We Swallow The Lies: But Do We Like The Taste?

As I reflect on the headlines in gaming news over the past few weeks, there is a question that springs to mind, because I seem to notice a lot of lies and half truths coming from the mouths of major companies such as EA, Blizzard and Nintendo. My question is one which is easily asked, but harder to explain: Should we, the gaming community, be bothered when developers lie through their teeth at us, or should we simply not care so long as they continue to make good games? I have heard of companies playing the fool in order to keep angry reactions from their community to a minimum, but sometimes you have to question how you feel about it when the lies come in such quick succession. Suddenly, the small amount of bullshit that was mixed into your breakfast becomes significantly harder to ignore as more and more of the foul substance is shoveled in with every bite.

First, we have EA and Blizzard trying to tell us that they are surprised that gamers would be upset about the fact that we will have to maintain a constant Internet connection in order to play games such as Driver: San Fransisco or Diablo III. Electronics Arts then goes on to pull their games from Steam (Dragon Age 2 and Battlefield 3. You could also throw in Star Wars The Old Republic while you’re at it.) for illegitimate reasons, such as ‘restrictive terms of service and DLC options.’ Apparently, EA was hoping that gamers simply forgot about the fact that they just recently launched their own virtual marketplace, Origin, and that we will never be able to connect the dots.

Penny Arcade understands me...

Finally, we have Nintendo cutting the price of the 3DS by $80, but never once even hinting that the reason for the drop goes beyond low sales. In truth, I can’t really blame Nintendo for telling this little ‘half truth,’ because the alternative would have meant admitting that it isn’t just the price of the system that is making people hesitant to buy. Satoru Iwata, of Nintendo, tells us: “If the software creators and those on the retail side are not confident that the Nintendo 3DS is a worthy successor to the DS and will achieve a similarly broad (user) base, it will be impossible for the 3DS to gain popularity.” That is some careful wording there, but do you really think that lowering the price will convince developers that the 3DS is a worthy successor in terms of the hardware?

He is of course referring to straight numbers and sales over hardware, and failing to discuss how good their actual system is. Sadly, this seems to be Nintendo’s outlook now days; seeking high sales numbers over lasting customer satisfaction (Wii *cough cough*). But still, I have seen cell phones with better hardware capabilities than the 3DS, and lowering the price doesn’t seem to be making anyone more inclined to buy a system they didn’t want in the first place.

Understand, if you will, that I have no delusions about the impact this article will have. I know fully well that John Riccitello, CEO of Electroncs Arts, will never read these words and think: “this man is a God damned genius!” That is hardly my intention, I assure you. No, instead, this article is meant for you, the gaming community. I am asking you, the passive reader who never comments, or tends to disagree with what they hear in gaming news: do these little white lies and half truths bother you or is it something you have simply grown to accept?

I agree, there are some things you simply can’t change in this world. For example, I can no longer buy a legal copy of the original Star Wars trilogy in stores that is free of CGI, and that is simply the way it is. Bullshit is something we see and hear every day, but have we grown so accustomed to the taste that it no longer upsets our stomach? At the very least, I suppose we should be thankful that game developers have the good sense to be courteous when they shovel this shit onto our plate.

What do you think?

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  • Awesome article. I am really glad someone said something about this. I do not like the path the gaming industry is on right now and the first step is to acknowledge the problem. We have to change something before it is too late… does anyone have any ideas how?

    • Derek K.

      Don’t buy products, and then let the company know why you didn’t buy. Send an email, make a call, etc.

      • seb

        Only problem is, look at the poll. When I’m writing this, 50% of people said “I don’t appreciate it, but I still love the games”. So people will continue buying and publishers will continue not caring…

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  • Anonymous

    Nintendo didn’t think *anyone* was going to buy the Wii if you remember correctly. They didn’t make it to be the smash hit it was. They probably also didn’t intend to make it hands down the best damn control scheme for FPSs ever. And now the Wii U is gonna ruin it. 🙁

    I also don’t see the lie in Iwatas statement about needing to increase the install base of the 3DS or face reduced retail presence and publisher support (which has already happened), and dropping the price in an attempt to do so. It’s a desperate move and this is one of the few times a company has actually handled something like this with respectability. I for one am looking forward to the freebies for buying at full launch price. 😀

  • Derek Kupper

    It certainly has an effect on me. 10 years ago, I would preorder and buy any game from Squaresoft, Bioware, Blizzard, or Bethesda sight unseen. Now that list is restricted to Bioware, and even then I don’t get the DLC unless it reviews well. And if ME3 turns out badly, they’ll be gone too. I won’t preorder EA stuff except in rare circumstances, and I canceled my preorder for Assassin’s Creed Revelations.

    Much of that is because of their business practices, Ubisoft in particular.

    Look at Valve. People will give Valve hundreds of dollars based on trust. If Valve said “Hey, y’all, we need $50, but it’ll be worth it!’ I’d bet they’d come out with a fair chunk of cash. And that’s because Valve seems to follow Wheaton’s Law.

  • Basically all companies tell half truths, I see Apple Steve Jobs as a Snake Oil salesman, who spout sales numbers even bad ones as good and yet I still buy their products.  They make good laptop, generally despite some flaws, and I have a use for them both as entertainment and as work.

    I know Nintendo is doing damage control a bit. It funny cause they are in a touch position, not so much cause of the cellphone industry taking things away from the. Smartphone are doing about as much damage to ebook readers like the Kindle as they are doing to the portable gaming industry, which is really nothing.  But the problem is Nintendo is trying to figure out what to do about the Nintendo DS.  It literally hands the 3DS its own ass every month since its release in sales selling almost 3 to 1.  July sales in the US for the 3DS was 143K and DS 380K, which funny enough add up to average sales on the DS line-up for over the summer.  I have Nintendo products too, they do a pretty good job with customer service when things go wrong.  And I have a 3DS, its seems like it is in a similar situation that the DS was in when it came out.  

    This was a good article by the way.