Diablo 3's Launch Fiasco Proves Video Game Journalism Fails
Author: William Usher
published: 2012-05-17 16:20:49
We've been seeing a constant trend lately, one that involves three groups of people all working towards different goals: we have consumers who want to buy and enjoy a product, publishers selling said product, and journalists reporting on the publisher's product. One thing that seems to be happening more and more frequently is that when consumers get burned and get pissed, publishers close their ear-holes and journalists lash out at consumers to get back in line and take the beating. It seems to be a growing trend as more and more consumers become dissented with the direction of the gaming industry.
As usual, the major gaming websites and industry-reliant video game journalists are tooting their own horns, telling their readers to "shut up" and wait or do something else instead of being frustrated that the $60 product they just bought doesn't work.
Simply put, I'm embarrassed to be associated with an industry of people who call themselves journalists and don't seem to understand what it means to gather the facts. It's further showing that the video game media industry is hanging off the balls of publishers. If you're a consumer, you should be disgusted. If you call yourself a journalist with this kind of mentality, you should feel ashamed.
People had seen the review scores for Diablo III on Metacritic, the disappointment on Amazon, the rage on the forums, the outcries on Reddit, the anger on N4G and everywhere else in between and instantly ran wild with "Oh noes, the internet exploded in rage again", completely ignoring that the issue people are complaining about are issues video game journalists should have been addressing since John Walker from Rock, Paper, Shotgun addressed concern over this very topic way back during the first Diablo III beta.
The reality is that the rage has nothing to do with the overall quality of Diablo III. The low scores that we reported on earlier is a means of consumer protest. Any idiot worth his salt as a journalist should know this and those who don't prove the point that video game journalism is a farce and a joke.
These journalists should be informing readers as to why consumers are angry, why gamers are peeved and why those 0/10 review scores are the way they are. Reading through most comments give you a clear picture that first-adopters don't mind that there's a delay, they don't even mind that servers are down, however they do mind that the game boasts a single-player mode you can't play without constantly being connected to the internet. It's no different than being forced to watch a DVD or Blu-Ray from your player while always being online. Yes, most people are connected online one way or another, but if you want to watch a movie at your own leisure then that's what you paid for. This is not the case with Diablo III, you cannot play the game whenever you want; you can only play the game when Blizzard allows you to.
Journalists should have been acknowledging consumer distaste rather than fueling it with pro-corporate pandering. Not as a writer, not as a gamer, but as a consumer the thought of that makes me sick.
We all know that eventually the Diablo III servers will be fixed up nice and neat, but that doesn't excuse the main reason why so many people are frustrated. I'm not saying everyone needs to be on a Blizzard-hate train, and to their credit they have apologized about the service, but this issue will never go away, and unfortunately video game journalists who mold, shape and direct the information of the industry will fail to do what they've always failed to do: work as a middle ground between consumers and publishers.
Shades of Mass Effect 3 (and there were even some misinformed websites defending Capcom over Street Fighter X Tekken) are emerging already and this continues to lend itself to the biggest problem in the industry: video game media ignoring the complaints of consumers. If the journalists aren't doing their jobs then what alternative is there for angry consumers other than review-bombing consumer and aggregate review sites with poor scores?
I don't blame gamers for being angry that their $60 doesn't get them a working product out of the box, especially when they were told and advertised by every single website and their cousin that the product would work as advertised. I don't blame gamers for being savvy enough to find outlets to express this rage, it certainly beats being spoon-fed patronizing notions that the publisher is always right; video games are just a luxury; consumers should never be outraged at faulty products, or demanding quality equates to being a whiny, entitled brat.
I don't see the video game media industry changing these sort of practices anytime soon, especially with some sites directly receiving money for promoting video game products. Although Capcom has admitted that they might consider changing. I definitely don't see major gaming websites pressuring publishers about their monetary practices and putting these things in the spotlight for consumer awareness (viz., how many day-one buyers of Diablo III actually knew that the always-on DRM was to protect Blizzard's Real-Money Auction House?).
There are some small and middle-tier websites out there that do their job well, but it would seem like the majority of larger sites out there would be more vigilant in protecting consumers from things like disc-locked content, day-one DLC, expiring online passes, or always-on DRM that only serves the purpose of protecting a financial interest to the publisher. This is especially considering that consumers are the people who keep the industry afloat. On the upside, we at least have hackers to thank for keeping us informed about when we're being swindled.
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