Dear Video Game Developers,
Before I dive into the brunt of what this letter is about, let me just say this. I have no quarrel with you. When I dislike a video game outside of its story, graphics, characters, and controls, my dislike doesn’t and shouldn’t concern you. All of you involved in the creative process are just doing your jobs to the best of your abilities.
Lately, I’ve read articles and watched YouTube videos about how people’s criticisms are affecting you. When in reality it should be affecting those who publish your games. Publishers like Electronic Arts who utilize practices that catch the attention of state governments.
Practices that have cheapened my experience while playing your creations. DLC like Catwoman in Arkham City that couldn’t be accessed without pre-order or purchase. A character whose missions and arc were and are vital to the game’s overall story. Microtransactions disguised as “special events” like Destiny 2’s Dawning event.
An event that was a giant advertisement for the Eververse. The game’s store where players can exchange real-world currency in their wallet for loot boxes. This letter is not about you, or your work. This exists because of publishers using the production prices of your digital visions to justify their tactics.
I understand you have to spend money to make money, and making games is an expensive task. But when EA issues a statement to its shareholders about how its suspension of Star Wars: Battlefront II‘s microtransactions wouldn’t impact the company’s fiscal year, it’s hard for me to agree with their use of tactics. Especially with releases of various types of special editions of games.
Editions that have also been tiered in price as well, costing upwards of $80 to $100 and more. Why? Simply because in today’s video game industry, greed is good. Whereas the experience given to gamers comes second and at an added price. Which is sad because I’ve given good games lower ratings because their microtransactions, season passes, and other various forms of hiding of content behind a paywall take away from their otherwise good storytelling, gameplay, and characters.
It’s not your fault as a developer, it’s the publisher’s fault. They allow their shareholders to dictate what’s successful and what’s not, instead of allowing sales numbers and overall user experiences to do that. I especially feel for community managers who have to inform the public of decisions made by the higher-ups. Decisions that are often deemed unpopular and come with a barrage of disgusting and uncalled for verbal attacks and threats.
I’ve worked in customer service and it was often at times a thankless and mentally draining job. So when I say a game is bad or I become angry with having to spend more than $60 for a full experience, just know my issue is not with you. In fact, despite the negative press, 2017 was a solid year for games. Not to mention 2018 is full of games I cannot wait to play.
So keep on doing your job to the best of your ability, keep on creating worlds that push the boundaries of one’s imagination. Hopefully, in time the industry will correct itself and its priorities will change. But for now, just keep on doing you.
P.S. Everyone from designers to voice actors should receive a portion of the overall profit a game they’ve worked on makes.