Top 5 Biggest Video Game Scandals Of All Time

Blizzard has been under fire after suspending a pro-Hearthstone player after his pro-Hong Kong remarks during a Livestream. Blizzard has since responded and has lifted the banned on Ng Wai Chung, known as “Blitzchung,” in-game. These types of scandals are nothing new to the industry, for as long as video games have been around there is always some sort of scandal that helped shape the industry for better or worst. So here are five of the biggest video game scandals. Now for this list, I will be excluding scandals that revolve around broken/ unfinished games, or games that lied to the audience. Those games scandals are enough for another list, this list will cover games with real-life implications.

5. Mortal Kombat ESRB Rating

Mortal Kombat was developed by Midway Games and it is directly linked to the ESRB rating system. For a quick summary, the ESRB summary is the rating system that video games are sorted into. In order: E for Everyone, T for Teen, M for Mature audience, and A for Adult. There are also subcategories such as E+, similar to the movie rating system, this system started because of the rise of parents protesting that video games are becoming too violent and that there needs to be a way to protect the children. The game at the forefront of the protest was Mortal Kombat. In order to protect its brand, Nintendo chose to censor the Super Nintendo port of the game. Sega, on the other hand, kept their port uncensored claiming that the rating itself should be good enough. The argument leads to congress demanding a proper rating system. This is one of the earliest and most important scandals since it resulted in the modern way in which we rate games today.

4. “No Russian”

The Call of Duty franchise was at its peak of popularity when it launched Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The infamous, ‘No Russian,’ mission revolves around the player arriving in an airport with a Russian terrorist group. The goal of the mission is to gain the favor of the terrorist organization, in order to do this you have to gun down an airport full of civilians. The whole scene is entirely playable, and the backlash that the game took because of it can not be underestimated. Every media outlet attacked the game especially with the post 9/11 mentality of the early 2000s. With storytelling in gaming today different then it was back when the game released. The No Russian scandal is now simply seen as just a bad decision that really meant no harm.

3. #GamerGate

Video game journalism has always been some of the best sources of scandal, one great example was the Drivergate Scandal, however easily on the biggest modern scandal has to be #Gamergate. Back in 2014 a game known as Depression Quest was released. Develope by Zoe Quinn the game mostly went under the radar and mostly viewed as a small indie game. However, this changed after a blog post from Quinn’s former boyfriend Eron Gjoni, got the internet’s attention putting a negative spotlight on video game journalism. #Gamergate was created as a way to, in theory, point out the hypocrisy of video game journalism. However, in reality, it turned into a way for gamers to harass and ultimately destroy the reputation of female journalists, and developers. The full story is very interesting, and I recommend looking it up, from a credible source because of all the muddle waters of the situation. This scandal, unfortunately, is still seen today with a current example being a female game developer getting harass and blamed for the failed launch of Mass Effect Andromeda. #Gamergate is a sad story that should never have happened and will remain a dark footnote in the history of the industry.

2. CS: GO Skin Gamble

Despite its age Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the most popular games of all time. The game still has a strong player count, with a strong presence in the Esport circuit. One of the biggest parts of the game is the hunt for skins. With a game as long-lasting as CS: GO there are a vast amount of skins that are considered so rare that players buy them using real-world money outside the game using third party sites. While the practice is looked down upon, the game does have a real economy. Back in 2016, YouTubers Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Thomas “ProSyndicate” Cassell started to advertise a CS: GO gambling site that promises guaranteed skins for any player. However, what they failed to mention to their combined 10 million viewership, is that they owned the website. This is illegal under advertising laws and the implication that they were, in theory, advertising to a young audience to gamble placed developer Vavel under a terrible spotlight. This was the biggest scandal of the summer of 2016, and a huge lesson for developers on the way they have to handle their game economy.

1. EA StarWars Battlefront II Lootboxes

The first Battlefront game was a disappointment for gamers looking to get back to old school Star Wars games. However, the foundation was there for the next game to truly knock it out of the park. However, the opposite happened as Battlefront II launched not only with a barebone roster, whose best characters were locked under an aggressive level grin, but also a system that was tied into loot boxes. The game combined the pay-to-win mechanic with the randomization of the loot box system creating a loop that forced players to ultimately spend real money in order to get a chance to win a card that will give them a strong lead on the game. This aggressive mechanic, combined with the popularity of the Star Wars franchise resulted in a massive media backlash. The criticism got so bad that some European countries started to look into the use of microtransactions and loot boxes in gaming, and if they are considered gambeling. This scandal has long-reaching effects that will affect the whole industry going into the next generation of gaming.

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