Friday, 31 May 2013

These are the Times of Tumult - A Digression

Fair warning, this is going to be one of those posts. You know the ones.

 You know, I've said it before but I think it bears saying again: we are at the crux of a new generation of consoles, and people are scared. Not excited, scared. The WiiU has struck first-blood, but is suffering seemingly from both a lack of support from both developers and gamers, who can't seem to get excited about the console. Meanwhile the Xbox One sits as very nearly a pariah after its introduction, with the masses angry about all the things that the system is doing wrong. The Playstation 4 currently seems to have a growing undercurrent of being the go to machine for this generation, but only if they aren't planning the exact same thing as Microsoft announced, and have simply kept it under lock and key for the moment to avoid the bad press.

All of this leads me to ask one simple question: when did we, as consumers, seem to forget that at the end of the day we're the ones that hold the power in this relationship?

I'm not exaggerating, nor am I being particularly clever or insightful when I make that statement. I honestly think that at this moment in time we're focusing so heavily on what companies are doing wrong, what's going wrong with the industry, and bemoaning the fact that we're along for the ride when we are in fact in the driver's seat. The problem is that as things are being presented to us now we may have one of two options: either continue down the road, however bleak it gets, or crash the damned car.

I can only speak for myself, but everywhere I go it seems that I see someone saying "hey, if you don't like the direction that Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo are taking, then you're free to not buy their products". This is true enough, but to me the tone seems all wrong; for some reason when people say this the implication is that the loss will somehow be ours to bear. That may be true if only a few people decide that it's not worth putting up with whatever problems they view, but what if suddenly everyone who was fed up decided that? Then I think that it would rather quickly become the industries' problem, wouldn't it?

See, I think that what we've gotten away from is the fact that despite how ubiquitous consoles and gaming have been for many of us, that consoles have been and still are luxury items. I think that even the industry has forgotten this, or at least isn't taking it seriously. After all, when you can include features that people actively hate and still be confident that you'll sell well then you're taking the view, even if it remains unspoken, that your product is somehow necessary, somehow crucial.

Quite egotistical of them, isn't it?

So, you know what? If Sony reveals that it's not so different from Microsoft, then neither of them will be getting my money this generation. Not one red cent. If companies want to keep treating us, the people that ultimately decide whether or not they remain successful, like garbage, then with all due gravitas: fuck them.

How many people will complain about the consoles this generation but still buy them? If you ask me, far too many. See, if people want to do that then that's their prerogative, but when you buy a console you're voting with the thing that speaks the loudest to these companies: your money.

I love gaming. I mean that. I may do less of it these days than I did in the past, but I wouldn't be here writing this right now if I didn't. And because I love it, I think that maybe, if I had the choice, that I'd probably watch it burn to the ground, rather than continue being what it has been in the past couple of years. It hasn't all been bad, sure, but the downward trend has been steady and obvious. And if another crash is honestly what it takes to get some of these people's heads out of their asses, then why beat around the bush? If it's done now, with this generation, then maybe we could still see a resurgence again, if it happens down the line? Well then, I'm honestly not so sure.

Maybe, just maybe, my fears, my anger, my mistrust, maybe all of it is misplaced. Maybe things will be alright after all. But the cynic in me, also known as the realist, also known as the part that's right a lot more than I want it to be, keeps whispering in my ear that it's going to come down to this. Maybe I'll be alone in turning my back on the consoles; after all, I don't expect everyone, or even anyone for that matter, to agree with me on a lot of these ramblings. But wouldn't it be amazing if, rather than being jerked around time and again, gamers finally just said "you know what? Enough with the bullshit." and just decided that until the industry actually got to be a better place, with better practices, that it could rot for all they care?

I honestly think it would be.

I'm not saying that we should burn down the world and watch for the sake of doing so. What I'm saying is that maybe we need to burn something that has been long overdue for it, and potentially reap the benefits of doing so, even if it is painful to undertake.

Again. I'm just one man, just one voice. But going forward, keep my words in mind, even if you don't agree with them. A little more perspective never hurts, after all.

1 comment:

  1. As much as I hate to admit it, I think you've got it right, Grahf. The industry has a lot of problems, but I'd argue that the source of a lot of them boils down to one word: arrogance. I don't know about you, but I couldn't divorce a sense of smug self-satisfaction from that comedy act of a conference Microsoft had for the Xbox One reveal. They were hyping up their new console, I know, but considering how they went about it ("Innovation" all day every day!) and how they kept the important information under the rug, there seems to be a bigger and bigger disconnect between the gamers and the bigwigs. And part of that, I'd bet, is because they're trying to give us what they think we want.

    It's true that gamers are, inevitably, going to be the solution to industry woes...but at the same time, I can't help but wonder if they're part of the problem. I found Assassin's Creed 3 to be extremely problematic, for example, and by the sound of things so did plenty of others -- but that didn't stop it from selling, what, twelve million units? There's no easy solution to the myriad problems on display; I'd like to say that being well-informed and making wiser judgments will help gamers and bigwigs alike, but...somehow, I don't think it'll be that simple.

    But whatever. At the very least, I'll stay optimistic. It's all I can do at this stage.

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