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Voting With Your Wallet [roundtable]
I wanted to make this a roundtable but since I don't have that ability can a mod edit it in to one?

Voting with your wallet is often said to be the best practice consumers can partake in if they are unhappy with a company's decisions. How often do you find yourself not buying something you otherwise would have purchased because of some factor? What products has it happened with in the past? Do you have any plans to alter buying habits in the near future or are you currently doing so? Remember, this is about products you would have otherwise bought.

The topic by its nature is going to have a lot of references to services and products people like and for reasons they might not agree with. Could we not reopen old debates? Think of this as a thread where people give their stances and don't try to argue with them or change them.

I cannot think of too many previous examples but currently there are quite a few ongoing and upcoming.

Evolve was a game I was interested in but the sheer amount of DLC announced before the game releases has made me decide to hold off. When a game is multiplayer only and you plan to splinter the playerbase that drastically upon release it is clear you don't have the game being the best it can be as the top priority.

The Battlefield series. Battlefield 4 was an absolute mess at launch. Months and months passed and the game still only worked some of the time. That series will never get the benefit of the doubt from me again.

Assassin's Creed. These games have always been home to some questionable practices. With Unity though and the introduction of microtransactions, review embargoes, poor QC it has just reached a breaking point.

Virtual Console. The lack of crossbuy and a proper account system has me not using the service nearly as much as I otherwise would have. This also applies to Nintendo's digital offerings of retail games.

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Posted: 01/29/15, 15:21:54  - Edited by 
 on: 01/29/15, 16:22:12
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I'm sort of generally against pushing the practice of "voting with your wallet" since it clearly gives more power to the more wealthy.

With that said I can't really think offhand of a product that I wanted, some detail came out that turned me off to it while I still overall wanted it, and then I held off to make a point. Usually that detail would just make me not want it anymore anyway. In which case I'm not voting with my wallet so much as I just don't care to own it anymore.

It's a subtle difference though.
Posted: 01/29/15, 15:33:10
Voting with your wallet is effective, but it also needs to be followed up with some form of feedback in order to say exactly why you are not buying it. If you don't buy Evolve, but give no reasons, what is the developer to think? That the game just didn't interest you so you didn't buy it. But if you told them, through some feedback form, that "Evolve did interest me greatly, but since you've decided to announce so much DLC prior to release and fracture a multiplayer only title's fanbase prior to launch, I will not be purchasing it" then it sends a clearer message.

If we aren't going to give detailed feedback, then we likely end up in a terrible loop. No-one buys BF4 because it didn't work at launch, EA thinks the BF series is dead and drops it entirely, Activision runs the world with Call of Duty every 6 months because it sells millions of copies every time. Fantasy land example, of course.
Posted: 01/29/15, 15:58:02
Ha I vote with my wallet in the opposite way, Nintendo makes it so difficult to access purchases than I end up buying the same game 2 or 3 times just to get it on my current system. I've bought The Legend of Zelda NES on Wii, 3DS, and Wii U! Same exact ROM... Of course this is what Nintendo wants, they see it as a way to bilk customers, but it's an unethical practice I don't approve of yet still I support them.

If only I had more will power!
Posted: 01/29/15, 16:01:39
Made this a roundtable. Will read more thoroughly later after work.
Posted: 01/29/15, 16:22:49
I don't believe in "voting with your dollars", for the reason Zero gave, and more.

The context for this tweet was different, but:

That said, I'm all for people not giving their money to someone or some company they find distasteful. Use it for something you want instead, save it, whatever. That's absolutely a-ok.
Posted: 01/29/15, 17:00:21
I'm with Zero and Gui. The concept of voting with your wallet is more an attempt at making the mechanics of consumerism seem democratic, and I'm not a fan of that. That being said, there's definitely products and services that I don't buy because of negative personal experiences or out of (other) principle.
Posted: 01/29/15, 17:38:12
Zero said:
With that said I can't really think offhand of a product that I wanted, some detail came out that turned me off to it while I still overall wanted it, and then I held off to make a point. Usually that detail would just make me not want it anymore anyway. In which case I'm not voting with my wallet so much as I just don't care to own it anymore.

This. Not buying something just to make a point that I doesn't personally apply to me doesn't make much sense to me. Similar to how I feel about not buying a game that you're interested in by a publisher that you don't want to support. If you hate Assassin's Creed, then you SHOULD buy Valiant Hearts to send the message that those are the kinds of games you want to see from Ubisoft! (Not that voting with your wallet works anyway.)
Posted: 01/29/15, 18:22:30
To me voting with your wallet is just another way of saying, I've decided not to buy this game for X reason. People just like to glorify the fact that they ARENT buying X popular game on the internet.
Posted: 01/29/15, 18:25:45
I think that until we have a system in place in which money is no longer such a powerful force, voting with your wallet is the greatest power an individual consumer has. There are other methods, but, monetary is the strongest at the moment. I do look forward to the day when someone can figure out a system that does not rely so heavily on something like money. I just wish someone would figure that out sooner rather than later!

Unfortunately, most of the gaming topics that people might vote with their wallets about should have been nipped in the bud from the start. Now, too much precedent has been set that I think things are going to have to get much worse before people realize the problem and start making better decisions. I suppose the good(?) news is I think that will happen.

On an individual basis, it sure can be hard to vote with your wallet in such a way that *perfectly* mirrors what you value. For instance, I do not like the DLC in Hyrule Warriors, yet the core game was so appealing I had to support that anyway. I do not like how Amiibo is a kinda/sorta DLC that also exists in tangible form ... yet I caved for Amy cuz she thought Kirby was cute, she's gonna think the same thing about Toad, and I am going to end up with a Dedede Amiibo as result of a kind of long story. That will be THREE more Amiibos than I ever planned to own, and it will only have been a few months!! =P Lord help us when Nintendo decides to release all 719 Pokemon Amiibo!

But, I am capable of sticking to my higher priority values. I was obsessed with Monster Hunter Tri, but, amidst rumors that MH4 might have a subscription fee in the West, I was prepared to not support that.

I suppose the nicest thing about voting with your wallet is that often times you don't have to think about it -- it happens naturally. You either feel good enough about a product to buy it or you don't. ....most of the time.
Posted: 01/29/15, 20:15:29
I have to agree with whoever said its not a bad idea in theory, but the company doesn't really know why you aren't voting with your dollar. If something isn't popular enough, however, it can cause a company to change directions on things. For instance, Nintendo is doing away with Club Nintendo and likely the Virtual Console branding at some point. Not because people necessarily voted with their dollars, but because it simply want lucrative. So yeah I guess it works if everyone does it, but the amount of people "voting with their dollars" is so minuscule compared to people who don't.
Posted: 01/29/15, 20:56:22

I love that people like you are completely negating people like Stephen Makes me chuckle .

I'm with Pogue. A company doesn't really know who isn't buying something (without doing serious market research anyway). All they know is who is. And as long as enough people are, the views of those who aren't don't really factor unless the company wants to compromise what they're offering. Sure mobile games might sell to a bajillion casual gamers. I don't think any of us would seriously want Nintendo to do the 'smart' thing and target that wider market though. Not if it compromises the experiences we get on the mainline consoles.

Personally, 'voting with my wallet' isn't about a futile attempt to 'hurt' a company. I do it for me. Two examples:

I used to regularly stop by the 7-Eleven around the corner from work to pick up a chocolate milk. A few months back I went to purchase one and handed over the usual purchase price only to be told that the price had gone up. Wouldn't be an issue, except the marked price on the shelf was still the old price. The cashier insisted on sticking by the price his computer was telling him, claiming that his 'boss' hadn't changed the price tags.

Leaving aside the absurdity of blaming the boss for not changing the pricing, consumer law is pretty clear on this point- When two prices are quoted, the lower price has to be honoured. Didn't happen. So I left the milk on the counter for him to put back himself and walked out of the shop. Haven't been back since. Petty to quibble over a matter of 25 cents? Perhaps. But IMO if you don't respect your customers, you don't get my business. I run down to the Coles Express near the station now.

Similar thing happened at Hungry Jacks (our version of Burger King) a few years back. They used to sell nuggets in 7-packs. At some point they eliminated that and replaced it with a 6-pack. Not knowing that, when I asked for 7 nuggets, they dutifully rang up the order as a 6-pack, and one extra- Which they charged some ridicuous price for- $2 from memory.

When I realised what was going on I asked to change the order to a 6-pack. I was told, they couldn't do that. The cashier, the two other employees in the background and the freaking store manager just looked blankly at me like I'd walked in and asked for a Big Mac.

Again, I haven't been back to that store. I get my fast food nuggets from KFC now. Much better.

Now I don't for a second think that my actions are in any way going to topple the coporate empires of convenience stores and fast food. But they make me feel happy. They don't get my business and I end up finding a better deal elsewhere anyway.
Posted: 01/29/15, 23:17:38
@NinSage I wouldn't say the greatest power. Operation Rainfall, for instance, was probably a much more powerful consumer force than if all of those people who got involved in it (which, realistically, was maybe 10k people tops) just didn't buy the next Zelda game in protest or something. Nintendo wouldn't have even noticed that.

Basically, actually organizing and speaking up is a lot more powerful than quietly buying / not buying stuff.
Posted: 01/29/15, 23:20:39

Stephen said:
Think of this as a thread where people give their stances and don't try to argue with them or change them.

I was happy to participate because I saw this in the header and did not want to start "debating" anyone.
Posted: 01/29/15, 23:53:21
@NinSage But... weren't you basically responding to my comment to begin with? Or Guillaume's?
Posted: 01/30/15, 00:05:54

Posted: 01/30/15, 00:47:31

That was in reference to the games/services themselves. Obviously a roundtable about voting with your dollar is going to have discussion about the efficacy of voting with your dollar.
Posted: 01/30/15, 00:49:11

Oh, OK. Then I'm sorry I misunderstood. I thought sharing thoughts and acknowledging the thoughts of others was enough this time. Y'know, just as a litmus test. And it looked like just that was going really well so far in the thread!! But, if it's supposed to be the usual back and forth, I'll graciously step out. And if speaking and then stepping out is seen as, for whatever reason, unfair, go ahead and delete my posts here. I do not mind at all.
Posted: 01/30/15, 01:01:50
Yep, I was going to buy Rayman Legends when it was supposed to release in Feb 2013. So, when UbiSoft did their little make us wait bullshit, I decided never to buy the game. Same thing with Watch Dogs, I was definitely going to buy that, but again, make Nintendo console owners wait. Well, F'ck Ubisoft, I will never buy any game they develop or publish ever. Unfortunately, I bought Child of Light, which is a great game, but I had forgot that Ubi published that game, until it was too late. Well, at least I helped support the developers of that game. Sure, some could argue that I'm really only hurting myself, by maybe missing out on a great game, the way I see it, first my backlog is so huge, I could go years without ever buying a new game and still have more than enough games to satiate my appetite. Secondly, there is always more great games being released all the time. I'll never have enough time to really play all the games that truly grabs my interest. Now, I never actually used the phrase, "I'm voting with my wallet", when it came to these two games and my overall distaste for Ubisoft but I think it fits.

As far as me contacting Ubisoft and informing them on why I'm no longer buying anynof their games, I'm sure they really wouldn't give a shit and I doubt that they would suddenly start releasing tons of new games for Nintendo's consoles. Oh well, such is life.
Posted: 01/31/15, 10:15:09  - Edited by 
 on: 01/31/15, 10:21:28
When I think of "voting with your wallet," Matt Casamassina comes to mind. Maybe I'm misremembering but I think he used to use that saying when talking about underrated and very likely under-selling games. I also think of Jonny Metts on RFN. Once again, if my memory is correct, he's always been against the idea.

And here I am. I'm confused to what people who don't like the idea think "voting with your wallet" means. You buy things you want and don't buy things you don't want? Isn't that what everyone does anyway?

The only thing I can come up with is that they think people buy games they wouldn't normally just for the sake of hopefully getting others like it. But who does that really? And why is that so bad when it's all laughs when we talk about Steam games people buy but never play? Because one has a purpose and the other doesn't? I don't know, I've just never understood the backlash.
Posted: 02/01/15, 01:16:01

I'm kinda with you. What's the big deal? Buy the games you want, don't buy the games you don't want. Capitalism 101.

If there's some weird practice by the publisher or something that pisses you off and you don't want to support it, don't buy into it. Hate DLC? Don't buy it. Ubisoft doesn't deserve your Rayman money if you're significantly angry about them pushing the date back. Don't buy it, if you feel that strongly about it. If that's all "vote with your wallet" means, then what's the big deal?

Unless we're talking about the old "Buy Madworld to send a message to make games like Madworld that are better than Madworld" campaigns that IGN used to do. I don't think you should buy things you don't want just to send a message. But I'm not sure that's what we're really talking about.

In general, I don't like political philosophies that equate market forces with democracy. But we're not talking about voting in a literal way, we're talking about using your buying power to buy the things you want (or not buying the things you don't want) in a hope that producers will make more of the things you want (and, slightly more quixotically, not make the things you don't want). To me, that's just basic capitalism, love it or hate it.


Trying to think of examples of what Stephen talks about in the OP. I guess I gave up on MMOs, even though I think they're fun, because I found my time playing City of Heroes kind of exploitative. I'm not even sure if that's a "vote with your wallet" thing so much as me just souring on a genre because I felt it was exploiting me.
Posted: 02/01/15, 01:47:24  - Edited by 
 on: 02/01/15, 01:50:25
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