We Don’t Talk About Video Games Around Here

Have you ever made a political statement on Twitter?

It’s likely that if you did, you would immediately experience vitriol from holders of opposing view points. Ever make a religious, or worse still – anti-religious statement on <insert social media of your choice>? I’m willing to wager you experienced some sort of negativity in this scenario as well. In case you were wondering, there is indeed wisdom in that widely held idea that you don’t talk about politics or religion during social engagements. It seems that gaming as a topic is beginning to hold similar weight, in that you cannot have an opinion about something without immediately experiencing feedback – for better or worse.

Those of us who are part of the gaming sphere of social media, be it by blogging, streaming, vlogging or otherwise interacting with complete strangers via whatever-app-happens-to-be-the-flavor-of-the-month will be no strangers to this phenomenon. It was primarily amplified during the whole Gamer Gate scandal from a couple of years ago, but it persists from the dank, dark corners of official forums, to the bright white pages of Twitter. If you have an opinion it will be scrutinized, dissected and though sometimes objective conversations can be had with the denizens of the Internet, it’s likely to devolve into name calling and subtweeting. This is particularly true if you happen to shit on something that is generally loved – and that’s going to be the case no matter what form of media you might be criticizing — though I think people get more defensive over video games, and it’s a curious situation.

Admittedly, I’ve been shitting on Blizzard for a long time. Despite loving their original output, I haven’t cared too much for their more recent catalog additions. I also find them responsible for single-handedly ruining a great genre that I once loved, which tends to color my lenses a bit when it comes to them encroaching on other genres — ones I have loved even longer than MMOs. If you’ve been listening to my podcast lately, or have been a reader of my blog for a couple of years, you’ll probably recall some of my positive and negative commentary about Blizzard and its IPs. I stand behind my opinions and critiques – I have a distinct taste and it has little to nothing to do with trying to piss anyone else off, though putting your opinion out there tends to get these sorts of responses. What started off as a troll post quickly turned into something that I didn’t intend for it to, but my stubborn and opinionated self was unable to just let the further commentary go without making my own further commentary and soon the train had left the station. Here’s the post for posterity:

So clearly, I’m being a dick. Overwatch, which I have lovingly called “Overhype” for a while now, has been all the rage while in open beta. I played it back in Closed Alpha or Beta.. something. I didn’t find it entertaining, rewarding or even innovative. It’s been compared to TF2 and a bunch of other things already, so I don’t need to reiterate this stuff. I’ve explained my position on the game itself already in prior posts/episodes. My concern now, is similar to my concern when Heroes of the Storm was all the rage not that long ago. Thankfully I was right when I said:

“It was no secret that I had been anticipating this day as a MOBA enthusiast, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that this game is not going to dethrone either of the other “big ones,” but will probably be popular with people who haven’t touched other MOBAs. The main reason for this separation into “camps,” comes down to one word: Depth.” 

It’s true, HotS took a little sliver of what we could consider the MOBA market, and likely only persists because of people who play it and no other MOBA (LoL/DOTA2 quitters, or MOBA virgins). Unlike it’s new-genre predecessors (Hearthstone and WoW) it didn’t capitalize at the right time and wasn’t the whirlwind success I’m sure Blizzard was hoping for. You can’t always take existing ideas and dumb them down and then expect to become filthy rich; they hit their lotto numbers once already. Sounding bitter aside, Overwatch ends up being the same sort of situation, where an existing idea was “polished” and is now ready for public consumption, resulting in a hype train of ridiculous proportions that doesn’t feel warranted to this humble writer. No, I think Overhype is just that… and I think it will be forgotten soon enough. At least, I hope I’m right about this one just like I was right about HotS.

My concern isn’t that people are enjoying a new game in a sort-of new genre that is emerging (competitors such as Battleborn, Paladins and Paragon come to mind). My concern is that “perfect storm” effect that happened with World of Warcraft. Where a game that I (and I absolutely know I’m not alone) felt was inferior to many of its competitors yet Joe Public ate it up like it was the finest cut of meat. If Overwatch (or had HotS performed better) ends up being the next coming, and ends up being the model by which all new FPS or MOBA -like games are copied for the next ten years, then two of my favorite genres won’t see better iteration. It happened with WoW, and people who feel like I do had to suffer (yes Roger, SUFFER) through ten years of mediocre MMOs. I don’t want to see that again, and I think most reasonable people would agree that stagnation is what has caused the evolution of the MMO genre we have seen as of late.

Should you feel bad for buying and enjoying Overwatch? Absolutely not. You have your opinions, and you should stick to them. Should you attack this argument with tooth and nail? Sure, if you feel so inclined, there’s the comments section below; I don’t really moderate them. But there’s a valid argument here, despite the fact that it’s difficult to articulate the way I’d like. Do I think that the games industry would benefit from more original ideas rather than polished iterations? Yes. Do I hate you for buying something that isn’t anything but? No, but I’d also like for you to think a little, rather than just jumping on the next hype train. We’re throwing our money at things just because a company name is attached to them, and not offering any sort of critique. Everything has its flaws, including this argument. Nonetheless, both still exist, and will persist despite my pointing them out. My opinion isn’t any better than yours, but it’s my feeling that an expressed opinion is better than a silenced one.

20 thoughts on “We Don’t Talk About Video Games Around Here

  1. This kind of drama is very typical forum drama. If we talked face 2 face it would be a bit more civil:):)

    I tried to play wow first time about 8a year ago cos i have a lot of friends in game (ofcwe all have ;). I didnt last long. Bored me to death. Never tried any moba and i dont feel tempted by this either.
    Love your postings!


    • I did use some blanket terminology in there, so of course many people couldn’t care less about these games I’m talking about. It was mostly good humored poking back and forth so I’m not upset about it, but I tend to think about big picture ideas so a post came out of it at least!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I get torn about the idea that Blizzard ruined MMOs, because in some singularly important ways, they did. But there was alot of benevolence because what they brought to the mainstream was an awareness that not just the hardcore who are “in the know” would love these. Blizzard somehow (and I really don’t know how) was able to understand that it’s not just about catering to current fans, but making that base larger and thus making it as easy as possible for new fans to enter. That’s a fantastic thing.

    But the rest is history. Once they have those fans they tend to be no better than the exclusive clubs of players “in the know”. Unfortunately for EQ2, it was a game about being “in the know”. You would never have heard of or tried such a game if you were not in that group except through the begging of your friends!

    But Bizzard stopped growing at some point, as developers I mean. I can now attest to the fact that growing older *does* make one a bit more unnecessarily conservative. I think this force is more potent amongst those who really adopt the idea of group loyalty. And for Blizzard this has meant a mold designed on all kinds of fucked up ideas. Ideas that they may not have known were fucked up in their youth, but which age should have damn well made them well aware of.

    So every “new” game they drop just feels like ETC80 #1078. They *really* don’t get it. And their legacy right now is hanging on their abilitiy to recruit young developers who want to go far beyond that — and to listen to them.

    I don’t care about Overwatch. Never been a strong FPS fan. But I haven’t tried HoTS since alpha …it just felt too formulaic, safe, and uninspired. Haven’t gone back since.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Leave it to Doone to understand my angsty rants. The measured way you deliver yourself is something I aspire to do but lack the tact during passionate times. Thanks for the commentary!


  3. I consider the notion that the success of a mainstream product some how lowers the creative threshold of future endeavour to be spurious. Such a topic is a blog post in itself, but overall the proliferation of mainstream competing products, doesn’t entirely drive out quality material. We still get good music both inside and out of the “charts”. Hollywood still produces movies of note that perform well, in between the commercial blockbusters. It’s the same with gaming.

    I also find it curious that when it comes to video games, that so many people abandon the prevailing dogma of the free market and suddenly become all protectionist and even socialist in their thinking. As if games, the developers and publishers have a mandatory wider social/philosophical obligation. Some choose to do so but other companies are just in the business for the shareholders. Surely by now the older gamer would have a handle on the status quo that defines their hobby/pastime.

    As for Overwatch, it will be championed by those who it was specifically created for. Players preferring more traditional and robust FPS experiences will still have the products that they like and will still be catered for in the future. McDonald’s after all has not consigned the western world to a exclusive diet of convenience food. There is still Pâté de foie gras and Châteauneuf-du-Pape

    Finally if you want to claim and use the word “suffer” by all means do so However I’d be very careful in whose company you use it, as you may find yourself losing credibility.

    Standard caveats and disclaimers:

    Everyone can have an opinion and state it
    Placing your opinion in the public domain will mean that it is scrutinised and de-constructed.
    I like facts and data and tend to be sceptical based on outlooks driven primarily by feelings.
    People can disagree and still be cool with each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know I’d side with your logic on this in most cases, but the case of WoW causing shitty clones for ten years is based in fact. My concern was the replication of that success causing a billion clones.

      I too am mostly cold and logical, but in this case I let my feelings take over. I am human, I do have these moments.

      I’m going to laugh if anything I have foreshadowed comes true though. And then cry because my fears came true.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jeromai’s post on Overwatch pretty much summed it up. Paladins won’t be doing anything earth-shaking.

    I threw money at BDO in a rare fit of bandwagoning pique and have been trying to get a refund for the last month. Reading other people’s experiences is good enough for me but it appears I may have to play it at some point. Lesson learned.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not really interested in MOBA’s so have been out of the loop. But I also noticed a lot of people talking about Overwatch. I agree with you, Izlain that because I don’t care for it, doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t. I like to see people playing games they love to play, I just hope they are getting it because it’s a game that looks good to them and not because it’s blizzard or everyone else is getting it.
    The blind popularity that WoW received really did hurt the diversity that MMOs were heading towards, but it did bring a public eye to the genre. So there’s the good with the bad.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “It happened with WoW, and people who feel like I do had to suffer (yes Roger, SUFFER) through ten years of mediocre MMOs.”

    Somebody made something popular and you didn’t like it, so you were made to “suffer?” It always kind of amazes me when people rant about Blizzard because their success “ruined” things. It is never the half-assed attempts to copy WoW and its success, it is WoW that is the problem.

    When I look at the last decade of MMORPGs, I see plenty of problems. Shoddy quality, poor or lacking content, gold sellers and other illicit RMT running out of control, cash shops and lock boxes and content designed to drive you to spend, and generally pushing games out too soon that didn’t offer anything that would substantially differentiate them from their competition.

    But turning around and blaming that all on Blizzard rather than holding to account the companies that delivered the crap that made the last decade so bad seems more like pique than a rational complaint.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Obviously it’s not all blizzard’s fault, and yes I do hold those other companies accountable. Blizzard’s runaway success with the theme park model is the root cause though, whether rational or not. Still doesn’t mean I hate the company as a whole. I love Starcraft and Diablo and would buy the shit out of Warcraft 4 if they ever made it. I still see their successes as potential downfalls for the rest of the competition though. The method is sort of irrelevant.


      • If somebody makes a bad WoW clone, I find it difficult to assign the root cause of the problem to Blizzard. The root cause seems more likely to be a belief that they can exploit WoW’s success without putting in the effort. Again, blaming bad business decisions on somebody else’s success sounds like an attempt to abrogate responsibility. Blizzard did not literally force people to copy them, greed did. Saying Blizzard is the problem comes across as sour grapes.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. The champions of responsibility here are tedious (don’t panic, mostly being obnoxious to encourage more *responsible* responses).

    The response always goes: Blizzard had no responsibllity for how MMO development turned out for the past 10 years — it’s those failed companies who did this to the genre.

    So in the end we are to believe that the leader in MMOs had no responsibility to the betterment of the genre and that all the companies inspired by their success bear ALL the responsibility for the betterment of the genre.

    Surely any of you can see this is not any better approach to the discussion than one of us blaming blizzard entirely for everything (in other words, the proper response isnt to lay blame the other direction).

    Oh how I miss these discussions.


  8. So we can conclude that the state of the modern MMMO genre is due to multiple, nuanced factors that have occurred over the past two decades and that one specific reason or party is not responsible for the status quo.

    Sounds like pretty much every other situation in life 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, but only IF:

      * With greater power DOES NOT come greater responsibility (more responsibility than those with lesser power).


      * Blizzard is/was NOT the most powerful in the genre.

      If you can agree to these, we are in perfect alignment on this nuanced discussion. (as in: a single entity CAN bear the greater responsibility for the outcome of a situation.)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I didn’t mean to shut you down haha – just like to argue with you and I actually agree with your points about it. That’s the funny thing about hots and overwatch – people love and hate them for the same reason. I was originally passing it up as well until I played it and found I actually enjoyed it. Oh and calling it over hype is actually quite clever haha.

    As for the perfect storm happening again, extremely unlikely. Wow was a product of the times, creating something and releasing before many there and developing it over time without much competition. Much like lol really.

    I also think overwatch is in a different space, and a crowded space. It’s not exactly made got longevity like an mmo or move. It’s a genre that seems mostly about just iterating with thematic changes.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Maybe it’s genetics, but I find that I have a distinct immunity to hype. Maybe it’s from one too many games that were overhyped and fell apart, wasted money, or my backlog that is big enough to wrap around the globe a few times. So, I’m with you… I couldn’t care less about Overwatch. I’m moreso sad because the characters and assets were going to be part of Titan. Like they went “what’s the laziest and cheapest thing we can do with all this leftover stuff?” They just turned it into a profitable skinner box. Characters that have no character, but people eat it up because e-sports, competition, and multiplayer are all the rage. Go figure. Call me when games start having taste again.


    • I’ll admit, I get wrapped up in the hype, I just bought DOOM as a result, but it was a worthy purchase. Sometimes a game is one I know I’ll like so a preorder or day one purchase will happen. But other games I look at and go, what? I was being cynical mostly, but this spawned a conversation and I’m okay with that.


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