The words “entitled” or “entitlement” are thrown around so often in forums, Twitter, and comments by developers and gamers alike, that it’s going to outstrip “immersive” as one of the most overused words in gaming. It’s gotten some more buzz lately, so I wanted to address entitlement in a roundabout way that starts to frame my expectations for gaming in 2019. Entitlement is not necessarily a dirty word. In fact, I think we should start being more entitled in some circumstances.
Starting with the easiest problem, I am entitled to the complete version of the game I purchased. This might sound obvious, but gaming is a different animal. One of the more nefarious ways this has started to infect our hobby is by developers and publishers sticking AAA and free-to-play in a seedy hotel room for a little alone time.
The result is a game designed to push me to buy microtransactions or be reliant on some loot box mechanic to really play the game. If I choose not to give you more money on top of the purchase price, I am punished by slower than normal progress and parts of the game or content being blocked for no other reason than to claw a few more bills out of my emaciated wallet. Good job, developers and/or publishers, for finding a way to make me regret spending my limited free time and resources. This was a much better idea than finding new ways to make me love every minute with your game.
If I purchase a physical copy, the game should be on the disc. We still live in a world with physical media and less than stellar internet in some places. Unless the digital version is dirt cheap, I buy physical copies sometimes, so I can recoup some of the expense for trade-in credit. If you don’t want to put the full game on the disc (Paging Dr. Activision), don’t put out a physical release of the game.
There are three quick clarifications I want to make. First, I don’t mind a developer selling DLC. Make the game and DLC compelling, and I might buy it. Second, if you add new content digitally, that great. I still have the game I bought. Third, the points above don’t have anything to do with the length of your game. It can last from two hours to two hundred hours. Just make sure it’s complete.
Second, and this is the one that really burns my biscuits, I am entitled to a game that works on release day. If I buy your game, I am not buying the promise that it will work someday. I am buying the game that you describe on the box. I am not buying semi-working quest lines or missions. I am buying a game that doesn’t repeatedly crash when I want to play it. If it has a multiplayer component, I am buying a game that will successfully connect me to other people and allow me to use what I bought. If it doesn’t work on the day of release, don’t release it.
We are in a weird time with this one, because more companies are shipping games and maybe patching it later. Here is a little bit of old man, “In my day” talk for you. The day one patch used to be a something we looked at with scorn. Now, we not only see them as necessary and good, we look forward to them, because they will fix something that could break our game. Our expectations have been subverted to the point that we expect our games to be broken.
Bugs are part of software development, and you will never get rid of all of them. I’m not against patches if the game works. If a game crashes once or has a rare glitch that doesn’t keep me from enjoying and playing the game, I can overlook it. I can even laugh at it sometimes.
What I don’t laugh at is your entitled attitude that you can release a buggy game that has crashes, frame rate problems, and game-breaking bugs that I have to deal with as the user or put it aside while I wait for you to make the game playable with patches months after the release date.
I am entitled to the game you described in your interviews, ads, and trailers. Development can be a winding road instead of a straight line, and features are added and dropped. If you cannot 100% deliver something, don’t say you can. Don’t hint at it. Don’t tell me maybe. If you don’t know what your game is, figure that out, before you drop a few trailers and interviews.
Related to that, I am entitled to honesty. If something changes in development that changes what you can deliver in software or removes the canvas bag from your fancy limited edition of a game, you should pull down all the trailers and pictures, and shout it from the hilltops. Make corrections, over communicate online and through retail, and give people a chance to cancel a pre-order if they want to do it. I may be unhappy, but at least I won’t be surprised when I hand over my cash to buy your game. Honesty may not buy you more customers, but it will buy you respect and good will down the road.
Finally, if you show me nothing but contempt in interviews, your Twitter account, or in the game itself, I am entitled to let you know how I feel about that. If you have a public presence, you are literally banking on the fact that your thoughts will be broadcast to as many people as possible. You want me to know that a new DLC is coming soon, or how great your game is going to be. That’s cool, and I like to see companies interacting directly with their fans.
However, if you tell me I suck for some reason, don’t be surprised when I say the same about your game and tell you to eat a heaping bowl of floppy horse genitals. Don’t cry about harassment when that same group of people you just said mean things about says them right back. It’s a two-way street. I don’t expect you to like it (I don’t), but any rational person should expect it.
Further, let’s add some perspective to this discussion. I am just another idiot on the internet throwing out opinions to anyone willing to read them, and I know that. Game developers and publishers (and gaming journalists) are not a protected class. You aren’t curing some major disease, making the world safer, or leading a social movement for change. You make entertainment, or at least you try. Your games can be amazing and even help people going through a rough time, but you aren’t Mother Teresa.
That’s not to say the internet doesn’t have it’s own angry groups who attack for fun instead of cause. If you put yourself out there, some people are just going to be jerks. Morons are the only species that will never go extinct, and internet trolls, cockroaches, and Twinkies will be the only things to survive nuclear annihilation. I also want to make it perfectly clear that NO ONE should receive death threats or any type of threats of harm to them or their families. That’s wrong.
I don’t expect accusations of entitlement will slow down anytime soon, and they can even be a valid problem that the community needs to address and change. I think there’s always room for improvement. I also think there are times when being entitled is completely necessary and right in certain situations. If you ask for my money, it does make me entitled to some things, and don’t be surprised when I let you know.
You can fight this, but I think some indie and AAA developers and publishers are going the opposite way. They not only deliver a game that works as promised on release day, but they respect my time and money. They aren’t interested in squeezing everything out of me like a money sponge or criticizing me all the time. This makes me more interested in their game, and it’s that much easier for me to open my wallet in the future. Those developers don’t talk about entitlement with me. They talk about their games.
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Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.