I'll be brief: There are two things in my life which I truly love to do. Okay, maybe more than two. But these two are big ones. I like to write, and I like to play video games. So, I guess that writing about video games is a pretty good idea, right? So I'm going to do that.
There are few things which drive me as absolutely mental as fierce brand loyalty. You’d assume that by not being an active member of the automotive community, the sports community, or even the political community that I would be able to avoid ravenous extremism and blind loyalty – if you assumed this, you’d be dead wrong. In fact, gamers are some of the absolute worst examples of this disgusting practice and, although they’re not exactly picketing funerals or killing “harlots”, they clog up one of the few hobbies I haven’t turned wholly cynical about. And trust me, being a part-time IT technician while attending school for English Literature can make someone pretty fucking cynical.
A short while ago, I was speaking with a friend of mine about the sales that were happening on Good Old Games for the summer sale. In particular, I mentioned that Fez was on sale for $5 – a game which I love dearly, and something that I firmly believe should be experienced by anyone who likes indie games or anything of the sort. You’re allowed to disagree with that. In the case of this friend, he did disagree – but not before praising the mechanics, art style, and music of the game. In fact, when I asked him why this was, my friend replied that he “didn’t want to give Phil Fish any more money” because “Phil Fish is kind of an asshole”. I don’t have any comment on that particular topic. What hammered this incident into my mind, however, was when this particular friend then began expressing his intense excitement for the Xbox One and Battlefield 4, which he apparently already has preordered.
Why in the fuck would you have a problem with giving Phil Fish $5, but won’t hesitate to spend an entire paycheck on Microsoft and EA? Am I the only one who sees a problem here?
I’m sure that this is not an isolated incident. What could cause something like this? Is it brand loyalty towards Microsoft and EA? Brand loyalty which, in my opinion, is far from fucking deserved in both cases. Is it that Fez and Polytron have a single human face and name attached to them, Phil Fish, as opposed to an abstract corporate identity, and therefore it’s easier to target Fish as an individual than the entirety of Microsoft and EA? If you’re going to resist giving Phil Fish five dollars for releasing a buggy game and acting like a dick sometimes, I don’t see why you should be absolutely overjoyed to give EA (who have also released broken games and act like a bunch of dicks sometimes) twelve times as much money. Or, indeed, to give $500 to a company who, until recently, tried to shoehorn a console into everyone’s face full of features which no one asked for and would have proved to be considerably more of a hassle than it was worth.
Echoing Destructoid’s own Jim Sterling: I will not thank Microsoft for “fixing” their console. They don’t deserve thanks for that. They deserve continued scrutiny.
Simply put, I think that many gamers have forgotten how to assess consoles and games on a case-by-case basis. No one in their right mind would purchase a car without looking very closely at all of the little important car bits and pieces (I don’t know the first thing about cars, bite me). Go on – buy an Xbox One. Buy Battlefield 4. If it’s something you want, then please go ahead and buy it. You’re also allowed to dislike Phil Fish, and are allowed to not buy his game for that reason. But don’t do these things blindly. Don’t let your love for the 360 dictate your future purchases, don’t forget why EA has won awards for being the worst company ever. Take all of these things into account when you make a purchase in this industry – make an effort to support what you love, make an effort to support the things which will keep this industry strong. For god’s sake – if you wait a month, a fucking week to buy Battlefield 4, if you get all of your friends to do the same, you can send a message to EA that they’ll understand. Don’t become a subject to triple-A publishers – they wouldn’t exist without you, the consumer. Remember that, and exercise that power. Stop supporting companies and IPs based on their name, and start supporting them based on their merit. How many SimCity 2000 fans bought the new SimCity for the simple reason of it being a SimCity game? And how many of them got right fucked because of that? Beyond this – how many of those people even really liked SimCity after the technical issues were resolved? I don’t have answers to these questions, and you don’t have to either. But the questions are important. I shouldn’t have to ask you these questions, no one should. You should always be asking yourself these questions and deciding what you want based on what you want, not based on something’s name, or hype, or any of that. That is the kind of blind loyalty which is not only annoying, but dangerous.