I don’t usually use the term “Gamer” to describe myself, it’s something I dropped long before the GamerGate stuff tarnished using such a term, but for reasons of ease, I’ll use it for this article.
We currently live in an era where we have more information available to us at the point of purchase than we have ever had before, we can now make informed purchases based on our own moral codes by just spending a little time Googling the companies and peoples responsible for the media we consume. Sometimes this information is easy to find and the decision is easy to make, for instance, I decided after UbiToo that I won’t be buying any more Ubisoft games until I feel they have done enough, publicly, to address the working culture that had developed within their many studios. This is, admittedly, easy for me, I’m not a big Assassin’s Creed fan, most of their Tom Clancy tie-ins leave me cold (except for Rainbow Six, but I haven’t played one of those since Vegas 2), and whilst I like Rayman games when I actually play them, they’re not Must-Have’s for me.
Electronic Arts, who have a history of working their staff really hard which I’ve never been happy about, but over the past few years their use of in-game microtransactions and the insipid nature of their Ultimate Team modes has turned me against the company, but I know that if they were to do a remaster of Burnout 2, Need for Speed Underground, a Dead Space Trilogy (or indeed a new Dead Space), plus the recently released Mass Effect Legendary Edition and the in-development Skate 4, then my resolve will be tested. I can safely go without Mass Effect, I still have my original Xbox 360 versions which, I think, are playable on my Xbox One S.
There are others, I don’t like how Activision treat their licenses, working conditions at CDProjekt Red and Rockstar/TakeTwo, are ones that come to mind. But now, another has come to the fore and it’s left me really disappointed.
This week, for those that don’t already know, is E3, the big games convention where a lot of games and hardware get announced. One title, much smaller but with a lot of pedigree, that’s been shown is Metal Slug Tactics, a spin on the old run and gun SNK Metal Slug games, this time giving us a 3D isometric view rather and a 2D platformer style game. They’ve slowed the pace down to turn-based strategy rather than twitch controls and are creating a Rogue-Like Tactical RPG using the cast of characters from that franchise. As someone who’s always wanted to love Metal Slug but just isn’t very good at that kind of games, this looks utterly brilliant, well, I mean, look for yourself:
So, yay, great, but hang on, things aren’t all roses at SNK. You see, last year they found themselves under new ownership, or at least will be under new ownership.
This creates the moral dilemma I refer to in the title.
I do not want to, knowingly, provide any funding, even something as paltry (to them, but obviously more significant to me) as 20-30 pounds, I don’t support their treatment of anyone that opposes them, I don’t like the method of Sports Washing they’re using to paint their regime in a better light on the world stage, I can’t make any direct changes to what’s going on with the world, but I can make my own stand and “Vote with my wallet”. But “What about the developers?” I hear you cry. Honestly, my heart goes out to them, they’re just doing a job, making a game, trying to keep the SNK name alive (because, quite frankly, its had a tough couple of decades!) and I’d love to support them by buying this game, and maybe as we get closer to the time and the word of mouth is overwhelmingly positive, my resolve will be tested further. But also, as someone interested in videogames beyond the big tent-pole releases (and I’m in no way gatekeeping and using that in a negative term), it’s up to gamers like myself to be aware of what we’re putting our money into, obviously, we don’t all always have the information we’d need to make those decisions, but I think in this one, I personally do have enough information available. I don’t want SNK, including its Metal Slug, Samurai Showdown, King of Fighters to vanish from our gaming futures, but I also don’t want to willingly fund a dangerous regime.