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We gamers can be real dicks. We're spoiled, entitled, and seem to feel that we’re owed great games. And we want them for free. We’re called out as dicks from time to time on forums, and when we step back and look at it, we must admit have a hard time disagreeing. Gamers have a nasty habit of biting the hands that feed us. Don't believe us? Ponder these colossally boneheaded gamer behaviors, ripped right from the pages of history.
Developer Valve dropped a bomb on the world before E3 2003. Not only was Half-Life 2 real and coming out, it was only a few months away from completion. Gamer heads everywhere exploded in anticipation. At the show itself, Valve unveiled gameplay demos that showcased the game's unprecedented physics system and graphics that rivaled the show's other eye-candy kings, Doom 3 and Far Cry.
Then things went to hell. Valve missed its release window by a long shot. The company pulled back and went into “it's done when it's done” mode. Forums cried foul, and no small population of gamers ruled that the game was DOA and couldn't live up to the hype (of course this didn't stop them from buying and raving about the game when it came out in 2004). One disgruntled gamer decided to take matters into own hands.
A man calling himself “Osama Bin Leaker” gained access to Valve's network and used keyloggers and software exploits get his hands on the source code for Half-Life 2. By October 2003, the source code and a playable version of the game were online for anyone to look at or try. As if that wasn't a big enough dick move, Leaker tried to justify his actions by claiming that he was on a crusade for truth and merely unmasking the lies of Valve. “I'd like to point out this is what you wanted Valve to release on 9/30/03...I'd like to point out the E3 demo was one big fake by Valve.”
Nice try. Dick.
Above: Mr. Leaker (left) runs from German authorities (right)
Mr. Leaker, who turned out to be a 21 year old hacker from Germany named Axel Gembe, was later arrested on unrelated charges after a sting operation, in which Valve tried to lure him to the States with a fake job interview, failed. He wasn't the only jerk in this unfortunate incident, however. Gamers started advocating conspiracy theories that Valve leaked the code themselves, a claim that Newell called “utter bullshit.” Several played the leaked code and judged the game to be a complete mess, while retailers in Russia packaged it and put it on sale.
One of the most incomprehensible things about the entitlement gamers express is that the more a game developer gives them, the more they expect. Let's take a look at Valve again. These are good people. They released the original Half-Life and gave players Team Fortress Classic, Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat. They supported those games for years and years after release. Then they released Half-Life 2 with free updates of both Counter-Strike and the original Half-Life. A few years later, they give players five games - Team Fortress 2, Portal, Half-Life 2 with its episodes - for the price of one in the Orange Box. They follow that up a year later with Left 4 Dead. Oh yeah – and many of those products were originally created by modders, whom Valve had supported since the very first copy of Half-Life rolled out of the factory with its level-building tools packed in for free, and many of whom Valve hired and legitimized.
Above: Makes your stomach churn, doesn’t it? That’s it, let’s start a boycott…
Let's step back and look at that track record; how many freebies, how much added value is there? Valve is one of the last remaining PC-focused developers for a reason - they gave consumers more, while others gave them less.
Enter the Left 4 Dead 2 announcement. Instead of feeling excited about a follow-up to an amazing game, a very vocal group of fans leads a boycott, toting a manifesto filled with the most irrelevant, nitpicky, bullshit attacks since the HL2 code theft. The planks of the boycotters' platform included these gems. (We've included translations in parentheses for those that don't speak fluent asshole.)
A) L4D2's release will result in a drop in quality and frequency for L4D1 content, even compared to before (We got our $50 worth months ago, but we are concerned you won’t give us any more free shit. This is perfectly understandable and within your rights, but we are outraged. You are taking food our of our children’s mouths… somehow. You heartless greed monkeys!)
B) Valve put little faith in L4D1 since they almost certainly started working on L4D2 right after release (Not only are you not giving us free shit, but now you’re calling this game that you made and that we love a pile of the bad kind of shit! How dare you!)
C) The new character designs seem bland and unappealing so far. (We haven’t heard any of them speak yet, but we nonetheless think the original characters of black guy, old guy, biker guy, and girl were way deeper.)
D) L4D2 is too bright to fit in with L4D1's visual aesthetic. (Playing a game with colors threatens my status as a licensed and certified basement dweller – though again, we’ve got squat to actually base this upon. But remember: We care more about this game than you do.)
E) The community has lost faith in Valve's former reputation for commitment to their games post-release (We fear this may establish a precedent of you making more new games instead of more add-ons for existing games, and expecting to be paid for them. We think that is total bullshit.)
Above: Valve Grand Poobah Gabe Newell (center) with two of the boycott members that came to Valve on the company’s dime
In the end, Valve ended up inviting the leaders of the boycott to Valve HQ in order to show them that making games is freaking hard work, and takes money. They recanted, but several diehards remained in the group. Of course, once the game was released, they bought it anyway. They probably felt they were just victims and the merciless greed demons at Valve had left them no other choice.
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