And now you understand at least one of the reasons as to why I buy indies. The mainstream is a product, and as such it has product-based reviews, which you can't really blame the industry for. It's the way things work. It's just the nature of the machine, so to speak. And rage against the machine all you like, it's going to be a long time before it changes.
However, looking at indie efforts, I feel that the developers and the reviewers are both more honest and fair, there. Sure, you'll have the inverse happening and sometimes you'll see a site writing a 'hit' review because they don't fear negative publisher feedback, but on the whole it's just a better state of affairs.
Plus, I feel that indie developers are, on the whole, more open with what they're doing and trying to achieve. The same goes for a number of smaller developers, too, that don't have hundreds of employees. I guess when you're not this massive thing it's easier to retain the human element.
It's just my preference, of course, but I feel that now that gaming has become something involving hundreds of employees, it is more artificial and less interesting. It feels like it's less a passion project of a person, and just a product that's made without passion as a job, for money, focus tested, marketed, and sold.
It makes me really, really sad sometimes that certain games, despite their homogeneous and artificial nature, can pull in billions whilst others which, to me, seem to be have more of a focus on passion and being something that the person wants to make fall by the wayside. One example of that is The Realm.
The failure of The Realm was like a kick in the gut, and it's that kind of thing and what you've described that make me feel a little resentful towards the mainstream, sometimes. I love food analogues, so let's do that again! Okay, it's kind of like having a town that has a bunch of large places like Dominos and Pizza Hat, and one place which is a family business. As the family business, they care about what they're doing, so you'll have some that will buy from them because that love goes into their food. Yet most people just opt for Dominoes or Pizza Hut, not really giving a damn about what goes into their body.
Of course, the family business goes out of business and that's just the way of things, but I can't help but feel sad about it. And that's a large part of why I've left the mainstream behind in seeking out these indies and small devs. They make with passion, they make out of a need to create for their own sake. It's not about the product, to them, it's about the construction of a thing which is truly theirs.
There are no focus testing groups or PR involved in indie development, so there's no one to butter people up, and no one to fund multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. Things have to happen on a word of mouth basis. It feels grass roots, genuine, and... good, I suppose.
And I'd honestly rather see The Realm funded than see a hundred homogeneous mainstream games get released. It's just my preference, and my opinion, but this is where I sit right now. This is how I see things. It's up to every person to decide for themselves what's right for them, but lately I've been just less and less inclined to give my money to big industry.
It's up to you what's right for you, but I think you're slowly beginning to understand how I think. You're beginning to see it for yourself -- that what the mainstream provides is just a product, only a product, and nothing else. And maybe you don't want that any more.
I can only hope that more and more people start feeling that way, over time.