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Discussion Opinion/Hot Take: "voting with your wallet" as a mass call-to-action is dumb and ineffective (please read main post)

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Paxie

Moblin
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Current Events in the gaming landscape started making me think about consumer buying habits. Something that's particularly annoying to me is seeing the idea of a high-profile game absolutely shitting the bed in terms of bugs being called "the next Cyberpunk". Specifically, it is the idea that Cyberpunk's awful launch state was in any way a significant or teachable moment to AAA publishers at large. "Execs rush game out before it's done because Money TM, hide it before release, and it's Really Fucking Bad" is a tale as old as the industry itself (E.T.!). Before Cyberpunk, there was Anthem. Before Anthem, there was Fallout 76. Before Fallout 76, there was AC Unity. Before AC Unity, there was Alien Colonial Marines. Before Alien... you get the idea. Cyberpunk is not shocking at all - the industry has had a "Cyberpunk" almost every year or two! Every time people say "surely this will teach people to Hashtag NeverPreorder" and it never does, and never will. And honestly? Saddling the consumer base with the responsibility of fixing the industry is fucking stupid.

The problem here is that even if every person against something boycotted it, they will barely be a blip on the radar because the casual consumer base simply lack that level of scruples due to lower investment. (Note I do not mean this as a knock against more passive fans at all, just stating the facts that enthusiasts are more likely to keep to those kind of things). So if the thing you want to change has mass appeal, the idea of "voting with your wallet" having an effect is dead out the gate. Hell, the entire idea of it is based on an ideology as fundamentally broken as meritocratic capitalism. "Too big to fail" franchises such as CoD and Pokemon are as such only partly because of quality, and have hit a level of brand inertia that they can coast forever pardoning extreme fuck-ups.

An aside: this is the part where I fully admit I may be overthinking, but with this in mind I do kinda wonder how much of the time "voting with your wallet" is pushed by fanboys as a discussion-terminating argument. Cause if that doesn't work, then next recourse is to yell and bitch about it online (something I would argue is much more effective than most think).

You may ask, then, what's the alternative? I'd say the only way that the constant "Cyberpunks" can be stopped is getting governments involved, creating game dev unions, and setting up consumer advocacy/watchdog networks. The game industry has proven over and over and over and over and over that it can not and will not regulate itself. The ride down the slippery slope will only get bumpier from here on.

TL;DR the gaming demographic is so huge that expecting a big enough number of them to "wise up" is wasting energy. Which sounds more realistic: train hundreds of millions of people to properly identify and disengage with predatory games to the point that they never make money and stop being made, or build infrastructure that enforces accountability so those predatory games aren't made in the first place?

EDIT: modified the framing of the post to improve focus, didn't want the thread to get derailed
 
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Hailinel

Musou Mania!
Anyone calling Scarlet/Violet "the worst thing since Cyberpunk" clearly have no idea what they're talking about and should just be disregarded.

Yes, Scarlet/Violet launched with some noticeable polish issues. Cyberpunk was by contrast a complete mess, and barely functional to such an extent that Sony forced it off of PSN.
 

Phantom Thief

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Okay, so I have complained about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet's state relentlessly, but comparing it to Cyberpunk is lacking perspective to such a hilariously absurd extent I really cannot take your post (which, yes, I read all of) seriously, sorry.

You even have a valid point (or at least an interesting one as far as discussion goes), but your hyperbole just muddies the waters.
 

Lord Azrael

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I agree with your points that it's sometimes used disingenuously as a thought terminating cliché and that unionizing/general government regulation is a more effective solution, but I disagree that voting with your wallet or organized boycotts don't work.

Games might still sell millions, but budgets are so inflated nowadays that even 10m vs. 15m could have a major impact on bottom line. You think the Cyberpunk debacle didn't hurt CDPR? Look at its sales compared to the Witcher. And the months of extra work to fix it, at the opportunity cost of developing new revenue generating content. And the huge blow to their reputation.

Most calls to action won't influence the masses in big ways. But if something is bad enough it will absolutely impact a game's sales. Pokémon's performance issues are even blatantly obvious to the laymen who can't usually distinguish between 30 vs. 60 FPS. They impacted review scores in a huge way. All of this affects word of mouth and will hamper its legs. Plus Game Freak actually listens to fans and addresses these things. As evidenced by their 180 on prerelease marketing after fans complained gen 6 games revealed too much.
 
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Paxie

Paxie

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Okay, so I have complained about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet's state relentlessly, but comparing it to Cyberpunk is lacking perspective to such a hilariously absurd extent I really cannot take your post (which, yes, I read all of) seriously, sorry.

You even have a valid point (or at least an interesting one as far as discussion goes), but your hyperbole just muddies the waters.
I never said that was my opinion, just one I've been seeing
 

Belinda Blumenthal

Sales Director
Anyone calling Scarlet/Violet "the worst thing since Cyberpunk" clearly have no idea what they're talking about and should just be disregarded.
What other AAA games of this profile have launched in such a poor state as Scarlet / Violet in the time since Cyberpunk? That statement doesn’t necessarily mean they are as bad as Cyberpunk was, just that this is the worst launch in the time since.

Only other game I think of that comes close is Gotham Knights. Neither that nor Scarlet / Violet are as bad, because they at least function and can be completed and don’t crash, but they both exhibit truly baffling performance issues for the hardware they are on and are severely lacking in polish in a way that few AAA games since Cyberpunk are.
 
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MagiCarbo

Octorok
So your solution to incompetent devs releasing shitty games is... Equally incompetent government regulations. Got it!
 
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NabiscoFelt

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I mean, honestly, how does government intervention help here?

In Cyberpunk, sure, stronger worker's rights regulations might've helped address some of the many issues around that game. But how exactly do you regulate games (like Pokemon) being buggy or poor technically? Like, mandating better return policies or something?
 

WestEgg

King of the Krocs
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People buy these games in mass because they offer something to a lot of people that they want. Spending $60 to $70 on a luxury product isn't something that requires government intervention.
 

xghost777

King B00 Fan #TeamJRPG
You don’t need government intervention for this issue, just ask for a refund and move on with your life.

Also don’t buy and engage with games that make you sad for content or technical reasons. No one is forcing you to buy, play, or talk about a game you don’t like. It’s that simple.
 

Rooster

Like Like
Governments and unions aren't there to ensure the critical standard of the finished product, they're there to regulate the practices of the company and the treatment of the employees. Creating undercooked games isn't within their purview of their roles if the workplace conduct is deemed acceptable.

What you gonna say to the government, "The frame-rate and the draw distance in my Pokemon game is terrible! It wasn't ready to be shipped! It only has a 76 on Metacritic! How is this legal?"

The film industry is already heavily unionized and it turns out brainless garbage all the time. They set release dates before they even have scripts.

And yeah, go ahead and set up your advocacy and watchdog networks. But I don't really know what they'll be able to accomplish for bigger established properties like Pokemon. It's Pokemon.

So which sounds more realistic, the government getting involved and unions focusing on sub-standard technical quality or voting with your wallet having an effect? The latter. Voting with your wallet and word of mouth can work, they just don't always work.
 

Lord Azrael

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I mean, honestly, how does government intervention help here?

In Cyberpunk, sure, stronger worker's rights regulations might've helped address some of the many issues around that game. But how exactly do you regulate games (like Pokemon) being buggy or poor technically? Like, mandating better return policies or something?
I actually think better return policies would have a big impact tbh. I think lots of people would return digital purchases of games in these states if they could
 
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Paxie

Paxie

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I mean, honestly, how does government intervention help here?

In Cyberpunk, sure, stronger worker's rights regulations might've helped address some of the many issues around that game. But how exactly do you regulate games (like Pokemon) being buggy or poor technically? Like, mandating better return policies or something?
Refund policies are a great place to start actually. Game storefronts are abhorrent with those, the kindest being Steam's 2 hour window (which only exists because Australian courts kept twisting their arm over it). The only reason Cyberpunk got a better refund policy on PSN wasn't even over the state of the game, it was because CDPR threw Sony under the bus in public by saying "just get refunds they don't actually allow, easy". If better refunds were a wider standard, those kind of releases would lose a significant chunk of sales within a few days
 
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Hailinel

Musou Mania!
What other AAA games of this profile have launched in such a poor state as Scarlet / Violet in the time since Cyberpunk? That statement doesn’t necessarily mean they are as bad as Cyberpunk was, just that this is the worst launch in the time since.

Only other game I think of that comes close is Gotham Knights. Neither that nor Scarlet / Violet are as bad, because they at least function and can be completed and don’t crash, but they both exhibit truly baffling performance issues for the hardware they are on and are severely lacking in polish in a way that few AAA games since Cyberpunk are.
S/V has some weird animation glitches and some memory leak issues. But it's still a game that is entirely functional. People don't have to excuse the bugs, but the game is still playable and many people are enjoying the experience. GF is also undoubtedly at work on a patch to fix issues post-launch, which in this day and age is extremely common for many popular games, including AAA releases.

Cyberpunk was fucking busted at launch to a degree that to compare S/V's issues as being anywhere same galaxy is ridiculous. The game was broken to an extent that CDPR had to spend months working on massive, massive patches to get the game in a state that wasn't pants-on-head busted. The sort of work that forced their PR to release a dev road map where large portions of said road map was "patches".

You cannot start a conversation that in any way tags S/V as "the new Cyberpunk" when that statement is not true by any software quality standard.
 
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PixelKnight

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While I’m not too sure about the economics of ‘vote with your wallet’ and technical issues in games, the main issue I have with the phrase is in discussions particularly about criticism of stuff regarding social issues in games, in that it can be a dismissive argument masquerading as sensible advice. It’s a ‘you might think this is awful for various reasons but I want to be able to end this conversation, for it not to be happening and for me to be able to play it without you criticising it. So off you go to just not buy it, then nobody should be talking about the issues you’ve raised, and I can play and talk about the game without seeing them.’

I appreciate that’s not what the OP is really about, but it’s the first thing that springs to mind about use of the phrase to me in the past, and I find that usage way more irritating than a shrug about popular game series with huge fanbases or a wave of hype but widespread technical issues too.
 
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I definitely think that better refund policies would be useful. It won’t solve the problem of broken games, see: games on PC, but players will have easier recourse in situations like these and also not just when Nintendo deems it appropriate enough to allow refunds.

The idea of voting with your wallet is not exclusively meaningful as a way to catalyze some broader change or change in a big company, I’d say. With franchises as large as Pokémon it is indeed practically pointless. I tend to think of it in a limited resources context within the scope of my own life. If, despite all controversy, you feel like you get more out of a product like Pokémon than anything else your attention and money could be spent on, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But asking what games it may be better to support with my limited time and money or other pastimes to engage with is not necessarily entirely meritless. There is a near infinite number of other stuff out there. Plus, the smaller the studio, the bigger the relative impact can be. You can look at it that way. Lots of great indies you can play with that same 60 bucks, and those games can often be just as joyful by excelling in dimensions that don't necessarily benefit from a large budget. Most of my favorite games come from small studios who had relatively small budgets, some of which even communicate directly with players just for the hell of it or as part of an ongoing development process. So there are more impactful ways to spend time and money -- if that's what you want -- even if the change doesn't necessarily happen in a company like Nintendo.

Beyond that, people who come to a conclusion that they don't want to support a big AAA game may not make a change on a large scale, but on an individual level their behavior and perspective will have shifted, becoming more conscious about the relationship between themselves and the entertainment product, and that’s good enough already, whether it is a large or small movement.
 
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