporate greed as one of the reasons behind the medium’s supposed decline, but in reality, it’s always been an issue – it just manifested in a different way. While microtransactions and unfinished games are indeed dire issues, back in the eighties and nineties, companies would get ahold of a famous license, churn out a misbegotten product, and sell it on the brand alone. You would be lucky if these games were fully functional let alone actually worth playing. Now that we can read up on whether or not a game is terrible before making the purchase, it’s no longer a viable tactic. I’ve said in the past that I would rather continue dealing with the problems plaguing the industry now than resurrect the ones from yesteryear, and I don’t intend to back down from that assertion. The former can be mitigated with a savvy approach, and the idea of blowing $60 on a barely playable mess from some no-name company just because it was based on a great film is something I’m glad doesn’t occur often these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, the years of the ‘double-A game’ are far behind us. Only indies and massive-budget games exist now, with not much in the middle. People also have enough sense now to know that brands don’t always translate into a good game.

      Liked by 1 person

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