Today I finally finished the Outer Worlds on Xbox and I agree with the majority of the gaming community. It’s great. It’s funny, well written and a worthy successor to the beloved Fallout: New Vegas. I’m not going to turn this into a full review of the game but I do have some thoughts on it’s popularity.
I felt like I had deja-vu as I had a similar feeling when I saw Joker in theaters. I loved it like the majority of people who have seen it. A strong word of mouth has entered it into the billion dollar club worldwide. It is the most profitable comic book movie of all time as it’s budget was about 50 million dollars. I also don’t want to do a full review on the Joker but I’m forced to wonder, is there something else going on here? The Outer Worlds and the Joker did not share the high price theatrics of their “AAA/blockbuster” competition so why are they so successful?
Lets look at the Joker. Here’s a film featuring the greatest comic book villain of all time so it does have that going for it. That alone cannot carry a film to great success. Just ask Jared Leto. Joker took material that hardcore and casual fans hold in high esteem and treated it with respect and passion. It didn’t need Thanos or a talking raccoon. It needed to take a chance with the source material and ask the audience to play along so the creators can show you how a comic character made for kids can be made into art.
Joker wasn’t without controversy, however; the director, main actor and studio did not exchange a war of words with the fans. I’m sure if you’re reading this you are aware of the “incel terrorist” scare that media outlets were spewing leading up to the release of the film. Even the National Guard was called in to guard theaters from these soldiers of sexual frustration. As a result Warner Brothers banned media outlets from attending the red carpet at the film’s premiere. That’s stickin it to the media not the fans.
Now lets compare Joker to other “AAA/blockbuster” films featuring oh I don’t know- a whiny emo kid in a bad Darth Vader costume he obviously made all by himself without the help of his parents. Or how about a Terminator film that features Schwarzenegger as a T-800 that’s in a sexless marriage. Or a Ghostbusters film with silly cartoon CGI that wasn’t scary and wasn’t funny. Love or hate these films- that’s not the issue here. The issue is the response to criticism. This is how you treat your customers?
“If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in Star Wars.” – JJ Abrams Director of Star Wars The Force Awakens
“What we talk about when we talk about man babies” Rian Johnson Director of Star Wars The Last Jedi
“I don’t need a 40 year old white guy telling me that a Wrinkle In Time didn’t work for him, it wasn’t made for him” – Brie Larson
“If you’re enlightened she’ll play like gangbusters.” “We did not trade certain gender traits for others; she’s just very strong, and that frightens some dudes. You can see online the responses to some of the early shit that’s out there, trolls on the internet. I don’t give a fuck.” – Tim Miller Director of Terminator: Dark Fate
“Geek culture is home to some of the biggest assholes I’ve ever met in my life” – Paul Feig Director of Ghostbusters 2016
“I did a ‘Star Wars’ cartoon, so even I get hate from ‘Star Wars’ fans. And I’m like, ‘Look, dawg, you’re just mad the franchise is not aging with you. But that ain’t how it works. The first one was for fucking kids. The second three were for different fucking kids. And this one is just for kids. You’re just pissed off that Han Solo gave the Millennium Falcon to a girl.” -Freddie Perez Jr
So in summary if you didn’t like Disney Star Wars (any of them!), Terminator: Dark Fate, A Wrinkle in Time or Ghostbusters 2016 that makes you a bigot, misogynist, old, white, asshole man-baby. If you went to Starbucks and the dude behind the counter with a man-bun called me all these things not only would I laugh my butt off but I’d never pay for that overpriced black sludge again. But that’s never happened and probably never will happen so more grande caramel macchiatos for me please!
Then all of a sudden a comic book movie featuring everyone’s favorite bat villain hits theaters and it’s good. Really good. My opinion is that it’s very popular because audiences are reacting to the high budget garbage we’ve been getting lately. Our protagonist suffers throughout this entire feature and we see him transform into the monster Gotham City deserves. He’s not invincible and he is not powerful because of his gender. He is a character reacting to his environment and we get to see his transformation through his unreliable eyes. Fascinating stuff.
So what the frak does this have to do with The Outer Worlds? It is a new IP in a medium that can take its fans for granted just like a big film studio. People are falling in love with this game because of what it doesn’t do. First of all there was a huge demand for a sequel to Fallout: New Vegas and Obsidian listened. There was no $200.00 collectors edition. There are zero micro-transactions. A game was made and marketed to be exactly as advertised.
Bethesda and Fallout 76. Need I say more? There are countless YouTube videos, articles and blogs crapping all over Bethesda for their arrogance with Fallout 76. I don’t really have much to add to it. I didn’t want an online Fallout game so unless it was so good that I’d be stupid not to buy it what do I care? I do find it fascinating that in contrast to The Outer Worlds Bethesda looks very bush league.
Fallout 76 is going to be studied by gaming historians for eons. The amount of greed is not laughable anymore it’s insulting. The glitches at launch were a joke and some of them are still not fixed. There’s very little content in a vast online open world and no NPCs. Bethesda is banning players (customers!) for helping them improve their product. Their garbage collectors edition cost $200 dollars for a pile of garbage. The wearable Steel Brotherhood’s helmet has been recalled for dangerous levels of mold. The canvas bag included in the collectors edition turned out to be a garbage nylon bag. When a customer asked for a refund because he was sold nylon crap Bethesda calmly replied that the bag advertised was too expensive. Then they added that they’re “not going to do anything about it” Oh and there’s also the pay to win game mechanics. A stupid tactic that sunk Star Wars Battlefront 2 but screw it Bethesda can do no wrong. Now there’s the $99.99 annual subscription to a game that cost $59.99 at launch. This new subscription offers you more garbage as it includes private servers that are not private and storage that eats your loot. Good god is someone trying to get fired at Bethesda?
I really have to ask the question, how will customers react when Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield are released? Up until Fallout 76 I was going to buy Elder Scrolls 6 day one glitches and all. Now I’m not going to bother. I’m sure Elder Scrolls will have some great content but they’re not the only show in town. Obsidian has just proved that. CD Project Red has proved that.
Imagine a game being released with little to no glitches and it doesn’t keep asking you for your money? That’s The Outer Worlds. This isn’t a post about political correctness or being anti-capitalist this is a post about customer service. When you release a movie that receives negative criticism you do not attack the fans (customers) and call them bigoted and sexist. When you release a game that receives negative criticism you do not slap on more garbage that still doesn’t work and charge an annual subscription. That shows a total lack of respect to your fan base. When a customer demands a refund you do not respond with “we aren’t planning on doing anything about it”.
There really isn’t anything groundbreaking about Joker and The Outer Worlds. What’s fascinating is that both of these pieces of entertainment cost significantly less than your typical blockbuster or AAA game. Yet they were able to satisfy a demand of good story telling without extra garbage like a predatory loot box system or an annoying hack director whining online. And wouldn’t you know it? They’re both successful probably beyond the creators expectations.
The market will always dictate what works and what doesn’t. Joker and The Outer Worlds are a breath of fresh air. The demand for products like this should give the big corporations some food for thought. The free market is untamed democracy so be sure to keep voting with your wallet. Obsidian (which is now owned by Microsoft) and Warner Brothers are not exactly small fish but they have my money and I’ll be happy to keep giving it to them. As long as they don’t take my gaming brothers and sisters for granted.
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