Sigh – It’s not been a great week for me. That’s not important; we’re not here to discuss my emotional state, like a diary. We’re here to discuss video games. It’s something I write about sometimes. I can list things, but again, boasting accomplishments isn’t the focus. I only want to direct you to the news that Square Enix decided to shut down Core Online, a browser service where the company provided free games through advertisement and subscription support. I know this, because I noticed it yesterday.
Doing so, I saw that the service was taken offline quite some time ago, so I wondered why I hadn’t heard that anywhere at all. Not here, not major publications I enjoy following, such as Joystiq, Destructoid and all those fancy names we all know; there hadn’t been as much as a blip. So, I figured I’d do something we editors rarely get time to do and investigate further, contact sources, hear them out on this decision and so on, prior to writing. Reilly Brennan from Square Enix was kind enough to point me towards the support pages they had put up for their users that addressed the cancellation. From there and my other findings, I put up my article on January 16th, as I thought many readers wouldn’t have picked up the news yet. Hell, back when I was plugging the service during Square Enix sales that featured some of Core Online’s titles, I constantly met people who had never heard of it. We’ll call it our hipster club.
One day later, to my surprise, I find that indeed not many had picked up the news yet, as VG247 reported on it. I was right, for once. That’s a check plus for me. Yet, they listed Polygon as the crediting line. Odd as that may be, I didn’t fret, as I’m sure I was going to follow the trail home from there. Polygon, often criticized for their vigorous application of morality in their work, would surely follow through on this with the crediting line as well. It’s in their blood. It’s what they fight the hoard of nearly sociopath gaming crowd to the teeth for. They listed Gone Home as their Game of the Year and we all know what that means. That link takes you back to an article I wrote about the game, by the way, check link sources first, then click.
Thinking I arrived at my destination, I read through Polygon’s article, only to find that they directed their work with thanks to Videogamer. Now, I’m already not the most hopeful person, but I would think they would’ve skipped the runaround and lead straight to where everyone is getting it from. As mentioned, if there’s one publication that vows to be on the level, against all odds, it’s them. Still, since the credit roulette isn’t done, I can’t exactly fault them either, since it’s possible that this is just where they picked up this news. It’s news; it goes around. I also follow numerous publications, but unfortunately can’t keep track of them all. As long as Videogamer has that nod towards my site, GG3, it’s alright. That’s my site, by the way. You probably never heard of it. We’re keeping it hipster. Moving on. It’s a little hurtful at this point, as you should always source the proper peers you got yours from, but it’s not the first time it’s happened. I broke news before. Some are going to be scummy about it, but usually the turnover is at least 50/50. There’s good people and bad people everywhere. Our capsule isn’t different.
By now, we all know where this is headed. Once at Videogamer, a publication that I recently got in my radar through their rightful criticism of Youtube jerk KSIOlajidebt, I found only a direct credit line to Core Online. I should’ve been less naïve to not realize earlier why my article had gotten no traction whatsoever, before going down this rabbit hole. It, however, didn’t make the blow any less crushing. This sucks.
Ok, I understand I’m not the “source,” Square Enix still is. It’s their thing. It would be rather coincidental though that writer David Scammell of Videogamer would’ve suddenly come up with this news out of thin air and that a convenient day after mine. My news was listed on January 16, around 5PM. Videogamer picked up this article at January 17, 11AM. There’s no, “via/thanks GG3” and no, lesser favored, “this blogger reported” line. I don’t like being addressed as a random blogger, but since I don’t have the financial strength to transform a crummy free site into an actual thing, I understand that decision. Again: That has happened before, even for more respected sites I worked for. I’m not that technical about things. If the link's there, it’s there. It isn’t.
Is it possible David Scammell happened upon this idea by mere coincidence? After all, I only returned to Core Online myself after months of absence. It’s a…probability. The article does refer to little enough random links to hide any connection. Debunkers of the Bible argue that the magic coincidence of people in different areas writing about similar stories at the same time is just that; a cosmic roll of chance. It’s pegged as “great minds think alike” or something along those lines.
Still, is it likely that the one in a million chance is the reason? One day after my article is put onto aggregation sites, where it can be picked up? No. It’s not likely at all, certainly not when a random support page isn’t exactly an obvious reference, months after the date. It’s as big of a correlation as that developer from Kumi Games who was just addressed for forming hateful comments in a similar manner through anonymous accounts. Could it be that he’s not the cause of it? Technically, yes, anything is possible without direct, tangible proof, but let’s not kid ourselves. These things don’t just connect nine out of ten dots and then don’t stack up. Credit where it’s due is what we’re aiming for after all. Bad people need to be given their credit too.
“Why didn’t you just ask them to put you in a thank you,” you ask. That’s a fair point and one that crossed my mind prior to this, but I shouldn’t. As the original form, I shouldn’t do anything more to inform people. I already did that. Videogamer should’ve done the right thing in the first place and done that, by their own volition. They shouldn’t do the wrong thing, then have me take additional steps to ask if it would be cool if, instead, they would want to do the right thing. Their inaction shouldn’t cause my action; that’s just not logical.
Now, I know Videogamer, as a whole, can’t be faulted for this. I understand that employing one person isn’t the same as attributing that mentality to an entire organization. We should do a lot less of that and not get people like Adam Orth, the “deal with it” guy, fired for ultimately being right about Xbox One, but in a very lousy way. I am, however, saddened that Videogamer would employ people like David Scammell, who would use this sort of crummy behavior, which would also enable this sort of mentality to spread. He could even be on the up and up for everything else he’s done in his life. He isn’t cool here, though; that’s certain. Not only that, but his position allows his peers to follow his lead and lift things as well.
It’s even worse that, in order to even point this out in any way, I can’t make use of the same visibility as these major publications, therefore just furthering an already unwinnable battle. Instead, I’m forced to use a piggyback off larger sites and just drop it there, in the vain hope someone is actually going to be interested in a random blogger there. I am a blogger here, I can’t discredit that. Something, something trickles downhill. My site/blog just doesn't bare the same credibility and stands no chance against others to brush it off with that in mind. I know this, because this week alone, I discovered that Europe won't have an Xbox 360 of Nascar '14, no one else picked up on and the only thing that's addressed there is that there is one, in the US, so I'm wrong. Deep Silver didn't have any official comment on that, by the way, they replied when I asked. I ask things sometimes.
I could ask for an apology or something from Videogamer and/or David Scammell, if it’s even heard at this point, but I wouldn’t want that. It would be an empty gesture; a free, intangible action that doesn’t change anything to the overarching situation. I don’t need that. The only thing I would “want,” is for this mentality to stop. The only thing I want is people doing the right thing, if it’s not too much to ask; not bound by contract or other restrictive manner, but because they know it to be just, within themselves.
Stop using a higher status to sneak away with credit. Small publications rely on this a great deal and they already don’t get the privileges of a higher tier. It’s incredibly frustrating at the bottom of the totem pole already. Adding to that is just an incredibly low move. In a time where we’re pulling for more integrity again, a simple “thanks, tubby” should be applied more, not less.
Then again, what do I know? I’m just some random blogger, writing about video games, like a diary. Apparently, my writing just isn’t that good.