I’ve written before that to most game companies, the only real voice a gamer has is his money. Word-of-mouth, positive/negative buzz, petitions, blog or forum posts; none of these count nearly as much as you making the decision to pay or not pay for a companies product. Yet it’s that most important voice or vote that many either ignore, or hypocritically abuse. Be it ranting for something different and buying more of the same (Aion), complaining about a lack of updates and then rewarding something trivial (WoW pets), voicing your anger about a companies greed and at the same time getting in line and asking for more (CoD:MW2), or complaining that gaming is being marginalized and becoming too profit-focused, and then playing/paying for a ‘game’ like Mafia Wars or any of it’s clones on Facebook, countless examples exist of gamers asking for more abuse.
And as Tobold correctly writes, you can’t blame the companies. Why would Blizzard kill themselves and release a ‘free’ content patch more often when they just got however many thousands of players to give them 2/3rd of a subscription for one pet (or 4/3rd if you bought both)? Why try to match the content/patch rate of other titles when clearly millions are willing to continue paying $15 a month and getting next-to-nothing, only to hand over $40 on day one for an update every two years? When Kotick proclaims he is being a nice guy and ONLY charging $60 for CoD:MW2, why get upset at him when plenty of little piggies are lining up and gladly handing him $120 for an obviously cash>player product? And why blame EA for not releasing original titles when each year millions rush to buy the same version of Madden rather than some original IP?
As gaming has become more mainstream, the model of quality=profit has been all but forgotten. ‘Back in the day’ the only people buying shovelware were unsuspecting moms at Walmart picking up a new game for little Billy, and look, it’s just $5 and has bright colors on the box. Today millions of ‘gamers’ are ‘playing’ Facebook games and buying (or being scammed for) points to push their name up some virtual board. Sure the ‘games’ suck, but look, your name on the internet! Even in the MMO space millions of people are literally paying to NOT play the game, or paying for something that REMOVES content for them (XP pots, items, mounts), because by paying they can get their shiny epics or whatever other meaningless achievement system is being used. At least some years back, you only had to shake your head at all those movie-based games that sold well, fully knowing they are terrible games aimed more at tricking someone into a purchase rather than trying to deliver anything of quality. Today it seems it’s every other title (if not more) on the monthly sales chart. On top of all this, many who consider themselves gamers and bitch and moan about the lack of originality or quality are the first ones illegally downloading a title. Congratulations, you are not only a hypocrite, but a parasite as well.
In any market that explodes in popularity, at some point a shift away from cash-grab crap will be made. Sadly as recent examples clearly indicate, we are not even close to that point, and unfortunately the piggie and parasite population is currently determining what titles are brought to market, at least at the AAA level. Until people like Kotick are proven wrong, and millions of ‘gamers’ stop asking “how high” when he says “jump”, don’t expect things to change.