Jimquisition: Why Boycotts Fail Where Whining Tantrums Win

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Evil Smurf:
I like hard!

If you know what I mean.

OT: I really dislike this episode. A let down from weeks past!

well, whining and throwing tantrums - if done on the scale that draws publicity- is certainly an option that could make publishers worry a bit ... and thats why things like steam or origin are here. try something like that and *poof* goes your account along with all the games you had ... you were baaad person for complaining about a game, you made their CEO cry ... so read section 1524 (subsection 86, paragraph 854589/2) of the EULA where (writen in size 2 wingdings font) it states that they can not only freeze/delete your account whenever they want to (including saying anything that even remotely resembles criticism), but they can also use your house, sacrifice your firstborn son to Cthulhu and sell both your kidneys on black market to make some extra money

Hey Jim, you know what happened when people bitched about ME3? You know what EA did? You know what they got from all that? THIS:

http://i.imgur.com/50TOt.png

And then they released and even shittier ending and more paid DLC. If fanbois want to buy shit they can go right ahead. There are plenty of old titles to last one decades and they were made by more talented people who were capable of making a game without adding in dubstep or rock riffs or rewarding the player for paltry things like "reloading the gun" and were able to make emotional elements without photorealism. They make the industry today look like it is full of hacks.

Publishers will continue to make shit no matter what because it is requires less thought and brings in the most money from the 12-year-old minded screaming dipshit demographic. It really sucks for developers, but publishers will always make harmful decisions because they exist only to make money. They will abandon slightly older titles to hackers, they will release expansion packs for full price, they will try to digitize everything to kill retail and keep the price up forever, they will remove parts of games and resell it to you for a premium, they will charge you 15USD for 3 multiplayer maps, they will add online only single player, they will add in premium paid for content that gameplay will become dependent on, they will open their own digital distribution service and add whatever they want to the EULA if they think they can get away with it.

You know why boycott dont work? because it only exists on paper. In reality 99 of 100 people who scream "im boycotting this im boycotting that" still buys the game and plays it in silence, without even complaining because they dont want everyone to know they are playing and not boycotting. This is why boycotting doesnt work. If all people who wanted to send a messadge would not buy the game, and a big one, like say ME3. if ME3 sold like 100.000 copies total and they were bombarded by emails saying "im not buying because im boycotting you for reason x" that woudl send a messadge. Now loosing 100.000 of 10.000.000 audience isnt sending a messadge at all.

P.S. you liked transformers game, <facepalm>

my fear is not that the whiners are whinning about incredibly nosencical things but that devs and publishers listen and change the game to fit the bad demands. the world is so weird

Seems to be the opposite of other things that have been said in The Jimquisition before.

My opinion is somewhere between these extremes. Whining without anything behind it, is easy to ignore. It leads to the dismissive "well if you don't like it, don't play it" response which is absolutly insane because by the time you have a game that you don't like the guy saying that already got their money and isn't in any position where they are forced to provide a refund.

I think you need to whine about a product, make it clear your not going to buy something and WHY, and then go through with it, as opposed to QQing before a release and then purchusing the game anyway. When it comes to franchises, or the ongoing work of a specific company, you can pretty much jump on this in the middle of a series. For example, I bought "Old Republic Online", "Dragon Age 2", and "Mass Effect 3" all of which were trash for slightly differant reasons, involving elements that basically ruined the entire product for me, and a decent number of people. I've complained about it at great length for substantial periods of time, but I've done more than that in saying that I won't continue to support these franchises, or the work of Bioware, if they continue down this path, and I've stuck with it. I didn't buy any of the DLC for "Dragon Age 2" or "Mass Effect 3" despite having bought plenty of it for other games in the franchise. It hasn't gone unnoticed that for all of the comments about "Dragon Age 2" being a success, their last and apparently most major DLC pack was cancelled, which leads me to believe that despite brave faces they wound up not getting the mileage that they intended. With Mass Effect 3, their free "extension" of the ending is irrelevent to me, polishing up a turd still make something a turd, I'm not going to support the game by buying ANY of their DLC, and have actively been encouraging people to NOT buy things like the upcoming "Leviathan" pack. What's more I'm willing to carry this anger on to other products, basically I'm quite frank in saying that as things are going now I am not going to buy any more Bioware products, or games from this franchise, as long as they continue down this path and keep releasing turds. To be honest with their next games I'll probably only decide to buy them once the games have been out for a while, and once I know what is what with them, including whether they have an appropriate ending.

Whining in of itself does nothing, but whining backed by action, well that DOES do something, and I think the differance here is that your seeing action to go with the QQing which EA has started to notice. It's not an organized boycott, but it is costing EA money.

I'll also say that IMO a developer being hurt isn't a big deal in most cases. There will always be more developers. If the product isn't good, or is tied to business practices that ruin my enjoyment of it (such as having to slog through DRM) the developer deserves the flak for it. What's more the devs are just as greedy as the publishers, computers and office space aren't that expensive in comparison to game budgets, the rising development costs go to human resources (ie to pay the devs to make games). Companies like Bioware don't sell out to EA because they naively feel it's "the only way to get involved in the industry", heck to get EA's attention you usually have to be fairly successful... they sell out to EA because EA will give them bigger budgets, which amounts to more money into the developer's pockets. Companies like Bioware who go over to something like EA are selling out in a very real sense, just like an indie band selling out to a big label.

One thing you might want to pay attention to on this latter point is how much money some of these guys get paid. Despite pretensions of poverty and being "normal" most people involved in game development are quite well off by normal standards, but the ones you have to look at are the names involved at the top of game development studios. The paydays someone like an Itigaki (he fought over like 20 million dollars he was supposed to be paid at one point), or a Peter Molyneux, or the equivilent pull down are insane, we're talking movie-star type money coming out of that game development budget just to pay them before anything else. The thing is that companies like EA and Activision can afford to pay these guys more money than they could take out of a more humble publisher or self publishing arrangement.

People tend to forget about things like the "Infinity Ward Scandal" or if they remember it they remember the bit with Bobby Kotick using security to raid the studio. People increasingly forget about these truely huge bonuses that the guys in the studio were promised... money most would consider "too good to be true", but it says a lot that nobody there even blinked an eye when they were promised that kind of cash for delivering the product, even if there was a raid that basically cost them the bonus. It says a lot about the mentality and finances involved, that 'bonus' was doubtlessly part of the budget allotted to make the game (companies like Activision generally don't dip into their own profits, and things like bonuses are planned out).

The bottom line is that a developer that gets involved with a publisher can't say "hey, this intrusive DRM isn't our fault", or use other scapegoats to point fingers at the publisher and claim innocence, they are equally responsible. In the end the entire reason why this happens is they decided they were willing to see those things done in exchange for more money.

I'll also say that few people keep track of such things specifically, but you'll notice the heads of failed studios tend to be-bop around places and work with other companies afterwards. These guys generally have quite a golden parachute which is part of the problem as well. Whether a game succeeds or fails doesn't matter so much when you've got a few million dollars sticking out of your back pocket just for having your guys work on the project. I think a lot of the problem comes down to the simple fact that devs start dialing it in and ceasing to care (at least on the top) once they have a juicy contrat, because they know they're set, and anything they do from that point on is just gravy. If Bioware collapses the guys at the top of the studio probably aren't going to exactly have to go sit in the unemployment line, or live out of their cars or whatever, heck most of them will probably never have to work another day again at this point unless they really want to. I don't know what they are getting, but looking at other examples it's probably a LOT which is why they decided to sell out to EA.

I see the practicality of the matter Mr. Sterling, really I do, but I refuse to perpetuate the problem any further.

Because the problem is, and always has been the publishers and their oligopoly.
They've built the system to fail with them; effectively holding game developers, talent and what they offer hostage in exchange for customer compliance.

In doing so, they expect to extort more from us just because they say so. Closed distribution. Virtual monopoly. Price gouging on content. Ridiculous stipulations in their EULAs.
It's an oligopoly.

Yet, for the first time in years, we're on the cusp of watching an industry giant not only fall, but fall for good. EA is teetering on the brink of destruction if their flip-flopping hamhanded statements and continued shareholder shuffling is any indication.

And it's not just them.
Activision is down to a handful of core games; their parent company Vivendi is on the record for considering selling them. Blizzard is taking real flak for the first time in their company's history with the financially successful, but critically ambivalent Diablo 3 (which is still hemorrhaging players).

Ubisoft is shuffling their feet unsure about anything but core console sales even while the current generation dies out and PC grows.

Nintendo has effectively pulled out of the AAA market entirely to play Second Hand Sam and cater to the casuals (no really, I don't think Mario and company occupy quite the same market space they used to), and the Japanese publisher giants are as incompetent as ever, dealing with domestic market crisis.

To get more to the point: Why is Double Fine even getting such lavish support?
Why are people willing to throw such scratch at a new console?

Because for the first time in 7 years, there is not only breathing room for small studios to grow, but there is real demand for what they want to create that the publishers won't green light; growth OUTSIDE of the publisher-studio model.

The silent majority are finally starting to tire of these publishers' bullshit.
The problem I have with just going out to whine is that whining has been around for as long as we've had the Internet to whine from, and largely, it has done NOTHING until recent years.

Whining and petitions for less offensive marketing? Specific remakes? Closer deadlines? Localizations and ports?
Virtually NONE of these were even considered until these companies started falling, and looking at the bottom for the first time in years.

They're being forced into looking at alternatives not because of whining, but because they're desperately looking for anything they can latch onto to keep their oligopoly going. The system they've built to milk the market at the minimum effort is failing, and they know it.

So if whining is the loudest thing they hear, they *will* listen.

Alternatively, I'm of the mind that if they refuse to listen to Demand at all, then economics will sort them out regardless. Let them burn if they want to be petulant and keep trying to dictate what both Supply and Demand MUST accept.
Remind them who keeps them in business.

Maybe whoever replaces them will get the message.
If not, in the words of Khan:
"Explain it to them."

Damn that is actually a really good point i had not thought of (not being one to boycott or wine but do keep up with the news of others doing it) awesome perspective Jim! Thank god for you i guess!

Made good sense, was to the point and logical

Top video Jim

sailor_960:
The truth of this videos' thesis makes me incredibly sad. Have really come to a point where acting like a petulant child is the solution to a problem? What the hell video game industry and video game fans? What. The. Hell?!

I can empathise with you on this one, Sailor. There is just so much wrong with gamers themselves that they simply lack the self awareness to notice, it's really quite saddening.

While Mr Sterling entertains the noition of loud wailing, I also think he's very, very wrong. He's clearly not heard of what I call the Car Alarm Principle. When they were new, when people rarely heard a car alarm, they all poked their heads around the corner to investigate the cacophony. These days, those people couldn't care less about the noise.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if gamers threw enough tantrums the publishers eventually learn to tune it out. Mr Sterling really doesn't help things with his immature stance and I think he reflects very badly upon gamers and makes us all look like spoilt brats who need a damned good hiding.

Gamers wish to be treated like adults, but act like spoilt children the minute something rankles them. Boycotting would work if the gamers had the will of an adult and stuck to their decision not to buy it - but instead they buckle under peer pressure and slick marketing like children.

I haven't purchased a single Activision game in about two years - because I beleived that their overcharging was bordering on extortionate. As an adult, I took my custom elsewhere. As a regular and oft game buyer, that's 480 a year they won't be getting from me. Multiply that by a few million more gamers, and that'll put a VERY large dent in Activision's coffers. OK, the developers will suffer for it - but we as gamers have to realise that publishers cannot survive without developers. The publishers will have to bow down to gamers if they matured and stuck to their guns.

To us, gaming is a luxury. To publishers it's what keeps them in penthouse suits. Using the developers as hostages will not work against me.

sailor_960:
The truth of this videos' thesis makes me incredibly sad. Have really come to a point where acting like a petulant child is the solution to a problem? What the hell video game industry and video game fans? What. The. Hell?!

Gamers are the biggest whiners on the planet. Most of the threads on the escapist are whining. I despise them.

I guess I can't always agree with Jim. I think the last thing we gamers should do if we want big publishers to take us seriously is to constantly whine while at the same time buying all their games.

See, EA don't care as long as they are making money. Back RP doesn't matter as long as long as you got high sales. Why on earth would it? The only thing this will accomplish is making it even more annoying to be a part of the gaming community, because everyone would be whining more than they already are.

There have been SOME things gamers can unite on, like Operation Rainfall, although that wasn't specifically a boycott... I WISH gamers actually took games seriously rather than just demanding that everyone else take THEM seriously (not the games, but rather their medium). Still, what Jim says makes sense, if you refuse to buy from certain companies, you miss out on a lot of actually GOOD stuff that just happen to be under their name. So, while I was very confused by the title of this episode, what he says DOES make sense. It helps to actually use your brain and think about what you should do to help make the industry a better play then just saying "I'm going to boycott Activison" and stuff... Unfortunately, it kind of makes me mad to see that the publishers are dodging responsibility and blaming everyone else for what they do and losing money rather then themselves. I guess most people don't think whining or complaining will help because they don't see or feel the immediate effects, and because they're one in a million, and figure why would they read my complaints specifically. Of course, if some gamers were more well-organized and managed their complains properly, perhaps it will get through... Just a thought.

Jimothy Sterling:
Why Boycotts Fail Where Whining Tantrums Win

Continuing on from the argument that one can love games as art but hate them as a business, Jimquisition this week focuses on how gamers can best express their distaste for the latter while still supporting the former.

Watch Video

Oh I do absolutely love this show, and every episode has me in stitches, but it also makes me sad when things that are bad in the industry are pointed out. This video reminded me that Radical were closed down and that upset me, and it reminded me of how much I FUCKING hate CoD'z existence in gaming. As someone who wants to work in the industry I don't want to end up working on a CoD clone, or work at a studio that then gets laid off after pouring work into a game that then doesn't sell well because the publishers are horrible people.

I love how there are still people in the world who will defend whining.

For some reason I just like you more when you're wearing your glasses... It's weird.

This actually creates a serious conundrum. On the one hand, buying something and then harshly criticizing it puts you in a position to say "I know what I'm talking about, I've played it." On the other hand, if a company is truly uncaring (like how people say EA is these days) they don't give a shit about the complaints so long as they're still getting the money. And since you feel the need to buy a game to validate your opinion to others on it, they'll still get the money from you, so your satisfaction (or lack thereof) doesn't even register to them.

The possibility that boycotting sends the wrong message seems like a valid one, and that a publisher will shift the blame unfairly to a developer and innocent people suffer for it is likely the truth. It really is one of those situations where as long as the company has you by the balls, holding the license to a favorite game franchise, your heart and mind might not follow, but your wallet sure will.

Now that isn't to say the buy-but-still-criticize plan of action is a bad idea. It could potentially work for a company that genuinely cares about customer satisfaction. Also, there is one possibility that could make it work even for those companies who don't care; they could be concerned about lost future customers. If a game franchise has devoted fans reaming out the publishing company for its practices while still buying games, the publisher might become concerned that this anger and frustration will get the attention of prospective customers who don't have a personal interest in a franchise, but could if they don't hear a lot of shit being thrown at the company. It all depends on whether the company is concerned about increasing its customer base. This might seem like a no brainer, that of course they would...but I wouldn't be so sure. If a publisher produces enough popular games or game series, then they could ensure enough profit from the dedicated fan base to keep themselves afloat, possibly even had enough left over to grow a certain amount for a given period of time before plateauing.

I personally can't say which strategy I think is best. Both have merits, both have drawbacks. In the end, I guess it depends on the given situation.

My boycotting is going just fine. Every game that I hate is not reaching their marketing budget and unable to make profit. Bad PR reaches further than paid one. Or rather, it hitches a ride on paid PR. When you point out that the good PR is made from lies, people put more trust in your bad PR.

These "boycotts" get unnoticed because nobody is willing to report honestly why these games are shit. Don't be surprised when 10/10 games kill their own studios.

This has been going on for years, but publishers tried to patch it up with more paid shilling. When gaming press lost their contact with their audience, so did the publishers. The only way to reach the publishers now is to kill the middleman.

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