Stop Using 'Companies Exist To Make Money' As An Argument

You're expressing an opinion on something — maybe DLC, maybe DRM, maybe microtransactions or online passes. Something controversial where it's clear that a company is taking advantage of customers. You have worries. You're upset. Enter the Apologist Gamer, here to invalidate your concerns.

"Companies Exist To Make Money" they will stupidly say — as if this fact wasn't obvious, as if it excuses something a company is doing, as if you don't have the right to be upset about it even though it affects you.

Jim Sterling wrote an on-point editorial on GameFront today about the subject, skewering people who try to win conversations by saying that companies exist to make money.

He writes:

It's the ultimate "ends justify the means" assertion, except where that argument is usually applied to some noble goal achieved through dubious methods, there's no nobility. It is, instead, an argument used to validate base avarice. Electronic Arts is not curing cancer. Ubisoft is not ending famine. Why the fuck, then, is their desire to make money considered a good reason for the things they do?

What happens when the 'companies exist to make money' argument comes up is that perfectly legitimate consumer concerns are brushed off. I can't help but feel like people who make these arguments "for" companies forget that they're probably not stockholders.

Ultimately, why the hell should you give a damn about a company's bottom line beyond knowing that it exists? Why should a company's interests override YOUR interests as a consumer? Grow a spine! Stand up for yourself!

Jim puts it nicely though:

You might not think it's a big deal to fuck around with inputting online pass codes when you want to get into some multiplayer. You know what? That's fine. It's absolutely fine if you choose to be the consumer that doesn't care about it - so long as you're happy with a given situation, that's absolutely cool. Happy consumers are fine by me. But when those happy consumers suggest less happy consumers need to march in step with them, because it's a company's job to make money and we're not allowed to question the means of doing so, that's when I think bounds are overstepped. I'm not telling you that you definitely have to be mad over something - but don't tell others they can't be.

I definitely look forward to the day when people stop being apologists about companies that don't have our interests in mind. For now, go on ahead and read Jim's piece on the subject, which goes more into detail about the issue.

Dumb Things Fanboys Say: ‘Companies Exist to Make Money' [GameFront]

Picture: Shutterstock


    Exactly. If companies exist to make money, then we as consumers exist to make consumer choices - not to say "thank you sir, may I have another" every time they walk over us for an extra buck.

    Hurrah! I would also say that if you can tell that a company did something for money then the other reasons aren't good enough!

    Companies exist to make you happy. Shareholders invest because they think it is a charity.

    Why the fuck, then, is their desire to make money considered a good reason for the things they do?
    It's a perfectly acceptable reason if you're trying to add justification to some of the decisions they make.
    I don't see it as a defence for decisions made by whichever company, but...well, I guess a basic comparison to make would be "trolls gunna troll". Doesn't mean they're allowed to (or should), only that they will, so like it or not they're gunna do it.

    It was always a weak argument, but I don't think it'll stop.

    Because companies DO exist to make money. Because the executives of that company are employed by the shareholders to make a profit and to not take stupid risks that can cost the company money. Because if they do they can be sued and have their career ruined. But there is a catch to this. They listen to the shareholders. If you really, REALLY, want companies to listen to what you say. Save up that money. Buy some shares. If enough gamers literally vote with their wallets, you can change publishers/developers for the better.

    On the flipside, they exist to make money off you. That means, and I cannot emphasise this enough, *you should not give them your money if you don't like what they are selling*. You do not goddamn pirate the game if you don't like what they are doing but want the game. Suck it up and find a company that makes something you like and isn't a dick about it.

    In other words, don't whine if you're not going to do anything about it. They have responsibilities to people other than you and who hold more power over them than you do.

    I don't use this as an excuse, cause i know its true

    Last edited 01/02/13 9:07 am

    I really think you're promoting a pessimistic, cynical attitude here. Why not simply promote education? Why not try and imform people instead of telling them to go get angry for something they might not understand. People are entitled to fair trading of course but you're not saying a thing about when the trading IS fair. Do we want a voice of ignorance? Just incoherent rambling about how EB/GameStop are completely capable of lowering prices say $25 just because that online store did. How EA should release every single piece of DLC absolutely free, just... because? Gamers already feel entitled enough as to demand a new ending when they don't like it, now they're being given a pat on the back for misinformation and overreacting.

      I agree.

      "Gamers already feel entitled enough as to demand a new ending when they don't like it"

      These people are the worst type of gamers, those who don't appreciate a product for what it is and respect a story for how it was INTENDED to be told by the CREATOR of the story.

      I think you have your own ideas on what the OP is saying.

      The way im looking at it is different. I buy all my games and have done for 20 years. The past 8 years i have begun to get really annoyed at pricing and the market strategies behind the pricing.

      I dont like DLC even though i have loads of it. Give me a game that holds me over until an expansion pack is available. And then dont charge me another $70 for an expansion. Ill happily pay half the original cost for decent Expansions. Starcraft, Warcraft, Diablo 1 and 2 are awesome examples of how this can be done. If you ever played Planescape back in the day, they even added some St pats day content that was free and made the game oddly more enjoyable than it already was.

      Examples of horrible payment over enjoyment models.

      Diablo 3 - Everything about the game smacks of money to Activision and there is enough written about it already so i wont elaborate.

      Skyrim/Borderlands/Xcom - Some of the DLC is purely making cash off gamers. The hearth dlc from Skyrim, the mechromancer dlc from borderlands, the elite armour set from Xcom. None of these DLC can be seen as anything but money grabs, the proverbial dash for cash syndrome. The owrst thing about this DLC is that it was already available on release and obviously designed solely to yield extra cash after the initial day.

      Darksiders 2 - As much as i love the different armour sets etc, they could have been made available in game via an achievement system. But no, games like DA etc that release dlc that adds cosmetics to a game clearly show they are only making pixels for cash rather than offering something purely beneficial for the users.

      A companies bottom line is all good and well. A customers complaint regarding horrible business practices (The WarZ?) is all good and well. In the end however, a debate shouldnt be name throwing, mudslinging or trolling. Clear concise reasoning is what is needed when relating your concerns to either party. If you are a consumer who still believes that the company is being dubious in its pricing, dont buy the game/product, get the product from a vendor who undercuts the primary seller (Steam sales, G2Play, CJS Gaming etc etc). If you dont agree with someone regarding how a company acts, by all means give your reasons, dont be a troll, and support the companies you like by buying their games.

    It's the company's property, they designed it, they programmed it and they can sell it any way they see fit. If you have a problem with that, don't buy the product. It really doesn't get any more complex than that and if you're still inclined to whinge and baffle on about how you're being treated like a cash pinata, welcome to the corporate world of gaming, get used to it because nothing is changing.

    I couldn't agree more. Vote with your wallets people.

    But the fact is it is not an excuse or a defence, its a truth, companies do exist to make money, else they would be charities. The shoe fits the other foot as well, people who complain about more money making approaches are just as annoying, if you don't like it don't spend the money, companies only do it because people are buying it and other people don't want to hear about how you don't want to spend an extra $5 for pink fuzzy slippers for your character, but will anyway.

    I disagree. Saying that companies exist to make money is a very reasonable argument.

    The main thing to realise is, it's not a defence, it's an explanation. When somebody says "companies exist to make money" it's like saying "fire exists to burn". If you don't like it, then more to a different universe where up is down and people wear hats on their feet. If you get upset when somebody brings up that argument, it means you think you can change the nature of companies, that it shouldn't be that way, that a quest for profit isn't a justification for screwing you over... but while we live in a capitalist society, you would be wrong.

    Here are some reasons why game companies can and will squeeze more money out of gamers:

    1) They are offering a unique product that you want. They're not selling bottled water, where if you don't like their price you can buy a different brand elsewhere. The games they make are unique and unavailable if you don't pay the price they are asking.

    2) The market will dictate how much they can get out of you. People vote with their wallets, and companies will always try to find the sweet spot right on the edge of making you pay as much as possible just before you refuse to buy the product. If you don't like $15 map packs, don't pay for them, but enough people do that it is in the publishers best interest to continue them.

    3) If a company doesn't pursue extra profit, it is much more likely to fail as it's competing against other profit-focused companies, and if they fail then everybody loses as there's no games coming from them any more.

    In fact, companies are legally bound to their shareholders to try and maximise profit as much as possible. If a company didn't make every effort to maximise the amount of money they can take from you, they are actually breaking the law.

    Now, a publisher can try to swap some of that extra profit for goodwill, in the hope of making that money back in other ways. But make no mistake that 'goodwill' has a monetary value that is calculated and factored in to their equations. Nothing a company does is done without profit in mind. Valve is one company that values goodwill especially highly. Activision is a company that doesn't.

    Consider the fact that companies have done much worse than introduce day one DLC in search of profit. Ford, the car company, allowed people to burn to death in their cars, even after they knew there was an easily fixable fault, because the cost of doing a recall on all their Pintos was more than the cost of settling with the families of people who suffered injuries or died in the fires. Drug companies like Pfizer that knew that their drugs cause people to be more likely to commit suicide, but cover it up because it will effect their bottom line. Many companies in the the past have been proven to knowingly allow thousands of people to suffer and die so they would continue to make a profit. This shit is still going on today, and it takes legislation to change how any of these companies operate.

    It's not nice, it's not right, I don't like it. But it's the way it is. If enough people think it's unfair, then it will change, not because a company wakes up and grows some morals, but because they realise that they can get more profit out of you in a different way, perhaps by making you like them.... but either way, in the end, they will try and take as much of your money as they can. Oh, and the sky is blue.

    TL:DR: "They exist to make money" is not an argument, it's just an unfortunate fact.

    Last edited 01/02/13 10:02 am

      This is exactly what the article was trying to address.
      Giving an "explanation" as to why companies do what they do still does not make it right.

      You say "if enough people think it is unfair, it will change". Define "enough". A majority? We all know that sometimes isn't true. There are the more vocal minority who sometimes just plain does not get it.

      When I go around making valid arguments that on disc DLC is bad, I usually get the whole company exists to make money statement, followed by "get over it".

      As the article says, if some people are happy with how they are being treated, then fine, but don't expect everybody else to step in line

        People complain about things they don't like, they list all the reasons why they think on disc DLC, microtransactions, and draconian DRM is bad, but then they go out and buy the game anyway.

        There was a great screengrab of all these people in a "I will not buy this game" Steam Group playing the very game on day 1. That happens because the vocal complainers are also usually the biggest fans of the game, and as consumers they can't help themselves but buy the game anyway. Some people are strong and vote with their wallet, but the vast majority of people who complain just like to have a good whinge and get it out of their system before they reluctantly pull out their wallet and waive any actual power they may have had.

        So when somebody says "companies exist to make money" what they are really saying is "That's the way it is, that's the way it's always been, that's the way it will always be. If you want it to change you should vote with your wallet, because companies aren't going to read your forum post and start feeling bad about how horrible they've been while they are too distracted watching all the money roll in".

        EDIT: I just want to clarify. I'm not happy with how I'm being treated with DRM and DLC etc. I don't want people to "get over it" and not do anything. But I get the impression when I hear people complain about these issues that they are completely flabbergasted to find out that companies are greedy. They use arguments like this: "They are just being greedy!" and "They just want more money!" as if this is a bad thing that they are guilty of, instead of a normal thing that they have always done and will always do, because without it, they don't exist.

        Especially this line from the article - "I definitely look forward to the day when people stop being apologists about companies that don’t have our interests in mind. " as if she's suggesting that some companies actually do have our interests in mind.

        Last edited 01/02/13 2:09 pm

    Are we not forgetting?
    Company = Individual. The individual likes money. Money = happiness. Therefore companies like making money.

    It has been said before above, but I'll just add my 2c: the "companies exist to make money" argument is not some kind of justification for unethical practices. It's an explanation that goes hand-in-hand with "customers are free to shop elsewhere".

    Don't like it? Vote with your wallet instead of whining.

    The problem is that "companies exist to make money" is a valid argument, with the implication quite correctly being that companies have no obligations (outside of any consumer legal requirements) to involve their user base in any business decisions they make. This is especially true of public companies where there is additional pressure on the business to make money from the shareholders.
    Paying $60 for a game does not change this. Business decisions are validated by the game's success or failure. Case in point - EA's decision to include micro-transactions in Dead Space 3. If you strongly oppose this, then don't buy the game and show them they made the wrong decision. If you strongly oppose this but buy the game anyway, congratulations - you've just validated EA's decision.

    the companies exist to make money isn't a reasonable argument if people/animals or the environment get harmed in the pursuit of said money. And people saying that we shouldn't complain are wrong - because if we never voice our complaints/concerns, things would only get worse.

      I agree with you about harming the environment/people/animals, but it takes legislation or broad public awareness to make that happen, not the goodwill of the companies involved. Legislation forces the company to comply legally, and public awareness forces them to comply financially, by people voting with their wallets.

      And regarding complaining, it definitely is better than doing nothing and just accepting things being shitty. The problem is though, if there's only a very small minority of people complaining about something where the majority of people don't care, or actively vote with their wallets in the opposite direction, nothing is actually achieved.

      For example, I hear a lot of people complain about In App Purchases and micro transactions, but the fact of the matter is that out of the top grossing apps, the majority by a large factor are free, making all their money from In App Purchases. So a small amount of people are complaining vocally and voting with their words and the majority of people are voting with their wallets. The same with map packs and DLC and everything else that people who call themselves gamers aren't big fans of.

      I definitely don't think people "shouldn't complain". Complaining feels good, and if you get enough people complaining, it can definitely make a change. But if you're in the minority, it's just going to get frustrating waiting for companies to be nice when it's not in their nature.

    I think it has to be appreciated that just because a game is artistic and the people who make them may very much jerk off at night about the contribution they have made to zeitgeist of a generation, the reality is that the ones who actually make the discs and provide the equipment and do the advertising are producers, corporates who are attempting to make money.

    So yeah, saying 'the companies are here to make money thus all discussion is invalidated' is pretty glib, but it is equally naive to dismiss the argument entirely. Because while the Art Director and Concept Writers might talk about 'experiences' and 'feelings' and what have you, that doesn't mean they aren't being capitalised upon, in fact it almost certainly denotes the opposite.

    I guess it really depends on who you are trying to make the bad guys out to be. There is a constant battle of interests when it comes to producing anything: too arthouse it won't sell, etc.

    As for entitlement and DLC, that is a joke in and of itself. A product only needs to remain competitive, and competitive is completely subjective. Bleating on about 'incomplete games' as if complete could ever have any meaning in this context.

    Companies do exist to make money. They can do whatever the hell they want to try make money.
    The power lies with us as customers to tell them (by not buying their products) that they are doing something we don't like. It's the same reason we get new COD titles every year and the same reason Transformers 3 exists.
    If people continue to pay for shit products, shit service, and shit ideas, then those companies will continue to make shit and make money out of it.
    It's pretty simple.

    "Just because you could, doesn't mean you should"

    For once patricia is right - and these comments are a perfect example of blind apologists who think they're marketing
    experts. But they fail to note the many dynamics involved.

    I blame ignorant consumers and the companies who take advantage.of.their stupidity. Its unethical and there's no.excuse other than greed. Just like trolls wlll be trolls, apologists will be apologists.

    Head in the clouds and all that. Its ingrained in our culture to be apathetic and willfully ignorant.

    Hell, I vote with my wallet and import almost everyrhing. Region free asian games & Ozgameshop FTW!

      The simple fact of the matter is: Companies exist to make money.

      That is a fact. In the absence of regulation, companies which produce a product with no substitute can and will do anything in their power to gouge the maximum amount of revenue out of their customers.

      The problem here is that people think that they have a right to access goods/services provided by the company and all they have to do is provide the money for access. COMPANIES ARE NOT GOVERNMENTS PROVIDING ESSENTIAL SERVICES. Well in most cases anyway. You do not have a inalienable right to games. If a company does something you don't like. Don't buy. I refused to buy Diablo 3 because of the direction that Blizzard was going in. Even though I was sorely tempted. I found better alternatives like Torchlight 2.

      What about the "survival of the fittest" aspect? Where a company that tried to be good and not be unreasonably greedy still has to compete with the other companies that are more greedy? Companies are definitely greedy, but the system is set up so that only the greedy ones survive. It's the entire basis of capitalism, right? Is there a way around this?

        Companies can survive fine without being greedy.
        It is absolutely the wrong perception that you need to be corrupt to get ahead.
        What system are you talking about that ensures only the greedy ones survive?
        Don't play into this way of thinking.

          The system I'm talking about is Capitalism, particularly the competitive element of it which ensures that only the most profitable companies survive. Kind of like economic Darwinism.

          I'm not talking about being corrupt at all, I'm talking about being greedy, that's an entirely different thing. I think history is littered with the corpses of companies that didn't pursue profit properly and fell because of it.

          Maybe I'm too entrenched in a capitalist mind-set to see how wrong it is? I don't personally think that greed is right, just that it's the way I thought the system works.

    I was all ready to be indignant as I opened this article - expecting most people to agree with the author.
    I am happy to see that most people don't.
    The argument that tries to falsify that "companies exist to make money" is obviously one derived from a lack of understanding.
    People work for companies and expect to be paid.
    Someone ponies up the cash to start a company and resonably expects a return on investment to validate the risks taken.
    The company needs resources to run (computers, office space, internet, phones) and must pay for them.
    "Companies exist to make money" is a true statement. If you are whining about this, try to start a company that doesn't.
    And as always, if you don't like it, don't buy it!

    What is not mentioned is that this argument is often leveraged to self-entitled idiots that make questions like "Only 9 dungeons??? What costed them add a 10th one? Hah, surely they are leaving it to be released as DLC; classic money grab." and things like that completely ignoring vital facts such as development cycles, budgets and human fatigue in their demands.

    Amazing, the amount of apologists that have shown up to say exactly what the author said they would.

    I don't care about how much of a "fact" it is that business is business or that it's an explanation because it's still terrible. I don't get it, do we actually want to live in a world where we accept every undesirable effort business attempts to get us to pay more just because "lol business"? The point of this article is to say that a company's natural desire/necessity to make money is not a valid excuse for undesirable acts and that those using it as an 'explanation' are simply validating this excuse.

    NOBODY said that these companies shouldn't get paid for their business
    NOBODY said that these companies shouldn't want to get paid for their business and become charities.

    In an ideal world business would be making money as a side-effect of their good products and services which come first, yes I said 'ideal world' because I'd rather we march forward as a species instead of being the same greedy people forever.
    Sure we could all just not buy their products but I'm sure that's also not what these companies want. Hey! How about they actually listen to their customers and make better products before selling them so those people who would get all mad have nothing to complain about.

    Which is my whole point really: we wouldn't even have to have this debate if companies didn't do things that warranted speaking up against them, so telling people to shut up and deal with it is a great way change nothing.

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