Ex-Epic and Gears of War developer Cliff Bleszinski is out of the games industry professionally (at the moment) but that doesn't mean he doesn't have thoughts about what goes on inside and around it. In his personal blog, he made a post Thursday, Feb. 28, reminding fans that while the games industry is out to make great games, they are also out to make money.
He talks about how certain companies get bad reactions from fans while others get praised for the same thing. "I’m going to come right out and say it. I’m tired of EA being seen as 'the bad guy'," said Bleszinski in his post. "I think it’s bullshit that EA has the 'scumbag EA' memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong." Video games are an interesting industry, on the one hand there is a lot of money to be made but on the other there is a lot of emotional ties to each game from the developer to the player. While a developer wants to make great games that fans will enjoy, the bottom line is that they also want to make money so they can continue to make great games that fans will enjoy. This sounds like a bad thing but as Bleszinski points out, we all need to make money to "eat and feed their families. (Something that the hipster/boomerang kid generation seems to forget all too often.)" When it comes to companies like EA or Activision, these are publicly traded companies that often have to speak to shareholders and ultimately generate profits as much as possible and wherever possible. This is a great talking point for a discussion of public versus private gaming companies and the differences between the way they handle business, but that’s a topic for another time.
For the most part it's easy to agree with what Bleszinski says but one thing that can be argued is that EA did not earn its "bad guy" reputation just because they are making choices to earn a profit. EA has made choices while trying to make a profit in ways that negatively effect the customer. "Spore" is one of the biggest examples with their infamous DRM, which quickly became one of the lowest points for PC gaming. This is just on example of a negative experience with EA and browsing the web will produce a lot more. I know that seeing EA make good business decisions and getting complaints about it may seem like it's unwarranted. The fact remains that EA has made a lot of business decisions that made them look like the bad guy to fans and will continue to look like the bad guy until they can prove that they can make profit decisions that the customers want to see and gain the customers trust. The difference between Valve and EA is that Valve hasn't screwed over their customers and fans in a major way (yet), and until that day happens Valve will continue to do no wrong. It's like Tiger Woods after the massive scandal, no one (including sponsors) can look at him the same because he tarnished his public image.
Bleszinski touches on a point that gives you, the customer, the most power and makes the most difference to these companies which is your money. Voicing your complaints about micro transactions and day one DLC (downloadable content) will only get you so far but they will really listen, "...If you don’t like the games, or the sales techniques, don’t spend your money on them," Bleszinski concluded in his post. That is something we can all agree on.
What are your thoughts on gaming companies trying to make a profit? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.