Recently, Peter Moore had a chat with computerandvideogames.com, and had some, uh, ‘interesting’ things to say. For those unfamiliar with the name, he’s the Chief Operating Officer of Electronic Arts. They’re one of the largest publishers in the industry, but they’re often criticized for placing more importance on money than a great final product, and rightfully so. As much as I hate to sound like a broken record, Battlefield 4’s botched launch is a perfect example of this. Hell, it STILL has kinks to be worked out, up to and including the single player campaign’s save file corruption issue.
Anyhoo, the article begins on a seemingly harmless note: EA’s COO believes that traditional gamers will take longer to convince that new innovations will be beneficial.
It’s a fair enough point on the surface, but this amounts to little more than PR speak. What Peter Moore is saying ever so delicately, is that the industry is fine and that the gaming community has something of a perception issue. The man genuinely believes our issues stem from mythical pairs of nostalgia goggles, enchanted with liberal amounts of anger and hatred (obviously). Of course, that’s the purpose of PR banter, isn’t it? To provide a sprinkle of truth and ignore the elephant in the room? To lull the less informed into an altered state of reality?
To be fair, there’s a pretty nasty vocal minority out there, but is this unique to the world of gaming? Of course not. Thanks to the anonymity of the internet, the meek finally have an outlet where they can puff their chests out and spew their negativity. Unfortunately, their words carry a bit more weight than most because they’re the loudest, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair to throw a blanket over the gaming community as a whole. Most of us are rational and – gasps, imagine this! – can actually think for ourselves!
I’m 31 years old, so I’ve used rotary dial phones, pagers, cameras that use actual film, and remember what life was like without the internet. I’ve always been one to embrace new technology, but over the last five years or so I’ve found myself actually resisting (some) new technological fads. Is this because I’m older and feeling a bit overwhelmed by all this newfangled technology? Perhaps, but after taking self-inventory, I came back to the realization that I have reasons for liking the things I like, and why I couldn’t care less for the things I don’t.
For example, I’m not big on tablets. I’m just not. When I’m out and about, I have no need to play games or movies, and if I need to connect to the internet, my iPhone is quite capable of the task. For me, there’s simply no value in a tablet. When I DO have time for such activities, I’m usually hovering around my PC or home entertainment center.
On the flip side of the coin, I do love me some black and white e-readers. Thanks to my Kindle Paperwhite, I don’t think I could ever go back to paper and ink. I mean, most books – be it paperback or hardcover – are a pain in the ass to hold, at least in bed. Not my Kindle, though. Also, the backlight is easy on my eyes in a dark room, and I no longer have to disturb my wife with the bedside lamp. Best of all, having all my books on a single device means there’s no clutter to worry about.
I also shied away from motion sensing technology such as the Kinect. It’s a fine concept, sure, but there was nothing about it that made me leap out of my chair to proclaim, “I must own this! I don’t know how I’ve lived without it!” No, not even the ability to shout “FUS RO DAH!” in Skryim made me so much as flinch. Even the Xbox One’s Kinect – while closer to the mark – failed to make itself relevant. The PS4 camera is even less useful, unless you have children at home that want to kick those little robots around.
So, yes, I’ve been a little resistant to things that have come along in recent years, but there’s a single word I can use to explain why: Practicality. Hell, I’d imagine that’s why so many of you might have been resistant to this, that or the other thing. So, when Peter Moore tries to label us as keyboard trolls in the most diplomatic way possible, I’m not only going to call him out on it, but I’ll lay waste to his reasoning and expose the agenda he’s REALLY attempting to push.
So alright, let’s break this down:
“I think we’re going into almost a golden age of gaming, where it doesn’t matter where you are, at any time, any place, any price point, any amount of time, there’s a game available to you,” Moore said. “And our job as a company is to provide those game experiences. And then on our big franchises, tie them all together.”
Alright. So far, so good.
“I think the challenge sometimes is that the growth of gaming… there’s a core that doesn’t quite feel comfortable with that. Your readers, the industry in particular. I don’t get frustrated, but I scratch my head at times and say, ‘Look. These are different times.’”
Well, there it is… the beginning of Peter Moore’s Bullshit Stew. He makes it sound like there’s a faction of gamers out there that just want to sit in their caves, beat their chests and play Bubble Bobble from now until the end of time. Let’s be clear, though – Peter more isn’t talking about resistance to the technological advances in gaming:
“And different times usually evoke different business models.”
Aaaaand there it is. While he’s selling us a story about gamers being afraid of innovation, the reality is that gamers just really hate being screwed over. Apparently, we’re supposed to LOVE paying more money for less content, paying full price for games that don’t work at launch, and enjoy EA’s library of extortionate ‘free to play’ titles (I’m looking at you, Dungeon Keeper).
But wait, there’s more!!!
“Different consumers come in. They’ve got different expectations. And we can either ignore them or embrace them, and at EA, we’ve chosen to embrace them.”
Of COURSE he’s chosen to embrace them! They’ve allowed his company to make money hand over fist! And just so there’s no confusion – When he says ‘different consumers come in’, he’s referring to the younger crowd or people who are new to the gaming scene in general. ‘Different expectations’ is code for hoping the less informed have ZERO expectation. After all, that’s the demographic that has the highest probability of being taken for a ride… but what about the vast majority that speak out against the ‘less for more’ business model?
Well, Mr. Moore goes on to state that the game industry can’t go down the same troubled path as the music biz, and if they hope to survive, the industry should come together on these practices in a unified front.
“I don’t think anybody has to like it,” Moore said. “I think that’s where it goes. It’s like me: I get grumpy about some things, but if the river of progress is flowing and I’m trying to paddle my canoe in the opposite direction, then eventually I’m just going to lose out. From the perspective of what needs to happen in this industry, we need to embrace the fact that billions of people are playing games now.”
I mean, it doesn’t get any more transparent than this, folks. Not that you need it, but allow me to indulge in a translation for that last doozy of a quote:
“There’s billions of people out there playing video games. What, are we not SUPPOSED to do everything in our power to separate them from their money? Yeah, our customers will complain about being nickel-and-dimed, but if the industry as a whole follows the same game plan, they’ll learn to deal with it… I mean, they’ll have to. They’ll have no other choice.”
And that’s why Mr. Moore’s comments have drawn so much negative feedback. We, the gaming community, aren’t stupid. We know when we’re being conditioned to accept the industry’s self-serving business models. And don’t get me wrong… I know the industry is, first and foremost, a business. The goal of any business is to make money, and I’m pretty sure nobody has a problem with that. No, the ‘core gamer’ has a problem with HOW they’ve chosen to acquire it. Companies like EA are forcing their abhorrent policies on us until we relent. They’re hearing the discontent that’s shouted today, sure, but they’re counting on our voice growing quieter by the day, until we’ve had enough and decide to accept things ‘because that’s the way they are’.
That’s not to say I’m against all DLC or micro transactions, because I’m not. There’s a lot of great DLC that’s been introduced over the years, such as Far Cry 3’s Blood Dragon or Outlast’s Whistleblower. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare features micro transactions, but because in-game currency is earned quick enough through standard gameplay, I never felt like there was a paywall block.
What I AM saying, is that each and every one of you should scrutinize digital content before committing your hard earned money to it. Look at reviews, message boards, and talk to your friends. Think about what it means when you open your wallet and tell a publisher, “I guess I’m cool with paying more money to fill out game that didn’t feel complete at the $60 price point.” Then, and ONLY then, will the likes of Peter Moore get the hint.
Never underestimate the voice of the gaming community. If we were able to make Microsoft change virtually every anti-consumer policy the Xbox One was to originally offer, I’m positive there’s much more we could accomplish.
Never settle for complacency.