4 Times Video Game Publishers Acted Stupidly Shady
We've covered mechanics that deviously mess with players' heads and how awesome those actually are. This is not about that. This is about how some game publishers make use of incredibly distasteful practices with their customers, not in the hopes of awakening some sort of masochistic enjoyment in players, but merely to make money in any way that they can ...
Bandai Namco Dominated The Training Business
Do you know about the greatest moment in competitive gaming history, that time when Daigo Umehara, arguably the greatest fighting game player of all time, pulled off the most incredible comeback of all time? You should. One of the thousand reasons why that is so spectacular is that Capcom games didn't let players practice their combos—or their responses to other people's combos—courtesy of Bandai Namco's patenting.
See all the arrow and button combinations on the lower part of the screen below?
That's part of Tekken's Practice Mode, one of the best tools at your disposal if you want to become proficient at Tekken. The reason we say "at Tekken" isn't because it sucks to learn other games, but because it was pretty much the only game where you could make use of that feature for a very long while. That was due to the publishers of Tekken filing a sneaky patent claim that earned them a total monopoly over the sparring business in games for nearly 20 years. Imagine Neo going up against the agents without ever being allowed to download kungfu.exe to his brain or get his ass kicked by Morpheus at the dojo.
And this isn't even the only nasty patent that Namco ever held on to, as they also prevented anyone from playing minigames during loading screens up until 2015.
Over-Objectifying Lara Croft (Even By '90s Standards)
Most players think of Lara Croft as a character who's been highly sexualized since the very beginning, but that's not true. In the first game, the devs at Core Design didn't objectify Lara beyond sticking to a supposed mistake that made her boobs get larger.
It was from the release campaign of Tomb Raider 2 and onward that the publishers decided to make use of Lara's power over gamers and started rendering her during all sorts of non Tomb Raiding activities.
But snowflakes still hadn't been invented in the '90s, so this was totally okay, right? Well, not for Toby Gard, the series' creator, who eventually ended up leaving the company. Gard later revealed things were even ickier than people were aware of. Remember Nude Raider, the mod that allows players to—well, come on, you know damn well what we're talking about. Gard thinks that mod wasn't made by an avid fan but by Core design's own devs, as Gard allegedly once had to shut down an order to make nude Lara playable that came straight from the company's boss.
Of course, people ended up outgrowing their weird hots for a 3d model, and you can no longer find any sort of sexually suggestive Lara picture anywhere on the internet, no way.
No Man's Sky Made Up An Entire Multiplayer Mode
You know what's larger than No Man's Sky's incredible procedurally generated universe? The incredibly made-up multiplayer they had at launch.
Originally, Sony and Hello Games promoted No Man's Sky as the next big thing. To their credit, boy, did it really look great, but it came out in a pretty rough shape. Maybe the game's intended scope was just too hard to pull off, and that we can forgive. What we can't forgive, however, are the bonkers lies the devs fed everyone for a long while. Hello Games touted the game as being a multiplayer experience from the get-go, which was a lie. One so dumb, in fact, you could ask why they ever thought they'd get away with something so easily disprovable.
Well, the thing is, No Man's Sky's so large that lead dev Sean Murray himself comfortably claimed it was just highly unlikely players would ever meet. And … he was right, actually. No Man's Sky does feature an unbelievably large sandbox to play in, so the math was on the side of the lie. Unfortunately for them, however, just a mere hours after the release of the game, two streamers managed to reach the exact same spot on the same planet without finding any sign of the other, thus proving that the devs not merely lied big time but also turned science into their accomplice.
They then put a Band-Aid on the whole situation in the form of a literal "single-player-only" Band-Aid:
The idea of such a huge game being multiplayer was always iffy. Most actual multiplayer servers end up suffering from lag even when hosting games with no more than ten players. How does one come up with a server capable of hosting an entire universe first try? Well, you gotta lie about it. No Man's Sky just generated a universe where each player played separately, something much easier than creating a universe for everyone. In their defense, No Man's Sky now features actual multiplayer functionalities, and it seems pretty good.
The Housing Crisis The Mainstream Media Doesn't Talk About
Final Fantasy XIV, the now good alternative to World of Warcraft, wasn't always such a good place to live a fake life in. One of its cool features is allowing players to own homes; the not-so-cool feature is how that system works like, well, the US. At some point, FFXIV's in-game housing model caused what was probably the first housing crisis in the history of online gaming. Instead of acting straight-up evil, the devs just allowed evil in by believing in the most final of fantasies: a market's capability to regulate itself.
Buying a house in FFXIV requires going through the hassle of finding a plot of land that's unoccupied, then being quicker than everyone else looking for a house to buy. It's hard enough as is, but in an interesting real-life parallel, the developers at Square Enix allowed it to become even worse.
The great housing shortage began when two rich characters managed to used their immense wealth to buy 28 houses, the last 28 that were still available. The fun part is that, unlike real life, you can't really hoard obscene amounts of real cash by renting your properties, meaning that they did it just to ensure everyone that they'd reached the final form of assholedom. What rocks about the crisis is how players got a crash course on asking stuff such as "should virtual housing be an equal right? Should it be a right only for those too rich to even care about rights?"
In what's sadly not a parallel to the real world, the devs quickly accepted that they were at fault and brought in new guidelines and restrictions to limit the number of land players could hoard. The housing market has been going pretty well since. Surprising, huh?
Top image: Core Design