The Lies They Tell
The recent WarZ fiasco has prompted me to ask a simple question, do game publishers lie to their customers outright? Do the usual claims of “the customer misinterpreted what we advertised” really hold any water? In my opinion, absolutely not.
Game publishers are not from another planet, they understand exactly what gamers expect when they announce certain features.
WarZ is just a small drop in the ocean; back in the year 2007, a game named Kane and Lynch: Deadmen, received a pretty poor review on the website GameSpot. Unfortunately for the reviewer, it turns out the game’s publisher, Square Enix, had paid a hefty sum for ad space on the website, and was expecting a fabricated and positive review of the title from GameSpot.
Too Much Hype
The site reacted by promptly firing the game’s reviewer, Jeff Gerstmann, for doing his job fairly, and in turn the website itself was vilified by almost the entire game playing world with broadband access.
Several of Jeff’s colleagues voluntarily left the website in the wake of this incident.
The point is, game publishers do lie, and blatantly at times. They spend a lot of time and money creating a very specific perception of a game before its release, and generally don’t care what happens to that image, after the game in question has met it sales goal.
But, there is a fine (very fine these days) line between lying outright about a game and creating way too much hype around it. A case in point was the ending of Mass Effect 3. People assumed one thing about a game that prided itself on choice, and got another thing when the actual ending turned out to be basically the same. No matter what choices were made throughout the gameplay.
I don’t think it’s fair to call BioWare liars in the case of Mass Effect 3. They did what they had to do to put a definite ending to the series, and in doing so, they violated the single most sacred principle of their game world. Choice. Could they have created separate multiple endings? Yes, should they have done so? Hell yes! But they didn’t, and they also never made any promises about the game’s ending, so they can’t really be called blatant liars.
Game publishers do cheat, lie, fabricate and mislead consumers, there’s no denying that. But there’s also no denying that it does not happen very often, as there’s little more precious to a game publisher than a customer’s good will.
So, when it comes to believing game publishers, it’s always best to stay sharp, read reviews, take into account a game publisher’s history, and then, and only then, should you pick up a game publisher’s product.