There are a few companies who will forever live with all the hatred my little heart can give. There are organizations that I will actively celebrate the downfall of. There will, for example, be a rather large party held at my home the day Living Spaces Furniture files for bankruptcy. The fiasco that was purchasing from them and the many class-action lawsuits filed by their own employees has earned them a special place in my… well, not my heart.. maybe the bowel area. Somewhere in that vicinity. Needless to say, I don’t buy their products anymore. EB games, for that spectacular summer spent working in one of their branches during college, will forever have my deep-seeded loathing. From the fat manager who hit on every female employee to the sweltering heat in the warehouse to the shitty pay and long hours, I was pleased as punch when the shop closed its doors.
On the flipside, there are establishments whom I will drive far out of my way to purchase from. Ikea, for their commercials proudly featuring homosexual couples, will have many years of continued patronage from yours truly. Trader Joe’s, for selling healthy food at sane prices along with their awesome customer service have been my primary grocer for years and I’ll gladly shop at their store even if its a little cheaper elsewhere. The same goes with certain game companies. I make it no secret that I have a great deal of brand loyalty for Valve. They’ve supported the modding and indie development community for years. Many indie devs owe their success in large part to Steam, and every instance in which I’ve needed support I’ve found Valve’s customer service to be above-par. Valve has literally never made a game that I didn’t enjoy playing. That’s really saying something.
Now, to say that Valve does no wrong would be horribly dishonest. Their development times trundle along at a snail’s pace. Steam is still quite incomplete and there are some big issues that need fixing (though this latest update addresses a lot of them) and they seriously need to hurry the fuck up and make Episode 3 already. There are also DRM issues with SteamWorks, though admittedly they aren’t hardly as intrusive as the competition. Ultimately, Companies that I love like Valve, Tripwire and Runic Games are not only fallible but actually fuck up quite often. Its their conduct that causes me to cut them some slack.
That being said, there are some game developers who simply haven’t earned it. EA, Activision, Capcom and SOE are the big ones. EA and Activision are especially undeserving of trust in my eyes. I’m much less likely to give them a break and chalk it up to “we all make mistakes” when the board is already full of their past mistakes. If a small child runs by you and smacks you in the back of the head, you’re likely willing to forgive it the first time. After the 5th time, you trip the little bastard as he passes.
Am I a lot harder on EA than I am on Valve? Yes. Am I more likely to forgive an issue with Torchlight 2 than I am with Diablo 3? Absolutely. Am I going to shop at Ikea over Living Spaces every fucking time? You bet your ass I will. Why? Because being a douchebag to your customers isn’t the way to run a business and if people just give in and let them do whatever they want they’ll continue to treat us like shit. Sometimes it goes beyond the technical issue at hand and becomes a matter of principal.