Blizzard Watch ran an editorial yesterday quoting former marine biologist and World of Warcraft Lead Systems Designer Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street on the subject of video game boycotts: “I would not advocate boycotting a game as a way to make a statement, especially if deep down you still love the game. You’re just not likely to drive change as a result.”
It’s not a new idea, but it’s one worth revisiting whether we’re talking about something as big as economic and political sanctions or something as small as quitting a video game with a big ol’ flounce: Even if a whole crapton of people quit over something terrible in a game, it’s unlikely to have much of an effect since the developers won’t know why. There will always be exceptions — like the NGE or monoclegate — and they’re such outliers that they have names. For the most part, games really can’t react to a few thousand people quitting over a patch here and there. Boycotts just aren’t specific enough.
This is why it always bugs me when gamers say things like, if you don’t like the way a game is going, leave! Don’t try to divert the developers from their vision. I’m with Street: If you love the game, stay and fight. Be loud, be those annoying guys on the forums and Reddit, those tipsters who send rants to the press, who agitate to make games better rather than shrugging and moving on, the games decaying behind them.
Have you ever boycotted an MMORPG? Did it work?