The state of the industry
“Our obligation is to make money, and to make money, it may be important to make history. To make money, it may be important to make art, or some significant statement. To make money, it may be important to win the Academy Award, for it might mean another ten million dollars at the box office”
— Michael Eisner
That was Michael Eisner in a letter to paramount before becoming CEO of Walt Disney. Whilst this is a valid ethos for film as evident by his stint at the Disney company. Its success bringing us what we would consider Disney’s most valuable and iconic films such as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and the Lion King. The more time goes on in the video games industry the more I see a similar attitude being present.
Difference in approach
Unlike Eisner, modern video game companies seem to not be interested in making good video games that could potentially be considered art or good games. Making money at the cost of good games and art seems to be Executives modus operandi. Given how EA have treated the Star Wars license. It is blatantly obvious that they would rather milk as much money out of it, until it is so tainted that people shudder, thinking “how they will mutilate the franchise more” whenever an announcement is made. Be it the stripped down Battlefront titles , micro transactions being forced into the game and building the game in such a way that requires you to buy them just to even compete, or the cancellation of Star Wars 1313.
However it is more than just EA. With the rapid rate Fortnite has entered the cultural zeitgeist, companies are clambering over themselves chasing trends. Too arrogant to do their own market research or actually pay any attention to the industries they are in. Instead they chase fads that by the time they have managed to produce a product, said fad has faded.
An example is the latest installment of Call Of Duty playing with the concept of battle royal, adding something just because its popular and not because they actually thought that it is a valid and worth while addition. Seeking to squeeze every single penny out of us as consumers, they are allowed to do. I take no issue of a company wanting to make money. But when it’s to the detriment of an industry that many of us love so much, then I begin to become concerned.
This is no truer than in the concept of the live service. For those of you not aware, This is the process of a company releasing a game as a platform rather than a product . So they can continuously bring micro transactions to players for years to come and release less games as a result.
Ubisoft who have gone on record as desiring to produce exclusively live services going forward. Which really says something about the types of executives we’re dealing with in the industry. Ones who do not particularly want to make actual games but instead money farms populated with gamers. Whilst it is the case that it is their right as companies to dictate what content they produce. It is our right as customers in the market to dictate what is acceptable. Publishers can only push these practices so far before people have had enough. Evident by the micro transactions in Battlefront 2 and the onslaught of angry Reddit users as a result. Because as a friend once told me, Short term gain can equal long term loss.
The bright side
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. These practices are not universal to the industry. With AAA companies producing masterpieces like the newest God of War, The Witcher and the Souls franchise to name a few highly profitable examples. As with any industry only time will tell. Will the AAA market gets is hubris in check and bring us the games we want as consumers, or the services they want to sell? Either way I, like many others hope that it will be the former, and not the latter.
Do you agree? are you content with the state of the industry, or are you concerned consumer? Let us know in the comments below. For more content you’ll find it here at Culture of Gaming.