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in Deep Dives2 months ago

The title of this post is borrowed from a YouTuber that I've been following since a few years ago. "CAAApitalism" is used to signify how the game-industry, especially the production of triple-A titles, has been negatively affected by our world-economy's dependence on ever more profits and ever more growth for its survival.


source: YouTube

In other words: our games are becoming worse, just like movies and almost everything else under capitalism's destructive forces. Instead of producing innovative games or imaginative new movies, we're bombarded with sequel after sequel. In capitalism "innovation" is rewarded primarily when it's applied to new and better ways to extract more dollars from the consumer. Making a truly unique game or movie bears with it the risk that it doesn't win over enough customers, so game publishers and film producers take the safe route that guarantees the revenues their stock holders and investors have come to expect from them. When a game or movie is successful, when it reaches triple-A status, it's milked for as long as possible.

"The more they make, the more they want, and they will do anything to get it. They will gut their own employees with a rusty shears if that's what it takes. And once they start gutting they won't ever really stop, because ultimately what corporations want is logistically and physically impossible. [...] Because the end-game of thoroughly unchecked capitalism is to have no end-game, to keep making more and more money in perpetuity. Not just making money forever but making exponentially more money year after year; do better than last year and do better than this year next year." - Jim Sterling

The big game publishers release dozens of versions of basically the same game; currently the Call Of Duty (COD) and Fifa Soccer series are some of the most played games in the world. The added benefit for these games' producers is that very little development time is needed; slap on a few new skins, change some names and teams and, in the case of COD, add a sorry excuse for a loose new background narrative, and voila: you've got a "brand-new" 60 dollar title for the masses! These games are just like mobile phones in the sense that they manufacture and rely on perceived planned obsolescence; the new iPhone has 1023 built-in functions whereas the previous one only had 1011 functions, which is enough for masses of people sleep overnight in front of the Apple store to be the first ones to replace their ancient two year old iPhones for a "brand-new" one. And the irony is that they all only use a couple of dozens, max, of the built-in functions to begin with... And the same goes for the games: minimal changes, maximum output for the producers.

CAAApitalism: The Successful Failure Of Videogames (The Jimquisition)

Gaming is now on the verge of entering a new consumerist chapter, one that will net the publishers even more; games will now be streamed to the consoles instead of installed on them. This means that you, the consumer, will not own the game that you bought. Instead you pay for a license, you pay for permission to play the game. This will be put on top of all the other schemes already in play to extract as much dollars from you as possible, like in-game purchases, in-game gambling, season passes and premium season passes, loot boxes, the list is extensive. It's not enough to just produce and sell a game anymore. Since World Of Warcraft all game publishers are eager to have a subscription model of their own, thereby assuring a reliable and steady revenue-stream from a single successful title. And since the Facebook-based FarmVille they all earn extra money with in-game purchases. That was "free-to-play, pay-to-win" and we're now going for "pay-to-play, pay-more-to-win"...

And what will happen to the games of today that will be classics in the year 2050? No one will have a hard-copy of the streaming titles that are knocking on gamers' doors. Publishers aren't known for their respect for their own old titles. The titles of tomorrow will simply be gone in 2050 if by then there's no more money to be made with them. Same with Netflix movies, or any of the other streaming services that are filling our personal bandwidth space. And I don't want you to misunderstand; there's nothing wrong with transitioning to an economy of ownership to an economy of access. That on itself is great. No one needs to own a music CD, when all we want is to hear the music; streaming technology is a step in the right direction when it comes to reduce the amount of waste we produce and the amount of material resources we waste. The problem, as always, is the profit motive, the need to make ever more money for an ever shrinking group of individuals.

Okay, I've said what I want to say for now. The YouTuber I mentioned in the introduction is Jim Sterling, and I especially like his series called "The Jimquisition". I've linked two videos by him in this post, but I can recommend them all. So, please enjoy!

The Epic Brutality Of Unchecked Capitalism (The Jimquisition)

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