For once, the video game industry has decided to take a political stand: Black Lives Matter. The demonstration that burns the streets of the United States is there to see it all: Images and scenes from the riots that followed the murder of George Floyd are broadcast on television and on social media.
Short version for those who had lived under a stone in recent days: A black man was killed by a policeman who kept his knee to his throat for several minutes. Nothing helped Floyd’s complaints (“I can’t breathe”), which were also recorded by some passers-by. Perhaps, precisely because of the power of this scene, Sony, Microsoft, Naughty Dog, Electronic Arts and other producers have publicly shared the ideals of the protest in recent days.
The Sony Group, on May 31, shared an official statement on Twitter, in which it declared that “to remain silent on the issue of violence and racism against blacks means to be complicit.” Phil Spencer, Xbox number one, retweeted Sony’s statement and made Microsoft’s official profile, adding “Let’s stay together.”
The sharp positions on the US situation also came from Riot Games, Bethesda, Activision, Naughty Dog on the same day. And then Marvel and the official Star Wars profile. Nintendo’s current absence in this chorus is causing a stir: it seems that even this situation can in no way expose the Japanese house.
However, to think badly is a shame but often, we know it, we guess it. So, one wonders: what is so different this time around that the gaming industry is lining up? Note: Given the current situation in the United States, it is difficult to remain unmoved. But this is certainly not the first time that blacks have demonstrated for their rights in the country. Yet in all other cases, the gaming industry has not said anything.
For months, Hong Kong has been a place of public protests, opposed to China’s intrusion into local politics. Protests suppressed by force. However, even this situation, often generated during clashes between civilians and police and highlighted by images and videos, has never moved the video game industry. So let’s get back to the starting point: what’s different this time around?
We can make various assumptions. The first, the most optimistic: the situation is so glaring that companies had no other choice. In the United States, the situation is exceeding expectations. Maybe the quarantine due to COVID-19, maybe the general intolerance towards the leadership of current President Donald Trump, maybe the very high unemployment rate: the point is that the protests are among the most powerful than the United States have saved for many years now.
Gas was now plentiful and Floyd’s death was the spark. All the while, with their eyes riveted on the United States, companies couldn’t help but share the ideals of the protest, which in many cases takes place in a civilized manner (but which in others provoked violent clashes with the police and damage to the police). shops and bars).
Pessimistic (or at least cynical) hypothesis: everything announces. Sony had planned the PS5 event on June 4: this presentation was skipped and postponed to a later date. “The event dedicated to PlayStation 5 scheduled for June 4 will be postponed. We know gamers were thrilled to see the PS5 games but we think now is not the time to celebrate, we think it is right to take a step back so that other voices are heard ”is the note official from Sony Interactive Entertainment. In short: it reminded everyone, especially those who might not agree, that the PS5 is coming soon.
The same goes for Electronic Arts. “Tomorrow (June 1, note), we pledge to celebrate Madden NFL 21 with you, but we won’t,” said the company, which then highlighted its solidarity with the protest. Here, too, we wanted to remember the release of the football game, one of the manufacturer’s most popular. Why not take a stand without remembering your title? The conversation, of course, can be extended to anyone: Microsoft has a console on the launch pad, Naughty Dog is about to release The Last of Us Part 2. And so on…
Are we cynical? Yes, but let’s talk about the listed giants and some doubts are still worth asking. What is certain is that beyond the specific reasons that rocked the public relations of various companies, the video game industry has taken a stand. Even Activision whose games, according to Kotick, shouldn’t be juxtaposed with politics.
Either way, it’s a hit for the whole industry. We now hope that the industry will be consistent and also be sensitive in the future when the world shows its distortions again.