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General Gaming Tim Sweeney says: Game Companies Need to Divorce Themselves from Politics

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Delivering the DICE summit keynote in Las Vegas this morning, Sweeney said that games were a valid medium for making political statements. He referenced Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird as a work of art that contained messages that “makes people think about things.”

 

But he went on to say that ”we as companies need to divorce ourselves from politics.” According to a report on Gamasutra, he added: “We have to create a very clear separation between church and state,” and, “there’s no reason to drag divisive topics...into gaming at all.” He also said that game companies “should get the marketing departments out of politics,” according to a report on IGN.

 

https://www.polygon.com/gaming/2020/2/12/21135469/epic-boss-tim-sweeney-politics-games-controversy-dice-mockingbird

 

 

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I saw this yesterday and thought that the IGN article was pretty disingenuous. He seems primarily to be talking about avoiding a Chickfila type situation, not trying to remove politics from games.

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34 minutes ago, Moa said:

I saw this yesterday and thought that the IGN article was pretty disingenuous. He seems primarily to be talking about avoiding a Chickfila type situation, not trying to remove politics from games.

 

I dunno, he's describing a situation that doesn't really exist.

Most of the time the developers are the ones making the game and when people perceive it has some sort of political controversy (like Far Cry 5) they have to explain how not political it is.

But he's saying marketing is doing it. So he is probably implying something else.

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I'm confused as to what he's getting at and I'm struggling to see where this issue has come up in games. Is he talking about things like the mess Blizzard got into surrounding the Hong Kong message in Hearthstone? Is he suggesting that developers are being forced to include political opinions or diversity by their marketing departments?

 

When he says that platform companies should be neutral moderators, I don't think that has been much of a problem, nor do I think it's particularly reasonable. I'd like to think that everything from Xbox to Steam could be some sort of libertarian ideal market where anyone can sell anything, but that's not reasonable nor is it a good idea. Also considering that I don't believe that the Epic store works that way, I'm not really sure where he's coming from on this.

 

It's all just very messy and I don't really see what point he's trying to make.

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He just doesn't want to see Guillotine Simulator with him about midway through the line of rich folks.

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Regardless of his intent and/or the various spins on his intent, can we just agree that Sweeney's PR people should really be advising him to not be a public facing entity. 

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I watched the whole thing. Most of it is about wanting open connections between gaming platforms.

 

He wants to see barriers come down between platforms so that games can be bought anywhere, played anywhere, and connect across social platforms. He says "it's a "mind virus" the idea that publishers should own the customer, have a monopoly on the customer relationship through some form of login and ecommerce." He rails against "consumer adversarial business models." He specifies Apple and Google, though I don't think it's a stretch to apply much of his criticisms to Steam as well. He says that Epic's store, with a 12% fee, is very profitable, and that stores charging 30% are marking up their costs by 5-6x. He calls Android a "fake open platform" and dismisses Apple's security concerns in keeping their platform closed. He wants alternative stores to be able to operate on equal terms as the platform's own store.

 

He's a big proponent of data and game portability. He thinks that not only should in game items transfer across platforms, but the games themselves. So you could buy Call of Duty on the Playstation and play it on the Xbox. He wants to see social graphs connect, so you could communicate with your Xbox or Steam friends from the Playstation or iOS. He calls out publishers for using pay to win or loot box mechanics, and thinks we'll see good devs move away from them, calling for the gaming industry to move away from gambling.

 

It's not until 27 minutes in that he gets to the question of politics, and he doesn't talk about it for long. He does reference "pressure from foreign countries on domestic companies about political discourse," and says "to get through that, we as companies need to divorce ourselves from politics." Of course, he offers no suggestions on how to square that circle. He says that companies should treat "content moderation as a judicial branch of the company as opposed to making a lot of ad-hoc decisions based on convenience."

 

 

Personally, I think that is a load of nonsense. As soon as you have rules around content moderation or player expression you're automatically stepping into the realm of politics. You have to decide where to draw lines and you'll have to deal with outside pressures about how your game was used as a platform for expressing political views.

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3 hours ago, TwinIon said:

He wants to see barriers come down between platforms so that games can be bought anywhere, played anywhere, and connect across social platforms. He says "it's a "mind virus" the idea that publishers should own the customer, have a monopoly on the customer relationship through some form of login and ecommerce." He rails against "consumer adversarial business models." He specifies Apple and Google, though I don't think it's a stretch to apply much of his criticisms to Steam as well.

The problem is his store does exactly what he's complaining about 

 

 

3 hours ago, TwinIon said:

He says that Epic's store, with a 12% fee, is very profitable, and that stores charging 30% are marking up their costs by 5-6x.

They may be very profitable and good for them but he has no knowledge of his competitors cost, hes guessing at best really. Other stores can move more product and so game companies can lose a larger profit percentage. He comes off as really desperate when he does this shit.

3 hours ago, TwinIon said:

He's a big proponent of data and game portability. He thinks that not only should in game items transfer across platforms, but the games themselves. So you could buy Call of Duty on the Playstation and play it on the Xbox. He wants to see social graphs connect, so you could communicate with your Xbox or Steam friends from the Playstation or iOS

I totally agree with him this but its not an easy task 

 

3 hours ago, TwinIon said:

He calls out publishers for using pay to win or loot box mechanics, and thinks we'll see good devs move away from them, calling for the gaming industry to move away from gambling.

I agree with him and in fact he removed them from rocket league when he purchased them.

 

3 hours ago, TwinIon said:

It's not until 27 minutes in that he gets to the question of politics, and he doesn't talk about it for long. He does reference "pressure from foreign countries on domestic companies about political discourse," and says "to get through that, we as companies need to divorce ourselves from politics." Of course, he offers no suggestions on how to square that circle. He says that companies should treat "content moderation as a judicial branch of the company as opposed to making a lot of ad-hoc decisions based on convenience."

 

Here is his shining moment of stupidity.  

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Man building a wall: "WALLS KEEP US APART! TEAR THEM DOWN! ALSO THE ONLY WAY TO BRING DOWN ONE WALL IS WITH ANOTHER WALL!"

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To think I used to be naive enough to think this was a Chickfila thing not a China thing, I have grown a lot in the last 8 hours.

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