Few industries in the world are as fast-paced and action-packed as video gaming. The industry and its community are stocked full of dramatic and exciting storylines, and 2021 has proven to be no exception with a number of controversies engulfing the scene over the course of the calendar year.
With 2022 unfolding, Gameranx takes you through the biggest video game controversies of 2021.
The Whole Gamestop Thing
In what was an eye-opening revelation to the scope and power video game geeks can muster up, ‘that whole Gamestop thing’ was an interesting point in the history of gaming.
In what became a storyline that many saw as the ‘little guys’ banding together to take down the big bad corporations, the whole controversy began when an investor known as Roaring Kitty on YouTube (and Keith Gill in real life) recommended investing in Gamestop shares on the r/wallstreetbets subreddit.
The idea of investing really took off on the back of this recommendation, which meant the prices of the stocks rose from $4 in July 2020 to $325 at the start of 2021, ‘shortening the squeeze’ which, in essence, meant that fund managers on Wall Street (who had previously sold their shares in the belief they would be able to buy them back on a cheap price) were left with an overinflated price to buy back on.
On the back of the controversy, trading apps began to pause trading on Gamestop due to not having the capital to pay out, Discord banned the ‘WallStreetBets’ channel over supposed ‘hate speech’, Wall Street hedge funds ended up losing out on billions of dollars, and the whole thing reached as far as the US Congress.
Battlefield 2042 Blows
EA’s Battlefield 2042 was arguably the year’s most anticipated title, with the largest development team ever assembled for the series behind its release. The game looked to push the series in a new direction, scrapping the single-player campaigns that had always proven to be popular with fans, in favor of bigger maps capable of housing up to 128 players.
The traditional character classes were also replaced by all-new specialist classes, which also drew in a mixed response from fans.
And the game’s mixed reception would go on to become one of the most publicized and, for DICE and EA in particular, embarrassing over the course of the year. Scathing videos and articles online went viral for months after the game’s initial release, and DICE have spent the majority of the year hastily organizing patches and feeding the community some of the old features they tried to take out earlier.
A Bad Day For Activision Blizzard
In July, news broke around the gaming world that a California-based agency had filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard on the grounds of sexual harassment and discrimination that had stretched back across years.
Despite Activision Blizzard initially coming out and saying the lawsuit represented a ‘distorted view of the company’, the controversy spiraled into viral territory on the back of a number of high-profile in-game protests (most notably with World of Warcraft).
And whilst the lawsuit hit a roadblock when Activision Blizzard and a similar agency conducting their own investigation settled on an $18 million settlement agreement, the whole saga was enough to prompt several high-brow changes in the setup of the company, with CEO Bobby Kotick taking a huge pay cut, the head of HR was replaced, and Blizzard president J Allen Brack was forced to step down.
What’s more, the company has gone on to reveal they have fired over twenty employees, and disciplined roughly the same amount. The controversy was one of the biggest the gaming world had ever seen engulf a single company and was instrumental in showcasing the prejudices and scrutiny many women in the industry still face today.
NFTs Are Now A Thing
Before the mid-to-latter point of 2021, very few people had even heard the word ‘NFT’ but, we’re all set to enter 2022 with them being on the most discussed topics in the world.
For those who are like us, NFTs are essentially unique receipts for digital things online, but they can also be used for in-game purchases such as bits of land or specific items. NFTs almost became the next big thing overnight, with the likes of Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot labeling them ‘a revolution’ and EA’s Andrew Wilson proclaiming them to be ‘the future’.
However, as well as being exceptionally popular with scammers, there have already been some frankly absurd rates of spending involved with NFTs, with one individual spending $650,000 on a yacht for a game that doesn’t even exist.
By and large, the majority of the gaming community haven’t been sold on this being the radical innovation some are proclaiming it to be. Most believe it to be a smokescreen for some shady pyramid scheming, the announcement of NFTs being in games has often been batted away, and the likes of Discord have already begun to backtrack on their plans on the back of some hefty reactions.