Friday, September 8, 2017

Monetization of the Dead

This topic has been converted pretty thoroughly by Jim Sterling and Totalbiscuit, but I feel compelled to dedicate a post about it on my blog simply because it bothers me that much.  Just to make sure everyone is up to speed, one of the heads over at Monolith Studios passed away about about a year ago from brain cancer.  By all account he was a well liked guy whose death was considered a great loss by many of the studio's employees.  Monolith collectively decided to make a tribute in the form of a character modeled after him that will appear in their upcoming release Middle-earth: Shadow of War.  Supposedly the character will come to the rescue when the player is in dire peril.  It's a nice touch, but there's a problem with all this, Monolith Studio's producer is Warner Bros.

In case you don't know, WB has a fairly tarnished reputation - loot crate driven microtransactions in a full-priced games, attempts to manipulate media coverage, and the abandonment of the bug-riddled PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight.  There's more, but for the sake of brevity their poor industry practices have brought the publisher down to level Ubisoft and Konami.  In other words, WB is some of the worst the industry has to offer.  Not helping matters is their handling of Monolith.  In a backhanded attempt to improve PR, the aforementioned tribute character is being offered as paid DLC through Steam.  After Valve takes their cut the remaining proceeds go to the family of the deceased.  It's not a great arrangement, but I could get behind it if it weren't for the fine print.  Specifically, purchases made in six states in the USA along with anywhere else in the world don't actually go to any charitable cause whatsoever.

In essence, WB is trying to make a little extra money off the death of a cancer victim.  It is, in my opinion, disgusting.  It also underlines how cluelessly greedy WB really is.  They could have simply said for every sale of this particular DLC they will donate the full amount to the family or, barring that, a reputable cancer charity.  Alternatively, the DLC could have been free; honoring the dead man in the same way a statue in a park or a bust in a university does.  Of course if that's too much work then a simple "In loving memory of..." at the end of the closing credits would have sufficed.  However you slice it though the current setup at WB is a mix of avarice and ineptitude of the lowest order.  One wonders if anybody calling the shots over at WB has even read any of J.R.R. Tolkien's works.  If they had they probably would have noticed the similarities between themselves and certain villainous characters that appear in the stories.

So the question is (metaphorically speaking), will WB perish by their own folly like Ungoliant, at the hands of a hero like Smaug, or will they redeem themselves after a fashion like Thorin Oakenshield?  Sadly, I don't have access to Galadriel's Mirror so we'll just have to wait and see what comes to pass.  Personally, I'd be happy with any of the above...

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