To be a fan

Fallout 76 has split opinions, some really wanting to defend the game while others trash it to hell and back. Then you have the whole bag controversy, with Bethesda throwing a sixty five cent nylon bag instead of proper canvas bag as advertised, but to be fair, they did drop canvas versions to people with influence. That in itself should really tell a lot about the company, their priorities and how little they ultimately care about the common end-user, or about the core fans who aren’t million sub Youtubers or writers. In relation to this, I glimpsed a Youtube comment I can’t find anymore, telling a true fan wouldn’t leave a corporation or a series just because there are bad times, that being a fan means you’re there through the good days and bad days. Effectively describing a one-sided marriage where the other partner can abuse the other whatever way they want.

In a way, this comment is correct, as fanatical behaviour rarely follows common sense. There is some form of obsession in there, that keeps the fan tied to the product, person or corporation. In case of computer and video games, it’s a combination of all three. Companies want their consumers to be emotionally attached to them in order to secure stable profits. The product itself serves as the end-goal for the provider, which makes them money. In modern gaming, it helps if the consumer is attached enough to the franchise and characters to drop few hundred bucks to buy some DLC left and right, or microtransaction. That Fate smartphone game is making insane bank just by being a Fate product and having stupidloads of characters that serve as great wank material. The gameplay’s supposedly pretty good too, taking cues from Super Robot Wars if a developer interview I read long time ago when the game was released is to be believed. Similarly, you can accuse me of being âge’s fanboy for supporting shows relating to Muv-Luv and Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, but even then I recognize how the quality has dropped alongise the sales with the franchise, and have argued that Muv-Luv is in need of franchise relaunch, especially now that we’ve got aNCHOR and Avex holding the reins in the end. We all are emotionally connected to something we for whatever reason, be it the people around it or just because you’ve grown up with it.

The emotional attachment the consumer makes and has with the product is of course enforced by the corporation’s own PR department. More often than not, you’re going to have someone to function as the face the consumer can relate to. Keiji Inafune, Shigeru Miyamoto, Todd Howard, Masahiro Sakurai and Satoru Iwata are all faces that people are or were connected with. Inafune might have fallen out of favour after Mighty No.9, but people where throwing boatloads of cash at his Kickstarter just because he had a face associated with Mega Man. Iwata might be dead, but his mannerism and enthusiasm sold Nintendo products to fans even outside fan circles. However, they’re all corporate men. The face is quite literally a mask that’s put on sell you the product you have an attachment for, and by that extension, an attachment to the corporation. Coca-Cola’s Santa ads have a strong nostalgia for some, and that’s a powerful emotional connection in itself. Hell, nostalgia has always been used as a strong tool to make profit. Just look at the 80’s nostalgia with colours and design we went through, and slowly moving towards 90’s. In twenty years, we’re going to have 00’as nostalgia and return of Apple’s terrible and plain black/white designs.

I’ve prattled enough on the side. Should a fan really stick to a company or product through everything? Well, that’s up to the individual, isn’t it? If they feel like they’re doing right by pitching money for everything a company puts out, good for them. You’re keeping that company afloat, but not giving any real feedback with your purchasing habits outside that you’re willing to buy anything they make. That’s how you get shit in a can, but I guess fanatics don’t really care about what they ultimately get, as longs as their emotional attachment is fulfilled. Some goes for politics in here, simply wanting to purchase products in order to showcase support towards a company, which again is like buying a pig in a sack. I’m looking at myself with this, being guilty of this kind of bad consumerism.

However, I would argue that a fan should also be critical of goods their favourite company pushes out into their favourite line. What use it is to buy sub-par products only to gain sub-par or worse on the long-term? I’d imagine a fan would care about the quality of the product as well, and would vote with their wallets or make their voice heard in a strong, clear way of their dissatisfaction, but seeing how Battlefield V‘s dev didn’t respond kindly to criticism and told people not to buy if they don’t like it, this doesn’t seem viable in all cases. It’s like some corporations, despite growing off from cult following, don’t exactly want to listen to their core audience. A million dollar corporation ultimately cares more about the profits than the fan feedback, mostly because they do have fans out there who keep them afloat. Imagine that.

I’m throwing this as a guess based on stuff I’ve read decade ago, but nobody becomes a fan through logic. It’s always a positive emotional connection consumers make with a product that drives them. The personality of the brand, the faces that sells you the product, the personal emotions towards the product, all these make a fan. Emotions, more often than not, tend to blind us.

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