I fundamentally believe that when making purchasing decisions, we must make them with as much factual data at hand. I won’t sit here and claim that I alone know all the facts. That’s just simply not true. But as someone in media, it is my responsibility to educate and inform consumers as much as I can with facts so that you can then go and make intelligent purchasing decisions armed with said facts.
I wrote about a similar topic previously as my first article for GameSpace, but as I’ve continued to observe the industry, I felt it paramount to revisit this topic in greater detail. This, then, will be a much more introspective article from me, one where I will discuss my own failings. I also aim to cover the most common retorts and reactions I’ve observed, and just why people make them from a place of emotion rather than reason. I’ll also discuss the cold hard truth that I personally have had to accept.
Nintendo Switch Online
Let’s begin by using Nintendo’s Switch Online service as a conduit to guide our discussion. It was revealed that this online service will not support cloud saves on all games. But before we get discuss the quotes therein, there are some very clear facts we must observe and accept first and foremost
Switch Online costs less than XBL or PS+. Cloud saves are a feature on PC that is free on platforms like Steam. And finally, per Nintendo, not all games will have cloud saves, “to ensure fair play.” In effect, you are not receiving the same cloud save service that you do on XBL, PS+, or PC.
Nintendo’s reasoning is (emphasis added),
“The vast majority of Nintendo Switch games will support Save Data Cloud backup. However, in certain games this feature would make it possible to, for example, regain items that had been traded to other players, or revert to a higher online multiplayer ranking that had been lost. To ensure fair play, Save Data Cloud backup may not be enabled for such games. To ensure that Save Data Cloud backups cannot be used to unfairly affect online multiplayer rankings, the feature will not be enabled in Splatoon 2.”
Some people have responded to this by saying, “Well that’s fine with me.” But this is a narrow view that doesn’t understand the larger issue at hand here. No doubt, it is reasonable to assume that people interested in Switch Online may also currently pay for Xbox Live (XBL) and PlayStation Plus (PS+).
Additionally, it’s entirely reasonable to assume that both Sony and Microsoft are equally concerned with fair online play. In fact, we have proof of this. Player safety is the exact reasoning Sony used last year to justify its lack of cross-play on PS4 regarding Minecraft and currently Fortnite.
So for Sony and Microsoft to still allow cloud saves for all games where Nintendo doesn’t results in Nintendo’s service being objectively lesser. This is simply a fact.
For these players to then defend Nintendo or be completely ok with Nintendo’s reasoning when they also may pay for Sony and Microsoft’s services are completely overlooking this fact. You cannot defend Nintendo’s reasoning of “fair play” while still paying for XBL and PS+ where Microsoft and Sony are equally concerned about fair play yet they don’t limit cloud save functionality.
Furthermore, you cannot bemoan Sony’s lack of cross-play when they cited fair play as a concern, yet be “ok” with Nintendo’s similar fair play concern for lack of universal cloud saves. This is a dissonance on part of the consumer and is illogical.
Assuming the player accepts these facts when confronted — because as I will discuss later, this acceptance is rarely a guarantee — his or her argument here will then naturally be, “Well I’m fine with limited cloud saves because I’m paying less than PS Plus or XBL, so I expect a more limited service.”
Unfortunately, this still doesn’t take into the larger point. Keep in mind, all this is free on PC. Note that I’m not for one second suggesting here that you’re not allowed to play on console, or that you’re somehow wrong in doing so. That is categorically not what I’m saying nor implying.
I’m simply stating the fact that that these features are free on PC, like on Steam, so the lower price equating to limited service argument doesn’t really hold water here. The real concern the gamer should be asking is why aren’t cloud saves and online play free on console if they’re free on PC? Why should one platform receive free services when these other platforms don’t? Is that fair? Are these console manufacturers really keeping the consumers’ best intentions and “best experience” in mind?
That’s critical thinking. That’s the thought process I’ve always strived for folks to consider when making purchasing decisions in this industry. As I mentioned above, it is incumbent on media like us to ensure consumers are armed with such knowledge.
But when confronted with all these facts, the player retreats and becomes defensive. He or she assumes that you want this person to play on PC when that is clearly not the case. This is when they lash out in anger.
“I can’t tell the difference. It doesn’t bother me, so it’s not an issue.”
I see similar situations when discussing framerate. Let’s use Spider-Man as an example since it’s a recent high profile game that many are playing. I recently completed Spider-Man on PS4 just this week. And I enjoyed it. My primary criticism was that combat didn’t feel good because of the framerate, which is 30fps.
Subjectively, I didn’t think the combat felt good. Objectively, we know that lower framerates adversely affect responsiveness in games, especially in things like combat. Therefore, it is an objectively factual statement to say that the combat in a game like Spider-Man would be more responsive and fluid if the game ran at a higher framerate like 60fps.
But here, as with almost every other time I bring up framerate, the common response from people will be, “I can’t tell the difference, so it can’t be a problem because I’m fine with it.”
The key thing here is note that I’m not attacking anyone else’s enjoyment of the game because of framerate. I’m saying my personal enjoyment would be greater if the framerate was 60fps because gameplay at 60fps is objectively better than gameplay at 30fps. Yet, people respond under the assumption that I’m somehow challenging their own personal enjoyment of the game. This is irrational and is simply untrue.
Additionally, whether or not you can tell the difference between 30fps and 60fps doesn’t really matter here. Regardless of your preference — which I am not challenging in the least — the objective fact remains that 60fps is better than 30fps.
You are perfectly fine to enjoy 30fps games. Do not make the mistake that I’m somehow attacking you. Your enjoyment still does not change fundamental facts. The issue is not that you enjoy 30fps. The issue is not that you cannot tell the difference (which, by the way, is perfectly ok). The issue is not that the game is at 30fps. The issue is that people fail to accept the fact that 60fps would objectively improve the game. The failure to accept facts is the recurring theme.
“What works for you doesn’t work for me.”
Over the years, and especially since I have started writing, I have seen an increase in these arguments come my way. Another very common one I see is, “Well what works for you doesn’t work for others, so I’m going to keep doing this thing.”
Like the framerate argument, this unfortunately ignores that your personal method or preference of doings things does not change facts. For example, just because you like to preorder season passes doesn’t change the fact that you are paying for content that literally doesn’t exist yet when you buy said pass.
Sure, buying that pass or preordering a game might work for you personally. But this still doesn’t change fundamental facts. Facts don’t care whether or not what’s right for me is right for you. Preordering a pass may seemingly save you money, but it does not change the fact that you are paying for something that doesn’t exist yet. Facts are universival. Not personal.
Again, I’m not attacking you the individual here. I’m stating a fact that you necessarily don’t want to hear and accept because it goes against your belief, something that I’ll discuss momentarily.
“Stop attacking things without assessing the facts.”
This then results in accusations at me personally that I attack things without assessing all facts. This is a common recurring accusation I and others have received over the past few years or so, and isn’t necessarily new. But in my observations, this accusation has almost always been an emotional reaction to what I’ve said previously.
While I do find it insulting that someone may think that I “attack” things without assessing all facts, my personal emotions here are not relevant. What I personally feel isn’t important. It doesn’t matter. But it’s important to understand why and how such accusations are formulated.
When you state things that are counter to what people commonly believe, they take this as a personal attack. By challenging their belief, they think that I am therefore challenging them. And when people’s beliefs are so intrinsically tied up with their own sense of self, they take it personally and become defensive.
“He said 60fps is better? Well I don’t care about framerate. I can’t tell the difference. It’s not an issue. I’ll enjoy the game anyway”
“He said the game isn’t native 4K? Who cares? I can’t tell the difference, and I’m still going to have fun.”
Nowhere will I nor others say that you are actually wrong to enjoy 30fps, or that you’re wrong to enjoy 1800p gaming, yet these are the reactions that I and others constantly receive.
For example, we see such behavior on Digital Foundry videos and articles all the time. Using Destiny 2 as a high profile example, note here how Digital Foundry aims to provide further information, asking and answering: if Destiny 2’s engine wasn’t designed for 60fps gameplay, why was it running at 60fps on PC at the initial reveal event?
“Bungie demonstrated the title running at 4K with 60 frames per second gameplay using a GTX 1080 Ti paired with a Core i7 7700K. Even compared to Intel’s very best enthusiast-grade six, eight and ten core CPUs, the quad-core 7700K is still an exceptionally powerful performer and a vast leap in processing power over the eight AMD Jaguar-derived cores found in the current-gen consoles and their mid-gen refreshes. Something comparable will eventually come to console hardware when AMD’s Ryzen architecture makes the leap to the next generation, but this is years away.”
Note how a measured objective explanation is being provided by people who know what they’re talking about. Yet look at consumers’ reactions on their article:
Personally, whenever I receive the “stop attacking things without assessing facts” reaction, I suspect these reactions towards me are because some people think I’m arrogant, which I have no problem admitting is a flaw of mine. I absolutely can and have come off as arrogant. This is just a fact. It is a personal failing.
Though it is equally important to understand that these emotional responses generally contain anger towards me personally, not towards the facts I’m presenting. And in my experience, I’ve seen a few types of people.
Some folks will accept the facts you explain to them, and change their behavior. More often than not, however, people outright dismiss the facts (because how dare I challenge their belief), or, far more worryingly, people accept the facts yet continue acting as they always have without changing their behavior.
The latter I find more problematic because at that point, you can no longer claim ignorance as a defense. Accepting a truth and then wilfully doing the opposite isn’t ignorant. It’s simply counterproductive.
I have come to accept the hard truth that no matter what I do, people will outright dismiss facts. They will accuse me not assessing all facts before I “attack” things. They will accuse me of not understanding that what works for me doesn’t work for them. They will become emotionally angry at me for saying things they don’t want to hear simply because it challenges their belief (and they don’t want to accept that). No matter what I say, people just won’t ever listen. They will outright dismiss me for simply stating facts that challenge their belief (see the “what works for you doesn’t work for me” section above).
But as someone in media, my job is and has always been to help educate the consumer. That is my responsibility. I want to help people make better, more informed purchasing decisions, decisions which are grounded in facts. Hell, making better purchasing decisions will save you money. Isn’t that a good thing?
I’m not asking people to be some sort of genius, or to strip away all emotion and excitement, or even to criticize each and every thing they do. I’m simply asking people stop for just a second and think. Think about what it is you are doing. Accept basic universal truths and facts. Know that I’m not saying these things to attack you personally. Far from it. I want to help you. What is so wrong with just listening to what I have to say?
Fellow GameSpace.com and MMORPG.com colleague, Joseph Bradford, has told me a few times privately that I think differently than anyone else he knows. I don’t know how much of that is true or not. I simply don’t know. What I do know is that unless we accept a basic understanding of the facts, we cannot have a reasoned discourse. And without reasoned discourse, we cannot be educated informed consumers.
All I know is that I genuinely want to educate people. I don’t for one second believe that I’m always right in everything I do. That in itself is irrational. But when it comes to the games industry, what I believe is grounded in facts. I do my due diligence. I act on those facts as much as I possibly can. And with my knowledge and experience, I want to help people.
If that means reaching even a few people while withstanding anger, false accusations, and petty insults, so be it. I’m not asking for your pity. My personal feelings don’t really matter here. I’m simply asking that you accept basic facts.