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Downtime!

A lot of people hate Mondays and I understand why. The weekend is over, the grind is on and you’re low on sleep because at 11pm you had two episodes of Jessica Jones to watch. Personally, it’s Tuesdays I’ve found to be the tougher day. Tuesday doesn’t have a personality. It’s not hump day, it’s not nearly the weekend and it’s certainly not Friday. It’s a nothing day.

Thank god for games though right? I can always go run around in the Dark Zone with some friends…oh, wait. Maintenance in The Division. Well, Star Wars: The Old Republic is apparently greatly improved since…sonofabitch, it’s down on Tuesday nights. Ok maybe I’ll boot up Destiny for…oh, it’s down tonight too. When in doubt, play World of….get fucked!

Ok, it’s a first world problem, I get that. Tuesday nights and the persistent online worlds we play in disappear for a bit, go do something else. And I’m ok with that. This is what I’m not ok with though: I pay the same, if not more, for the game and/or a monthly subscription as everyone else in the world. Why is it ok for me to have less access in my prime time than everywhere else?

We have servers in Australia for The Division and World of Warcraft at a minimum. They are physically in the country. Why the hell can they not be patched when most of the adult population is not at home and wanting to enjoy the product they paid for? Is there a technical limitation? Is it impossible to patch servers at different times? Is there a danger that if I play for four hours without the latest patch that Azeroth may be wiped from existence? It must be the case, because surely companies would not treat their customers with such utter disdain.

I’m sorry what? US and EU maintenance is at different times for WoW? So it is something they can do, but choose not to. And if Blizzard could do it I think it’s fair to assume Ubisoft and EA could manage it too.

So, basically, they don’t give a fuck.

What other answer is there? They charge us the same, if not more, but provide us with less of a service. The simple fact is they have a product that dominates the market and know, well believe, that we will accept it as consumers because they have something we want. And to a large degree that works –any Aussie WoW player greets a Tuesday night without downtime as a pleasant surprise rather than rage when it does occur.

So what is to be done? Do we just accept that we are given less access to our games because of where we live? Should we just add it to our crap internet and inflated prices?

Well, no, of course we bloody shouldn’t.

What we, and by we I mean all of us, should do is tell these organisations to take their game, shine it up reeeeeeeeeeal good, turn it sideways and shove it up their candy ass. We should go and play Assault Android Cactus, Punch Club, Firewatch, Superhot and Screencheat. Rather a triple-A game? The developers of The Witcher, CD Project, have won me over with their tremendous respect for their customers. It’s your wallet that matters, not your opinion.

We’ve done it before. Microsoft treated gamers with absolute disdain at the announcement of the Xbox One and, despite having an arguably better product, continue to pay the price. The SimCity relaunch was nothing the fan base wanted and ignored calls for change. It should have been a massive hit but it was Cities: Skylines that stole the thunder because it listened to what people wanted. And don’t think Aussie dollars don’t matter. Australians are expected to spend over three BILLION dollars on gaming this year.

Will we do it? It’s hard to say no to a juggernaut like The Division when everyone you know is playing it – that’s what makes it so hard for me to walk away from. So no, I don’t think we will. I don’t think I will, at least not for now. And I won’t recommend it, though I doubt my influence means much to my brother, let alone Ubisoft.

But we need to know it’s not ok and we need to start telling games companies that it’s not ok. There are plenty of amazing games out there, they need to win our business, not expect it. And if you, like me, can’t escape the tremendous pull of blockbuster games, get vocal. Tell your friends, use social media, send emails directly to companies (politely).

And in the meantime keep your eyes open for Aussie gems that are worth your money. You might find that you don’t need that blockbuster game as much as you thought you did.

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