AG@G: Blind Faith
An Essay On Why It Is Perilous To Put Blind Faith Into A Game Before You Know Whether Or Not It Actually Deserves Your Support
Why do so many gamers put blind faith into a product long before they have any inkling of whether or not the finished product will be any good? We don’t do this with any other medium. I have never heard of someone pre-ordering the blu-ray of a movie that they haven’t read a review for yet.
The answer is nostalgia.
More and more in recent years. we have been resold the same old thing from our youth using nostalgia. Whether that be a loose remake of an paradigmatic sci-fi story in The Force Awakens, or a direct remake of a horror classic in It. It could also be sequel to a respected futuristic noir detective story in Blade Runner: 2049, or a prequel to a beloved TV series in The Many Saint Of Newark. It could even be the cynical, bewildering tactic of throwing all sorts of nostalgic elements together and attempting to form a half-hearted story from it as seen in Ready Player One.
That said, we are all guilty of feeling nostalgia at one time or another and giving into it. And that is because wearing those rose tinted glasses feels good and takes us back to a simpler time. Although I consider myself to be fairly ruthless and hard to please, even I have my attachments to certain companies based on their past glories, but I have also been let down plenty of times by these same companies.
If you ask me, the solution to this issue is to ignore where your loyalties lie. It doesn’t matter how good a certain developer’s track record is, as an aware gamer you should go into every game with no prior expectations or bias related to the developers past efforts. Leave all of that at the door, or at least as much as you possibly can. No game should get a pass based on another game in the same franchise that is a decade old at this point, (I’m looking at you Final Fantasy.)
I am not saying you shouldn’t have any expectations whatsoever going in. Sure, watch the trailers and read the reviews first, so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not you think you will enjoy this game before you buy it. Don’t ignore all of that because you are either holding a grudge against a developer that has wronged you in the past, or because are an unconditional advocate for a company operating on blind faith.
This goes both ways, by the way. I’m not just talking about people hailing a game as being GOTY before it is even anywhere near release, I’m equally talking about folk that throw unwarranted shade at a game because they didn’t like something that the developer did previously.
All of this goes back to issues that I have written about previously. We as gamers should be acting more cautious than ever. This is the era of pre-orders, of microtransactions, of pay-to-win mobile games and of making a profit at any cost. If we genuinely want these dubious money making practices plaguing the market to stop, then being all in on something based on a title or company name alone, is the last thing that we should be doing.
If you let yourself get walked all over, then it will never stop. Why would it? If companies know that they can continue to suck money out of their audience based on reputation of a name alone, then why should they put any effort into actually making their game any good?
Time and time again we have seen this. Back in March 2017 when Mass Effect: Andromeda was released, even the most hardcore ME fans were let down by the lacklustre entry in the series but EA and Bioware had already made their money. The same thing happened at the end of last year when the infamously unfinished Cyberpunk: 2077 went on to become, “the largest game in CD Projekt Red’s history.”
It has also happens the other way; back when Ghost Recon: Wildlands was announced, it was immediately dismissed and most gamers were probably ready to skip over it entirely before the game released and actually turned out to be a lot of fun. Spec Ops: The Line flew criminally under the radar upon its release because it was marketed as just another mindless bro-shooter and it turned out to be so much more than that, tackling PTSD and the multiple layers of the human psyche.
A game should be judged on the merits of that game alone. Everything previously tied to that franchise or developer should be ignored. We should be going into these games with an open mind, ready to be convinced, to be won over by a masterstroke of creative wonder. Or, we should try to see it for what it is and not give it any sort of pass or benefit of the doubt if it is in fact, a hot mess.
Sure, there are developers that have earned their pedigree, but if anything we should be putting more pressure on these devs to make sure the high level of quality that they are putting out continues. Don’t let publishers or developers away with anything, because if you give them an inch, they take a mile.
That may sound like some kind of extreme statement coming from a jaded gamer, but I love gaming. There is a difference with being disdainful and being a concerned gamer. The reason that I am so doubtful and apprehensive of publishers and developers is because I am so passionate about this medium and if you are truly a fan of gaming, then you should be thinking along the same lines.
If you enjoyed reading Dan’s piece on the dangers of blind faith, check out his piece on Sony’s lack of PS5 exclusives here.
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