The same could be said for Fallout 3 vs Fallout New Vegas, or many other games in which the sequel gets a marginally lower score on a review metric. It seems like you're telling me that the words of the critics - the ones explicitly telling you the sequels are better - don't matter, and only the numbers they provide matter, even though the point of game scores isn't so that you can catalogue games on an objective sliding scale of quality.
What I'm telling you is that, like it or not, metrics matter. A game that scores comparably to its predecessor but sells more poorly cannot be labelled a "better" game without a big asterisk. A game reboot that comes out ten years after its predecessor will be "better" in all sorts of ways- the graphics will undoubtedly take advantage of modern hardware, the sound will benefit from cheaper mixing and composing software, the control scheme will take advantage of a broader variety of input options, and it will almost certainly have more people and more money involved in its making.
None of which means that it won't crash and burn and be regarded as blot on the memory of its beloved predecessor.
Fallout: New Vegas had a more intricate and non-linear story than its predecessor, a wider variety of weapons and tools, more NPCs and scripted dialogue. It was also a buggy mess, occasionally to the point that it could become impossible to proceed.
"Better" will always be an opinion. Some opinions are better supported than others, which is part of why this discussion is taking place. It's reasonable to wonder why someone should care about making a game "better" in ways that involve a significant amount of work, please a narrow audience, and have no visible effect on the game's fortunes in sales or critical numbers- the latter, especially, as the game isn't competing with its predecessor on the "shelves", but with everything else that was released around the same time.
So as I understand it, you think it is a case of either Sarkeesian blackmailing the devs to make them put more women in their games, or the dev's cynical attempt to avoid negative criticism by placating those big mouth feminists? How is this the more plausible option than the dev simply agreeing with her, given that he says how important he thinks criticism is?
That's a nice narrow straw-man you've got there. It's not what I said. What I said is that neither of us can know what was actually exchanged, nor how what was exchanged might actually be perceived by either party in the current climate, or what either might have been particularly hoping to accomplish.
Sarkeesian might have given a perfectly reasonable, non-threatening presentation on her stated goals, which are entirely what she says they are, and he might still have perceived them as threatening. The developer might think Sarkeesian's ideals are bullshit, and still recognize that making a show of playing to them might serve the PR needs of his game.
Or, regardless of the broader milieu, she made a straight case and he emerged a true believer.
I don't know.
Neither do you.
On the contrary, it is not misandry for Sarkeesian to suggest that the sequel ideally should have been purely female led (which isn't the same as "removing" a male lead from a finished game). She makes the observation that playable female characters are most often only included in games that also provide a male option, however devs don't ever have a problem with making male only led games. You consider it misandry for someone to ask why this couldn't have been a female only game, but do you consider it misogyny when the reverse happens and countless games are male led?
No, I consider it misandry when a critic seeks to remove an existing male lead from a series so that it can be female-led. Because it is. It's certainly not "equality" or "diversity", except in the minds of those for whom those words mean "we get an equal amount of time to be wrong to make up for the wrongs done to us".
Which is to say, in this case, misandrists.
Quantic Foundry's analysis suggests that female gamers make up only 7% of those who play first-person shooter games, and 18% of action-adventure games. The question of whether it makes real sense to have gender parity in genres where the vast majority of players are male somehow gets pushed to the side in favor of reactionary accusations of misogyny.
It's a question- that thing that, somehow, only one side ever has to answer. Which kind of calls into question whether getting an answer is actually the point.
Similarly, in games where there is a closer to even split in the player base, or a female majority- as in RPGs, puzzle games, etc.- one is more likely to find a female or androgynous lead.
So in short, yes, I stand by the accusation that Sarkeesian's stance is a misandric one, and no, I'm not going to be waylaid by a false equivalence, thanks.
I don't know how you think the game design process works, but having a trans character or a racially diverse cast is not an extra resource drain for the dev team, distracting them from making their games better. It is literally no more work and no more jarring to someone's concentration to write a character as black or white, or trans or cis, or whatever. And I suppose games like Overwatch would be way better if they didn't waste their resources by including more diverse characters, right?
And this is why I'm going to stop letting you try to put words in my mouth.
A trans character is "no extra work"? So if the writers hadn't put in more time to research the issue of gender presentation before writing that character in "Mass Effect: Andromeda", they couldn't have side-stepped the ensuing controversy?
I'm playing Unreal Tournament III right now, a game from 2007, which features a black character whose every other phrase is of the "Aw, hell yeah!" and "Now that's what I'm talking about" variety. Is writing a character who's a stereotype sufficient?
Shall I take it on faith that Agents of Mayhem would not have had more variety in gameplay and depth of character if instead of having fourteen playable characters, it had twelve? Or nine?
I haven't played Overwatch; I hear it's fantastic. Offering twenty-five playable characters in a multi-player competitive shooter certainly allows for a genuinely diverse cast. It's also an absolute nightmare for any company smaller than an Activision/Blizzard, and only becomes feasible even for them, because every one of those characters has to be tuned and tweaked and balanced to play and interplay fairly, dynamically and enjoyably with every other character- a process which they're still, and constantly, in the process of undertaking.
Read: That diversity was not somehow trivial or extraneous to the game-play and design, but inextricably tied into it, and came with its own costs and priorities.
Not that said diversity kept them from their own share of controversies, from Widowmaker's costume to Tracer's victory poses.
How do I think the game design process works? I think it's work is what I think. Often under-appreciated and unrecognized work. Clearly.
Much easier to lob criticism that can't bothered to examine its own underpinnings, that assumes the changes it demands are easy and simple and failure to get it done yesterday is simple laziness and resistance to change, that the audience for the work wants it (and if they don't they should accept it anyway because it's what's good for them), and that thinks anyone who dares to offer the slightest degree of resistance can be trivialized or demonized, reality be damned.
It would be hilarious that people who wax rhapsodic about the purifying and ennobling power of criticism can't stand to have that criticism itself subjected to a similar degree of scrutiny, if it hadn't become such a tenet of blind dogmatic faith.
People who only listen to wait for their opportunity to interject, to mis-interpret, to self-promote- who think that the world is their pulpit and the unenlightened masses obligated to be their audience- need to make a case that their invaluable opinions warrant a hearing at all. And if they aren't willing to do that, they still have every right to speak.
But no one should be under any illusions that they're obligated to listen.