Sasquatch Soapbox: Gamers need to take a firmer stand

Via Rock-Paper-Shotgun: Why game companies don't take boycotters seriously...

Core gamers have taken up a new pastime as of late: Whining. Early and often.

Starcraft II won’t allow LAN play? Lord almighty! Modern Warfare 2 on PC moves away from dedicated servers and costs $10 more as well? Goodness gracious! Left 4 Dead 2 is coming out sooner than Valve fans want it to? Heavens no! Forza Motorsport 3 has content locked away behind a VIP-only velvet curtain? Oh, the humanity!

These complaints are rather justified. Game publishers and developers are making moves motivated by the bottom line, and as a result they begin to strip content and features away from gamers grown accustomed to these luxuries. Getting consumers to pay more for less is smart business, but bad for public relations. The complaints are fully warranted.

But the problem I see is that it is nothing but complaints as of right now.

The nerd rage is limited to online petitions and napalming messageboards, but nothing more. The Starcraft fans who complained loudly when it was announced (rather murkily) that all multiplayer is going to be routed through are still likely going to be the people standing in line or pre-ordering online and playing the game at launch. Exhibit A? See the image at the top of this article (sourced via Rock, Paper, Shotgun) showing many members of a "BOYCOTT MODERN WARFARE 2" Steam group...playing Modern Warfare 2. The indignation spilt out on all corners of the Internet now will likely be forgotten — or, perhaps, just ignored — in favor of actually playing the damn game at release.

Left 4 Dead fans display their opinion of Valve coming out with an improved sequel of their chosen game.

This is terrible because that is not how to get through to a business. If you have a problem with the moves these game publishers are making, sack up and take a stand — and vote with your wallet.

“B-b-b-b-b-b-but I’ve been looking forward to—“ Stop. It is achingly hypocritical to take such a stance and then cave once the retail copy of the game is waved in front of your face. Gamers — especially the core audience — have an insanely weak will in that regard.

What message does it send to Blizzard regarding LAN play in Starcraft II if they see record Day 1 sales numbers? Does it harm Infinity Ward and Activision to see an uproar on NeoGAF and Kotaku a month ahead of MW2’s release, but then break sales records once the game is out? If these companies succeed in light of feature-stripping, what does it say about gamers?

That we will buy anything, anyway. This is not a good thing. If you want to effect real change, you cannot cave in.

Fight the power.

If you are perfectly fine with what these companies do, shine on, you crazy diamond. I do not blame you; my desire for Forza 3 exceeded my own personal thoughts about changes to multiplayer and, specifically, the VIP program. There is a real danger that Turn 10 will start splitting the fanbase by releasing essential content to only a portion of its fans. Regarding multiplayer, Turn 10 took away the ability to create custom public lobbies, changing Forza 3 to a solely Halo-style hopper system — if you want to do a custom race, you have to find friends yourself. However, despite these changes, I like Turn 10’s games and quite like being inside that walled garden in Forza (it’s already netted me a few free cars in the game), so I paid the extra price.

I know people who will legitimately boycott Starcraft II — because they value LAN play and think Blizzard is overly greedy right now. I respect that. But that list of people “boycotting” Modern Warfare 2 and showing up on Steam as actually playing it? They are not helping -- they are hurting the cause.

I don’t think anybody outside of Activision likes that company’s profit-centric business strategy right now, but the only way to affect it is to hurt their bottom line. Whining online (even this article!) is not going to change anything unless it is backed up by a firm stance.