Jump to content

Do developer ethics/practices actually affect what you buy?


Do developer ethics/practices affect the games you buy?   

79 members have voted

You do not have permission to vote in this poll, or see the poll results. Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

Recommended Posts

This is an anonymous poll but I'll be transparent so nobody feels they're being implicitly judged. My vote would be 'Sometimes'. I will find it very easy to sack off Ubisoft from now on because of the nature of the issues raised this year, and it would be even easier because I'm not arsed about their games. The next Naughty Dog title, bit tougher. That's the long and short of it.

 

I don't want to get into the relative demerits of various malpractices, because they're all fucked, but I am interested in an anonymous snapshot of how much these stories and leaks and investigations affect purchasing decisions. From reading various comments around the Internet about launch window games, it doesn't seem that Ubi or CDPR will struggle to weather the storms.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

To be completely honest, not at all. If I want to play a game I will. I consider myself to be a reasonably forward thinking and moral person, yet at the same time I find it impossible to just stop buying things because it seems futile. Just as not buying a Milky Bar in the 80's did fuck all to stop Nestle being a complete bunch of cunts, me not buying the latest Watch Dogs or whatever isn't going to get any kind of message across, it's just going to contribute to poor sales and job losses for the people who are the most innocent. If you have a particular issue with certain aspects of a companies behaviour, it's better to highlight and try to raise awareness of it through forums and social media anyway. That's a better way to bring about change than just to deny yourself of something you would otherwise have enjoyed imo.

 

I also have to admit to getting a little bit wound up by people who have no interest in a game jumping all over a controversy and screaming about how they'd never buy a game they would never have bought anyway. It's so obvious when it happens, it's very cringe.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want to stand any chance of making any kind of positive impact when boycotting a product or company, you need to tell people about it. Contact the company and let them know. Tell your friends and family about it. Post on social media. It's never been easier to raise awareness about this kind of stuff, just make sure you get your facts right first.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can certainly see myself having a moment of weakness for certain games - Last time it was THPS 1&2 on the Epic Store, even though I thoroughly dislike Epic's two-faced approach to digital platform monopolies.

 

Thankfully, the sorts of games generated by the legitimately awful companies like Ubi, Rockstar or CDPR are priced too rich for my blood most of the time, and I'd only end up picking games up when they're worth a pittance anyway. It's either that, or they're just not interesting enough to pick up at all (this is particularly the case of Ubi's big franchises).

Link to post
Share on other sites

'Sometimes' for me, as well. Ultimately it depends on the games that the unethical companies produce. I'm still going to play Cyberpunk because I'm really interested in the game, and I loved Witcher 3, but I'm not planning on buying it at launch and wouldn't be at all surprised if I ended up buying a used copy from the Trading folder here. However, if they had stuck to their 'Absolutely no crunch' principle that they've made a point of adhering all these months (until they caved in, anyway), then I'd be a lot more inclined to support them by buying it at launch for full whack.

 

With Ubi, I don't really like their output that much anyway, so all the shit that's come out about them in recent months just makes it a lot easier for me to ignore their output and justify not playing it. If I absolutely loved everything they did, however, then I'd find it a lot harder to take a stand against them, in the same way that I'd currently find it difficult to not buy the next Nintendo EPD game, or Naughty Dog game, or Fromsoft game if similar things to what have been discovered about Ubisoft were discovered about those companies (stories about crunch in the lead up to TLOU2's release didn't stop me from buying it at launch for £50, for example).

 

As opposed to treating unethical companies punitively by boycotting their output, I imagine I'd be more likely to support companies who make a point of highlighting their ethical business practices and operating in an ethical way (e.g., no crunch, no sexist bullshit during development, no microtransaction bollocks in their games). If a group of first-party, AAA devs formed an ethical company and released a game then I'd likely buy it for full whack at launch out of principle, or if a videogame trade union formed and endorsed a game then I'd be more inclined to buy it over one that wasn't endorsed by the same union, in the same way that I'm more inclined to buy fair trade or organic food in a supermarket, or ethically-produced clothes instead of sweatshop-produced shite when I'm given the choice.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to say it matters and I don’t support such practices but it really doesn’t when it comes down to it :( 

 

I could say I don’t support Naughty Dog but in general I don’t like their games - I still bought TLOU2...

 

I could easily not buy Cyberpunk and suggest a moral motive but I’ve not played their previous games and have little interest in it - I will probably still pick it up at some point.....

 

The reality of having a moral stand against such practices and buying games or consuming media in general are not compatible so it’s almost a ‘I feel bad for the workers’ but I’m still going to consume :( 

Link to post
Share on other sites

From here:

 

 

On 02/10/2020 at 12:27, Qazimod said:

I feel like the biggest controversies revolve around games I wouldn’t have been interested in anyway. I guess I play Destiny 2 but Bungie already split from ActiBlizz (and I ignore the microtransaction economy.)

 

The kind of controversies that affect the games I follow are things like Street Fighter having crap netcode or Atlus blocking Persona 5 streaming; little nitpicks that affect the player rather than anything comparable to the antics of Ubi or CDPR. But more recently I suppose I’d have no trouble kicking Lab Zero to the kerb (especially since most of the staff have bailed too.)

 

As an additional anecdote, I used to be a huge fan of Borderlands 2 - I think I rated it highly in my GotY poll at the time - and now I feel like that series has been irreparably fucked for everyone because Randy is a weirdo bully creep man. Even if B3 ended up being good I'd feel uncomfortable picking it up...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I won’t buy anything from EA anymore out of protest that I paid £40 for Star Wars Battlefront and it was basically a demo. EA can get to fuck if they want my money. Other devs I will read up on, and would make choices on individual games, but most of the games I buy are from smaller developers who barely make the news for anything at all.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Difficult one this. Every development project I've worked on *always* has crunch time at the end. And I didn't even work in games development. 

 

But in games development crunch time seem really excessive but that is market pressures I guess to get content out for certain times of the year because if missed it could mean a failed project - and when that project costs as much as a AAA game to make that could potentially be a massive loss and worst case shutter a studio.

 

The pressure also comes from us as consumers who want the latest thing yesterday and then pour out over social channels when things are delayed. Personally happy for them to take time and delay something* if it means we get a less buggy game and less overworked developers. I remember waiting an age for a N64 and Mario 64 due to delays and Miyamoto wanting to release something that was the best it could be. And look what resulted from this. Probably the greatest genre standard defining 3D platformer created.

 

Its not just the companies that have to change their attitudes its us the consumers too. However the way things are going with "on demand" everything think the upcoming generations are going to be ever more critical of delays (and bugs when things are rushed out). 

 

 

* Or give realistic timescales in the first place. Hate when the hype machine kicks in and the expectations go through the roof.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't generally buy games at release or aaa franchises anyway but I'd be reluctant to boycott specific western devs over crunch unless I was going to blanket boycott Japanese games, since I suspect every Japanese dev likely exists in a perpetual state of crunch/overwork (why would game dev be run differently than every other company in Japan?).

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, partious said:

I'd be particularly reluctant to boycott specific western devs over crunch when I suspect every Japanese dev likely exists in a perpetual state of crunch/overwork (why would game dev be run differently than every other company in Japan?).


This really. From Software, which is not a particularly large developer, have released six massive action-adventure games in the space of 11 years with a ton of DLC on top - are we really to believe that was done by people working anything close to normal hours? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I chose Sometimes, but if I want to play a certain game, I'll look past it.

 

Affect my purchases:

Ubisoft - the allegations and to a lesser extent their outdated game design. I've grown sick and tired of their output.

2K - gambling, gambling, gambling.

Randy Pitchford - anything he's heavily involved in.

Fallout/Elder Scrolls - tell me sweet little lies Todd. No more Day 1 purchases for me.

 

Does (probably) not affect my purchases:

CDPR - Here's where it becomes muddy. I want to play Cyberpunk 2077, I know there's heavy crunch involved. Right now at this exact moment I'm giving CDPR the benefit of the doubt, expecting they'll do better on their next project. If evidence surfaces detailing the crunch was much worse than previously reported with devastating effects on individuals and their families, I'll add CDPR to the above list.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, a subject which I've engaged with on a few places here. It's one I've thought about a lot, and tried to come to careful conclusions about my own behaviour, so apologies in advance for the short essay.

 

I voted for the first option, though as with most things it is a little more complicated than that, and there are issues around it which deserve discussion.

 

First thing to note is that I don't do this for every media I engage with. Not because I think games are a special case, but because I engage with them more; they are my primary interest, and have been for three decades or so, and I both purchase and know more about them than other media, so I feel more responsiblity to be, er, responsible in my consumption of them. That said, I do also pay attention to whether authors are collossal bell-ends before I decide whether to read their books - or, at the very least, before I consider buying them first-hand.

 

Relatedly: where it is an option, I will consider a second-hand copy of a game from a company whose games I'd otherwise avoid. As I'm predominantly a PC gamer that's often not an option for me, but it is worth flagging up.

 

Second: I'm aware that I'm, er, not aware of all issues within the industry. It's been brought up in previous threads, but it feels very likely that the culture of many Japanese games companies is 'not great'. But as the reporting isn't there (English/French-language, at least), I'm not about to refuse to buy all Japanese games on principle; but as I'm neither an investigative journalist nor a Japanese speaker I fear there's not much I can do but wait for reports on that front.

 

Third: toxic working culture isn't the only ethical issue that will make me blacklist a company. While I honestly don't care whether a studio has put out a bad game in the past; if a company generally, or a game specifically, bothers me in its presentation of issues or its real-world impact then I won't be buying that either. A case in point is the Call of Duty games, which I won't ever touch due to the series' historic financial ties to the military-industrial complex, and because of its shitty politics. But of course, that's a bit moot, as I don't actually enjoy Call of Duty games, which brings me to...

 

Fourth: as was mentioned upthread, arguments about not buying games you wouldn't have bought anyway aren't all that compelling. So while I do try to talk about ethical issues in games, I tend to keep it to games that I actually was interested in - even though members of the forum are likely acutely aware that I have a tendency to buy games even if I don't think I'll like them. Me wandering into the TLOU2 thread and wanging on about Naughty Dog's shithead working culture probably wouldn't have gone down well. Similarly, though I've discussed it in general, I've not really spent time in dedicated Ubisoft game threads talking about their issues, as again, none of their recent games have been all that interesting to me. I have, however, spent a lot of time in the Cyperpunk thread discussing various issues about the game, as that was a game I was extremely excited about. I do think talking about these issues is important - much more important than my purchasing decisions - but I have to be coming from a place of earnest disappointment; otherwise any arguments I make can come across as being in bad faith.

 

And, finally, Five: I try not to be unchanging on this. If I hear that things have changed at a studio, I will reconsider their output. EA and Rockstar have actually moved off my shitlist as I've heard good things come from internal teams on a shifting work culture. I mean, I'm still not about to buy any of the garbage Rockstar put out, but at least it won't be for ethical reasons!

 

Relatedly: where an issue is less with a studio, more with an individual, I'll pay attention to where they've gone. So, I won't touch anything by Weather Factory since I discovered that Alexis Kennedy is an unyielding prick, but the Fallen London series I haven't just thrown under the bus.

 

My list of studios I avoid hasn't changed in the month since we last did this, but for reference, currently I won't buy anything from the following studios, even where they have games I would otherwise be interested in:

 

CDPR

Activision

Ubisoft

Naughty Dog

MidBoss

Weather Factory

 

(Lab Zero would be on here if they still existed in a meaningful way)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I tend to find these types of polls largely pointless, because as we see in posts already, people ultimately just want stuff and those that do talk about boycotts most usually aren't all that interested in the products anyway (see comments about Ubisoft).

 

Cyberpunk is an interesting one in that there is a lot of mud being thrown at them at the moment, from excessive crunch to the transphobia to an inference that they pay low wages (close to minimum wage if you do the maths), based on an ex-employee tweeting what they were paid for full-time work on Witcher 3. I don't think (m)any people will let that stuff change their purchasing decision however.

 

Somebody (it may have been Grindmouse or @Lying Cat?) made the point in the last thread we had on this (linked to up above) that if these things don't change your mind then you obviously don't care enough about the issue at hand. And ultimately that's true, isn't it? If it doesn't change your behaviour then you place your own desires and wants over those problems. You can go through all kinds of mental gymnastics to justify it ("Not buying hurts those who have done no wrong", "Poor sales may lead to job losses" etc) but, again, it's really that you want something and how you get it doesn't really bother you. We mostly all use Amazon, after all.

 

And I'm not criticising people for this, nor claiming to be holier than thou; I voted 'Sometimes', though if I'm honest with myself I don't think if I really wanted to play something then how it has been produced probably wouldn't stop me.

 

It's a bit like in politics threads where talk is about how individuals need to do this or that to effect change (recycling is a good case in point) - but that often gets shouted down as being inconsequential because change needs to come from the top down. Buy the game or don't buy - in itself it probably doesn't mean a lot in the scheme of things, but buy/don't buy + a concerted use of whatever platforms you are on to advocate change is probably a far better avenue to get the message across.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Gabe said:

I tend to find these types of polls largely pointless, because as we see in posts already, people ultimately just want stuff and those that do talk about boycotts most usually aren't all that interested in the products anyway (see comments about Ubisoft).

 

:lol:

 

I do find the sometimes option vaguely amusing. Of course, if you were never going to buy the game anyway then it is easy to boycott.  It is rather less effective if you boycott the output of a company apart from the games that they produce that you want to buy. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are some smaller game devs who I boycott because they are racist right wing fucks. 

 

Some of the bigger developers I struggle with, seems not fair to boycott the work of 100s of people because of a few bad people. 

 

Crunch sucks, but boycotting these games that might have been made under tight deadlines means that these people who worked their arse off might lose their jobs due to lower than expected sales. 

 

All things considered though, the people that do totally boycott games due to ethical reasons amount to a tiny fraction of a percent of overall sales. So ultimately publishers don't give a fuck about people moaning on a few niche gaming forums. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it affects my decision making more if I think a companies business model is exploitative to consumers, not neccessarily their employees, which I suppose is both because that is more obviously visible and also because it may directly affects me. I don't think I would avoid buying a game simply because I knew its production had involved unsustainable working practices. If there is evidence that it's more of a situation where there is simply no accountability though - e.g. with bullying rife, sexual harassment, or racial discrimination - then yeah I would struggle to purchase anything made by a company which clearly has a toxic internal culture.

 

Crunch is discriminatory in a way too I suppose - the kinds of people who will be able to make all the sacrifices neccessary to succeed at a typical big games studio (maybe creating demos in your spare time to get your foot in the door, and then long hours once you're in) will tend to skew young, white, and middle class. The same is true of essentially every other creative industry though - the road to becoming a successful author, cinematographer or musician is similarly unfair. Generally any industry that can rely on an relatively endless supply of enthusiatic talent will have this issue.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing is though this isn't just videogames is it? Its across all industries. Things are pushed and pushed so profit margins get bigger at the expense of the people making/designing the products. Look at anything we consume these days. Food - Supermarkets etc. Clothing made cheap as possible where ever and whoever will do it cheapest. Products made in China because its the cheapest place to do it. Etc etc etc. It just goes on. It's capitalism and greed in the end isn't it? And consumers too. Want things cheap as possible etc.

 

Think we all need to change the way we think before any of this stops. Although it's all about balance in the end TBH. People getting paid a decent wage for what they do. People living a healthy fulfilling life whilst enjoying what they are passionate about doing. Without burning everyone out.

 

So all this is part of a larger thing in itself is what I guess I'm saying.

 

I watched David Attenborough's latest film "A Life On Our Planet" on Netflix a few weeks ago. Made me think about a lot of things.  On how I live my life. Of what legacy I want to leave behind for future generations. Balance and sustainability are two words that were my main take home from watching this. 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Wiper said:

Relatedly: where it is an option, I will consider a second-hand copy of a game from a company whose games I'd otherwise avoid. As I'm predominantly a PC gamer that's often not an option for me, but it is worth flagging up.

 

I find this kind of stance a bit odd, in that it's saying "I will still consider being able to benefit from what you've produced, just want to make a point by not paying *you* directly for it."

 

Like...it feels like a flimsy ethical position to hold, because in my head, if you are going to boycott a company, then you are making a conscious decision to forgo enjoying that product (whether it's games, food, clothes, whatever) - I guess to put some value/meaning to you on missing out. It seems to me to be the definition of having your cake and eating it.

 

This is partly why I don't boycott stuff that I like, because I'd find it hypocritical if I was able to still enjoy it in some other way. It's easier to accept that my decisions are often not good for other parties and make some peace with that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s a coincidence more than anything that a lot of publishers I avoid also have questionable ethics. Confirmation bias I guess. 
 

To those who do let ethics sway their decision to boycott Ubisoft, say - does the same sort of thing apply to other aspects of your life? Nestle, shit made in Israel, products with palm oil in them, books by JK Rowling etc etc?

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, McCoy said:

 

:lol:

 

I do find the sometimes option vaguely amusing. Of course, if you were never going to buy the game anyway then it is easy to boycott.  It is rather less effective if you boycott the output of a company apart from the games that they produce that you want to buy. 

 

Yep, that's exactly the point I was making in explaining my 'vote'. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Gabe said:

 

I find this kind of stance a bit odd, in that it's saying "I will still consider being able to benefit from what you've produced, just want to make a point by not paying *you* directly for it."

 

Like...it feels like a flimsy ethical position to hold, because in my head, if you are going to boycott a company, then you are making a conscious decision to forgo enjoying that product (whether it's games, food, clothes, whatever) - I guess to put some value/meaning to you on missing out. It seems to me to be the definition of having your cake and eating it.

 

This is partly why I don't boycott stuff that I like, because I'd find it hypocritical if I was able to still enjoy it in some other way. It's easier to accept that my decisions are often not good for other parties and make some peace with that.

 

I mean, the primary purpose of a boycott - from my perspective - is to encourage change by hurting an entity in the most direct way available in capitalist society - by denying it income. In much the same way that, say, being part of the BDS movement wouldn't preclude buying oranges from places that aren't Israel.* It's not the product that is being boycotted, it's the entity producing it.

 

It feels a less impotent stance than simply refusing to boycott things that I like.

 

(and, again, it's largely moot. The last second-hand games I bought were in March, and from companies I have no issue with. The last time I actually bought a second-hand game from a studio I would otherwise have avoided would have been... The Last of Us, I think? Many years ago. And it was shit, just to add insult to injury)

 

 

14 minutes ago, Colonel Panic said:

It’s a coincidence more than anything that a lot of publishers I avoid also have questionable ethics. Confirmation bias I guess. 
 

To those who do let ethics sway their decision to boycott Ubisoft, say - does the same sort of thing apply to other aspects of your life? Nestle, shit made in Israel, products with palm oil in them, books by JK Rowling etc etc?

 

Yes. I alluded to that in my initial post, but e.g. Rowling is an author I avoid for that reason. Again, I try to focus on subjects I'm more aware of - hence focussing on video games, rather than film (though there I would e.g. avoid anything by Woody Allen).

 

 

*admittedly, I don't imagine too many people would be keen to buy second-hand oranges

Link to post
Share on other sites

Its fucking so hard to get my own thoughts on this straight.
 

I mean, I work for a company who does mad business with China who also send solidarity messages for BLM around. It’s the ultimate doublethink. 
 

And in my personal life it’s the same, I avoid what I can for ethical reasons, but it’s almost impossible to be strict about it so I just end up feeling like a hypocrite. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Gabe said:

This is partly why I don't boycott stuff that I like, because I'd find it hypocritical if I was able to still enjoy it in some other way. It's easier to accept that my decisions are often not good for other parties and make some peace with that.

 

This is absolutely fair enough, but - logically - you're suggesting that consumer hypocrisy weighs more heavily for you than the corporate actions which would prompt a boycott. 

 

Of course, it's fair enough however you feel, but that in itself seems quite odd from an ethical perspective. 

 

If you feel I've misrepresented or misunderstood your point, please just say so. I'm very straightforward. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Gabe said:

I find this kind of stance a bit odd, in that it's saying "I will still consider being able to benefit from what you've produced, just want to make a point by not paying *you* directly for it."

 

Like...it feels like a flimsy ethical position to hold, because in my head, if you are going to boycott a company, then you are making a conscious decision to forgo enjoying that product (whether it's games, food, clothes, whatever) - I guess to put some value/meaning to you on missing out. It seems to me to be the definition of having your cake and eating it.

 

Plus you are assisting the Company by providing a secondary retail market for their products which may encourage the primary sale. 

 

There are lots of people who buy new because they know they will then sell the games on. Perhaps this is how they afford the new purchase to start with. Take away the secondary market and these people may not purchase to start with which would hurt the Company. 

 

Yes, it is one step removed from purchasing directly but if enough people stopped buying in the second hand market it would undoubtable affect the initial sales figures as people realised that their new purchase had no or limited resale value. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.