Just To See Their Advertising

Today in the world of tacky corporate garbage, game publisher Devolver Digital would like to offer you, yes you, the chance to participate in their expo by playing this empty-Devolver-Digital-expo simulator. A – I kid you not it says it right there in the text – “first-person ‘marketing simulator'”. Here’s the opening blurb on the store page for the ‘game’:

“Break into the convention center and avoid the advanced security systems to watch and retrieve all the trailers, gameplay demo videos, and other secrets lost in the expo’s cancellation.”

…it says. And I am proper torn here.

A screenshot of the Steam store page for 'Devolverland Expo', further described in post text.

On the one hand, bleargh, tacky corporate garbage, they’re actually expecting you to download a massive amount of data and jump through first-person hoops just to see their advertising, for crying out loud, isn’t that just the pinnacle of revolting hype culture my gods

But, then, on the other hand… It is quite a smart idea, isn’t it? Presumably because of The Disease (I still have a cough, by the way – still don’t know if it is or was The Thing, but I suspect not on account of it’s not done much else to me), Devolver haven’t been able to run their physical expo, so they’re basically just doing what countless other businesses and organisations have done and taking it virtual. And they’ve obviously put some work into it, and it’s a neat conceit.

But then, on the third hand… If it’s a museum or an art gallery or a significant historical building or something, then making it available virtually is beneficial to society: it helps people keep in contact with knowledge and art and culture, history and continuity at a time when they might be feeling like their world’s kind of slipped its tether. This is adverts. For videogames. And Adverts For Videogames isn’t something society benefits significantly from retaining access to in the middle of a pandemic.

Games themselves can be: I won’t detract from the reassurance and the comfort they can offer for those who enjoy them as a matter of routine. I can honestly say my games (and my alcohol) are mostly all that’s keeping my cheese on my cracker right now. But adverts?

Adverts are noxious lies, and the game industry is built on noxious lies because the game industry is corporations and corporations are built on noxious lies. And so as much as I can credit this as being an innovative way to get round a problem, most of me would really rather sneer at the corporate arrogance of it: “Now, peon: use your bandwidth and your time downloading and ‘playing’ all this marketing tomfoolery so that we can press upon you the hype for all the stuff we’re probably going to mis-sell you with all sorts of dodgy pricing strategies and shady in-game monetisation. After all, it’s not like you’ve anything better to do.”

Also, it is not lost on me that by posting this here I’m effectively contributing to their strategy by making more people aware of this. But sadly this is just a consequence of commenting on this sort of nonsense.

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