Of Straws and Camels – Trusting Game Companies

EA. Deep Silver. Gearbox. These three big names in the world of making and producing video games have been hitting headlines recently, and not for the best reasons. A combination of bad PR, poor damage control and some terrible game releases have got journalists, critics and the public wondering – should we trust big game companies so much anymore?

Please note – this post contains an image that may cause offence. Which is a good thing, because it is offensive.

Gearbox and their recent release was the first spark in the fire that has started raging recently. After releasing the steaming pile of code that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, Gearbox got a grilling from press and fans. Accusations began flying around, trying to find who to blame, and slowly some of the truth was teased out. Turns out, a huge portion of development was outsourced to a smaller company, with Gearbox taking the credit (not the blame, though). The ‘in-game footage’ presented at gaming expos was actually pre-rendered footage that was wildly different from what people got in the final product.

Lies, and more lies. But it still topped charts, based on pre-purchase sales that were built upon trust and false information.


The recent launch of SimCity has also been a bit a massive flop. Between Maxis (the creators of greats such as The Sims and previous Sim Cities) and EA (the publishers of half the games you’d care to mention), somehow they managed to produce a product so flawed that it brought shame to an entire franchise, and it still isn’t working properly today.

EA was voted the ‘Worst Company in America’ for the second time in a row this year, proving that it’s ability to push out unwanted sequels remains as strong as ever. It’s always been a given that EA is big enough to take these hits to their player-base and keep on going, but after a recent string of lay-offs being reported by the press, it seems that the corporate hydra might be losing heads faster than it can regrow them.

The latest of the ongoing head-in-arse events involves Deep Silver and their limited-edition of Dead Island: Riptide. I understand many may not be familiar with the problem, so I’ll rewind and fill you in. A few months ago, Deep Silver announced that their ‘Zombie Bait Edition’ would come complete with this:


Tasteful, no? Truly, what carnival of horrors coffee table would be complete without a recreation of a severed female torso? Complete with patriotic bikini, of course, because a nude severed female torso would be offensive to people. It’s a wonder people in other communities still have trouble taking gamers seriously. Anyways, after getting feedback from critics and the public (generally along the lines of “Dudes, what the hell?”), Deep Silver quickly issued an apology promising it was “committed to making sure this will never happen again.”

Well, imagine everyone’s surprise when Dead Island: Riptide released this week, and those loveable torsos were being dispatched. Clearly what happened is that Deep Silver had already manufactured the offending items, and instead of writing it off as a lost and putting them in a furnace, they just thought “well, time to give the people what they asked for!” and just set them off anyway. Promising something “will never happen again” seems to come with a caveat that means that it can keep on happening, as long as it relates to the same issue. Deep Silver’s current attempt to deal with this issue seems to be to hide under their desk until it goes away.

It happens almost all the time. Exclusive content only available for pre-purchasers that gets put up for sale later anyway. Season-Passes that provides access to all future downloadable content, assuming the developers even make any, and no, not that one, that’s premium and you’ll have to pay like everyone else. Companies just plain not listening to the demands of their fans.

Looking to the future, it seems like publishers and producers are doing very little to put our worries to rest. With comments such as “deal with it” regarding the always-online aspect of the upcoming console generation, it seems that maybe companies are taking our custom for granted. That is a dangerous business plan to have. These companies expect us to pre-purchase and buy anything they give to us. But we forget that we hold the power, in our wallets. By not buying everything the second it gets advertised, by waiting until people have experienced and reviewed the games, then we can vote with our money, demanding that we get a better class of product and service. And we will get it, if that’s how we act.

The question is everyone is asking is “how much of this will we put up with?” Maybe that’s the wrong question to be asking. We will put up with anything if we feel that there’s no other option. “How much should we put up with?” is perhaps the better question. And the answer is emphatically: not this much.


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