When game devs lie, is it fraud?

When game devs lie, is it fraud?

As a gamer who pulled the trigger on Fallout 4 on PS instead of PC, I am very disappointed at the now-official lack of mod support for my console.

Mods are the bread and butter of Bethesda’s open world games – they’re the reason people still play Skyrim to this day, and without them, these games have no lifespan beyond their final DLCs. I’m now locked into a season pass, for a game that’s not optimised for my console, that I will not play for as long as I planned.

Stupid me.

This was a lesson I had learned in 2011 with Skyrim and its poor, poor PS3 port. But when Bethesda said there’d be mods across the board at E3 2014, I believed them against my better judgement, as did a lot of other gamers who like me, handed over good money for the pleasure.

Make no mistake, this failure to deliver lies squarely at Bethesda’s feet. After all, Sony never promised us mods on PS4, and are only doing what they believe is best for the security of their platform. Placing the blame at Sony’s feet is childlike and petty for a company of Bethesda’s stature.

I believe that one of the oft underappreciated boons of living in today’s society, is the mass availability of Nutella. Another, is that honesty is sacrosanct in marketing.

Gone are the days of Radium-enriched skin creams, and toys that don’t work as they’re supposed to (Fuck you, Slinky). Instead, we have products that can, especially in the realm of tech, do exactly what the marketing says.

Games, however, are sadly often exempt from this rule.

In August, it was One Man’s Lie (No Man’s Sky) that rode the hype train straight to the bottom of the bargain bin for somehow managing to be both brilliant (for its technical achievement as a procedurally generated experience) and shit (because its FUUUUCKING boring).

In June, we had Mighty No.9 – the Kickstarter-backed spiritual successor to Megaman that didn’t even attempt to be anything deserving of such a comparison. Have I played it? No. Nobody’s played it. Megaman was hard enough so Bad Megaman would be like torture.

Of course it’s not just Indy devs who lie to us…Hardly.

Remember Final Fantasy XIV? Every few sequels, the Final Fantasy series gets the MMO treatment and FFXIV was one of the worst experiences one could ever have in front of a screen. Worse than current DC movies. Worse than the Minority Report TV series. Worse than Golf. Square Enix of course recovered from this, with an amazing update called A Realm Reborn. But it’s the exception.

Let’s talk about Destiny.

From the minds that brought you Halo, Myth… and something called Marathon I think, Destiny promised, and failed, to bring every console owner the quintessential, generation defining gaming experience.

Now, this game and its shortcomings are covered a whole damn lot on this site. One excellent DLC (out of four should Rise of Iron prove terrible) has recovered a lot of good PR for the Bungie & Destiny brands. But that PR doesn’t change the fact that we didn’t get a single iota of the game we were promised in the early marketing material.

At E3, an epic story backed by the best gunplay ever seen on console was demonstrated. In 2014, we got the excellent gunplay (albeit with Ghost Bullets), but it was backed by a whole lot of running around for no apparent reason, and a sycophantic community with really short memories, who somehow love RNG mechanics and think the whole “read the nonsensical card-based Isaac Asimov fan fiction on a separate device thing” is really neat.

My opinion is thus: if Deej was Pinnochio, his nose would be the star of its own pornographic movie.

Of course, you may be old like me and point to the good old days. Don’t. Peter Molyneux thrived in the good old days with Black & White and Fable. Remember Daikatana? Remember Duke Nukem Forever?

Remember fucking E.T.? If you don’t, you’re either too young, or couldn’t get your hands on it because most of the copies are literally landfill. Oh yeah, E.T.’s also the game that basically crashed the gaming industry in the 80’s. So there’s that.

The point I’m making is that as gamers, we get straight up lied to a whole bunch. It has to stop but it probably won’t because we’re the most hype-gullible consumer group on the planet. Fanboyism, a forgiving nature, and godlike gullibility do not good bedfellows make, people. Add pre-orders and review gag orders to that equation, and we’re left in a situation where left, right and centre, we’re a market that laps up bullshit.

Not that anything I say could ever make a difference. Playstation fans will pre-order Horizon Zero Dawn as soon as it become available. Xbone users will swallow Forza Horizon 3 alive. PC gamers will buy continuously into Star Citizen’s hype with every tiny tech demo they release. And I still stand by my theory that the guy basically Kickstarted a game that only he can play.

In the end, until we push back and start letting developers know that there’s a piper to play for every overhyped, overmarketed 5/10 game so that publishers dare not even attempt their release, we will continue to be misled. And every gamer who owns a copy of The Division, of Recore, or of Arkham Knight (PC) deserves the security of knowing that should a developer fail to deliver, they should be made liable.

After all, we have a name for the act of promising something and not providing it. There are laws against it. It’s a big deal.

It’s called “Fraud.”

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