I am not sure whether it is my getting older or if it is my understanding of the world getting more mature or some combination of both. Of late I have found myself getting tired of seeing my favorite games being mismanaged. I have seen some of the best computer games I ever played get half-ass sequel treatments and then watched as the whole franchise goes down in flames. I have watched the launch of a new iteration of a classic RPG fail to revitalize the aging line while simultaneously the controlling company alienate half of the people and all of the companies who supported it not less than a year ago.
So in attempt to try and correct these mistakes and keep others from happening I propose the following. We gamers of all stripes, need to own part of the companies who make these games. We would form a group, a union of sorts, and pool our monetary resources to start buying the stock of these companies.
In looking back at the last thirty years, very little has been accomplished politically or economically when people protest something or boycott a product. Companies simply rename themselves or find a new brand to use the old product under. Mismanagement is forgiven because it is effectively forgotten. New customers are made because they don’t realize it is the same thing under a different name.
The way I see it, the only way to get their attention, to get them to stop screwing up gaming is to get into us into boardroom.
This will not be an easy thing to accomplish. Most of us gamers really only want to have fun. Running corporations is not fun. Getting involved with a group whose only purpose is to do just that? Probably not very high on any Gamer’s to-do list.
Assuming that this proposed group even gets the money to buy enough shares, there is going to be a fight to exert that influence. Those who are already involved are not going to give up their positions easily, if at all. Communicating to Gamers about these political subtleties will be an investment in a new language. I’m not sure how many FPS or RPG metaphors can be used to describe the politicizing that goes around in such places.
And that is just for the publicly held companies. Those who are in private hands create a different set of complications. It is usually considered to be an aggressive act to buy the banknotes of a company without their permission. It is considered to be less than sporting to buy privately issued shares from former employees to gain a stake. There are a multitude of reason why people keep companies private. Not having to deal with outside influences is one of them.
Why should Gamers own the companies that produce their games?
So we can make sure that all of us continue to look forward to great gaming content. Personally, I am tired of being on the sidelines. I am tired of being looked at as a pocketbook with legs waiting to be exploited. Voting with my dollars is no longer enough with so many others acting like battered spouses or addicts by continually going back to those who cause these problems in the first place.
Look at one of the big dust-ups of 2009, Hasbro pulling all pdf versions of their past and present D&D games without any announcement until it happened. I wonder if it could have been avoided. If there had been anyone in their boardroom saying “This is a bad idea”. Maybe it wouldn’t had happened or had happened with clear warnings going out giving people weeks or months instead of 24 hours to get one last copy of the books they’ve paid for. While there were plenty of howls for the heads who made this asinine decision, it was all hot air and nerd-rage. No one who purchased these materials had any legal recourse.
Hasbro is not the only one to have missteps this year. Activision last week announced that LAN play isn’t going to be included in Starcraft II. Instead they have decided that all multiplayer games are going to go through their portal, Battle.Net. A piece of software that is well known for instability and abounding with cheaters and greifers of all types. Many have wondered, myself included, how well their servers will hold up when the game releases. Or how well the competitive leagues will take to it after the first time the global servers are hit with a DOS attack in the middle of a tournament.
Would a gamer have made a difference if they had a seat at the big table in either of these cases? I don’t know. I like to think that it would.