A question on commercial patriotism
Should we choose certain games over others because they're made by Pinoys, or should we first evaluate based on quality, regardless if the superior one turns out to be the one made by non-Pinoys?
I know by asking this question I also risk questioning my own actions, being a staunch promoter of Pinoy games myself. At GDAP, our role is to put Pinoy games on the limelight by promoting them through various channels. We do all sorts of stuff to make Pinoy games known both locally and internationally. (I admit, some of us do so carelessly and without deliberation sometimes. So I guess this may be a good time to stop a bit and evaluate.)
The local entertainment industry is flooded with debates about how to grow it. There's this movement called Buy Pinoy, which is an old movement to encourage people to support Pinoy products. They even have logos showing the Philippine flag and the words "Buy Pinoy" or "Tatak Pinoy" stamped on products. As if they're marks of excellence, although I don't think they really are.
One of my fellow Board Members at GDAP suggested adding this same logo on interfaces of Pinoy games. No one really agreed with it. This was an unfair play on guilt or people's sense of responsibiliy (i.e, help the economy by patronizing local products). Quite short lived and doesn't necessarily solve bigger problems.
This is also what's happening in the local music industry. They say it's dying, and that the way to revive it is to force people to support local music. Which is funny, actually, because local singers these days are doing nothing but covers. Where is the originality? We have good musicians, but most all of them are singing songs of others. Look at MYMP, Nina, Jed Madela, etc. They even have entire albums dedicated to covers.
I heard that taxes for foreign musicians holding concerts here are much, much higher than those of local ones. The idea is to make local acts cheaper, so that people will favor them more. That doesn't say much about quality really. Just the price. Because people assume everything is about price. Of course, not.
On the other hand, there is also the problem of awareness as well as our general skepticism with things Pinoy. One colleague from Manila complained about a full animated movie they launched in 2010. That must have been RPG Metanoia or Urduja, I can't remember now. But those were full-length films with excellent CG, great music, and really great stories behind them. In terms of quality, they were supposedly up there. But Pinoys easily dismissed them. Didn't even watch past trailers. The films became massive flops. If you're the publisher investing millions for these films, you'd be traumatized for life. Have you heard of any new Pinoy 3d films these days? There's none.
On TV, don't get suprised if they're showing lots of Koreanovelas. Morning up to night, night to sign off.
Pinoys have plenty of love, you know, but none that is self directed.
That's why they say there is sense in holding Film Fests where they force movie houses to show only Filipino movies for a period. Because without any of these film fests, Pinoys don't stand a chance.
In terms of Pinoy games, there's not a lot of original IPs at this point because everyone's doing 3rd-party contracting. But we have more local developers now than previous years, and some are boldly venturing into self publishing. The question is, should they put Tatak Pinoy marks on them?
As a developer I'd like to rely on my ability to deliver quality. (We'll, I'm not really a programmer by profession, but I work in a company that makes games, so let's say I'm an industry insider). That's the only reason why people should buy. The Pinoyness part could be used in terms of driving awareness. Like for instance not a lot of people know that there are games made by Pinoys. However, at the end of the day, people should decide based on merits. Honestly, I don't mind zero downloads for my games versus a million downloads made out of mercy. I wouldn't feel very good myself if that's the case.
Let's take this as a challenge for us. In the first place, no developer should put their fellow Pinoys in such a predicament: to have to choose between a superior game made by another and an inferior one made by a fellow Pinoy. The buying decision ultimately should be driven by the basic question -- is it really worth it?
I'm passionate about business, art, and technology. For more about me, click here.
Here's a book I co-wrote with a bunch of industry colleagues. Not sure if you'll find it useful, but feel free to check once you can.
Ateneo Graduate School of Business
University of San Carlos