Video game

No, We Are Absolutely Not Tipping Video Game Companies – TheGamer

I’m going to be fair and assume that former Blizzard president Mike Ybarra meant it in good faith when he said that he wishes people could tip video game developers if they enjoyed the experience. And look, I get it. We’ve all played video games that were so good, we wish there was a better way to thank the hardworking people on the project. As much as I joke about them, video games mold our lives, and the people who make them have a direct impact on how we see the world. With so many sweet, skilled people in the video game industry being laid off, wouldn’t it be nice to give a little extra to keep them in house and home?



The answer is “yes” if you were born in a bunker within the last 24 hours. The answer is “no” if you’ve ever been outside and have the smallest grasp of how the world works. Absolutely not, you monsters. We are not tipping video game companies. We are not agreeing to give free money to corporations that will chuckle at the idea they were ever going to give any of those tips to individual employees.


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As a side bar, before I get into this, I want to say that I’m applying this to larger companies and larger teams. Plenty of indie designers on indie storefronts give the option to pay a little more for a game. I’m not talking about supporting some two-person team in Australia that’s just made a deck builder dating simulator. We should support small teams and it’s fine to throw in a couple extra bucks on

Also, it’s notable that a lot of the indie developers and storefronts that allow you to pay more for something also allow you to pay less or even nothing. Literally zero dollars at times. So what I’m talking about here is the concept that we should be tipping conglomerates in addition to buying the $70 triple-A game that has a $20 season pass.

And let’s be honest: that’s who he’s talking about tipping. His examples of the games he wishes he could tip for are Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, Baldur’s Gate 3, and Elden Ring. Those are all major games with massive teams. They all did very well financially. I’d say the most indie of any of them is… Baldur’s Gate 3? A Dungeons & Dragons licensed game with links to Tencent that has achieved every Game of the Year award possible. These are games made by or with major corporations’ backing. Employees should not need fans to support them by starting a GoFundMe.

All of that wouldn’t matter, except over the last year and a half, big video game companies have worked overtime to prove that record profits won’t keep them from firing thousands of people via public social media posts. They’re making a lot of money on a very large scale. I assure you, they do have enough cash to pay the teams who make their games a good wage. You know how I know that? Because those same corporations pay the executives who don’t make their games a good wage. Yes, I know that cutting a business executive’s pay would not make up the difference for all the middle class workers – but it would definitely be a start! We could call it, I dunno, ‘tipping’.

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A Naughty Dog developer working on Uncharted.

And come on, folks: there is no way on God’s rotting Earth that those video game companies would allow tips to trickle down to artists, musicians, writers, designers, and everybody who works on a game. By and large, they wish they could banish those people to the Phantom Zone and replace them all with AI drones. You think tipping will keep companies from layoffs? And you think that’s the lesson we want to teach those companies? Don’t be a rube.

Like I said, I believe Ybarra is suggesting tipping in good faith. But does anyone actually believe that a legacy developer owned by a massive conglomerate wouldn’t just outright take the tips and say it’s being put towards “future projects”? Or, like other companies before them, just use tips to pay the promised wages of employees rather than as a bonus for good work. It’s not like tipping has been abused in the past for many, many other industries!

Seriously, tipping is already awful for workers. It’s a way to pay employees far less while putting the responsibility for their wellbeing on the customers. Customers who don’t always tip, even for good service. Customers who don’t tip if the server doesn’t flirt back. Customers who leave a Bible passage as a tip. Customers who are mad at tipping culture and take it out on you. None of that pays the rent.

Those people are doing a job – they should be paid for doing a job. And, as customers, we should hate that the price on the menu isn’t the final price of the bill and that it’s up to us to make sure employees can keep the lights on. Nearly everyone gets screwed by tipping culture except the people who own the companies accepting tips.

Also, not for nothing, this industry nickels and dimes us every day. You want all the weapons? Gonna have to pre-order the Deluxe edition of the game. You want the real ending to the story? Gonna have to get the DLC. You want to have a chance at winning in multiplayer? Gonna have to buy the microtransactions. The words ‘Season Pass’ have come to mean ‘Actually Complete Game’.

We are already paying more money to support a game we enjoy, whether we want to or not. At what point do the companies have enough money to pay the staff that already makes executives rich? When? What’s the number? Are we supposed to donate until they hit the mark? Hey, everybody! Let’s do a bake sale to save the Embracer Group!

We are absolutely not tipping video game companies. The money won’t go to the employees and, even if it did, they should instead just be paid well for the jobs they’re already doing. Fans should not feel guilty for spending $100 on a game but not giving a little more. Workers should not feel as if they need to tap dance in person and online to buy groceries. Rather than looking for small ways to make this industry worse and more painful, maybe there’s some wild way to just pay people what they deserve.


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