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Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Most trusted video game companies


Do you trust Rockstar? (pic: Rockstar Games)

GameCentral readers reveal the game publishers and developers they trust the most… and the ones they don’t.

The question for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Trantor, who asked who you trust most in terms of being honest with customers and putting out a good product the majority of the time.

Since it was a question of trust, not loyalty, many were happy to name companies such as Capcom, Nintendo, and Rockstar Games as companies they give the benefit of the doubt to. Although most people were careful to point out that trust is always easier to lose than to earn.

 

Decades of trust
The first name that came to mind for me for this Hot Topic was Rockstar Games. I don’t think I’ve ever been let down by one of their games and many time they’ve turned out much better than I was expecting. Although thinking about things fairly I guess that’s got a lot to do with them hardly making any games and being so rich they can just throw money and people at problems – which probably isn’t the same for most other developers.

But they only became stinking rich by making really good games so I’m not sure they haven’t earned the situation they’re in now. I would certainly say I’d be automatically interested in anything they did, although I’ve never pre-ordered anything or ever seen the point in it. I would be tempted by any collector’s editions though if it was part of a series I knew I liked, like GTA.

Basically Rockstar have got 20-odd years of history behind them with not a single dud that I’m aware. Not only do they have my trust for that but I think they deserve it. Now get on and announce GTA 6.
Hammeriron

 

One bad release
I think this is a really interesting question as it can change so quickly! A company can have a golden reputation, but a couple of bad decisions and they can be in the bad books in no time.

I guess recent examples of this would of course be Bethesda and BioWare. You can of course, point at EA to blame for BioWare’s fairly recent nosedive, but before Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda BioWare were one of my top choices for games without even a second thought. Now I’m just hoping that whatever they do next is a success, for their sake, and I’m certainly past the point of buying their games on release day without waiting to see what the reviews look like after being burned by Andromeda and Anthem… (Although a good re-release of Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic would mean all is forgiven!)

If I was to think of my favourite companies right now, Naughty Dog and CD Projekt are definitely ones that I would expect to carry on going from strength to strength. However, if The Last Of Us Part 2 or Cyberpunk 2077 came out and flopped would this instantly tank their respective relationships? Maybe it would take more than just the one bad release, but it would be certainly starting them off on what seems to be a steep slope. It will be interesting to see if companies who have a bad rep currently turn consumer trust around in their next releases…
NL

 

Limited trust
I’m glad you described this as trusting a company rather than being loyal to them, as that’s two very different things. I would never say I’m loyal to any company, that suggests you’d buy things from them and put up with bad practices automatically, which is madness. It does happen, I know, as well as defending companies no matter what they do or how obvious it is that it’s bad, but that’s not for me.

What I will say though is that I trust Nintendo enough that I would give any of their games the benefit of the doubt in terms of hearing what it’s about. And that’s about it really. I’d still wait for the reviews before buying and I still expect to be let down on some occasions.

I’d also extend the same attitude to FromSoftware, PlatinumGames, and… that’s probably it. I used to think the same about Capcom too and they certainly are on a roll at the moment, so they may regain their previous status.

They’re all Japanese companies you notice, but rather than reflecting my tastes (which it does to a degree) I think that probably has more to do with them tending to have much smaller teams than Western companies and therefore it’s easier to see the creative impulse behind them. That’s what I’m looking for in a game and, at the moment at least I trust these companies to deliver.
Watson

 

B-list
This is a hard one to answer as many companies I used to trust have become worryingly unreliable lately. BioWare is an obvious one but I also no longer think of Bethesda, Blizzard or… other developers whose name begin with B in the same way (a joke but that is a weird coincidence).

Those that are the opposite would probably include Nintendo, Rockstar Games, and… I’m not sure about any others really. Maybe Valve, but it’s so long since they’ve made a real game I don’t know what to think of them anymore, especially as I’ve no way to play Half-Life: Alyx. But if that turns out to be a classic then maybe they’ll be able to regain their former trust.
Constantine

GC: Oh wait, Bungie! They’re another one that’s really gone downhill. What is it with the letter B?!

 

Consistent philosophy
The games company I have the most trust in is Nintendo. They have consistently delivered top quality games, and even when consoles like the 3DS and Wii U didn’t do so well, the fact the company gave early adopters free games for their 3DS, and took a pay cut to save workers jobs when the Wii U struggled, speaks volumes about them as a company.

Nintendo’s library of games is a great collection of franchises that regularly review well, and the creativity and fun factor when you play them is, in my opinion, unmatched in the industry. The DLC they bring out is also good value compared to some of the season passes and DLC that some other companies churn out, and they haven’t gone down the microtransaction route that has blighted the industry these last few years.

They did rightfully receive a lot of flack for the Switch Joy-Con drift problem, and I’ve had five Joy-Cons suffer from this fault. But they have repaired them for free every time, even when the warranty had expired. Which helps foster faith and trust in Nintendo.

I have bought every Nintendo console since the GameCube, and they have consistently delivered fun entertainment on each platform, and I trust them to deliver fantastic entertaining games on their consoles.

However, any change of management can lead to a change in company philosophy, which can be for better or worse, so my loyalty depends on what the company does. Microsoft really made a mess of the Xbox One launch, which they never really recovered from, but under Phil Spencer they have turned things around with Game Pass and console cross-play, and it makes things a lot more interesting as we head into the next gen of consoles.
Cubes (PSN ID)/
Kevin M/Cubes1 (Twitter)

 

The bad kind of trust
Well I always trust Sega to mess things up, does that count? In a way it does I suppose. In that a company I used to love has let me down so many times I now wouldn’t consider anything they do without seeing all the reviews.

In terms of the opposite I’m not sure really. I don’t ‘trust’ Sony to do anything for me, I’m just a customer, but I do trust them to be the most competent and sensible of the three console manufacturers. That doesn’t gain them any loyalty, from me, but it does create a certain air of authority and expectation that they’ve deserved this generation.
Jasper

 

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

 

From fan to customer
My most trusted games company? I’ll focus on the games aspect.

I liked the vast majority of BioWare’s output, from Jade Empire through to Dragon Age: Inquisition. Their storytelling drew me in and kept me. They were a games company I trusted, and it did get to the point when reviews weren’t that important in my purchasing decision. I hope Dragon Age 4 will be a return to form for them.

From a different angle I trust Team Ninja to develop a solid fighting game. I would definitely not trust them, or probably more correctly Koei Tecmo, when it comes to their DLC practice. Similarly for Capcom, due to previous DLC practice and how they handled Street Fighter 5’s launch. Fighting games seem particularly prone to content being partitioned and added in a piecemeal fashion.

PlatinumGames I also trust to deliver some good quality game experiences, and they’re probably at the point of trust I had for BioWare in previous years.

Switching tack, I’ve only pre-ordered a few games: The Witcher 2 (via GOG), Street Fighter 4 Collector’s Edition, Mass Effect 3: N7 Collector’s Edition, and Soulcalibur 5 Collector’s Edition. Soulcalibur 5’s was the most disappointing because of the large price drop in the following weeks of release. It made me question pre-ordering games on a financial basis.

Additionally, an evergrowing backlog and day one patches becoming common makes a day one purchase less enticing now. I’ve stopped being a fan and became a customer. You want me to spend my money on your product? Earn it. Do well enough then I may become a regular. Do better and I may even become a loyal customer.

So on that note I think it’s CD Projekt for me. The Witcher (with its updates long after release) introduced me to CD Projekt Red and GOG.com with its stance of being DRM free. If a game is on Steam and GOG then I’d choose to buy from GOG. That’s not to say it’s perfect, there was that social media issue a while back, but they seem to be pretty good overall.
Obakasama

 

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

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