I see a lot of complaints about entitlement, how gamers think they are owed something. Disgruntled gamers being told to “deal with it” when a game is shitty. But you know what? Gamers shouldn’t have to “deal with it” the reason why gamers are entitled to quality is because they are no longer just consumers, they are co-developers / investors.
Gamers are getting shafted at every opportunity. As gaming gets more and more expensive a lot of game developers are looking into ways they can monetize aspects of the development that would normally go out for free. More and more developers are giving people the option to buy in to betas, and sometimes alphas. It’s become so common that Valve has introduced a whole subsection of their store dedicated to unfinished games.
The median wage for a games tester in the UK (according to payscales.com) is about £17,726. The average wage paid by developers such as Mojang and Introversion Software (creators of Prison Archetict) to you for games testing is -£15. Note, that’s a negative. You’re paying to do their dirty work. Almost every update to Minecraft lead to something else not working. Minecraft wouldn’t have been nearly as big a success if it wasn’t for the patience of the dedicated few that stuck by it during the beta. These testers were thanked by being given a $10 bill for this ‘privilege’. Prison Architect is a lot more transparent in its beta, they are telling you that the game has bugs and at times is flat out broken. But being told you’re going to be kicked in the nuts, before you get kicked in the nuts, doesn’t take away the pain. Just because it’s a job that is seemingly quite fun, does not mean it’s a job you should be doing for free. These developers are taking advantage of gamers good will by charging them for them for their labour. Gamers are not deluded with a sense of grandeur. They are legitimately owed something.
Now don’t get me wrong, not every developer are crooks and charge for beta or alpha testing. Grinding Gear Games, developers of the Action RPG Path of Exile recently touted the success of their open beta in stress testing the servers, they had 56,700 ‘players’ working for them on one weekend to make their product better. To make it so more people will purchase their product and that the product was up to scratch when it was released.. 56,700 people that are advertising for them, but receive no monetary gain. No wonder gamers have a sense of connection to these games, it’s the least they can get given that if they game is successful they don’t see a dime (even though they’ve invested time and money into its development).
Fans of gaming are the best marketing a game could ever get. There's a reason why community managers exist. Developers are of course not unfeeling monsters and like to see their product get love but then to invest actual money into nurturing this with an employee position shows that there is a return on investment in the long run. Think about the last convention you went to and how many dude-Aeriths or Fat-Links you saw? When you saw them, did it make you then think of Final Fantasy or Legend of Zelda? Probably. The fans are adding to the product mindshare. They are marketers.
It’s becoming increasingly more common that developers are taking input from the community. The recent success of the Skullsgirl’s Indiegogo campaign is a good example. Instead of paying for market research, fans are choosing and paying for the best characters to include in the game. The gamers that invest are given these characters for free, but then these characters become an incentive for other gamers to buy the game. It’s perfect for the developers because it’s a guaranteed hit, they are getting development costs, market research AND advertising all for the one buck. Kickstarter is far more explicit evidence for gamers as investors, but somehow it’s now called a donation. That’s a pretty insidious way to run your company.
I would hazard that many of you have been buying games for years, maybe even buying games in one series for years. You're probably loyal to the series, you purchase the games, the soundtracks, the stuffed toy faff. The least the company can do is give you the story/gameplay they've consistently produced in the past or teased for the last few games. But instead you get reboots, such as DmC, or considerable different games, e.g. Hitman Absolution. Sure a company can do what it wants, but you can understand how this might be a bit of a shock to someone that has been so loyal to a franchise and invested so much.
The fact of the matter is that game companies need us, we don’t need them. Pre-order incentives such as the Bioshock Infinite deals are good evidence of how desperate they are for our business. At least Irrational Games had the grace to make a game without begging.
As consumers we make or break a company. You are supporting these companies so they can make more and more money in the future. Even when you take money out of the picture you have given the artists a chance to spread their work. A painting locked in a room where no one sees it is pointless.
We are receiving unfinished products and are contributing our time and money to finish them, and finish them well so that they appeal to a greater audience. People forget that game companies are businesses. They are out there to make money. They’ve found a very good way to make money, by offsetting their costs and convincing people to be charitable to ‘The Man’. So stop telling gamers to Shut The Fuck Up when a terrible game comes out. Despite all the support they give they receive little respect in return, complaining is the only thing they can do.
Part One End.