Before I start on this article, I want to say that I really wanted to refrain from doing this. I’ve sat down and spoke to my wife, my Outerhaven staff members and more importantly I asked myself over and over, should I do this? Each person I spoke to, including myself, stated that if I felt this deeply about the subject then yes I should. So I’ve decided to go ahead with it and I apologize for what I’m about to do. And while this does mainly address a concern I have with a certain game, Dark Souls 3, this can be interchanged with any title as this sort of practice is increasingly being used.
As a huge fan of not only Fromsoftware’s Demon’s Souls but also Dark Souls 1 and 2, as well as Bloodborne, I feel as if someone has just given me a huge finger while laughing at not only me, but the majority of the Dark Souls communities. You see fairly recently we were made aware that somehow that a vast majority of gaming streamers on both YouTube and Twitch were to receive the PC version of Dark Souls 3. That very same English version that supposedly wasn’t going to be released until a later date, which turned out to be April 12, 2016. That’s the same date that the North American versions of Dark Souls 3 are slated to be released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Again, the same version that we were told wasn’t ready, yet it’s going to be handed out to streamers for free publicity!
I get it.
I really do, but that doesn’t mean that I like the idea. Sure, video game streamers are big time now and giving them access to an eagerly awaited game will provide net gains for the company, which in this case is Bandai Namco, with tons of free press or so they thought. Now that the rest of the gaming world is aware of this happening, we aren’t too thrilled about it. There are thousands of fans of the Dark Souls series, some of which have built communities to the game, where others have done music remixes of the soundtrack, guides and countless other projects. None of these people were even remotely approached to get early access to the PC version. The only ones that were targeted were popular streamers.
To be honest Bandai Namco, that really hurts.
Sure I’m not the biggest Twitch streamer out there, though I’m pretty sure I’m in good company with that. There also happens to be a good reason for that. For every person who attempts to stream something and tries to make a name for themselves, there’s a bigger and better streamer who has been doing it for much longer, who has sponsorship and who has and still is making a living off of streaming.
Those streamers have worked to build their channels, they’ve cultivated their fan base, the subscriptions and do everything in their power to keep their channel like that. Now when you, me or the average Joe tries to get even just a minor foothold into the streaming community, we’re constantly knocked back on our asses.
I'll be streaming the English version of Dark Souls 3 Wednesday at 10am central :O
— Peeve Peeverson (@Peeverson) March 22, 2016
Then companies like Bandai Namco go and pull this stuff, ensuring that those large channels will grab the largest share of views and gain more subscriptions. In doing so you’ve also shot holes in the plans of smaller channels, of smaller streamers who won’t be able to compete against those who would’ve had a 3 week head start when it comes to streaming Dark Souls 3. To be fair; however, it isn’t just Bandai Namco who does this as there are quite a large number of gaming companies who turn towards streamers to get their game out there. This very thing has also happened with Blizzard with their ongoing promotion of Overwatch and also by Ubisoft recently with Tom Clancy’s The Division. Its a practice that has been happening more and more to the point where fans are getting a tad up in arms about it all… and that’s me putting it lightly. These companies have to keep in mind that the folks who stream the game aren’t the only ones who play their games. Giving preferred treatment to a select group sends a bad message to the rest of us.
Huge thanks to @BandaiNamcoUS just got my copy of dark souls 3 ?
— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouseUFC) March 22, 2016
To add insult to injury, when the steamers are done with your game; when they fail to pull in and new followers and/or subscriptions or when their current fans simply get tired of said games, they drop them like a bad habit and move on. This is where the community comes in. This is where the people who live and breathe your games, who stay up at all hours trying to piece together the lore, to find every secret in the game, to make posts on the internet, etc. Is those people who think Dark Souls is the best game ever. It is those people who have even gone the distance and have created mods that have improved in quality and replay value of the previous games in the series.
Let me add to many streamers’ credit; there are some streamers out there who are amazing in their own right and have supported Dark Souls for quite some time. To those I say “Thank you and keep up the damned good work,” however, keep in mind that this is just my opinion, but not streamers nor e-celebs should be getting any type of special favors from major companies just for the sake of a publicity stunt.
GREAT NEWS EVERYONE! We've had a change of plans! I just got the full version of Dark Souls 3 and I'm starting my first playthrough tonight!
— Oroboro (@OroboroTheNinja) March 22, 2016
By simply providing a head-start to those who may or may not even be loyal to your brand or series, just for a few extra weeks of publicity, you’ve upset many of loyal followers in your own right. Maybe Bandai Namco didn’t think this through or perhaps you felt it was worth it. Then again, with the amount of posts that are popping up right now across vastness of internet forums, Facebook, or Reddit (here and here), I don’t think you really thought this through fully. I can see and fully expect this to happen for those, like us, who review games. I am totally cool with that, but not totally cool with the preferred treatment deal that we’re seeing here.
In the end, while I’ll still pick up my two copies of Dark Souls 3; one for the PlayStation 4 Collector’s Edition and one for my PC, I’ll remember this. It may not be a big deal to some of you, but for someone who owns every copy of Dark Souls 1 and 2, on all the consoles as well as both copies on the PC, it makes me wonder if you really care about those who support you or if it’s ultimately about the almighty dollar. If the game is done, why make everyone wait and just release it now? Sadly, it just very well may be that when we finally get a copy of Dark Souls 3 in our hands or installed on our PCs, there may not be a chance for us to capture that spotlight. Thanks to this move, the chances are that everyone has already flocked to that new guy who had access to the English PC version. Keep in mind that I’m not telling you to go ahead and not stream. Heck no, in fact I’ll be right alongside you. We just may not get as many people watching.
My fellow Dark Souls 3 PC fans, while the shadow has been cast on us, fear not as we’ll have our day in the sun!