February 3rd, 2001

Bastion

Crass Commercialism

Typically, I find people who assume that companies do everything they do for the sake of money to be cynics of the snottiest, most arrogant order. Particularly when it comes to game companies and that most jack-ass of comments: "selling out." Making assumptions like that goes beyond just arrogance, however, into outright stupidity at times and I'm forced to wonder if some of the complaints I hear are being voiced by people who have bothered to think before they open their mouths. And usually, my own answer to myself is "no, probably not." However, I went browsing the White Wolf site recently, and if ever I've been inclined to think that anyone was doing it just for the sick commercial thrill of making money, then it's gotta be White Wolf.

Okay, I'll give them some credit. The Werewolf Grand Klaive, which I personally find cheezy in the extreme, was probably done for fun. Probably done for the thrill of seeing a bit of the game world brought to life. Not my cup of tea, but I don't think they did it to shill a bunch of poor gamers out of a couple days' pay. I might even go so far as to concede that the Werewolf temporary tattoos, the chess set, and even the jewelry. And hell, I own the Mage tarot deck. But all the dice? The vampire tattoos? The coffee mugs? They have cigarette cases, lighters, hip flasks, all variety of garbage bearing various White Wolf symbols. Anyone else feel like they're being pandered to?

Now I'm not going to sling any insults at the people who buy this stuff. I mean, I bought the Limited Edition Mage Revised, so in a lot of ways I'm really in no place too. And even though I've never agreed with all the piddling little books WW puts out detailing various miniscule aspects of the WoD, I've always admitted that they really are a book publisher first and foremost and I've tried to believe that they do it for the game and not for the $$$.

More and more, however, my faith in people is being tested and my optimism is starting to falter. There is so much... stuff it's just amazing! It's like Krusty the Klown. What next, Clan Brujah Brand Prozac (for those days when you just have to keep the Beast at bay!) Mage: The Ascension laptops with special extra keys and the Virtual Adept symbol on the case?

It's not just WW, either. A lot of companies are jumping on this bandwagon of offering a bunch of trinkets that really don't have all that much to do with gaming itself. For some reason, though, I find it more annoying from White Wolf than from anyone. Maybe because they do it so much more than anyone else. Except maybe Chaosium/Wizard's Attic. But hey... how can you not like Cthuliana?

I don't know. I guess it's no worse than sports paraphernalia in its own way. But I just don't like feeling like someone is telling me what I want to hear just so they can have my money.

Thoughts?
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