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It's Time For the US Government To Step In
by Neil Sorens on 04/11/13 05:59:00 am   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Oh, what a mess you unrepentant capitalists have made.  Yet again, another industry lurching unsteadily toward another crisis.  Disappointing earnings.  Failed product launches. Widespread malaise.  CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the industry stepping down or on the hot seat. 

As President, I'm going to take the wheel and drive you out of the ditch.  Yes, it's time for the US Government to step in and work its magic, because the transformation taking place right now is hard to predict and will cause job losses and company closures in the short term, and therefore must be stopped at all costs.  Especially if people lose their jobs doing things that people don't want anymore and have to create new companies doing things that people do want.  I got into office too late to save the telegraph operators from the telephone and the bank tellers from ATMs, but we can still save thousands of GameStop employees from digital distribution.

First, though, let's bail out Zynga.  It is too big to fail, as the domino effect would have a crippling effect across not just social gaming but all social media companies.  While other companies have fled California for these so-called "business friendly" states and countries, Zynga continues to employ ridiculous numbers of people at a ridiculous cost, to produce goods and services that seemed pretty cool until real competition came along and ate their lunch.  

These are the kinds of inefficient companies we need to keep in business.  If Zynga employees lost their cushy but soul-draining jobs, it is unfathomable that they would find jobs at higher levels or with reduced salary/benefits at healthy, innovative, efficiently run companies.  Once you are overpaid, you should always be overpaid.  And once a company gets big, it should be impervious to consequences of poor decision-making.  Privatized profits and socialized risk; that is the hallmark of a healthy economy.  Not to mention a large campaign war chest.

Once the government has taken a stake in Zynga, we can turn it around with leadership from a committee of experts.  We'll have some lawyers, some campaign donors, and a few people hand-picked from our favorite think tanks.  You know, the ones who are on our side of the political aisle.  As with GM and the Volt, a huge success story if measured in terms of something other than dollars, our committee will get rid of all those nasty male-centric games featuring violence, like Empires & Allies, and gambling, like Texas Hold Em, and pour tens of millions of dollars into experimental arthouse games that help to address the violence and gender imbalance issues that plague this industry.  "Pink jobs" will provide the foundation for this industry's 21st century renaissance.

Although these new games will certainly lose money and put the company in jeopardy again, requiring constant new infusions of government cash a la Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, companies should be run as pawns in our quixotic battle to achieve utopia, not as something as base as profit-making enterprises.  I can't imagine that capital propping up Zynga could have been used more efficiently to create more sustainable jobs elsewhere.  And even if I could, the 100 jobs I can see created or saved are worth more to me than the 1000 jobs that will now never exist, especially since those 1000 would be useless in campaign commercials.  Bastiat never would have rambled on about "that which is not seen" if he'd had to run for office, especially with this electorate. 

Next, we need to arbitrarily rescue some retail shops while letting others crash and burn.    GameStop lives; Best Buy gets buried next to Lehman Brothers.  ProTip: Invest in politicians and lobbyists, not mundane things like infrastructure and R&D.  Just a few measly millions for my campaign got Goldman Sachs $600 billion in credit, while wise avoidance of subprime derivatives got you jack squat.  And just like Forrest Gump's fishing business boomed after he weathered the hurricane that destroyed his competitors, GameStop will be flush with cash and able to repay with interest once we've helped weed out the competition.  Everybody wins - unless of course you think competition in the used game space would benefit customers by cutting into GameStop's insane markup.  But nobody gets upset over benefits that never existed.  Instead, they'll be profusely grateful that they can buy used games at all, thanks to my intervention.  Plus, every industry needs a parasitic middleman - just ask Wall St.

Which brings me to a little aside here.  It has come to my attention that game publishers sell games at different prices in different regions.  This is as unfair as prescription drug prices being higher here than in other countries.  If a game sells for $60 here and $10 in some 3rd world country where $60 is a month's income, then obviously Americans are getting ripped off by these greedy publishers.  I will sign legislation that prevents companies from blocking re-importation of these games so that Americans can have access to $10 games as well.  I am confident that this regulation will have absolutely no negative effects on publishers' willingness to fund and produce new games.  

And now, let's get back to the business of saving the US video games industry.  IT has come to my attention that certain games have been making more than their fair share of profits, gravely harming the industry.  Therefore, I'm introducing a "Clash of Warcraft" windfall tax on all games making more than $500,000 a day in profits.  At some point, you've made enough money.  And we can't have other companies aspiring to provide lots of Americans with things they want at prices they are willing to pay.  How else can we get people to adopt our experimental arthouse games if you keep drawing them away with all your damned innovation, market research, and capital investment? Your credo should be "aim small to medium."  Or "Be about 35% of what you can be."  (Gen. Welsh, Gen. Odierno - pass that on to your guys, too.)  And this extra revenue will be put to good use within Zynga. Success must be punished, and failure subsidized.  When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.  It's really just a common sense solution - to paraphrase a great man, you take money from those who have more than enough, and you give it to those who really need it.  That's the essence of our country's principles, and that's what will get this industry back on track.

 


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