Gamers react to any change in a beloved franchise with a fury the average person reserves only for tailgaters and spiders in the bathroom. Go into the comments section on an article about, say, a rumored easy mode for the notoriously difficult Dark Souls -- a change which would be entirely optional and negatively impact precisely nobody -- and while there are some reasonable voices, you'll still witness more righteous indignation than a room full of popped monocles. Which is why it's so odd that when it comes to these issues, which are actually legitimate complaints that truly screw over every gamer, there are few if any retaliatory arsons on record.
4The Big Game Publishers Keep Critics Under Their Thumb
God help you if you're a critic who gives a popular game a bad score (bad, in the gaming world, meaning anything less than a 9 out of 10). Every hit game has hardcore fans that refuse to accept even the slightest criticism without turning into rabid murder-monkeys. But why? Why do we bother, when the PR departments of the big game publishers are more than happy to game that system themselves, all while employing shadier tactics than the jumpkick-sweep?
For example, in order to receive advance copies of new games to be reviewed -- so they can put in enough hours to develop an informed opinion come release day -- reviewers are forced to sign embargoes: non-disclosure agreements forbidding them from saying anything until a specific date and time decided on by the developers, and also from giving their reviews to the Cuban government. When Assassin's Creed Unity was released, Ubisoft didn't lift their embargo until 12 hours after the game had hit store shelves. Spoiler alert: Unity was the gaming equivalent of setting a cat on fire, if the cat had only ever worked half the time to start with.
And if you used the burnt carcass for the skin texture layers.
Word eventually got out that their game was tepid garbage water, but Ubisoft had already sold a ton of games. Embargoes to the rescue! And so publishers doubled down: Bethesda put an embargo on their embargo of Fallout 4 -- reviewers weren't allowed to say there was an embargo until Bethesda told them they could, because people who review video games are slowly watching their lives turn into a Terry Gilliam movie.
"I just want to tell people about how they can sprint now."
OK, so why not just break the embargo? What's Bethesda going to do, send their goons out to break your keyboard? Good luck glitching through the wall, Bethesda goons! Well, no, but they can blacklist the reviewer, and a blacklisted reviewer can't get their reviews done until after the game's been out for a while, which means a bunch of other outlets beat them to the punch, which means they probably don't get paid. In other words, reviewers have a financial incentive to stay on the good side of the publishers, and players are too busy yelling at them for giving their favorite game an 8.8 instead of a 9 to notice that it's the developers who created this situation in the first place. But hey, at least it's a step up from when developers just got reviewers fired for pointing out that their games sucked.
Kane & Lynch: Dead
Men From Boredom
3Game Developers Deliberately Drum Up Controversy
We've come a long way from the days when folks genuinely worried that Grand Theft Auto would turn you into an amoral killer and Super Mario Bros. would transform you into a maniacal turtle stomper. But gamers are still sensitive to accusations that they're a bunch of basement dwellers that like shooting up virtual people because they can't interact with real ones. Games like Hatred are ... they're not exactly helping fight that stereotype.
"My hatred is directed at any clothing design made after 1999."
Hatred is a dark and edgy game ... if a 13-year-old who's just now discovering Slipknot only understood both of those concepts. You play as a dude in a trench coat who brutally slaughters police and civilians while they beg for their lives. Every moment of the grim trailer is obviously and blatantly begging to drum up some free controversial publicity, and, sadly, it did. Hatred launched a thousand think pieces about violence in gaming. Thanks to the controversy, views of the trailer skyrocketed, journalists rushed to perform vapid interviews with the developers, major reviewers felt compelled to play and cover it when it came out (most of whom said, rampant misanthropy aside, it was about as fun and innovative as doing your taxes), and the game hit the top of Steam's sales charts within hours. And now you too can join the 400,000 people that watched a video of the game's most brutal executions!
But that's just the most extreme example of an old tactic. Dead Space 2 was a sequel to an already great and successful game, yet they still felt the need to market it as a game that would gross out your mom. This was a game that was rated M for 17 and up (we guess the M didn't stand for "Mature Enough To Not Pride Themselves On Offending Their Mother").
But it worked!
So did EA's ploy to market Dante's Inferno with a fake protest from devout Christians. The truth came out, everyone talked about how dumb it was, and an otherwise completely forgettable action game got more publicity than they ever would have otherwise. So every now and then a new "controversy" pops up that exists only because the developers planned it, and we all fall for it and make gaming look dumb in the process. It's not going to stop until humanity manages to avoid being outraged at something that's explicitly intended to generate outrage. So, never, probably.