By Adamantium 10 Comments
I nearly posted this in someone else's thread, but it ran too long to justify muddying up the issue with my opinion, so it became the subject of my first blog. Let me say that I am not a blogger, have no real experience writing these things, and might offend some of you with what I have to say... but I have to say it.
Every time a new piece of info drops about MW2, I end up reading hundreds, in some cases thousands of posts from people who are angry and vow not to buy the game, or start a petition to get IW to change something. Very few level heads seem to be prevailing on this issue, so I'm sure that I'm setting out flame bait for someone. Oh well.
As far as the F.A.G.S. controversy, domestic terrorism, and possible state violence portrayed in MW2, let me just say this: controversy sells games. It's free marketing for the title, plain and simple. Look at every GTA release, for example. There's a new controversy over something specific, along with a lot of general bashing of some of the most basic and fundamental aspects of the game. Yet no grassroots movement, picket, petition, or bellyaching by any news outlet has ever caused a significant number of people to refrain from purchasing the titles. In fact, in most cases, sales increase with each major iteration, although part of this is definitely due to wider distribution across more platforms than the title was previously availble on.
For every news story run about the supposed "controversy" (which is almost a marketing term in itself nowadays), there's a contingent of people who never heard of the series before, but will definitely buy it after hearing that it goes against convention. For every parent that says they won't buy the game for their kid, there's another parent who laughs at the idea that a video game will turn their children into mass murderers, and chooses to excerise their right to decide what they allow their children access to, even minors. Now I wouldn't let a 10 year old play a GTA game, but I wouldn't have a problem getting it for my 15-16 year old if he was responsible in the ways that mattered. The only real debate that holds water is whether this could be viewed as part of a pattern of irresponsible parenting that might contribute to a child becoming a criminal. But, as in many things, it's so much easier to pin blame on one small item and evade or disregard personal responsibility. Intelligent, responsible people aren't fooled, they know that it's a parent's job to raise their child, and it's a person's job to conduct themselves responsibly and maturely as a member of society.
I'd be willing to bet that IW knows this, and willingly allowed the F.A.G.S. controversy to play out, since it would undoubtedly garner attention from media outlets that wouldn't give the game any real mention otherwise. If you think that the Activision/IW marketing department didn't realize what their acronym spelled out, or didn't consider the impact it would have on folks' opinion of the game, I assure you you're quite mistaken. They were counting on the fact that someone, somewehere would turn it into the next big "taboo" game out there, and in turn, it would bring in more new customers than it would alienate people. Judging from the responses I've read across the internet, it seems that this isn't too far off from most people's reaction. I've seen plenty of folks who say that they thought the move was in poor taste, but they'll still buy the game. Guess what? IW just turned you into a spokesperson.
As far as the myriad differences to be found in the PC version of the game, compared to its predecessors, this whole thing seems to me like the indie band that goes mainstream and changes its sound so their music is more accessible to a wider audience. Suddenly the "hardcore" fans of that band get all butt-hurt and start accusing them of abandoning the fans that pushed the group to stardom in the first place. The band doesn't really care all that much, they always wanted to play to a wider audience, that's why they chose to go mainstream.
Same with IW. CoD grew up on the PC, but it was always stuck in the WWII setting, so those who loved it purely for the gameplay forgave the dated feel of the game and 50-year old weaponry, while those who just wanted to shoot an M4 or an MP5 in a quality game never understood what the hoopla was all about. Out comes MW, and suddenly a MUCH wider audience (including myself) realized that IW knows how to make a high quality shooter, they just kept that ability hidden behind a WWII veneer that put many people off. Add to that the difference in userbase between the PC and consoles, and it became obvious where IW was going to make more of their money back in the future: on the console versions. So they gimped the PC version, for better or worse, and now everyone cries foul.
Remember: viable business strategies will almost always alienate the smallest portion of any company's userbase in favor of wider distribution and larger profit margins. In this case, IW is betting that the name alone will push the distribution, and the feature set of the PC has been slimmed down to save on production costs and haxxability so they can charge for DLC map packs and do less overall programming. That's the price we pay for making the CoD franchise into such a gaming juggernaut. It's sad to see so many people upset over so great a game, but I highly doubt that this furor will put any appreciable dent into IW's profits on this game. If you're really that upset about it, boycott the franchise or at least play on the console version and find out what it's like getting headshots without a mouse and keyboard. Sorry.
I, for one, am looking immensely forward to fragging (and getting fragged by) the lot of you online. This game is going to be phenomenal; maybe not the BEST GAME EVAR!!!!1!!, maybe not even GOTY, but there is very little disagreement that CoD is one of the premiere franchises when it comes to quality FPS games on the market right now. I suggest those who have continued reservations or complaints get used to that fact, and either get on board or find another game to play. Making yourself the vocal minority just because you're unhappy with the product does you no service, makes you look immature, and only alienates you from what will be one of the biggest-selling games of all time.
Thanks for reading.