I Will Not Be Buying Starcraft 2.

I don’t often take a stand when it comes to consumerism. Recently though, this trend has reversed a little as I find myself refusing to buy stuff based on a matter of principle. For a capitalist dog such as myself, this is a notion that is actually quite alien. It first came around with the iPhone 4. Now, I am an iPhone user, and yes I'm aware there are better and cheaper smartphones out there, but when I picked up my 3GS, even the Android app store couldn't compete with the Apple app store, and that was the deciding factor. With the leaps and bounds the Android store has made lately, if I was buying a new phone today it would probably be a HTC Evo.

Given that I'm on contract though, I did give thought to the idea of upgrading. However, due to problems with the iPhone 4's retina display, the Chinese sweatshop reports and of course the king of all engineering cock ups, the antenna that doesn't work when held in the left hand, I refuse to buy something that is so totally, utterly broken. Apple's blazé response doesn't help matters. I refuse to upgrade my phone and hand over my cash not out of cost or expense (although these are certainly factors), but because I refuse to pay for a broken item.

And now I have decided to forgo purchasing Star Craft II. This is a surprise to me, as I love RTS games and Star Craft II is far, far cheaper than an iPhone 4. There is nothing, financially speaking to stop me buying this game. I'd even booked time off work to play it.

I always knew Activision had become the latest subject of hate in the gaming industry, especially after their little spat with Infinity Ward. However, I hadn't realised until recently just how much of a f###ing prick thier CEO is. Bobby Kotick is a disaster, the single worst thing to happen to gaming since... since... since Daikatana.

Let's take a look at some of his quotes eh?

"We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games."- Because as every wage slave knows, hating your job ensures that you do it well.

"I think we definitely have been able to instil the culture, the scepticism and pessimism and fear that you should have in an economy like we are in today. And so, while generally people talk about the recession, we are pretty good at keeping people focused on the deep depression."
- Wow. Why would you run a company that way? I'm not a business man, but even I know that good morale is an essential part of a business. He's probably gunning for the sick system.

To be honest though, why should your average gamer really give a shit about how this man runs his company? Well, aside from sparing a though for the poor bastards who have to work in that hell hole (a hell hole I remind you specifically engineered to be as unpleasant as possible, including withholding pay you're f###ing entitled to), Bobby Kotick is going to destroy the gaming hobby.

Allow me to explain through example. I enjoy comic books, and while I don't get involved in the history and culture of them as much as I do video games, I do know a little- most taught by Linkara. During the 90's the comic book industry entered what is often referred to as 'the dark age'. Characters where all drawn in the style defined by Robert Liefeld, hugely muscular men and impossibly thin, hugely bosomed women, all with skin-tight suits, shoudler pads, shit tonnes of pouches and of course the most ridiculous guns imaginable. Story went out the window as comics tried to be 'edgy' and 'cool' rather than having a good narrative and high quality or interesting art work.

All this came about because of the zeitgeist of the time, and comic book makers latched onto that popular Liefeld Formula; guns, muscles, tits and not much else. for the comics, this turned what should have been a blip into around a decade of the style feeding itself as people got suckered into the crapfest and threw money at it. Eventually, people realised just how stupid this style was (both in terms of art and narrative), and stopped buying dark age stuff.

The whole thing is looked on with embarrassment by many comic book fans, and while the period did give us characters like Cable and Deadpool, most regard it as an artistic quagmire and would rather treat it like that filthy cousin who comes to visit every so often- smile and nod, and hope he goes away soon.

What does this have to do with Bobby Kotick? Everything. Kotick is probably the Liefeld of our time, the catalyst through which any individuality in gaming is quashed. As it stands, we're not far from a dark age anyway. The economic recession has spawned a plethora of knock offs and sequels, with many publishers and devs focusing on markets that have done will with in the past, rather than trying to create something new. But you can't squeeze the life out of a title forever, eventually you just need to let it go and work on something new. Look at the Jaws movies. Hell, look at the Starwars prequels. The longer you milk something, the worse it gets, and Kotick won't stop wringing a franchise dry until it doesn't pay its way anymore.

I think Tim Schafer said it best:

"You can’t just latch onto something when it’s popular and then squeeze the life out of it and then move on to the next one. You have to at some point create something, build something.”

Kotick's plans are to create a single game, charge stupid amounts for extra crap you need to play it (Guitar hero), charge for lots of DLC, and then expand on these ideas with even more DLC and even more peripherals. Then you start making sequels and spin offs and repeat the process. Try to cut out any element of the game that's making other people money but not you, including consoles...

From a business perspective, this is genius. For a gamer, this is hell. Nintendo, much as I love them are already guilty of this sort of thing- recycling the same game over and over again with very little ingenuity. Which to be honest is a really odd thing as in terms of hardware, Nintendo are always leading the curve. The N64 fires up analogue and BAM, everyone's using analogue. The DS uses a touch screen and BAM, kills the PSP dead. the Wii uses motion sensing and... well you've seen the displays of Kinect and Playstation Move at E3.

Kotick is stamping out this sort of innovation, he is trying to turn Activision into another factory of mediocrity, churning out endless sequels and expansions rather than making things which are fresh, new and interesting. We've already got WAY too much of this in the hobby, and we don't need to loose a once great publisher to the whims of some stupid f### in an industry whose consumers he doesn't understand. Kotick may be accountable to his shareholders, but he's also accountable to gaming. If we don't make a stand it's going to lead to the stagnation of the hobby as an art form, and a drop off in the number of new and original ideas and games. Even Starcraft will get old. Even COD.

This is why I will not buy Starcraft 2. I will not support Activision's attempts to denigrate my hobby. Kotick needs to do what EA did a few years back and realise how much the public are starting to hate his company- that he is his own worst enemy. I'd ask you all to support me in this, if you really love gaming.

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