I am a whiner

Today I realised that I am a whiny, self-entitled gamer.

This epiphany came to me as I sat, raging impotently at Blizzard’s inability to deliver an expansion pack on its announced release date. Now, in my defence, when you say that something is going to be live and playable on a particular date, you should deliver it. It’s a matter of professionalism, and if you know that there are going to be problems, it is up to you to communicate that with all of the people eagerly awaiting your content. Blizzard didn’t do either of those things, which is part of why I was so annoyed.

But here’s the thing. I wasn’t trying to play Warlords of Draenor, the new World of Warcraft expansion. I was waiting to play Gnomes vs Goblins, the new – free – expansion of Blizzard’s free-to-play game Hearthstone. It’s not like I had even paid for the content that I couldn’t get my hands on yet. Sure, they had committed to a release date and, depending on your time zone and how lucky you were with servers, they missed it for many of their players. Yes, the entirety of their communication on the matter was two tweets, well over five hours apart, and yes, when the update finally went live the game was essentially unplayable. It was even more irritating considering that American players had got their hands on the update the day before, in an attempt to make sure that all the problems Blizzard have made a habit of encountering on a launch day were a non issue.

At the end of the day though – literally, as we spent all day waiting for that update – they were delivering content that is, unless you choose otherwise, free. You can choose to spend money on packs, arena runs or the Naxxramas content – Blizzard aren’t stupid after all – but you can enjoy playing Hearthstone relatively successfully without ever having to pay a single penny. I’m sure that many people who were planning to spend a bit of cash to get their hands on new cards chose not to after the difficult launch, so that was Blizzard’s loss, but the delay of a couple of hours? It didn’t cost us anything except maybe a few hours.

The blizzard of abuse – nudge nudge – that followed the delayed release of Hearthstone’s expansion pack was terrible in one sense and hilarious in another, but also reminded me of some other ‘hardships’ that I’ve had to go through as a loyal gamer living in Europe.

It’s tough to get past the fact that Europeans really do get shafted when it comes to games hopping the Atlantic. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, Rune Factory 4, and a whole host of other titles on everything from the region-locked 3DS to the PlayStation and Xbox consoles. I’ve been guilty of complaining about many of them, although I’ve never been tempted to leap into the online cesspools of moaning and bitching that populate social media.

Realistically though, it’s hardly like I’ve been particularly inconvenienced by the delays, or the DLC that I had to pay for when the Americans didn’t – grr – or even the odd game that I had to import, aside from games on the 3DS. As much as it’s annoying, I have it better than the poor souls down in Australia, who have to deal with censored games, or retailers pulling games from the shelves. I certainly don’t have it as bad as some family back in South Africa, where it is so prohibitively expensive to get, well, anything videogame related that most people just don’t bother.

The only video game ever granted a release in South Africa. FACT.

In light of how much better I have it than other people, being so angry about Hearthstone, or Persona, seems rather silly. In a world that’s more interconnected than ever, it strikes me as even sillier that these problems exist at all for me to get angry over. It’s insane that America gets a game a few days ahead of us in Europe, especially when that game is exclusively digital, let alone having to wait weeks or months for no apparent reason. As we move deeper into digital distribution, it makes no sense to let a silly, artificial restriction become habit or tradition. What’s more, in a world where companies are constantly communicating with their customers, and social media gives us a snapshot into the day-to-day lives of the people making our games, is it so wrong to expect communication in the annoying times as well as the good? Even if you’re not going to give us the game at the same time as everyone else, the least you could do it tell us why. If an update is going to be late, the least you can do is keep us updated.

If they don’t, people like me – whiny, self-centred gamers who have nothing better to do than get pissed about a free update to a free game being a little later than they expected – are only going to get more annoyed, and whine even louder. Nobody wants that, right?

Last five articles by Keegan


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