Gamers Need to Stop Blaming Publishers for All the Industry’s Ills

You can't blame publishers for meeting demand. That makes zero sense.

I see it every day. We all do.

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There are countless articles out there bemoaning the arrival of downloadable content, microtransactions, “annualization,” etc. Gamers complain bitterly in forums and communities all over the Internet.

The strange part is that nobody seems to understand the concept of business. It’s a very simple premise, really: If a product doesn’t sell, the product maker doesn’t produce more. In point of fact, the company that produced it can’t make more, because the first product didn’t sell and now they’re out of business.

It’s not a complicated system. All these things so many gamers profess to hate? Well, someone’s buying that stuff. In fact, a lot of someones are buying it.

Think objectively: Ignore the “money is bad” trend

I understand that especially today, given the current administration, we’re essentially taught that money is “bad” and that all rich individuals are cold, greedy and likely corrupt. They got their money by luck, inheritance, or “stomping on the little people.” All the poor individuals are noble, kindhearted, hard-working, loyal, etc. We like to apply just about every negative adjective available to the achievers, and every positive one to those who do not achieve. Why? It’s easy. It makes us feel better.

But common sense defeats this ridiculous train of thought, because it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Of course, there are greedy, cold, corrupt rich people out there.  Of course, there are noble, hard-working, kindhearted poor people out there. However, given that we still – at least for the time being – reward those who achieve, and generally don’t reward those who don’t achieve, the answer is obvious.

Those big, rich, greedy companies that do things you don’t like?


That’s right. You. We, the gamers. Hate on Activision and Electronic Arts and the like all you wish; they didn’t become massively huge because they “stomped on” anyone, nor was it given to them. In point of fact, you gave it to them. That’s how business works.

DLC? Microtransactions? “Annualization?” YOU voted for all of it

Obviously, I don’t mean “you,” personally, dear reader. I’m referring to the gaming public at large. I really don’t have much use for downloadable content, I think a lot of it is a waste of money, and microtransactions are just plain evil. They essentially operate on the same principles as casinos and any other form of gambling, in that they prey on mankind’s inherent weaknesses. Specifically, they tell you something “only” costs a dollar. It seems like nothing; it doesn’t register in our brains. However, the amount of times we pay that dollar is what counts, and what we often can’t keep track of.

I could do without all these things, although I don’t see too much trouble with annualization. The games in question, with the exception of last year’s Call of Duty, are usually pretty damn great (like most every Assassin’s Creed), so I’m not sure there’s much to complain about. But if you wish to complain, place the blame in the correct location: ON THE GAMERS.

The publishers didn’t “do” anything to you. They didn’t force you to buy anything. Nobody put a gun to your head and said, “buy this or else.” Many people, many millions of people, have purchased DLC, microtransactions, and new entries in franchises every year. Hence, publishers are giving you more of it.

That’s it. There’s nothing else to say.

“Oh, but these companies have all the power!”

BS. We have the power. The consumers have the power. The biggest, most powerful, most influential company in the world will eventually crumble if they can’t sell their products. If you don’t buy ’em, they can’t sell ’em. Where’s the money going to come from? A magical genie? We empowered them by buying their products. The big bad publishers are only responding to industry demand. if what they produce doesn’t work, they lose big money. If that’s what you want, don’t buy their products.

The bottom line is that all these things so many gamers profess to despise? They’re all quite popular. They make lots of money. And by the way, let’s not lose sight of the fact that without a publisher with lots of money backing a developer’s creation, that creation would have much more difficulty succeeding. A publisher has to believe in and promote the product; the developer has to rely on the publisher to spread the word and get their creation into as many hands as possible.

It’s a business arrangement and if you hadn’t already guessed, the publisher absorbs a lot of the risk. Granted, they’re better positioned to absorb a failure, as opposed to a small developer, but again, how can you begrudge them that position? We put them in that position!

Please, be logical

If you’re going to complain about big publishers ruining the world, think before you speak. At the very least, walk the walk after talking the talk: It’s painfully easy; just don’t buy those products. Don’t buy the DLC for a game, don’t indulge in that hilariously-named “free-to-play” nonsense, and don’t stand on a virtual soapbox declaring your desire for “new stuff,” and then turn around and purchase the latest Battlefield.

I don’t like the things we’re speaking about. But I don’t buy them, either. At the same time, I know many, many others do and therefore, I know precisely where to place blame. Hint: It ain’t at the feet of the publishers. Rather, it’s at the feet of those who made the publishers what they are today.

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.