I love video games. I love just about everything having to do with them. I’ve written on several different occasions as to what they mean to me and how they’ve shaped my worldview. But, to say that my experience with them is special or different would be disingenuous to the rest of the people out there with a different story to tell, especially those like Respawn Entertainment, who create some of the games we play.
However, the one thing that we all share is that gaming is a part of our lives. This is important, because video games always seem to operate in sort of a grey area in the world. They are part art, part entertainment, part relaxation. But above everything, they are still part of a business.
The customer isn’t always right
I hate to break it to you, but the customer isn’t always right. Sometimes the customer is an asshole, jerk-face, and even a cotton-headed ninny muggins. I know, because I spent 11 years working in the retail industry. The majority of that time was spent in management working for a brick and mortar retailer, Target.
I’ve pretty much seen the best and worst from humanity while working there. I had a visibly aged Nintendo Wii thrown at my face while trying to work with a guest (what customers are referred to as at Target). I was called a “fucking asshole” for not allowing someone to return toilet paper that was soaking wet (yes, soaking wet). And I experienced many other awkward situations I never thought I’d be dealing with (like a restroom that was painted with human excrement).
Although these instances might have changed my perspective on humanity, the one thing that was for certain in all of these cases was the fact that the guest would never hear me express any of my personal opinions about them to their face. Sure, the team would talk about the daily happenings, both good and bad. Stories were shared by store and regional managers, but the end goal was to always do what’s best for the guest. I had no problem with mini venting sessions behind closed doors, however. This was also a way to learn from the situation and ultimately be preventative the next time around.
Excuse my long-winded diatribe
The reason I discussed my past experiences working with the general public was that we often forget that real people work these jobs. It isn’t me as the business doing business things like a robot. I’m human, too. And when in those types of situations, the best thing to do is put your best foot forward and deploy a bit of empathy. In the case of Respawn Entertainment, though, the only place they put their foot was in their own mouth.
For the TL;DR version of things, an alleged developer from Respawn Entertainment was part of an attempt to apologize on Reddit regarding the latest timed event for Apex Legends, the developer’s free-to-play battle royale title. The Iron Crown Collection event has an item that, in the end, basically sports a US$170 price tag. That is, when you exchange the in-game currency for the digital hatchet. I do agree, it’s an egregious money grab on behalf of Respawn Entertainment and the game’s publisher, Electronic Arts (EA).
The point where the situation turned sour came in the comments from the aforementioned developer. Name-calling, bullying, and belittling all occurred there. Some screengrabs were obtained prior to them being deleted. In them, you can see the developer referring to people as being a “dick” and also “ass-hats.” This is hands down the most embarrassing thing I’ve seen done by a business professional, not to mention someone who is customer-facing.
Yelling on the interwebs
The internet has done many great things. It’s allowed people to stay in contact with family members. It’s helped people learn new things all over the world. And it has also given people a giant megaphone to stir up a shitstorm when they feel they’ve been wronged.
You can pick any fandom or game franchise out there, regardless of the intellectual property, and someone somewhere is throwing a fit. This DLC sucks, that character sucks, everything sucks. Not only that, they’ve done things like harassing a level designer for things like microtransactions, regardless of the fact that that person had no control over the transactions within a video game.
I respect everyone’s ability to argue an opinion and to have one, but it doesn’t mean that you target people individually because you are unhappy. And the same can be said regarding the developer in this case, especially since, in this context, they are a direct reflection of both EA and Respawn Entertainment.
Chillin’ with my woes
The biggest reason I feel so embarrassed for Respawn Entertainment lies in the fact that I was actually rooting for them. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Apex Legends up until this point and was a huge fan of the Titanfall franchise. I’m also looking forward to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. But, when someone from the development team chooses to express themselves without poise or professionalism and then makes it personal, it leaves the company image looking a bit tarnished.
This was simply bad business and bad for business.
This won’t be the end
This won’t be the last time a developer says something outrageous or spiteful in response to fans. This also won’t be the last time that gamers bitch and moan on the internet about how wronged they feel. But, this could be the last time for you to put up with or contribute to this type of behavior.
I’m guilty of the same type of behavior that has been expressed here. But there has to be some point in your life before you hit that send button, or before you hit enter to send that tweet, where you consider what you are saying. Because on the other end of that digital text is a real-life person.
This isn’t exclusive to the people consuming video games, either. Respawn Entertainment, in this situation, could have done the same. They could have realized that a $170 hatchet is outrageous, especially for a game that’s competing with all other shooters on the market, not to mention within the saturated battle royale market.
For anyone out there who has worked in customer service and knows the highs and lows of the job, I salute you.
Thanks for coming to my Greg Talk.