Opinion: Learn To Vote With Your Money
Money makes the world go round. Everything we know and love about gaming is, perhaps unfortunately, motivated by money. Game developers want to make money and they want to be given money by publishers who also want to make money in return for their investment. Console developers want to attract big name titles to their platform so that fans buy their console which makes the developers, you guessed it, money. Sony and Microsoft try to make PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold worth it so that they keep those monthly subscription fees flowing. Everything in the gaming business and, for that matter, any business, hinges on the almighty dollar.
This dollar comes from you, the consumer, the gamer, the person who is going to take money out of your hard earned paycheck for some digital distraction. So, in a way, you have ultimate power over everything your favorite game developers and publishers do. Their entire job is to make you happy.
Unfortunately, gamers are exercising this power less and less. Games are coming out with numerous glitches, balance problems, oppressive DRM, and several other issues, and gamers simply continue to buy them. There is a huge population of gamers online who rally against companies that require online passes or lock away on-disc DLC, yet these are the exact same gamers who eventually buy those passes and DLC.
This causes a bit of a problem. You see, if you don’t start denying these companies money, then they won’t have any reason to stop making bad games or instituting policies that you disagree with. At East Coast Throwdown this year, several of the most prominent professional gamers on the East Coast said that they didn’t like the games they were playing, but wanted to play it in order to support the developer in the hopes that they make better games later. Except, that’s never going to happen. Playing a game is an endorsement of said game. The developers already have your money.
Gamers everywhere are upset with the policies of the PS4 and Xbox One in regards to backward compatibility, DRM, indie games, and more. Yet, these same gamers are approaching these new consoles as if they have to purchase them, as if they were compelled to always have the greatest tech. They are totally ignoring another option: not buying the new console. If you don’t like Sony or Microsoft’s policies, then don’t give them money which says these policies are working.
Similarly, if you bought a game that you thought was going to be good but instead was saturated with glitches and DRM issues that prevented you from playing the game in the first place, don’t give them more money when they make a sequel. Sure, they already have your money for this one foul up, but if you start withholding sales then they will learn quickly enough. The threat of losing money is the most credible threat to any videogame developer or publisher. But, if fans keep purchasing games based on franchise name alone, then developers will never learn. Why would they? Their crappy policies and games keep making them money because gamers like you keep purchasing them regardless of their past screw-ups!
In other businesses, pressure can be put on manufacturers through retailers. If you purchase a defective product, your first impulse is to return it to the store. This translates to lost money for the retailer who will then waste less money on ordering the defective product. This eventually means less money comes to the manufacturer unless they get it together.
Unfortunately, we decided a long time ago that videogames would not be a returnable product. As a result, the only way we can put pressure on game developers is to not buy their product in the first place. So I urge you. When going into this next generation, don’t purchase anything unless you know that it’s a quality product. You don’t need to own the newest videogame on day one, because it will be there on day two and for that matter day 222. Take some time to consider your purchases and waste less money on bad games and consoles. Not only will you save money in the long run, but developers will also make better products.