#102: Friendly fire

Developers, players and press are united by their love for games. Why do they spend their days shouting at each other?

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Well, I see we’re all still arguing about Elden Ring. Jolly good.

I often wonder whether this atmosphere — this perpetual vibe of imminent conflict, the sense that the game industry, games media, and player community are only ever a bad tweet, a janky game release or a controversial review score away from some spittle-flecked uproar or other — is unique to games. When a fashion house’s new seasonal collection looks similar to the previous year’s, do fans call out ‘lazy designers’? When a new car is found to have fractionally worse braking performance than the previous model, do irate fans send death threats to the engineers? Do cinematographers throw online shade at box-office hits and surprise Oscar winners?

Perhaps they do. Perhaps right now a poster on a cross-stitching forum is calling someone a bellend for daring to slander the Danish Method1; maybe a celebrity chef has just set their tweets to private because their latest recipe book recommends you put grated carrot in a bolognese. Perhaps a writer somewhere is fending off death threats because they made a minor factual error in a review of a microwave oven, made the mistake of getting into it in the comments, and now there’s a screenshot doing the rounds of them calling their readers the c-word in a tweet. Somehow I doubt it. I really do think it’s just us. We’re a weird bunch, aren’t we.

Let us recap. Players and developers resent critics for either over-hyping things or under-scoring them. Players and press are upset with developers for over-promising and under-delivering, for employing unpopular techniques in how they design, structure or monetise their games, and also on this week’s evidence for having opinions. Press and developers dislike players because they appear to be impossible to please, and are far too eager to reach for their pitchforks. And of course there is plenty of internecine squabbling within those groups. Journo cliques coating off outsiders in private Discords and group chats; devs muttering grumpily about their peers’ work or attitude; and no end of arguments between players on forums and subreddits.

Put all that together and you have a teeming mass of resentment that instinctively assumes bad faith, and at worst outright malpractice, on the part of everyone within and without this scarred landscape, this failing ecosystem, this rolling, ever-growing, unstoppable boulder of discontent. I have lived a charmed life in games, I realise. Working in print, I sat across the room from this sort of stuff, aware of but only rarely being dragged into it. These days, obviously, I spend much more time online — browsing headlines, reading forums, seeing what people are cross about on Twitter. There is always something. Someone, somewhere, is always furious.

What bugs me most about it is that ultimately we all want the same thing. The way we carry on you’d think we were all somehow fundamentally opposed, but we are not. Our incentives are actually entirely aligned! We all want better games. We all want a healthier industry that is more financially sustainable and treats its workers more favourably. We are all working towards the same goals, but for some reason we are doing it with insults, memes and snide little subtweets. We should be united against a common enemy — Starscourge Radahn, ideally, the prick — instead of sniping at each other all the time.

It is honestly bloody exhausting. I spend my weekends shushing and calming and occasionally using The Big Voice on two small children who for whatever reason often seem intent on ruining the day for each other, and themselves, and anyone else who comes within shouting distance of them. I should not be faced with same when I sit down for my day’s work. We are all here because we love games. Perhaps it is time we tried to act like it.


  • Bobby Kotick is relinquishing his seat on the Coca-Cola board, a decision he has definitely come to of his own accord because he needs to “focus my full attention on Activision Blizzard as we prepare for our merger with Microsoft”. Now, where did I put that gif? Ah, here it is.
  • On a related, and not entirely dissimilar note, three men are under investigation by the DOJ and SEC over potential insider trading violations. Between them they spent over $100m on Activision Blizzard stock four days before the Microsoft deal was announced, and stand to make $100m in profit if it goes through. “It was simply a lucky bet,” said Barry Diller, former CEO of 20th Century Fox, who is one of those under the regulators’ beady eye. “We acted on no information of any kind from anyone. It is one of those coincidences.” Another one of those coincidences: Diller is a board member at, yep, Coca-Cola. Please see previous gif.
  • I feel like I should quickly point something out, given the tone of all that stuff I wrote up top: it is absolutely okay to dislike Bobby Kotick.
  • Netflix has poached PlayStation vet Roberto Barrera for its definitely-here-to-stay gaming pivot. Barrera, who spent 11 years at Sony, has been appointed head of gaming strategy, planning and analysis.
  • EA has successfully overturned at appeal a Dutch court’s ruling that FIFA loot boxes flout the country’s gambling laws. EA was slapped at the time with a €10m fine, though the publisher, confident of its success at appeal, refused to pony up.
  • Nintendo has delayed the planned April release of Advance Wars 1+2: Reboot Camp, for fairly obvious reasons.
  • The imminent GTAV tart-up is just $10 on PS5. Yoink.
  • There’s a State Of Play later, focusing on Japanese games. 10pm GMT, 2pm PST, see you there.
  • F-Zero X lands on Nintendo Switch Online in two days’ time, when all will be briefly right with the world, at least until someone measures the input lag.

Print really was wonderful, you know. We had no comments section. Anyone who wanted to send us hatemail had to buy the mag to know where to send it. And besides, Edge readers were lovely. One of them sent us a case of beer one Christmas.

I like to think of Hit Points as being much the same, even though it lives online and reports in real time. It feels, I hope, like a nice quiet little corner away from the hustle and bustle (and spittle) of the daily discourse. Doesn’t that seem like something to cherish, and share among those you trust, and perhaps even pay to support? A paid subscription costs just 14p per day, you know. A quid a week! And it helps ensure that Hit Points can continue long after the final shot has been fired in the Great Elden Ring Wars of 2022.

Have a great couple of days, and I’ll see you on Friday — hopefully with something less annoying to discuss.

  1. I don’t know anything about cross-stitching. I Googled this. If any members of the cross-stitch fandom, which I hold in the highest esteem, are upset by this, please accept my humble apologies, and leave me alone.