Editorial: Uncritical Consumption; the Credulous Support of Corporate Histrionics

When you don't believe demonstrable falsehoods I just get so angry

I can understand why a gamer would hold a certain regard for a game designer who is able to create a consistently high standard product, I really do. I can also understand why a gamer would have a certain amount of affection for any Developer/Publisher who is seen to promote a high standard of software, it is only natural that we should support the people who do the right thing by us, and contribute to the health of the industry. But how far should our loyalty and affection extend? Should we continue to defend their good name when they haven’t made a good game in the last ten years? When a corporate mouthpiece makes a proclamation which on the face of it is a self-evident falsehood, should we become angry and argumentative and then cry like babby when no one else believes them? When corporate management decide to sack all of your favourite designers and appoint experts in the field of homosexualism to ensure that your favourite franchises no longer share even the most superficial similarities to the prior games in the series, are you placated because someone who once produced one of the games is flown out to Canada two or three times in order to ‘oversee’ the project. Well allow me to answer my own line of questioning; this is the overwhelming reality for far too many gormless franchise fans.

Why would anyone continue to support a series that no longer bares any resemblance to the series cannon, while at the same time managing to be completely awful in its own right? The last Bionic Commando game was farmed out to a western studio, the last Dead Rising game was farmed out to a western studio, the next Devil May Cry game is being farmed out to a western studio, and within the last twenty-four hours the rumour mill has been churning with suggestions that Slant Six, the makers of SOCOM, will be developing the next HD Resident Evil game. I think it’s safe to assume at this point that Capcom is in the process of liquidating all domestic development in favour of an international development strategy (please look forward to Mega Man FPS).

This is what happens when Oliver won't answer his phone ...

The reason I mention this is due to the fact that the philosophical and structural changes that have occurred within Capcom over the last few years have rendered it such a manifestly different entity that I cannot comprehend how consumer goodwill toward the Capcom brand circa 2005 can be extended to the Capcom brand circa 2010. There is a disconnect there, though hapless Capcom tragics seem blinded to all but the branding when determining their vocal support. This is why these dreadful people are placated when some random person who worked on one of the previous games is trotted out by Capcom to announce he will be overseeing production of DmC (in this case ‘overseeing’ being a euphemism for ‘ doing fuck all’). Another personal favourite line of fanboy reasoning goes: ‘Capcom can do what they like with their series’, this of course is true, but when read in its correct context it is meant to suggest that whatever Capcom sign off on is cannon because they make the game. Never mind that the creator of Devil May Cry was sacked. Never mind that every significant Capcom director, producer and designer has either been fired or quit over the last five years. Never mind that the people making the decisions about the DMC series’ future direction are first and foremost accountants. No, it is cannon because Capcom have given their say-so, and they make the games …

... This is also what happens when Oliver won't answer his phone

… And speaking about collapsing institutions no longer in the business of making cannon titles, Capcom is as small-fry next to the obtuse and decadent might of Enixsoft. Enixsoft employees lie so frequently that it must surely come as naturally to them at this point as game design by focus group. There is not now, and can never be, a logical basis for taking Enixsoft’s word when a more likely scenario is plausible (hint: the root cause of their every motivation is laziness; mental, physical, financial). Take for instance their missed deadline for Final Fantasy Tactics’ release on iOS devices. Now, Enixsoft swore until they were blue in the face that apparently every single western site was USING THE WRONG RELEASE DATE. I happen to be of the firm belief that parsimony is a virtue, that usually the most intuitive and straightforward explanation is the correct one, and this story reeks of the most feculent, watery bullshit. Assuming that the western media were using the incorrect release date (protip: they weren’t) Enixsoft still had many months to correct this misunderstanding, instead they cobbled together an eleventh hour wildly implausible excuse in a bid to avoid looking like a comically incompetent and dysfunctional corporate backwater (protip: the ruse was unsuccessful). The really surprising observation to come out of this episode however, is the fact that the Enixsoft fanboy plebeians are still trotting out the company line as though it were the very clarion call of truth. Such blind and gormless trust for this most unsound of corporate entities, and brace yourself for blind and witless rage should you point out to them this most manifest truth.

This isn’t so much an isolated incident, as it is a pattern of behaviour for Enixsoft fanboys. Most recently they were clamouring that Final Fantasy Tunnel Run was a very deliberate and inspired design choice (as had been the company line) right up to the point wherein Yasanori Kitase in a rare moment of candour admitted that team Tunnel Run didn’t even have a game design until they were forced to produce a demo, and before that there was the curious case of Yasumi Matsuno’s illness, which caused FFXII to come down with a case of Vann as lead character. And please do not even get me started on Final Fantasy XIV, an entire editorial (nay, an entire series of editorials) could be devoted to that issue and I would still scarcely scratch the surface of that rabbit warren of weasel words, half-truths, flagrant lies and Horse-Birds.

I'm afraid that the diagnosis is terminal

So, what manner of arcane reasoning allows uncritical fanboys to be uncritical fanboys, and not feel the shame and self-loathing that they surely should? This is one of those nebulous questions where even I hesitate to venture an answer for the simple fact that such a state of unreason appears entirely foreign to me … but then I wouldn’t feel right leaving you on such a wishy-washy note, and so must once again look to parsimony to show me the way, and thus; wishful thinking + really low standards = INDUSTRY!!!

But then I most certainly do not hold all the answers on this subject friends, so what is your prognostication for this dire malady? What are some of the more ridiculous corporate statements that you have heard to excuse utter incompetence? What are some of the funnier instances when you have encountered fanboys defending the indefensible?

11 Comments

  1. Lane
    Posted 2010.11.02 at 20:25 | Permalink

    I think the most disturbing thing is not that Capcom can’t make a good game any more, but that that guy’s dingus is completely covered by a DS Lite. He will never know the touch of a human being he does not pay to do the unwholesome task.

  2. Lane
    Posted 2010.11.02 at 20:29 | Permalink

    Also, the problem is that game companies in Japan exist within the milieu of Japanese gamers, who have different interests, expectations, and habits than Western gamers (barring the weeaboo/otaku segment of the population, who have somehow managed to fatten themselves up on pocky and hi-chew). Japanese gamers are apparently willing to pay for a game where the PCs are quite literally idealized and sexualized female avatars of game consoles. It is the ultimate fanboy masturbatory theory: what if my PS3 would come to life and rub its shiny black boobs all over Microsoft’s sleek body?

    If that were released in the West, the dudebros and competitive gamers and everyday nerds and suburban families that make up the game-consuming public would justifiably ask, “what the fuck is this horse slop and why is someone selling it?”

    Everyone wonders, “why do top-selling Western games and consoles like the 360 falter in Japan? Why don’t the Japanese line up for Madden midnight releases?”

    Different worlds, man, and Capcom is out of touch with how to bridge that divide with awesome games.

  3. Jenifer
    Posted 2010.11.02 at 20:38 | Permalink

    Dammit Julian, I can’t read the middle section of your post. It hurts my eyes too much. I really think there should be an international law outlawing the wear of spandex on or anywhere around the gentlemen vegetables, especially shiny red spandex. This should also apply to anything bearing an Apple logo.

  4. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2010.11.02 at 20:48 | Permalink

    Lusipurr.com: Crime against humanity!

  5. darthgibblet
    Posted 2010.11.02 at 21:02 | Permalink

    I’m pretty much on the same boat as Lane. There’s a huge divide between Japanese and Western gamers’ tastes (or heck, even between American and European gamers’ tastes), and nobody’s figured out how to consistently close that gap yet. There have been a few hits, like the Metroid Prime series, but most of the stuff just kind of ends up falling flat. Some day somebody will figure it out, though, and I look forward to that day, because I bet the game will be, to quote the local vernacular, bitchin’.

    Also, dingus DS. hehehheeh /Bevis

  6. darthgibblet
    Posted 2010.11.02 at 21:05 | Permalink

    Also also, fanboys will always be fanboys. They’re certainly not limited to the games industry, and they’re not going anywhere any time soon. I usually find the best way to deal with them is to ignore them. If they want to blindly devote themselves to whatever their company/brand/game of choice is, they can go ahead.

  7. evilpaul
    Posted 2010.11.02 at 23:53 | Permalink

    It’s “canon”, not “cannon”!!!

    Anyway, the Mega Man creator and Capcom head honcho guy did an exhaustively long interview that was translated and posted on NeoGAF here:

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=411847

    It’s extremely long and I gave up after what I’m assuming was half of it, but he goes into great detail about why he left and a lot of it had to do with how unwieldy game development has become. He also explains why Capcom was outsourcing most of their game development. There’s also some stuff on Japanese games compared to western games in it.

    As for Capcom’s recent games…I haven’t played any other than the PC version of RE5 because I’m unemployed and can’t afford any newfangled current gen consoles. I did go back and try playing Devil May Cry again recently though and it hasn’t aged well. After playing God of War I & II it’s just not playable. The graphics are ugly (even for PS2 standards) the controls are stiff and awkward. And the weird semi-old school RE-like dream logic puzzle elements just don’t work. I haven’t played the second DMC, but its pretty univerally reviled. DMC3′s special edition release is supposed to be good, but I haven’t played it (yet). And I haven’t played DMC4 either, but people bitched about that for being too cutsceney and replacing Dante with Nero (who looks exactly the same). So is the new western developed DMC that looks pretty stupid really an epic fall from grace that people are making it out to be? I’ve got to disagree there.

  8. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2010.11.03 at 00:38 | Permalink

    Nice find! DMC3 is quite good indeed. DMC4 isn’t so much bad as it is a two hour game which is then mirrored to extend playtime, not good value.

  9. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2010.11.03 at 10:19 | Permalink

    @EP: This is one of the most honest and intelligent interviews I have ever read, and what makes it all the more amazing is that it was a Japanese producer giving it.

    “For Capcom, it doesn’t matter whether a game has the Inafune brand or is made by some anonymous producer. That’s ultimately why I made the decision to leave. It’s sad to leave, proving that point. It was really sad.”

    “KI: Even when I submitted my letter of resignation, nobody contacted me about it. (laughs) There should’ve been a, “Hey Inafune, do you have some time?” or, “What do you mean by this? I want to hear it straight from you.” Nothing. Zero.”

    “KI: No. Not a single member of the board of directors understands games. I didn’t ask to be a board member, but if you don’t have someone who understands games in the position of making those final decisions, there winds up being a business-side that doesn’t understand games and development-side that wants to make games. I feel that’s the biggest problem Capcom will be facing.”

    “Managers would always check to make sure that this term’s numbers were in line with next term’s numbers. It wasn’t a matter of personally wanting to make such-and-such a game, but not being able to meet this term’s numbers if you don’t make the game; because you wouldn’t be able to get back up to zero.”

    “In regards to social games, it’s the same deal. They just say things like, “Social games are becoming necessary,” “Networked games are important,” and, “Western advances are important.” They may have the knowledge, but they don’t really understand what it means.”

    “Up to this point, there have been lots of interviews that only present the official company lines.”

    “4G: Yeah, sometimes we can’t ask questions that are too direct, and it winds up sounding like an imperial proclamation.”

    “KI: Yeah it does. I don’t think that’s something that your readers necessarily want to read. It might be the producer doing the talking, but you could say it’s about the same as the person in charge of marketing speaking.”

    I wonder how many Square Enix employees could have given the exact same interview?

  10. evilpaul
    Posted 2010.11.03 at 16:24 | Permalink

    I’ve love to see a sit down interview with somebody who worked on the first ten or so FF games to ask what the development process was like. Is the title “Final Fantasy” really gallows humor like everyone learned on the Internet? Or was imminent bankruptcy really nothing to do with it? Did somebody write most/all of FF4′s scenario up beforehand or was it made up as they went along? Is the “odd/even numbered” titles were deliberately more/less experimental actually true? I’m kind of curious as to what the real history is.

    Of course sitting down with Kitase or Toriayama to find out wtf really happened with FF13 would be interesting too. And probably more relevant.

  11. Emmori
    Posted 2010.11.03 at 20:43 | Permalink

    Equal parts intelligent and offensive.

    Congratulations.