Saturday, 23 August 2014

The age of entitlement



Entitled is a word I have seen used more and more in the gaming world recently.  Years ago you would never have heard anyone refer to another person on a forum or in game as being such but these days it's become a catch all term for a type of person online.  And what kind of person is that?  Well it's a person who acts in such a way that their opinion, their demands and their threats better be taken seriously by the developers or else.

We all know about the cases of players who take to things like twitter to threaten death and punishment on certain developers and their families for making even the most minor changes to a games function or features.  These people are in my opinion scum and should be removed from the Internet permanently.  But they only represent a small faction of the entitled front online today.  You only need look into the free to play market to see how regularly players attack the moderators, developers and even publishers for perceived slights against them.  These sleights can be anything from X feature being pushed back a week to patch changes making the game play a little different from before.  It's a shocking state of affairs when you see entire boards light up with sometimes very violent arguments between grown adults over the apparent value they give themselves regarding a free to play game.

An example can be taken from the Mechwarrior Online boards.  A more common practice today for free to play developers is to gather early sales by offering players something special for their pre-launch system.  Mechwarrior in this case opened the "founders" initiative which essentially offered three packs to players who were interested in buying in early to the game.  $30 got you the lowest pack which offered some basic in game currency, premium time and early access to the late stage beta.  A $60 pack offered the same but with the customers choice of battlemech from a pool of four.  The top tier pack known as the legendary pack asked players for $120 and granted them everything from the previous packs along with all four 'mechs at launch.  So the developer (PGI) gave players of all financial levels something to get them started If they wanted to.  These packs however where not required for players to get into the beta and nor did the "founders 'mechs" grant any special bonuses to those people who bought the second and third tier packs.

To put this into perspective.  The founders program was not a kickstarter and was never necessary for the developer or publisher to launch the game.  It was the first of a new way of bringing in early income and gauging interest from customers.  The extra cash no doubt helped of course but it wasn't key to Mechwarrior Online launching as a product.  However the entitled people on the forums would tell you otherwise or at least claim they were solely responsible for the game ever being launched.  Their demands ranged from the laughable to the absurd from free battlemechs, special items nearly every month, free premium time, early access to new features and more.  The key element here is that as founders they already got some of these bonuses with the likes of bonus premium time, unique 'mechs and early beta access but this wasn't enough. 

Fortunately this attitude has since dwindled and now players demand regular attention for their minor issues with the game.  If a weapon kills them too often "IT'S TOO OP", if their favourite weapon gets patched or altered "GAME IS DEAD NOW, CANNOT PLAY" it's never a balanced approach or even a logical one at times.  Mechwarrior Online isn't exempt from this kind of attitude either as the current record breaking crowd funded title Star Citizen has it's share of weird entitled ass hats.

Star Citizen from the outside looks like a dream game for sci-fi fans.  It's entirely crowd funded, is headed up by Chris Roberts an industry veteran with many sci-fi titles under his belt, has numerous talented developers from across the gaming spectrum and even has Hollywood design talent involved for ship design and sound.  The community as whole is generally well behaved and friendly but there is sometimes a sad occurrence of entitlement from a small minority there.  The most current example is the situation with a vessel known in game as the Constellation.  It's a large ship that will act as the worlds YT-1300 or Millennium Falcon and as such is highly desirable for players who fancy being the smuggler, explorer or average trader.  Roberts Space Industries (the developer) revealed three new variants of the Constellation, each with their own quirks that make them desirable for different reasons.

There is a luxury version which coincidentally is the most expensive, another one is a standard explorer and a third version is the bog standard variant which is also the cheapest.  Now these new variants where popular and some highly sought after as some of these are limited in number.  The stats where published and a minor typo caused a furore on the forums with players demanding they give them the item listed which wasn't actually on the ship.  Another issue came from the luxury version which has a very flash looking internal finish to fit with the luxury philosophy of the ship.  Some players however want the internals to look like the cheapest version because.....they want it.  It's become a lightning rod for arguing over something which is essentially minor.  It's the inside of the ship and they demand it be changed because they don't want it to look that way, even though that is what you paid for.  This is the kind of entitlement we see today in gaming.

I have a theory that isn't exactly 100% but it might be on the right track.  A new generation gamers has since hit adulthood and these people have been weaned on the milk of social media and a means of making their feelings known to all people at any time.  So when they feel upset or don't like a change that is made they become irate and post on forums and message boards elsewhere to demand things be the way they want them and when people of the older generation see them whining, they tell them to clam down or to simply shut the fuck up.  This enrages the entitled people who are used to an online environment where their friends tell them they are right all the time and they become extremely negative.  Everyone is to blame and everyone needs to listen to them and them alone.  Their anger goes into hilarious rants that threaten everything from legal action to boycotts to threats of violence. 

The thing is that these companies are just that, companies.  They exist to make a product that you buy and you choose to give them money to continue producing more content.  If the money stops then they stop and the game goes away.  Developers do not owe us as customers anything with regards to purchases.  It's their decision to change how the games works when they feel and we as players have a voice to disagree with these decisions and create a dialogue, but becoming a whining child does not change a thing.  The entitled crowd don't seem to understand that games are made for mass markets and huge audiences and not an experience for them and them alone.  It's odd and it's a sad thing that these people are sometimes the most vocal on any forum or in game these days.  If they had their way, games would be made via committee and not teams with a clear idea of their end goals for the product.

My personal message to these people is this.  Shut the fuck up whining, think before you speak and when you do speak, try to take into account the community as whole and not just your deluded self.  Forums are not your personal stage to perform a one man drama production and finally, it's a fucking game not your life.  If something pisses you off go play something else or leave entirely.  The only time you can genuinely berate a developer is when they release a game so broken it affects everyone playing and not just you.  Battlefield 4 is an example of this.

Thanks for reading, have a good weekend.

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