Pillbox

The curious case of exploited optimism

My housemate bought “Battlefield 2042” thinking it would be a great game. He spent extra money to pre-order the game and get early access so he could play it a week before everyone else. A few days after the game came out, my housemate commented, “I can’t believe I just paid 100 bucks for a game that’s still in beta.”

He wasn’t wrong. I don’t even play “Battlefield” with a mouse and keyboard on PC, and even an incompetent player like me could still notice the game was unfinished. The death animations look weird and buggy with the bizarre camera placement. The shooting feels unsatisfying and the time to kill is way too low. I would spawn somewhere and then die a second later because I was shot by someone from across the map. The specialist class systems are just really annoying and replace a much superior system of weapon unlocks. There are so many game-breaking bugs and not enough good servers for the modes that are actually fun. DICE, the developers of “Battlefield,” and their parent company EA, one of the worst companies in America, delayed the game for a month to polish it, and somehow, it is still broken. This was after taking an extra year to work on the game and removing single-player mode to only focus on the multiplayer.

Gamers are being duped into buying these garbage games for at least 60 dollars, and they’ll keep buying into it because they still hold out hope that one day, video game companies will go back to the days where they didn’t make broken, unplayable pieces of trash. In fact, the expectation now is that the game you get opening day will be broken and the company will fix the game after it’s been launched. Can you imagine being sold a broken car, only for the manufacturer to tell you that they’ll fix only one part of it after six months? That’s what’s happening with video games. We are in a dystopian, corporate hellscape where nothing is sacred; your minimal amount of optimism left is exploitable, and vanilla-faced vultures are selling you empty words and faux revolutionary ideas in the hopes of draining you of 60 dollars that you could have used to buy your groceries for the week. Judging by the amount of people who bought “Call of Duty: Vanguard,” the 18th installment of a bloated, annual franchise that has rehashed the same mechanics since 2013, it seems gamers are still buying into the con.

Generally speaking, game developers all work so hard on their games and they have so much passion for their projects. When a game is great, it is a work of art. It is the result of countless hours put into creating a beautiful story with characters that are just as iconic as any character in a movie. It’s not the developers’ fault that the yuppies who manage them really enjoy stealing money, burning it, and then drop kicking children from skyscrapers.

Now, for legal reasons, I must clarify that the last statement is a joke. But what isn’t a joke is the culture of harassment and abuse prevalent in the industry. For those unfamiliar, there is a company called Activision-Blizzard, and they are being sued for, well, every single type of sexual harassment case you could possibly think of by the state of California. Now I won’t detail every single case itself, but all you need to know about it is that the news of the lawsuit hit the headlines several months ago, and even now, we are still learning more and more details about how messed up the whole case was. The toxic and abusive culture is not unique to Activision-Blizzard, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that the game I’m playing is created by people who work 80 hours a week with no overtime, half of whom have likely been sexually harassed.

A great thinker once said, “Everything you like is actually bad.” Be it video games, movies, politics, beauty products, academia, or whatever company you’ll sell your soul to after graduation, it’s all bad in some way or the other. Does this mean you should give up on trying to be an ethically conscious consumer and give into the monotony of corporate America, settling for whatever broken video game you paid 60 dollars for so you can pretend the person you’re killing on screen is your manager as you dissociate from reality because you’re depressed about the state of affairs and your life?

Yeah, probably.