Executive Pay is Not the Problem

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 27, 2020

Filed under: Column 216 comments

I’m sure you know the drill by now: A big publisher does something destructive that we don’t like. Maybe they lay off some people. Maybe they force their teams to crunch to hit a deadline. Maybe they close an entire studio.

In response, we get a bunch of people saying, “No! Don’t do this Destructive Thing. The loss should come out of the CEO’s salary. The CEO is paid millions of dollars. Just take a few million bucks from them instead of punishing the peasants! The CEO won’t even miss it!”

All three of these destructive things are bad, but to limit the scope of this video let’s just focus on the problem of crunch. That is, the practice of having your development staff work painfully long hours in an effort to meet the desired ship date for a game.


Link (YouTube)

The most recent version of this problem was when we found out that the team at CD Projekt RED was working crunch hours to meet the ship date on Cyberpunk 2077. A lot of fans and critics were outraged by this. People were saying, “CD Projekt RED promised not to do any crunch, and here they are breaking their promise! Why can’t the company just let the game ship late and take the losses out of the CEO’s ridiculous salary?”

And yeah. This answer is simple. And it seems just and fair. We can save all of these overworked developers from hardship, and all we have to do is take some money from a CEO who won’t even miss it. Why can’t we do this obvious thing? The thinking is that the executives make SO much money, that if we could just get them to give a little of it up we could solve all these other problems.

So… I’m going to try to convince you that this argument doesn’t make any financial or business sense, won’t solve the problem we’re worried about, and in fact will make the problem worse and create several new problems in the process.

The roof of my mouth hurts just from looking at this.
The roof of my mouth hurts just from looking at this.

I know this isn’t what people want to hear. In fact, tons of people have already stopped the video and hit the thumbs down, followed by the back button. It’s okay. I was young once too. I know the allure of simple answers. But if you’re willing to give me twenty minutes I’ll explain why things aren’t this simple, and offer a better argument to use against the executives. 

As an aside: This isn’t part of the video, but I feel the need to say that I REALLY hate the whole line “I was young once too” in the preceding paragraph. This comes off as insulting and condescending and is a great example of why I prefer text over video content.

To pull back the curtain a bit: When I sense I’m fighting an uphill battle against an audience that isn’t likely to be receptive to my message, I’ve found it helpful to try and make peace with them before I start taking swings at their sacred cow.

Here I was trying to do two things:

  1. Remind the audience I’m a real person and not some faceless narrator.  In the video, a picture of me from 1994 pops up when I talk about being young.
  2. Allow that their position is understandable, even if I disagree with it. The idea is to disagree, while making it clear that I don’t think the reader / viewer is stupid. Saying “I used to have the same opinion, but then I changed my mind” is a great way to signal to the audience that you’re not holding them in contempt.

You could interpret my line as saying, “Hitting the thumbs down and leaving is an immature move”, which is fair enough. But you could also read it as “we disagree because I’m old and wise and you’re young and clueless”. So instead of an olive branch it might feel like I’m leading off with a slap in the face, which is the exact opposite of what I wanted to do.  I didn’t really notice this problem until near the end of production. At that point, it would have been impractical to record an alternate line, get it to fit the flow of the original, and modify the visuals to fit the timing change.

So, I decided to live with it. We’ll see if it ends up biting me in the ass. Anyway, back to the article…

Now, I’m not going to argue that current executive salaries make sense. And I’m not going to try and convince you that crunch is a good thing. I’m just going to try to make the case that you can’t use the first problem to fix the second. 

I’m Just a Peasant

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Before you accuse me of being a greedy CEO type myself, I should point out that I’ve never been an executive of any kind and I’m definitely not rich. I was a programmer for most of my career, but these days I write for my Patrons. You can look at my Patreon and see exactly how much I make if you’re worried I’m some wealthy out-of-touch blueblood. 

In my younger days I worked at a tech company and I personally knew several executive types. I was friends with a couple, and I met quite a few more during the dot-com bubble at the turn of the millennium. I got to see some weird shit in those days, including millions of dollars evaporating as the dot-com bust wrecked the industry.

The point is that I have first-hand exposure to things like project management, technology companies, and corporate finance. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I have enough experience to explain why things work the way they do without resorting to simplistic narratives about CEOs being scheming cartoon villains.

So let’s start off by talking about…

Production Costs

'Middleware' is a kind of software. 'Middlewear' is what Shatner wore under his uniform.
'Middleware' is a kind of software. 'Middlewear' is what Shatner wore under his uniform.

To figure this out, we need to know how much it costs per month to work on a AAA game. I don’t mean the total budget. We have pretty reliable numbers for that. But the total budget includes a lot of one-time overhead costs like licensing tools and middleware, legal fees, and that kind of thing. What we want to know is: What would it cost us to let a game miss the planned ship date? If a game takes an extra three months of development, how much is that going to cost the company in additional payroll?

Unlike the total budget, we don’t have really solid numbers for this. I looked at several job-hunting sites to find some numbers to use for average salary, and added in the typical employment expenses you’d expect from technology jobs. The first thing to understand here is that salary is not the same as the cost to employ you. According to the CEO types I’ve met in my adventures, the cost of employing someone is about one and a half times their salary. If you pay someone $80k in cash, then you probably pay an additional $40k a year for liability coverage, unemployment insurance, health insurance, office space, supplies, and per-seat licensing costs for various tools.

Anyway, I ran the numbers to see how much it costs to employ someone per month in this industry, and it comes pretty close to $10k. Then, while fact-checking my results, I ran into an article from Jason Schreier, who asked numerous game studios this same question. Those studios offered the same $10k estimate. So I think we can have a lot of confidence in this number. On average, every member of a development team is going to cost the company $10k dollars every month.

Now we just need to figure out…

Team Size

Are you SURE you want to get more developers, Mr. Wilson? Developers are a big responsibility. We already have a lot, and you haven't taken good care of them so far. Maybe you should start with a hamster and work your way up.
Are you SURE you want to get more developers, Mr. Wilson? Developers are a big responsibility. We already have a lot, and you haven't taken good care of them so far. Maybe you should start with a hamster and work your way up.

Teams are incredibly big these days. Rockstar reportedly has teams with hundreds of people. At the low end, it’s been years since I’ve heard anyone mention a AAA team with less than 50. I Googled around, and like salaries, the numbers are all over the place. Still, 75 seems to be a very reasonable estimate for “average AAA team size.”

For a 75 person team at roughly $10k per person per month, you spend $750,000 on labor every month to work on a game. There are a lot of other ongoing expenses to operating a large company in a major metropolitan area, and we haven’t figured in costs for management or contractors. We’re ignoring those costs for now because I don’t have good estimates to work with. Just keep in mind that we’re being very conservative and the real monthly cost is probably going to be significantly higher than that $750k.

So, can we solve the problem of missing a ship date by taking money from those evil predatory executives? To answer that question we need to know something about…

Executive Salaries

Eeexcellent.
Eeexcellent.

In 2019, joint CEO of CD Projekt RED Marcin Iwiǹski made zł5.7 million (Zloty)In the video, I anglicized the word to “zloty”. But since then I found out it’s pronounced more like “zwotty”.. That works out to 1.5 million USD. This discussion began by asserting that a CEO wouldn’t even miss a pay cut of a few million dollars, but even if we took EVERYTHING from Iwiǹski and made him work entirely for free for the entire year, his salary would be gone after just two additional months of development time for Cyberpunk 2077

And that’s ignoring the fact that the game has already been delayed multiple times. It was originally slated for release in Holiday 2019, then slipped to March 2020, then to September of 2020, and now to November 2020. If Marcin is going to personally pay for those delays then he owes the company everything he’s made in the last 6 years. 

People hear big numbers like “billion” and “hundred million” and the numbers seem so unfathomably large that it feels like the companies have limitless cash. But companies can and do go out of business. Even really big companies. THQ ran out of money and imploded. Sega ran out  of money and had to cut their operations down to the bone, knocking them out of the console market and basically turning this publisher back into a game studio that survives by leveraging the properties they developed in their heyday. 

If a publisher routinely lets their games run over budget and ship late, then eventually those losses will take their toll and make the company unprofitable. Yes, these companies seem invincible when you hear they make a billion dollars a year, but a big publisher can burn through a billion dollars pretty fast when they have dozens of games in simultaneous production. 

Now, maybe you’ll argue I’m cherry-picking executives here. Sure, CEO Marcin Iwiǹski can’t personally keep the company afloat by giving up his salary, but… what about the big dogs?

The Big Dogs

Not pictured: Publisher Bethesda, which is owned by the publisher Zenimax, which is owned by the publisher Microsoft. It's the corporate centipede.
Not pictured: Publisher Bethesda, which is owned by the publisher Zenimax, which is owned by the publisher Microsoft. It's the corporate centipede.

So I’m sure you’ve heard the number thrown around, claiming that EA CEO Andrew Wilson gets $21 million in compensation. That makes for a good headline, but the truth is a little more complicated and a lot more boring. Wilson gets $16 million in stock and $5 million in cash. The thing is, stock is very different from cash and stock given to a CEO is even more different.  You can’t just take that stock away from Andrew Wilson and give it to your employees as pay. To do that someone would have to dump the stock, and routinely dumping stock is not good for the company or the owners. 

This is a big topic and I can’t do it justice here. If people are curious I can cover this in another video, but for now just humor me and accept that we can’t use Andrew Wilson’s stock to magically produce an extra $16 million dollars to spend on game development.

Now, what about that $5 million he gets in cash? That’s real money. Couldn’t we take some of that and use it to help out a game? 

And yes, you could do that. The problem is that EA publishes a LOT of games. They published 10 games in 2019 alone. And that’s just their AAA releases, not counting various partnerships and mid-budget games. Gamedev is an uncertain business, and there’s no way all of those titles arrive on time. Which means Wilson never gets paid anything because there are always one or two delayed games, every year. Sometimes games get pushed back by months or even years. We would need tens of millions to cover that mess, and his salary is peanuts compared to that.

Now I have to confess something. We are still leaving out some major costs. Things are actually much worse than I led you to believe.

Time Keeps Slipping into the Future

In this article I talk about publishers directly arranging the delivery of goods. In real life, I'd be willing to bet that most of the delivery chain is handled by one or more intermediate companies. Either way, it's a bunch of stuff that can't be rescheduled at the last minute.
In this article I talk about publishers directly arranging the delivery of goods. In real life, I'd be willing to bet that most of the delivery chain is handled by one or more intermediate companies. Either way, it's a bunch of stuff that can't be rescheduled at the last minute.

If you’re 12 months from release and you realize that you’re going to need an extra month or two, then sure, just tack on a couple more months of production costs. An extra 1.5 million bucks isn’t a huge deal at this scale. As long as you can afford the extra time, you’re fine. But things get dangerous when you start talking about pushing back a game when you’re less than 6 months from release.

Let’s assume that – like so many titles – you’re aiming for a release in October or November so your game lands in time for the holidays. But now it’s late July and you realize you’re really going to need another two months. Maybe some of your big-name voice-actors are having scheduling conflicts and you can’t get them into the booth in time. Maybe your programmers are having trouble getting a handle on the new console generation and they need some more time to make sure the framerate is stable. Maybe the team suffered from feature creep because people kept sneaking in extra features and quests and worldbuilding details and now you’re a few weeks behind. Maybe one of your middleware suppliers is causing you headaches and you need to dump them and switch to something else. Maybe you realized at the last minute that you could make your game massively more appealing and unique by changing the art style into something different and eye-catching, and you need a little more time to make it happen.

Whatever. These things happen all the time. Engineering is hard, and doubly so when combined with artistic concerns.

So you need another month or two. So just push the game back to December, right?

Well, no.

Wait, a gold master of source code? Like, not the gold master for the game, but the code? Interesting. I didn't know that was a thing. I imagine in the world of day-1 patches and post-release updates, the code snapshot is no longer special enough to warrant this reverential treatment. It's just another entry in the codebase these days.
Wait, a gold master of source code? Like, not the gold master for the game, but the code? Interesting. I didn't know that was a thing. I imagine in the world of day-1 patches and post-release updates, the code snapshot is no longer special enough to warrant this reverential treatment. It's just another entry in the codebase these days.

When you finish a game and your team burns that gold master, that’s when things get really crazy. You need to  send that master copy to an  industrial facility so they can burn and label the millions of copies you need. You need to print and package all of those boxes. You need to arrange to have those boxed goods shipped to retailers all over the world. You already have a deal with those retailers that you’ll have your game on their shelves by such-and-such a date, and they’re not going to be happy that they reserved precious shelf space for your game and now that space will go to waste. And let’s not even get into the lengthy certification process required for console games.

You can’t just call these various suppliers up and move your job back a month, because they’re already contracted to print and ship other games for other companies on those dates. 

This is why AAA games are never delayed by just two weeks. When a game slips at the last minute, it misses its original ship date by a few months because it takes time and money to reschedule an entire delivery chain like this. 

But that’s not the biggest cost of missing your ship date. No, the biggest cost is…

Marketing

A poorly photoshopped image is the foundation of any good marketing campaign.
A poorly photoshopped image is the foundation of any good marketing campaign.

Publishers spend between one and four times a game’s budget on marketing. So if you spend $60 million dollars to make a game, then you’ll spend an additional $60m to $240m on marketing. This marketing spending might sound pointless to those of us who follow industry news and upcoming releases, because we already know about the game.

The thing to remember is that we’re generally not the targets of these marketing campaigns. The vast majority of consumers are not like us. They don’t watch lengthy YouTube videos by random gaming idiots. They don’t follow the news, they’re not super keyed-in to the personalities of the various publishers, and they don’t know anything about a game until they see an advertisement for it. If you want to sell games to the masses, then you need to spend tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to tell those people about the game and remind them to buy it.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that marketing campaigns usually begin slowly and ramp up gradually over time, before abruptly intensifying to a crescendo at release. They’re designed to get people curious, then get them excited, and then overwhelm them with reminders to buy the game and make them feel as if they need to get this game if they don’t want to miss out on an important cultural event.

And then the game comes out, and there's a few months of negative hype as everyone realizes they've been duped AGAIN.
And then the game comes out, and there's a few months of negative hype as everyone realizes they've been duped AGAIN.

The problem is that a lot of old-media advertising – and television advertising in particular – is incredibly inflexible. Prospective advertisers need to bid on spots months in advance. You work out the demographics of whoever you want your campaign to reach, then you get the data on which shows and time-slots will reach those people, and then you pay money to secure advertising in those slots. If your game slips, you can’t just call up the network and ask them to move your advertising time ahead a couple of months. You paid for that original time-slot, and if you want to advertise in some other slot then you need to go and bid on them just like everyone else.

So now your advertising campaign is designed to hit maximum saturation in November, but the game isn’t going to appear on retail shelves until (say) the following March. By the time March rolls around, all of those casually disconnected customers will have moved on, forgotten, or will have been captured by a more recent advertising campaign and spent their gaming dollars on something else. What do you do? Do you pay for ANOTHER massive $100 million marketing campaign, essentially doubling those gargantuan marketing costs? Or do you let the game launch with no additional marketing, and allow it to fade into obscurity in a crowded market? Either way, you’ll lose tens of millions of dollars. 

Thirty million bucks a year seems like a lot, but when you calculate the damage he's done to former Golden Goose Blizzard Entertainment, Kotick's salary is chump change. Being mad at him over salary is like a guy that burns down a restaurant, and everyone gets pissed off because he's a bad tipper.
Thirty million bucks a year seems like a lot, but when you calculate the damage he's done to former Golden Goose Blizzard Entertainment, Kotick's salary is chump change. Being mad at him over salary is like a guy that burns down a restaurant, and everyone gets pissed off because he's a bad tipper.

Like Andrew Wilson, Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick gets about $5 million in cash and then the rest of his comical $30 million compensation comes in the form of stock and stock options. But for the sake of argument, let’s pretend Kotick gets his entire pay  as actual real folding cash. Even Bobby Kotick – the most outrageously overpaid executive in gaming – could not cover the losses of a game that slips in the last few months of development, even if he surrendered his entire salary. 

Oh, and don’t forget about the problem where delaying one game by a few months will have it directly competing with ANOTHER one of your games from the same genre. I don’t have any idea how you’d do the math to figure out how much THAT will cost you, but it’ll be a lot more than you can get from the CEO.

I made this because it amused me, not because the article demanded it.
I made this because it amused me, not because the article demanded it.

Look, I’m not trying to convince you that executive salaries make sense. I could do an entire video on how these guys aren’t worth half the money they’re being paid. I’m just saying that the suggestion that executives should pay for a late game instead of having the team crunch is a nonsensical idea. It’s like realizing you’re ten thousand dollars in debt, so you cancel your $15 Netflix subscription. That’s a gesture, not a solution.

Maybe you’re still in favor of the idea. Sure, Kotick can’t pay for a late game himself, but shouldn’t he at least be penalized a bit? How about we take a few million bucks from him just to punish his failings as a leader? If his employees are going to work 80 hours a week, shouldn’t we make him a little uncomfortable to encourage him to do better next time?

I appreciate the sentiment, and I totally agree that leaders need to have better incentives to run their company properly. But I think this particular punishment wouldn’t work as intended.

Paying The Man to Make Things Worse

Remember when he ran Tony Hawk into the ground? Or when he obliterated the culture and values that made Blizzard Entertainment such a powerhouse? When he drove away talented industry veterans? When he blew the partnership with Bungie? When he prostrated himself to China? I wouldn't let this guy sweep the floor at a dev studio, much less put him in charge.
Remember when he ran Tony Hawk into the ground? Or when he obliterated the culture and values that made Blizzard Entertainment such a powerhouse? When he drove away talented industry veterans? When he blew the partnership with Bungie? When he prostrated himself to China? I wouldn't let this guy sweep the floor at a dev studio, much less put him in charge.

Think about the incentive structure this would create. Kotick is going to suddenly be very worried about late games. This incentive won’t make him care about his people more or encourage him to make better working conditions for his teams. It doesn’t encourage him to make better products. Quite the opposite: It will encourage him to avoid delays. In turn, this would push him to pursue extremely safe designs that aren’t likely to create problems or challenges. Well, okay… Activision pretty much already does that, but do we want to create even MORE incentives for him to behave this way? Do we want every gaming executive to be financially encouraged to act like Kotick all the time? Because in a world where the CEO is personally penalized when a game gets behind schedule and needs to crunch, complex, ambitious, unique games like Cyberpunk 2077 will be the first things that get cut in favor of more cookie-cutter titles.

Moreover, think about what happens when one of Kotick’s projects hit a snag. Kotick will have three choices:

1) Make his people crunch and he’ll lose millions of dollars of his personal income as a punishment, or…

2) Allow the game to ship late, and lose tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of the company’s money, or…

3) Ship the unfinished game on-time and blame the failure on the developers, possibly leading to the closure of their studio.

You’ll notice that we’ve just created an incentive for Kotick to always choose the most destructive option. That third option maximizes damage to consumers, the franchise, and the developers, while not punishing Kotick in any way. We’re essentially paying him to ruin games.

Sure, cut Kotick’s pay. You can even fire him. Into the Sun. I don’t care. But cutting executive salaries isn’t going to stop games from being late, and it’s less than one-tenth the money you need for covering problems like layoffs, late games, and studio closures. As big as executive salaries are, they’re a rounding error in the grand scheme of things. If you took Andrew Wilson’s entire salary and distributed it among EA’s 9,700 employees, it would amount to giving everyone a 0.7% raise. When you’ve got dozens of games in production and you’re spending billions on development and marketing, that five million you’re paying the boss just does not matter from an accounting standpoint, even if it personally offends you.

I’m an engineer, and I believe that the first step in solving a problem is correctly identifying the source of the problem. Attempting to take away money from executives is an emotional reaction. It might feel good, but it doesn’t help the employees or correct for management’s failures. Calling for a cut to executive salaries just reinforces the notion that consumers are economically illiterate and unreasonable, and that we should be ignored.

If you really want to hit these guys where it’ll hurt, ignore their five million dollar salaries and criticize the hundreds of millions in losses they inflict due to mismanagement, opportunity cost, lost sales, brain drain, bad press, and missed opportunities. The problem isn’t how much they make, it’s that they shouldn’t have the job in the first place.

 

Footnotes:

[1] In the video, I anglicized the word to “zloty”. But since then I found out it’s pronounced more like “zwotty”.



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216 thoughts on “Executive Pay is Not the Problem

  1. Freddo says:

    Let’s assume that – like so many titles – you’re aiming for a release in October or November so your game lands in time for the holidays.

    Especially this. Given the importance of holiday sales I cannot be upset with the decision of Project RED. Six weeks of crunch sucks, but life happens. Of course, my opinion will change if they trot out that same excuse for every launch (and with that my willingness to pay for the game), but right now I easily put them on my “good” list.

    1. methermeneus says:

      Also, broken promises aside, six weeks is on the edge of acceptable. I’ve done six months of crunch (not as a dev or artist, mind you; it happens at least occasionally in all industries) a couple of times, and that’s absolutely unacceptable even for a misanthrope with no social life like me, but six weeks at the end of a multi-year project is, while unpleasant, an occasional price of the unpredictability of life.

      1. Eric says:

        Not sure where this ‘six-week’ business is coming from. I know these comments were posted before the additional delay to Dec. 10th, but even discounting that, the original stated release date was April 16th. With the previous release date of November 19th, that’s a 7 month delay right there.

        It’s worth noting that Witcher 3 was also heavily delayed, first from Fall 2014 to February 2015 (after which the studio promised “no more delays”), followed by, of course, another delay to May 2015. And remember, those are release deadlines; it must be assumed that the devs were crunching since the first announcement of delays, which was all the way back in March 2014, and probably even before that. That’s over a YEAR of crunch for Witcher 3, which lead to the Glassdoor controversy, mass turnover, and severe burnout–and it’s happening again.

        1. Benjamin Hilton says:

          “it must be assumed”..

          Umm no? I’m not saying your wrong, but nothing ever must be assumed.

      2. stratigo says:

        I want to note that there is some evidence, confirmed as legit by Shreier, that people inside CDPR have already been crunching for about a year now.

        So, yeah. This didn’t start with just 6 weeks. People have been crunching constantly for a while.

  2. Dreadjaws says:

    It’s a complicated state of affairs, and it’s seen everywhere today, particularly in everything regarding politics, but people do tend to prefer emotional to logical responses when it comes to solving problems. Without getting into the subject of the aforementioned politics, let’s use as a side example the whole uproar there was when Martin Scorsese likened Marvel movies to “amusement rides”. The moment he said that people were livid, furious, calling his talent into question, saying he was just looking for attention and started springing out the question of opinion on these movies on everyone who was in line for an interview, even if it was about taxes on cattle guards.

    Here’s the funny thing, though: he’s 100% right. People just didn’t hear what he was saying. They merely saw something that wasn’t considered praise for these movies and instantly jumped into defense mode, everything else be damned. But this is what these movies are: fleeting entertainment that doesn’t leave you thinking. They’re flashy, disposable fun that, no matter how many internet wackos spend their days making videos about how “Thanos wasn’t really a villain” don’t really have anything to say other than “look at the pretty effects”. They’re movie junk food, and I say that as a fan (mostly, I do think a few of them are stinkers).

    See, the problem lies with the fact that, while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying junk food, people will get upset the moment you bring up their food is from the “junk” variety. They don’t like to hear anything negative you have to say about the stuff they like even if that “negative” amounts to “This isn’t as good or as interesting as other stuff out there”. Remember that Scorsese didn’t say these movies are “bad” or that anyone who enjoys it is “dumb”. He was merely stating a personal preference on the kind of engagement he likes movies to have with the audience (also, he was asked for his opinion, so it certainly wasn’t a call for attention).

    While this is certainly not at all the same situation than, say, the problem of crunch, people’s responses over it stem from the same place: an emotional reaction that seeks a satisfactory, easy answer rather than involving a fair, logical analysis. Which, ironically, only shows how right Scorsese was.

    1. Daimbert says:

      The thing is that Scorsese didn’t just say that they weren’t, say, deeply emotional like other works. He claimed that they weren’t “cinema”, and used that to contrast them with works that he considered real “art”. And if he wanted to take shots at something, Marvel was really not the right target, since it’s not like they’re, say, the “Transformers” movies or simple action-schlock. A big part of them is the emotional issues of the characters and how their views impact things. Winter Soldier and Civil War are indeed explicit attempts to make a more serious point. He should at least have given them props for TRYING, even if they failed. On top of that, one of his targets was “Logan”, which as a movie isn’t at ALL about the superhero things but is about the personal issues of the character itself. That was the entire point, and he simply dismissed it as not doing things like that.

      Commenting that he didn’t watch them but felt free to opine on what they were really like would also rub people the wrong way.

      And even your example seems off, because the movies made a deliberate attempt to raise the question of whether Thanos was really a villain or not, so essentially you’re saying that those movies had nothing to say even though they were explicitly trying to say the thing that you say they weren’t saying. A debate can be had over whether they really succeeded or if the other movies did it better, but put it all together and it really does sound like Scorsese is really saying that it’s a comic book movie so it CAN’T be artistic cinema, which isn’t a very good argument.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        See what I’m talking about? People get instantly defensive. Again, whether the Marvel movies were the right target or not doesn’t matter because he was directly asked what he thought of them. And where do you get the idea that one of “his targets” was Logan? It’s the first time I hear of it.

        Winter Soldier and Civil War are indeed explicit attempts to make a more serious point. He should at least have given them props for TRYING, even if they failed.

        You can make the point for Winter Soldier, but Civil War? That movie surely fooled people into thinking it had an idea, but it deliberately avoided to engage even in the smallest amount of risk. It certainly didn’t try, and Scorsese doesn’t strike me as the guy who gives participation awards. And what was the message that Winter Soldier was trying to give? That the government is secretly evil? Like in Civil War, they chickened out at the last time by revealing they had been infiltrated by Hydra. Marvel doesn’t take risks.

        because the movies made a deliberate attempt to raise the question of whether Thanos was really a villain or not

        No, they’re not. This is precisely the kind of bullshit overanalyzing people on the internet engage into, but the movies make it pretty clear that he’s a villain that merely uses an excuse to justify his desire for genocide. There’s no complexity or depth at all in the way the movies present the character, but any fan with spare time can try to spend hours digging into unrelated details to try to find some way to interconnect them that generally involves ignoring a lot of facts. You cannot watch these movies and come out thinking Thanos might not have been a villain unless you’re deliberately forcing yourself to forget a lot of the information provided.

        Again, I’m saying this as a fan. Winter Soldier might be my favorite movie in the MCU, but the only thing it really has over all the other ones is the more serious tone. And by “more serious” I mean, “doesn’t stop every 2 minutes to tell a joke”, not “actually bothers to engage in a complex, multi-layered plot that leaves you thinking about the nature of humanity for several days”. There’s nothing wrong with movies that are done purely for entertainment, and the sooner we all accept this, the better.

        1. Daimbert says:

          And where do you get the idea that one of “his targets” was Logan? It’s the first time I hear of it.

          Sorry, you’re right, that was Ethan Hawke who did that. My mistake.

          See what I’m talking about? People get instantly defensive.

          His comments were over a year ago and I read them then, so “instantly defensive” is a bit much. Heck, even my being DEFENSIVE is a stretch when my actual comments where that Scorsese said more than you presented him as saying thus explaining more of the reaction, and then disagreeing with you with the rather mild statement that the Marvel movies at least TRY to build in notions of character and character conflict, both inner and outer, that you don’t see in movies that are just action-schlock and are happy to admit that that’s all they are. The Marvel superhero movies — and, I’d argue, most good superhero movies — at least try to be more than that.

          You can make the point for Winter Soldier, but Civil War? That movie surely fooled people into thinking it had an idea, but it deliberately avoided to engage even in the smallest amount of risk. It certainly didn’t try, and Scorsese doesn’t strike me as the guy who gives participation awards.

          There’s a difference between trying and failing and not trying at all. Again, think of pure action-movie schlock. They aren’t even TRYING to raise issues or get people to think about anything or even to pull out character points for people. Many people who watched Civil War — or, for that matter, read the original comics — felt that it fumbled the execution, but it DOES have character moments and moments that flow from the characters and lets us into their feelings and psychology, which is what Scorsese was after in the first place (Wanda, for one, along with Vision and their interaction). Maybe it wouldn’t be, say, Casablanca, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not doing that sort of thing at all. Some of the most classic cinema is not, in fact, Casablanca or in that style.

          And what was the message that Winter Soldier was trying to give? That the government is secretly evil? Like in Civil War, they chickened out at the last time by revealing they had been infiltrated by Hydra. Marvel doesn’t take risks.

          Remember, Fury was in support of the project. He thought we needed it to preserve freedom. He would have used it if it HADN’T been infiltrated by Hydra. Cap, early on, tells him he’s wrong. And when Cap has to put everything on the line to stop it, Fury realizes that Cap was right and decides to go back to doing the small things. Add to that Cap’s emotional issues with Bucky, and you have a movie that, again, is at least TRYING to have the emotional and plot resonances that Scorsese says he wants. And, again, recall that Scorsese made a point of saying that he didn’t WATCH those movies. Maybe he’d be able to see some of this and at least give them SOME credit if he had.

          The point is not that they do these things flawlessly, or even as well as the classic movies did. You can have much productive debate over that (heck, I do it on my blog for horror movies, comparing the modern movies unfavourably to the older ones). But that’s not enough to say that it isn’t cinema, and that the movies that are clearly trying for more depth in character and story are just the same as movies that have no intention of doing that. We may well even judge them more harshly for overreaching, but we at least have to acknowledge what they’re trying to do.

          Also, I’m a bit leery of arguments that are based solely on “They aren’t taking risks”, because it begs the question “What risks SHOULD they be taking?”. Winter Soldier takes risks in having Fury on the side of authoritarianism. Civil War takes risks with popular characters choosing sides that the audience may not agree with. And Marvel even takes risks by bringing in different genres than the classic superhero ones like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. Taking risks in and of itself isn’t a good thing. Doing something new for the sake of doing something new isn’t either. Sometimes the classic storytelling lines are classics because they’re the ones that actually WORK.

          No, they’re not. This is precisely the kind of bullshit overanalyzing people on the internet engage into, but the movies make it pretty clear that he’s a villain that merely uses an excuse to justify his desire for genocide. There’s no complexity or depth at all in the way the movies present the character, but any fan with spare time can try to spend hours digging into unrelated details to try to find some way to interconnect them that generally involves ignoring a lot of facts. You cannot watch these movies and come out thinking Thanos might not have been a villain unless you’re deliberately forcing yourself to forget a lot of the information provided.

          When Infinity War came out, I participated in long discussions with people who were insisting that because the movies didn’t explain that his plan wouldn’t have worked, they were siding with him TOO much because not doing so and having them oppose it purely on moral grounds — that killing people to do that would be wrong — suggested that they were opposing his Utilitarian ethics of sacrificing the few for the many with a deontological one, which works for Cap but not for Stark. The start of Endgame also suggests that outside of the emotional impacts of the snap the environmental ones improved. Thanos also sacrifices Gamora and is portrayed as actually feeling sorry to do it, which suggests — along with the condition for doing it in the first place — that he might actually LOVE her (another debate). And at the end of Infinity War he gets to hang up the Gauntlet in satisfaction for a job well done — at least in his mind — and isn’t going out to kill more people. There’s certainly reason to think, even without doing a huge analysis, that he’s being portrayed far more positively than your normal homicidal villain with a grand plan. And Endgame could indeed be criticized for not doing enough to overturn that impression, especially since the Thanos who opposes them at the end isn’t the one who actually did the snap.

          Thanos is, of course, a villain. We all recognize that. But they definitely tried to make things more ambiguous than you’d expect in a straight superhero movie, and that’s pretty consistent with at least later Marvel.

          There’s nothing wrong with movies that are done purely for entertainment, and the sooner we all accept this, the better.

          But the Marvel movies don’t count as that. Let me quote Scorsese:

          “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema,” Scorsese told Empire. “Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

          Winter Soldier, Civil War, Infinity War, Endgame, Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (if not the first one), Thor and even ANT-MAN are DEFINITELY trying to do that, as that sort of thing makes up a large part of their runtime. And one of the things that most Marvel movies do is build stuff like that into their movies. They may not always succeed, but they ARE trying. So they are at least a cut above mere entertainment. I’d worry about comments like Scorsese’s for fear that people will take him seriously and figure that it’s the action stuff that makes them good, and not the character/emotional stuff which is indeed what does the heavy lifting in the better Marvel movies.

          1. Dreadjaws says:

            Jesus Christ. And you say you’re not getting defensive.

            There’s a difference between trying and failing and not trying at all. Again, think of pure action-movie schlock. They aren’t even TRYING to raise issues or get people to think about anything or even to pull out character points for people. Many people who watched Civil War — or, for that matter, read the original comics — felt that it fumbled the execution, but it DOES have character moments and moments that flow from the characters and lets us into their feelings and psychology, which is what Scorsese was after in the first place (Wanda, for one, along with Vision and their interaction). Maybe it wouldn’t be, say, Casablanca, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not doing that sort of thing at all. Some of the most classic cinema is not, in fact, Casablanca or in that style.

            There’s also a difference between trying and pretending to try, which is what Marvel does. You can’t just say they’re trying only because there are other movies out there that try less. Films like, say, the Transformers movies are chaotic nonsense, like scribbles on a blank page. They’re nonsensical BS that doesn’t seem like it has any shape. MCU films are paint-by-numbers. They look nice, sure. Compared to the Transformers films, they have shape and feel like they have a purpose, but in reality they’re simply following an established checklist. These are simply two different levels of not trying.

            Winter Soldier takes risks in having Fury on the side of authoritarianism. Civil War takes risks with popular characters choosing sides that the audience may not agree with. And Marvel even takes risks by bringing in different genres than the classic superhero ones like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. Taking risks in and of itself isn’t a good thing. Doing something new for the sake of doing something new isn’t either. Sometimes the classic storytelling lines are classics because they’re the ones that actually WORK.

            I’m not… what? Do you even know what a risk is? Sure, people label of these things as “risks”, but they are all absolutely calculated moves. Why would Fury’s choice be a risk? He’s not the protagonist. A risk would have been doing that in a Nick Fury movie. In here, people are expecting to root for Captain America. A risk would have been releasing Guardians of the Galaxy alongside the first Iron Man. It certainly wasn’t once their basic properties were proven popular? And what’s “different” about Ant-Man? It’s a fairly basic, generic story. Do I need to remind you Edgard Wright was actually trying to do something different and was let go of the film because of it?

            Lots of Thanos BS

            Look, again, you can only think the guy might not have been a villain if you deliberately ignore his actions. The fact that he constantly pits his daughters against one another and even physically and mentally tortures one of them should tell you what kind of guy he is. The fact that he goes looking out for the ultimate power with the express intention of genocide instead of using it to come up with a more sensible solution should be enough to realize his real intentions. Sure, he might be a little more interesting than a one-note “For the evulz” kind of guy like, say, Ronan was, but that doesn’t make him a bad guy. Sure, lots of people think he is. Lots of people also have sided with tyrants in real life because of their speeches. The key is to take notice of the guy’s actions and not his words.

            Winter Soldier, Civil War, Infinity War, Endgame, Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (if not the first one), Thor and even ANT-MAN are DEFINITELY trying to do that, as that sort of thing makes up a large part of their runtime.

            I already made the point up there that they don’t. They simply follow a checklist, and the way they do it is very transparent once you start noticing it. Like, the moment you saw Tony Stark being all caring with his daughter you knew they were emotionally manipulating you to feel “sadness” for his obviously upcoming death later. That’s a basic trick, it’s no different from a jump scare. Again, there’s nothing wrong with it, and that’s where the crux of this argument lies. People feel insulted when telling them there’s nothing special about these movies. I like them, I find them entertaining, but I certainly don’t get upset if someone tells me “they’re not cinema”, as if it in any way mattered. These are products, it’s what they are. They’re designed to be consumed, not to say something.

            1. Shamus says:

              After weeks of worrying about the video and fussing with the wording to address as many concerns as I could, I never would have dreamed that the hottest argument would be over THIS.

              1. Thanos says:

                In the end it was……inevitable.

              2. Dreadjaws says:

                Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking. I should have used The Last Jedi as an example instead.

                1. Shamus says:

                  You joke, but the day is coming in…. (checks SWJFO doc) …four more entries.

                  1. Dreadjaws says:

                    Ooooooooohhhh. I’ll prepare my migthy shield.

                  2. Soldierhawk says:

                    As someone who dearly loved TLJ, I’m gonna be sad aren’t I.

                    I might just…avoid…that particular comment section…

                  3. Can’t wait to see it. Im curious if others take my view of the franchise where a lot of the faults of the last jedi come more from the core faults of the whole trilogy rather than just one bad movie.

                    Shameless plug of my hour long video on it here if anyone is curious:
                    https://youtu.be/nOwgZGacLjA

                    1. Thanks so much for everyone from here who stopped by, and thanks to Shamus for sharing it somewhere! (I assume that’s what happened, seeing as I just got 6 times the number of views in a few days and gained almost 30% more subs).

                2. MerryWeathers says:

                  The Last Jedi is on the opposite end of the spectrum, people act like it’s the worst movie ever made of all time and merely saying you enjoyed the film is more likely to incite an argument than saying you disliked it. I think I even saw a comment in this site saying it was an insult to storytelling itself and I’m just like “Really? Really?”

                  1. galacticplumber says:

                    The sequel trilogy in general, and last jedi in specific, is like an onion. The deeper into it you delve the more noxious eye pain inducing gas is released.

                    To use shamus’ common parlance for stuff like this, most of the audience lost their trust in the writer, and because its production was a shoddy chaos fire of internal fighting held together by chewed up bubblegum and rubberbands with no grand plan the enraged audience was able to find many faults.

                    That last sentence isn’t even directly commenting on the quality so much as the fact the sequels were in a constant tug of war between differing staff who disagreed with each other enough to take regular in-movie potshots. Anything in similar conditions is doomed.

                    1. MerryWeathers says:

                      The sequel trilogy in general, and last jedi in specific, is like an onion. The deeper into it you delve the more noxious eye pain inducing gas is released.

                      The ST trilogy as a whole? Yeah, it has the worst ending out of the three trilogies in the saga and we all know how a bad ending can seriously affect your enjoyment of the whole story.

                      To use shamus’ common parlance for stuff like this, most of the audience lost their trust in the writer, and because its production was a shoddy chaos fire of internal fighting held together by chewed up bubblegum and rubberbands with no grand plan the enraged audience was able to find many faults. That last sentence isn’t even directly commenting on the quality so much as the fact the sequels were in a constant tug of war between differing staff who disagreed with each other enough to take regular in-movie potshots. Anything in similar conditions is doomed.

                      The grand plan thing tends to be overstated, the two other trilogies didn’t even have an outline which is why we have scenes like Leia kissing Luke or why we barely saw the clone wars. I also disagree that TFA and TLJ were at odds with each other, they’re quite compatible with one another and the latter doesn’t retcon everything the previous movie setup in the same way TROS did for that movie.

                      Not saying these films shouldn’t have a proper outline to keep the story consistent and tight but you shouldn’t expect Star Wars to have one since it’s not like LOTR where everything in the trilogy is mapped out in pre-production.

                    2. The Coach says:

                      Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

                  2. Radkatsu says:

                    MerryWeathers: “saying it was an insult to storytelling itself”

                    Yes. Because that’s exactly what it was. Ruin didn’t want to tell a good story, he just wanted to take a huge, steaming shit on Star Wars and its fans. That is, in fact, an insult to the art of storytelling.

                    1. MerryWeathers says:

                      Yes. Because that’s exactly what it was. Ruin didn’t want to tell a good story, he just wanted to take a huge, steaming shit on Star Wars and its fans. That is, in fact, an insult to the art of storytelling.

                      Yes, because Rian Johnson is surely a malicious entity born from the fiery depths of hell itself whose life purpose was to intentionally try to destroy Star Wars. That’s definitely what he is.

                      I’m also sure this is the kind of discussion Shamus would appreciate when the time comes for him to talk about TLJ (which is three posts away now).

                    2. Kyle Johansen says:

                      A person disliking Star Wars fans does not require that he come from hell. A person making a film with a particular point does not require it to be his life’s goal.

                      Lots of people do not like the Star Wars fandom. That Johnson makes films criticising groups he does not like isn’t controversial – look at Knives Out which attacks old money – and if Star Wars fans did not spend so much money on films then the industry would have no qualms acknowledging what The Last Jedi is. (Possibly some people on the Internet would still like to gaslight by pretending a filmmaker using film to oppose a group he dislikes is crazy-loony.)

                      Edit: To elloborate a little further. Knives Out is a mystery film that harken back to the tropes of the 1920 heydays of Hercules Poirot and Peter Whimsey. That is he used the Old Money-est of genres to criticise Old Money. If he dislikes Star Wars fans therefore it should not be considered to be crazy but instead be considered expected that he would use his helming of a Star Wars film to broadside against Star Wars fans.

            2. Olivier FAURE says:

              Jesus Christ. And you say you’re not getting defensive.

              This is so not okay to say.

              Please don’t be condescending.

              1. Radkatsu says:

                … who the hell do you think you are, to tell someone else what’s ok to say?

                Speech policing is only one VERY short step away from thought policing, and that’s not a world any rational person should want to live in. And we’re already pretty much there as it is :/

            3. Daimbert says:

              There’s also a difference between trying and pretending to try, which is what Marvel does. You can’t just say they’re trying only because there are other movies out there that try less.

              No, I’m actually saying that I know what not trying looks like because those movies even by their own admission don’t try, and Marvel is not in that category. I will also say that I know what only pretending to try looks like and again Marvel is doing more than that. Let me break it down a bit for clarity:

              Not trying is the case where the movie simply tosses tropes in because they have to be there to get you to the minimum level of emotion and interest to let the action or other scenes happen. The plot is just there to get to the next scene and the characters are just developed enough for the scenes to work. They don’t care about any of this and all of it is subverted to the things the movie really cares about. Transformers works like this — and I find them to be the opposite of chaotic nonsense, as they are so standard as to be totally predictable with no surprises at all — and, well, so do pretty much all Michael Bay movies. If you criticize these movies as Scorsese did the overwhelming response will be “Well, what did you expect from those movies? They aren’t TRYING to do the things you complain they aren’t doing, and would be worse movies if they did”. (Scorsese grants this in the NY Times editorial response).

              Pretending to try is tricky, because it’s often used subjectively to classify movies that tried and failed to do it if someone is negatively enough disposed to the situation. The general idea would be that they tried to put in the elements as big and flashy “Look at me” moments but don’t do the work to develop it or pay it off. The best example that I can think of might be the kid in ME3: it’s there to try to build that sort of emotional connection and they clearly make a big deal out of it, but they didn’t take the time to actually do something meaningful with it. Why this is subjective, though, is that you could possibly more reasonably accuse them of not really understanding what the kid trope is used for and how it works. I see that aspect of it a lot in the horror movies I analyze, where they add the, say, sibling rivalry almost because that’s what you see in horror movies but never pay it off in any meaningful way. About the only ones that I can see really fitting into these are not movies like Marvel’s, but instead the ones that are clearly advertising themselves are artistic and tossing in all sorts of arty things to make them seem more respectable that way. Marvel doesn’t do that.

              As noted, trying and failing is putting in the effort to build in those things but flubbing the execution somewhere. More on that later.

              Why would Fury’s choice be a risk? He’s not the protagonist. A risk would have been doing that in a Nick Fury movie. In here, people are expecting to root for Captain America.

              Fury is a popular character that is considered a good guy and who was going to be a good guy in later works. Putting him morally on the opposite side of the character who is noted for being the true moral compass of the MCU and having him justify his move with a not unreasonable argument that turns out to be horribly wrong runs the risk of either having the audience feel that Fury was acting out of character or being character assassinated or else having the audience come to think of him as a villain. And it was unnecessary, because more standard “popcorn” flicks would have simply had Fury removed when he found out about the project and had Cap argue with Pierce over the project, which would have been an indication of Pierce’s villainy and provided the reason for Pierce to order Cap taken care of. It even follows on from Avengers where Cap does clash with Fury over the very topic, which provides it some depth and highlights the philosophical differences between them, and as noted ends with Fury trying to recapture some of Cap’s philosophy by going it alone.

              A risk would have been releasing Guardians of the Galaxy alongside the first Iron Man. It certainly wasn’t once their basic properties were proven popular? And what’s “different” about Ant-Man? It’s a fairly basic, generic story.

              Both of them took characters that were relatively unknown even to most comic fans and also, unlike most superhero movies, took the characters into different genres (GotG into space-opera, Ant-Man into a heist movie). No one had done either with superhero movies before Marvel did and even at the time there were a lot of questions about whether it would work. When industry experts are skeptical about a move, it’s risky pretty much by definition [grin].

              Look, again, you can only think the guy might not have been a villain if you deliberately ignore his actions.

              You seem to have missed the part where I commented that he’s clearly a villain. As noted to Syal, I haven’t seen too many arguments of “He’s not a villain!” but instead comments about how the movies “softened” his villainy too much. And to get back to the ideas of trying — and perhaps failing — to be deeper in the characters, the movie didn’t at all have to do that. They could have used the original motivation of trying to impress Death. They also could have gone with a more standard motivation of him wanting to kill that many people so that the others would know what would happen to them if they opposed him. They didn’t. Instead they had him make an appeal to the greater good. With Gamora, they didn’t need to raise the spector of his actually loving her. They could have gone with the standard idea of him needing to sacrifice someone to get the tone. They also could have gone a little bit deeper and claim that he needed to sacrifice someone worthy, and implied or stated that that was what was behind his training them as he did. But instead they went with the love angle, raising the debate over whether he could really have actually loved her despite being that abusive.

              For me, Thanos is a bit of a failure because I predicted that they WOULD reveal in Endgame that he really liked killing and was using the population problem as a rationalization for that, and it never did.

              Like, the moment you saw Tony Stark being all caring with his daughter you knew they were emotionally manipulating you to feel “sadness” for his obviously upcoming death later. That’s a basic trick, it’s no different from a jump scare.

              But that wasn’t what that was about. Or, well, not ALL it was about, because any chance a moviemaker can get to put a cute little girl into an emotional situation they’ll take it [grin]. But even early on that scene was important because it was the reasoning behind Stark NOT wanting to get involved in undoing the Snap, and his comment to Cap about “I can’t lose what I have”, which necessitates the more complicated plan to undo it. We needed to see Stark SPECIFICALLY having come to have and love his family and simple life so that we can believe that he would be willing to choose that over, well, all of the others who had gone away. So it’s aimed at developing his character. And it doesn’t stop there, because it ties into how the end comes about. Stark meets his father, and one key statement there is from his father saying that once you have kids you’d do anything for them. This might look like nothing more than another nostalgia bit in a movie with lots and lots of ’em, but that line is deliberately singled out by Stark’s reaction to it. At the end, Stark is choosing to kill himself and lose that family that was more important than anything to him FOR them, which is a more emotional and psychological reaction which is what Scorsese was after.

              We also see that sort of thing with Cap, as the movie highlights his missing Peggy and the life he might have lost, reminds us of it when he sees her at the military base, and then that explains the ending where what he does is, in fact, stay there with her to have that life. Again, this is deliberately trying to do the precise things that Scorsese wants them to do.

              Now, I do think both fail a bit. For Stark, at the end for it to really work he needed to have to make a choice and deliberately choose that. I suggested that they should have had Thanos offer to do the Snap for him but keep him and his family alive and well in the new order so that he had the choice. And it doesn’t work for Cap because of Sharon and how he could well have made a new life in this world, so it seems to come a bit out of nowhere. But then that’s what trying and at least arguably failing looks like. They didn’t need to do any of it and it isn’t prominent enough for “Look at me!” pretending, but it doesn’t quite come off either.

          2. Syal says:

            There’s certainly reason to think, even without doing a huge analysis, that he’s being portrayed far more positively than your normal homicidal villain with a grand plan.

            That’s not the same as not being a villain. That’s Claudia from Silent Hill 3. She’s willing to kill people to summon a god that will “bring peace to the world”, and she’s unambiguously a villain because she’s violent and dangerous.

            1. Daimbert says:

              Well, I DID agree in that comment that Thanos is definitely a villain, but it is clear that the movie is trying to make him seem a far more ambiguous evil than most villains and even than he was in earlier parts of the series.

              In all honesty, I haven’t really seen too many arguments claiming that Thanos is indeed not a villain. I HAVE seen a plethora of arguments saying that the movies tried to make him too ambiguous for what he was doing and what he had done in the past (in line with Dreadjaws’ actual claims about him). A lot of it in general follows from, I think, people who hold a more Utilitarian/Consequetialist view of morality, since if he really could prevent that much pain and suffering then it raises the question of whether the sacrifice would be worth it. So, if he was right that the only or best way to prevent overpopulation was the Snap, then maybe that is what we should do and the heroes are wrong to oppose him, and if the brutal training he put Gamora and Nebula through really was necessary, as he asserts, to prepare them for a hostile universe then maybe he did love them and wasn’t just an abuser. The arguments then end up being that Thanos was indeed clearly wrong on all counts and NO ONE CALLS HIM ON THAT (well, Gamora a little but since he was able to sacrifice her as someone he loves that kinda contradicts that). Thus, the movie suggests that maybe he’s right, but for those sorts of moralities if he’s right then he isn’t a villain, but is instead a hero … and he’s clearly a villain, no matter what the movie might imply about his actions.

              Of course, Deontologists and Virtue Theorists can simply say that eliminating half of all living things is wrong no matter what the consequences, and so can even see it as the clash between consequenitialism and those moralities. The movie isn’t exactly supporting that last interpretation, though, since the consequentialists are no more convinced by Thanos than anyone else is.

              1. Smith says:

                The arguments then end up being that Thanos was indeed clearly wrong on all counts and NO ONE CALLS HIM ON THAT (well, Gamora a little but since he was able to sacrifice her as someone he loves that kinda contradicts that).

                I’ve never liked that argument, and I just realized why. Everyone is trying to stop him. Which they wouldn’t do if they think he’s right. Action is often more effective than words.

          3. Smith says:

            And Endgame could indeed be criticized for not doing enough to overturn that impression, especially since the Thanos who opposes them at the end isn’t the one who actually did the snap.

            Personally, I think Warrior Thanos is just Sage Thanos with the mask off.

            Sage was happy when he thought everyone would love him, but when Warrior learned he was wrong, that he was hated, after only a few short years, he got mad. And even in IW, they imply that he’s doing it out of ego, not altruism. I think the Russos even said so in some AMA.

        2. Abnaxis says:

          How is Daimbert being “defensive”? He’s made well-formed arguments against your points, by bringing up the specific Scorsese article you reference and informing you why it’s not just emotional unreasonableness to take issue with it.

          I have zero dog int this race, I am not a Marvel movie fan nor a big critic, but from where I’m standing it looks like you’re dismissing others as being “unreasonably emotional” for their opinions. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they’re “illogical.”

          1. Dreadjaws says:

            Well, he’s certainly made “arguments”, though I object to the “well-madeness” of them. I have retorted to each and every one of them in a reasonable way, which I wouldn’t do if I were the kind of guy you think I am.

            1. John says:

              The thing is, you seem to be characterizing any sort of disagreement with your position as “defensiveness”. It comes off as dismissive and even a little insulting, whether you mean it that way or not. You should stop doing it.

              1. Dreadjaws says:

                For the love of God, you people are talking as if I’m using racial slurs. How is that not being defensive? This is precisely what I’m talking about. You are the ones deliberately attacking me for having a different opinion. I’m merely justifying my opinion, but you are somehow making it personal.

                1. John says:

                  You don’t seem to understand, so I’ll be as brief and as clear as I possibly can and then I’ll drop it. I do not think you are accurately characterizing the behavior of anyone in this thread. Not Daimbert’s, not mine, and not your own. You are not being attacked. You are, however, accusing other people of the kind of behavior you yourself are displaying. You’re being very defensive. You’re also attacking people for disagreeing with you. You may not think you are, but you are.

                2. Wolf says:

                  Several people are asking you to tone down the condescension and you are taking that as “deliberately attacking me for having a different opinion”.
                  Ask yourself if you are demanding more good faith when they interpret your writing than you are willing to offer in return.

                3. Daimbert says:

                  At the risk of escalating things, you have accused me multiple times of being defensive in a rather … angry manner for merely justifying my opinion. Is it possible that you yourself could be at least as reasonably accused of making it personal?

                4. Kelhim says:

                  I cannot see any aggression, attacks or accusations in Dreadjaws’ comments. It has been a civil discussion with differing opinions up to this point – with one person saying the other gets rather defensive, which might or might not be true, but is certainly not a terrible thing to say.

                  Really, I would rather have you discuss the Marvel movies some more than engage in these meta discussions.

            2. galacticplumber says:

              It is never the domain of the one to determine whether they’re being reasonable. No, not even then.

        3. Lino says:

          There’s nothing wrong with movies that are done purely for entertainment, and the sooner we all accept this, the better.

          Amen to that! I just love it when critics ostensibly say “Movies that have a MESSAGE are superior to dumb action flicks, and dumb action flicks need to have a MESSAGE, otherwise they’re a waste of time that shouldn’t even exist!”

          This is actually why I’ve stopped reading reviews for new films and games. Because critics can’t just turn their brains off and enjoy the show. Take me, for example. Occasionally, I like watching the odd Hollywood blockbuster. But in a year, I’ll probably watch one or two. One year I remember watching three. I usually go after a long day of work, crunching numbers, and I do it to enjoy the light humour and cool explosions. I’ve watched a few, and pretty much know what to expect. I view it like catching up with an old high school friend.

          But whereas I watch one or two new blockbusters per year, if I were a critic, I’d have to watch all of them. Were that the case, I’d definitely start to get annoyed at how same-y these dang things were, and how they never talk about the real issues plaguing our world. And I would welcome any movie that tried to do something experimental, or better yet – dared to SAY SOMETHING!

          Once you add the enragement engine of social media to the mix, and I’m amazed we haven’t started literally fighting each other over what is essentially light entertainment.

          BTW, I do think some of the Marvel movies try (and succeed) to engage in some deeper ideas (my favourite was probably Dr. Strange, and the way it intertwined the classic Hero’s Journey with Eastern philosophy). But having a profound message has never been the MCU’s main goal, and to a large extent I actually like that.

          1. Daimbert says:

            Amen to that! I just love it when critics ostensibly say “Movies that have a MESSAGE are superior to dumb action flicks, and dumb action flicks need to have a MESSAGE, otherwise they’re a waste of time that shouldn’t even exist!”

            I’m on the same side here, as I think that too many modern works try too hard for a message and that there isn’t anything wrong with just being something fun. My main comment is that works should know what they want to do and do that really, really well. For comic book movies in general and Marvel specifically, I think that they are trying to do less plot and deep ideas and more character explorations, which is really how the best comic books themselves work.

          2. Geebs says:

            My problem with the Marvel movies (and, I think, part of Scorcese’s point) is that they largely suck at framing themselves on a human scale. The heroes are mostly quippy badasses, and the average person-in-the-street is completely ignored. Then the heroes themselves get lost in the mandatory end-of-move group punch-up*.

            Compare with e.g. the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, where the most ludicrously overpowered superhero *ever* is somehow far more relatable than e.g. Captain America ever is. That’s at least partly because he’s constantly interacting with members of the public, who also act as his chorus (“Superman didn’t even do nothing”)**.

            * the sheer bloodlessness and lack of consequence of the violence in the MCU is another sticking point with me.

            ** Also, the massive charisma gap between Reeve and Chris whatsisface, but we’re ignoring that.

            1. Echo Tango says:

              I’ve got the same issue with a lot of games and anime – all the main characters are completely beyond normal human experiences, either by being super-powerful, or simply by the writers omitting things like bad dates, argumentsd with friends, etc. ^^;

            2. Dreadjaws says:

              Indeed. Part of what made Spider-Man so great as a character in the comics is that he felt like a real person. He had real problems to deal with (bills to pay and no steady job, sick family members, having to juggle a couple of jobs with his education, etc.), while the movies largely ignore all of that. The biggest day-to-day problem Peter Parker has to deal with is a jerk making bad cracks about his name. Meanwhile, his superhero issues are “This millionaire guy won’t make me his sidekick”, “I’m too famous” and the ocassional “This flying guy in a mask is trying to get me killed”. And it’s the same for all heroes. Gone is the sense of familiarity we had with these characters.

              It’s weird because characters being relatable was Marvel’s calling card once they started competing with the likes of DC. This not only gave them a leg up, but it was largely what contributed to kill the idea that comics were only a kids medium. Now the movies are ignoring all of that in favor of spectacle. Make no mistake, they have some great characters and dialogue here… but for comic book movies. They’re not movies that use their setting to tell humanizing stories.

              Like, having Black Panther present itself as a runner for “Best movie” is hilariously out of touch. It’d be like NERF trying to get a military contract. Look, we all love your products, they’re super fun and well constructed but come on, know your limits.

              1. tmtvl says:

                Clearly you’ve never used Uranium Nerf missiles.

                Joking aside it is indeed weird to have a fun all-ages action-comedy try for Best Movie. If Transformers tried that we’d all have a laugh.

                1. Wolf says:

                  Is that because of what Transformers tries to be or because of how well it achieves that though?
                  Should a movie be deep and meaningful to be Best Picture? I mean that is sometimes what the Academy seems to be going for yes, but I think we might also root for a really pitch perfect “Fun all ages action-comedy” that decides to join the category. Transformers on the other hand is not on my “well-executed concept” list so I would scoff at any attempt that movie made.

                  As for why Black Panther was a candidate… there was a very strong zeitgeist of black empowerment connected to the movie having people feel really represented in the biggest movie genre of their generation for the first time. And allegedly this representation included African cultural and storytelling tropes that are usually excluded from western blockbusters. I say allegedly because I did only notice the movie was not speaking my trope language for stretches at a time, but can’t speak to the origin or quality of what it was doing, it just felt unfamiliar.
                  Does that make it a “Best Picture”? For me it made it interesting to watch and me unable to fully parse it that, but I can also see how that makes it the Best Movie for someone that is touched by what it is saying and has been thirsting for a big movie to say it forever.

              2. Daimbert says:

                Like, having Black Panther present itself as a runner for “Best movie” is hilariously out of touch. It’d be like NERF trying to get a military contract. Look, we all love your products, they’re super fun and well constructed but come on, know your limits.

                That one actually WAS based on politics specifically, though, with the inclusiveness angle (not going to go too deeply into that one). And it actually DID get the nomination, so at least it wasn’t the only or main one being out of touch there.

                (Full disclosure to avoid a charge of “defensiveness”: I hate the movie and don’t think it should have been anywhere near a nomination).

            3. Daimbert says:

              I actually think that Chris Evans really nailed Captain America, because Cap is not necessarily overwhelmingly charismatic in the way Superman is. People follow him less from personal magnetism and more because of his blinding sincerity over what is right and what is wrong. And Evans really, really nailed the sincerity. When Stark asks him how they’ll fight the next threat, and Cap replies “Together”, we know that he means it with all his heart. And when Stark says they’ll lose, and Cap says they’ll do that together too, again he really, really means that, that losing together is better than winning by the means Stark says. I think it would be hard to find someone who could pull that off now that Evans is gone.

          3. Echo Tango says:

            Good movies can be both entertaining and have deeper meaning, messages, etc. Those two aspects don’t have to be at odds with each other.

          4. John says:

            Because critics can’t just turn their brains off and enjoy the show.

            I hate, hate, hate this particular phrase. No, I won’t turn my brain off. Why should I? Why should anyone? I suppose Shamus should just turn his brain off and enjoy the scavenger hunt in Jedi: Fallen Order or the Silver Sable bits in Marvel’s Spider-Man. If I have to turn my brain off to enjoy your show, then your show sucks.

            1. Dreadjaws says:

              A particular pet peeve of mine is “This movie is really fun when you’re high”. Like… isn’t everything? Isn’t that the point of being high? What kind of praise you’re giving a film if you have to lose your ability to form coherent thoughts to be entertained by it?

              1. Shamus says:

                My peeve is when people say, “I watched / played this with my friends, and we had a great time!”

                1) That means your friends are good, not the movie.

                2) I have no friends. What am I supposed to do?

              2. Daimbert says:

                I’ve never been high — no, that’s not just a weak denial [grin] — but I can imagine that certain works play into the high more than others. While, say, Ken Burns’ Civil War might be more entertaining while high — I’m watching it now and it is quite somber and plodding at times — it’s not going to feed into that high the way something more frenetic or chaotic would.

                1. John says:

                  When I was a teenager, I loved Ken Burns’ Civil War. Then, as an adult, I did a lot of reading on the subject. (Bruce Catton’s three-volume centennial history is a very good place to start for anyone with a potential interest in the subject.) Now I can’t watch it any more. It seems much too sentimental and superficial. Also, my tolerance for Ken Burns has decreased over time. The man has but so many tricks and he re-uses them all constantly in everything he ever does.

                  1. Daimbert says:

                    I had bought it and watched it a while ago, but remembered not being impressed by it. But I was reminded of it and figured it was a good time to rewatch it and some other documentaries that I had never watched. I watch “The World at War” (a classic WWII documentary series) every year and this time was able to compare the two, and TWaW does some of the same sentimental tricks that he does, but they don’t seem to stop the documentary as often to do it, and then only for real effect. He seems to stop frequently to try to make those points.

              3. eaglewingz says:

                Recent movie ad ( I forget which movie) : 2 out 3 filmgoer quotes are just, ” It’s great to be back in a theater again.”

                Even if the movie sucked?

            2. Daimbert says:

              I think that for critics there is a bit of a risk that they can’t turn off their critical/analytical parts and just watch a work to enjoy it. They’re always breaking it down and slicing it up and thinking about how others things have done it and so that gives a different view of a work than someone just watching it for entertainment would get. I don’t know about Shamus, but I’ve watched so many horror movies to analyze that it’s hard to watch a horror movie or show mostly for fun anymore.

              This is also why critics often overemphasize works that do new things or things in a different way, because they watch so many movies that the ones that do everything the same get old and boring, and something new can at least give them that to grasp onto. For a regular audience less familiar with the genres or less jaded by them, the new elements might be precisely what drags them out of the movie because it doesn’t give them what they were looking for and they don’t feel it works as a replacement.

            3. Jeff says:

              Man, I usually “turn off my brain” when watching movies. I have a very low bar for enjoying movies, I’m just along for the ride. After the movie I may have fridge logic moments that make me consider a movie as bad in hindsight, even if I enjoyed watching it at the time.

              Then there’s movies that actually manage to jar me out of complacency, and make me go “WTF?” during the viewing. I consider those movies not merely as bad, but terrible.

              I thus consider The Last Jedi to be terrible, as it managed to provoke a “WTF?” multiple times. It start as early as the first sequence where it introduced the concept of gravity bombers in space. Every time it managed to lull me into turning off my brain, it would do something egregious and provoke an “Oh, come on!”

              I really liked Knives Out, though. Rian Johnson just needs to stay in his flipping lane.

        4. MerryWeathers says:

          Winter Soldier might be my favorite movie in the MCU, but the only thing it really has over all the other ones is the more serious tone.

          Personally, I find Guardians Vol. 2 to be the best MCU movie because it feels like the most “whole” film in the franchise, something you can enjoy as a stand-alone from the wider story-arc.

    2. Alan says:

      Scorsese didn’t say they were “junk” cinema, he said they’re weren’t cinema at all. It’s not like calling junk food junk food, it’s like saying that junk food isn’t food. It’s same gatekeeping of the same sort as Ebert declaring that video games are not “art”, various twits arguing that genre fiction doesn’t qualify as “literature”, classically trained artists dismissing folk art as mere “craft”, or Boomers claiming that hip hop isn’t music.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        He said they weren’t cinema, not that they weren’t movies. Cinema is rarely well-defined, partly because it’s like “comic book” vs “graphic novel”: “graphic novel” is just a term pretentious people use to puff up the subset of comic books that are arty enough for them to like. It’s a testable claim whether or not the pretentious art people like Marvel movies, and it seems they like them much less than Joe Average does.

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          To be fair, originally “graphic novel” referred to the format as well (plus, it generally refers to standalone stories). It lost all meaning once every comic book started to get printed in the same kind of paper. But yeah, some people latched into the term because, for better or worse, it doesn’t have the negative connotations that “comic book” has.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        93 is right on the money. You know, a few years ago some foreign magazine printed a rumor saying that Cristopher Nolan had been asked about his opinion on post-credits scenes and had said “real movies don’t do that”. It turned out to be false, but before that was confirmed I was strictly against that opinion because it sounded like the sort of BS a fanboy like the ones you mention would spurt.

        I don’t have a problem with Scorsese using the term “cinema” because it does come with different connotations than “movie”. I guarantee you, had he said “these aren’t real movies” I would be upset as well, because it would definitely be a different thing to say.

        1. Daimbert says:

          It would have been different if he had said that they weren’t cinema but then followed up with “But that’s okay; not everything has to be high cinema”. But the way he said it and his follow-up really was him saying that they aren’t real cinema and that it to their discredit, which rubs many fans and those who think that not everything has to be cinema and ESPECIALLY those who don’t LIKE cinema the wrong way.

    3. Smith says:

      They’re flashy, disposable fun that, no matter how many internet wackos spend their days making videos about how “Thanos wasn’t really a villain” don’t really have anything to say other than “look at the pretty effects”.

      I don’t think a single one of those is unironic. All the ones I’ve seen are writing and plotting analysis, about how Thanos is portrayed as the protagonist of the movie, but he’s still a bad guy*, like Macbeth. What you might call a Villain Protagonist.

      And the “Thanos Did Nothing Wrong” folks are certainly memeing. Except for a few people who didn’t get the joke, if any of those people exist.

      * This, ironically, made some people upset because they think bad guys shouldn’t be sympathetic or have depth. They explicitly applied their thinking to real life too, so they were really saying more about themselves and their childish views than anything else. And I wonder how they missed, y’know, most MCU movies.

  3. BlueHorus says:

    In the video, I anglicized [this] word to “zloty”. But since then I found out it’s pronounced more like “zwotty”.

    Arg, Shamus! Zloty you doing!?

    1. Adam Faulconbridge says:

      Clearly it should be pronounced GIF

      1. Pink says:

        I always pronounced it ‘Throat-warbler Mangrove.’

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      For the record, as a Pole, if I need to speak about our currency in English I will usually also pronounce it “zloty” because most English speakers would assume this is the pronunciation from the way it was written, and if they’ve encountered the word in writing it was probably spelled this way because our diacritic ? often gets the dash dropped and is written simply as L in English.

      Now for some additional useless linguistic trivia. We use “?” to designate the sound English speakers associate with “W”, we use “W” to designate the sound English speakers associate with “V” and we don’t use “V” at all as a letter*. The Y is also a hard vowel, like in the world “lynch” as we do not lenghten the vowels on their own and only do dyphtongs through the addition of I or J, the latter is also always pronounced as in “hallelujah” or “fjord” and never as in “jaws”. Don’t ask how we write that sound down because that ties into all the exciting things we do to the letter Z.

      edit: I’ve realised the polish letter for the english “W” sound probably doesn’t display for people because of the fonts, it’s an L or uncapitalized l with an angled dash across the vertical line.

      *We do in a few words considered loanwords and in some things like license plates or cataloguing systems but it is not considered a letter of Polish alphabet as taught in schools..

  4. Daimbert says:

    What we want to know is: What would it cost us to let a game miss the planned ship date? If a game takes an extra three months of development, how much is that going to cost the company in additional payroll?

    This actually isn’t as important as it might seem. Big companies will have budgets per product/game/feature, but that’s mostly for tracking purposes and the like. The budget that controls things like headcount is per studio, because it carries over across multiple games/years/releases. If most employees are on salary — and if you are going to crunch they have to be, or else you get into trouble with overtime laws — then that’s already been determined for and accounted for each quarter and each year. At that level, you don’t care what people are working on or what gets released when, since no matter what you’re doing they are going to get paid and you know precisely what they are going to get paid. In short, you’ve already counted it no matter WHAT happens.

    But the big cost is actually lost revenue. You pretty much knew what you were going to pay everyone — things might go slightly up and down depending on various factors, but it will be close — and you were budgeting for your revenue to cover all of that. If the game gets delayed for a few months, then you don’t have that revenue. Sometimes you can rely on the revenue from other things to cover that off if the revenue comes in late, but if those things are falling off in their revenue and you don’t have something to replace that revenue, then you can’t pay your fixed costs. It might be reasonable to say that you’ll take a bit of lost revenue now to make more revenue later — to make an actual improvement that will drive more sales — especially if the other products aren’t falling off much, but simply delaying when you’ll get the same revenue means that you can’t pay those fixed costs that you were relying on the revenue to pay. This puts you in debt and you will have a hard time recovering.

    So now your advertising campaign is designed to hit maximum saturation in November, but the game isn’t going to appear on retail shelves until (say) the following March.

    Which also runs the risk of hyping people up to buy something that they can’t actually buy. If they aren’t following the dates that closely, they’ll go looking for it and can’t get it, which will annoy them and make them ask “Why are you advertising this thing I can’t buy?” Pre-release hype is bad enough …

    This is a big topic and I can’t do it justice here. If people are curious I can cover this in another video, but for now just humor me and accept that we can’t use Andrew Wilson’s stock to magically produce an extra $16 million dollars to spend on game development.

    One simple answer is this: the stock market runs on supply and demand. The less stock that is available, in general, the higher its price will go given that there is a demand for it. If you dump that much stock on the market, the supply will outstrip demand and, ultimately, it won’t be WORTH 16 million dollars at the end of it all.

    If you really want to hit these guys where it’ll hurt, ignore their five million dollar salaries and criticize the hundreds of millions in losses they inflict due to mismanagement, opportunity cost, lost sales, brain drain, bad press, and missed opportunities. The problem isn’t how much they make, it’s that they shouldn’t have the job in the first place.

    Tying back into my first point, companies in general work that way, but all they can do is track revenue and profit/loss. So a CEO that misses on revenue or profit forecasts will eventually get fired. But all this means is that they are already highly motivated to make sure that revenue never slips, which can, as you noted, lead to more crunch to make sure things ship when they were planned to.

    Another issue with punishing CEOs for this is that often they really didn’t have anything to do with it. Things happen. This year is probably the worst year to grumble about CEOs for things like this because no one could have anticipated what happened this year and even though most such companies could have workers work from home there was a hit in getting all of that set up and putting all the processes and technologies and infrastructure in place to do it, so things were going to be delayed. And as noted, some things DID slip and all that did was cause more problems for the customers, both with them not having access to games when they could actually play them and then with all of the games coming out when they didn’t, so them moving from having nothing to play and wishing that ANYTHING would come out to have too much to play and not being able to play them all.

    1. ivan says:

      It’s called a preorder. They’ve already normalised exactly what you said people would get angry with them over.

      1. Daimbert says:

        There’s a difference between ads for pre-orders and seeing an ad for something that you should be able to buy and then you can’t buy it. And there’s limited evidence that pre-order ads work for those people who don’t pay attention to the industry. Someone who is only vaguely paying attention might well think that they can buy it now, can’t, and will get annoyed at that. But at least doing it as a pre-order specifically avoids that.

        That being said, I get pre-order results in my Amazon searches much of the time. They irritate me, because I don’t do pre-orders. So empirical evidence DOES suggest there’s a difference between advertising a product and advertising a pre-order, since they are essentially different products and someone who wants a product may not be interested at all in a pre-order (but will likely forgive ads for pre-orders as serving a purpose, at least).

        1. Kyle Haight says:

          People also get royally ticked off when the thing they preordered doesn’t show up on time. There’s an internet shitstorm brewing right now about Cold Steel IV for exactly this reason.

          1. Daimbert says:

            I had issues with that myself because picking up Persona 5 Royale was delayed because I was supposed to get it right around the time the lockdowns started here. By the time I got it, I didn’t have the time to play it, and still have only played through the first dungeon despite having it for over 6 months (it’s turning into what happened with Persona 3: get it in the summer, and finally get around to playing it at Christmas [grin]). Also, for some people who haven’t paid the full amount for the pre-order, you now might have issues where you could have afforded it then but can’t afford it now. Ultimately, with pre-orders you plan for/on them, and if they get delayed you have to shuffle things around, and avoiding that was precisely why you pre-ordered in the first place.

    2. Joshua says:

      This year is probably the worst year to grumble about CEOs for things like this because no one could have anticipated what happened this year and even though most such companies could have workers work from home there was a hit in getting all of that set up and putting all the processes and technologies and infrastructure in place to do it, so things were going to be delayed.

      I got to hear so many people making snarky comments about how if people are expected to save enough money to cover six months of expenses, companies should do the same. One, expenses eat up most of revenues, and a healthy Return on Sales might be 10%. So, if a company’s revenues dropped to $0, it would take about 9 years worth of net income to cover that one year of lost revenue. (Warning, simplified accounting here) Most shareholders would be livid if the company just held on to that kind of working capital “just in case” for a variety of reasons, including plummeting ROE and opportunities for corporate Agency Problem. Second, having an unexpected setback like a medical emergency or loss of a job is far more likely than a profitable company’s market drying up nearly literally overnight (or in a matter of weeks). Even technological obsolescence doesn’t usually kill a company that quickly with no warning.

      1. Alan says:

        I’m not clear on your point comparing corporate versus personal savings. There are a hell of a lot of people for whom necessary expenses eat most of their inches, and for whom saving six months of expenses could represent years of saving.

        1. Fizban says:

          Indeed. Or to make it as clear as possible, the point is that while the six months savings advice originates from who knows actually where, it sure sounds like the kind of thing someone who makes far more money than they actually need would say. Which then royally pisses off people who are busting their asses just trying to stay out of the red. So when the powerful rich people who are presumed to say and think such things about normies, are suddenly whining about how the government needs to bail them out because their company has no savings, it’s effing hilarious.

          Even funnier when the “person saying it” probably couldn’t actually save the money themselves, since smug people with high paying jobs were usually backed by wealthy parents to cover the college and setup costs and being a 100% safe fallback even in the event of total failure, so their “six months savings” are actually alongside a huge pile of “debt” and securities which they may or may not ever pay off (or forward to their own kids). Meanwhile a normal person can be taking care of aged parents with no income even if they’ve avoided having children they know they can’t pay for.

          Hell, just being able to even work with your funds on a monthly level so you can save anything (around the monthly bills) in the first place, requires you to have a month or more of savings. I mention this whenever someone tells me they live paycheck to paycheck, because they only way they’ll ever get out of that is if they can get their (hopefully solvent) parents or someone to loan them a month’s worth so they can stop wobbling (maybe a bank would do that loan, but now instead of late bills you’re paying interest, great).

      2. Geebs says:

        Activision’s profit margin is more like 25%, so you’re talking closer to two years to cover 6 month’s expenses.

        Dunno whether that’s before or after tax breaks and subsidies, though.

        Also, what Alan said.

      3. Kyle Haight says:

        There’s also a good argument that if a company’s market has vanished it isn’t likely to come back. Having cash reserves to cover six months of expenses won’t help the buggy whip factory when people start buying cars.

        The current pandemic lockdown is an exception to that rule, but it’s also pretty much unique in modern history.

      4. Erik says:

        Your argument is weak and unpersuasive about the correct reserves for a company. Companies are not households, and should be judged on different standards.

        Your argument is strongly persuasive that shaming people who can’t have 6 months of cash on hand is complete BS, asking for something that is somewhere between impractical to impossible for the average household. I find that most times I hear that said, it’s being made to score argument points rather than actually being used as a serious position.

        1. Fizban says:

          Googling “source of the six month’s savings quote” gives me a bunch of hits that say it’s “Financial Planners” who say 3-6 months is the recommendation for emergency savings. So it’s probably well intentioned free advice, but being reminded of the fact that there are some people with so much money they can pay someone else to think about it, while such basic concepts and expectations as having more money than you need and saving some for an emergency are advice that needs to be given rather than an actual thing everybody has, just kinda piss me off more.

          Anyway, I was trying to agree on the point- yeah, I’m pretty sure the “six months savings rule” is mostly mentioned for argument points as well. People that have it have no need to mention it, and people who don’t will only bring it up as a weapon of ridicule against those who would shame them for it. Which doesn’t even require an active attempt, as the matter-of-fact way people who have it tend to state it when the topic does innocently come up, feels demeaning in and of itself. It only takes one instance of someone better off than you stating the impossible like it should be zero effort, to set that feeling firmly in place.

          1. WarlockOfOz says:

            Further to this, financial planning advice is almost by definition intended for people who have sufficient finances to be able to plan. So the ‘save 3-6 months’ thing is ‘since you’re already fairly wealthy, keep a little aside for emergencies so you don’t have to liquidate your investments at a bad time’ not ‘we expect average people to be able to do this’. Not saying it’s used appropriately!

  5. Lino says:

    Another great episode! My only criticism is mixing up Polish and American salaries. Uncle Google says that the median Polish programmer salary is USD 25,617, not USD 40,000 as your calculation assumes.

    Still, I love the approach you’ve taken, and your argumentation. I really hope the video gains traction (I’ll share it on as many subreddits as I can think of), and I hope even more that it helps to steer the conversation in a more rational direction. Ever since I can remember, it’s been waaaay too emotional. And in cases like these, emotions don’t really help much.

    1. Naota says:

      It’s also worth mentioning that 40k USD a year is very low as triple a game programmer salaries go. I’m no statistician, but word of mouth puts them at ~75k or higher (and also, as an entry-level designer I made about this much, so I can only assume the much rarer and more integral programmers are compensated better).

  6. bobbert says:

    I always love the ‘Business school with Shamus Young’ posts. Let’s learn about payroll and depreciation. :)

    1. SidheKnight says:

      I love them too.
      I’m glad I’m not the only weirdo who likes this stuff!

  7. Thomas says:

    I hope the video does well, this is probably going to be a hard sell for a lot of people, but I found the numbers very convincing. They were probably very much on the generous side even, when you consider just how much missing the Christmas market might cost (in CD Projekt’s case)

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Don’t forget that dislikes are also engagement according to the YouTube algorithm!

  8. Olivier FAURE says:

    Before you accuse me of being a greedy CEO type myself, I should point out that I’ve never been an executive of any kind and I’m definitely not rich. I was a programmer for most of my career, but these days I write for my Patrons. You can look at my Patreon and see exactly how much I make if you’re worried I’m some wealthy out-of-touch blueblood.

    Worse than that: you an executive apologist. When the people rise up and seizes the means of production, people like you and me will be first against the wall.

    (fortunately for the readership of this blog, an actual socialist uprising in western society still seems pretty remote, despite what you might read on twitter)

    1. Echo Tango says:

      He can disprove the corporate apologizing, if he just follows up by making that video on CEO salaries and incentives. ;)

  9. Randint says:

    There’s one additional point I can see that Shamus didn’t cover:

    Frankly, delays in game development probably aren’t the CEO’s fault, and definitely aren’t solely their fault.

    There are certainly things you can blame the CEO for. Wilson was responsible for putting lootboxes into a bunch of games. But other than big picture stuff like that (ie. game genre, target audience, broad concept) it’s not like he’s involved with every single design decision on the game, and delays are an issue that has more to do with the latter category than the former. If (since were using Wilson as an example) Battlefront II 2’s problem had been a delayed release, then the root cause would have probably been something like “The director or designer, or some team leader under them, underestimated how long it would take to model all of the level geometry for a team of their size, so some levels weren’t finished by the expected ship date” This kind of thing is something the CEO won’t hear about until it starts going wrong, or rather he’s going to have a distilled version like (“Gameplay will have 15 levels which we expect to provide players with 5 hours of single-player content. We expect our team to spend X man-hours modeling the environments, Y man-hours modeling enemies, the programming team will need Z man-hours to program the game logic, etc…”) at the beginning of the project.

    1. Abnaxis says:

      It’s not about fault, it’s about consequences.

      If a company goes bankrupt, I lose my job and get cut to (best case, in the US) 40% of my salary while I look for a new job which will probably have a pay cut since I won’t have seniority. Meanwhile, the CEO gets a hundred-million-dollar parachute to tide them over until the next job.

      Similarly, devs going through crunch get to work 60 hours for no extra pay, while the CEO doesn’t feel the consequences of the crunch. It’s not (necessarily) about blaming the CEO for the crunch, it’s about wanting the upper management to be stuck in the trenches like everyone else when the shit hits the fan.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        I’d rather have incentives that keep people out of shit-filled trenches.

        1. Abnaxis says:

          6 of one, half a dozen of the other…

      2. Erik says:

        When you’re head down in the trenches, the absolute last thing you want is some executive there with you, distracting everyone from getting their work done as they are pulled out to triage whatever shiny object is the latest issue the executive heard about. With extraordinarily rare exceptions, close supervision by executives is a major impediment to getting things done.

      3. Radkatsu says:

        What you don’t seem to realise is that part of the reason for executive salaries being so high is because they’re ALWAYS living in crunch, 24/7, full-time. CEOs and other execs are basically never off-duty, ever, even if they go to some nice country for a two week holiday, they’ll likely be fielding calls and emails and problems the whole time.

        Like Shamus, I’m not covering for them, and I think their salaries are too high even taking into account what I just said, but it’s important for people to actually understand the reality of a situation before commenting on it.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Speaking from the position of someone with a strictly second, if not third or further, hand knowledge of the corporate culture what you’re saying makes sense to a point. In the past Shamus (and others) talked a lot about CEOs not knowing enough about video games that they make bad mistakes but even a competent CEO can’t know everything about every single step of the process, not to mention there are things that simply cannot be predicted, some of which it’s impossible, or unreasonable, to have contingencies for. So yeah, I can see a situation where something happens that calls for emergency measures and I think with this we’d mostly argue about specifics.

      Except when it becomes standard practice. When it’s not even that measures beyond reason become a contingency (which would be bad enough in itself) but they are already included as part of the process and when something goes wrong there need to be extra measures on top of those. That’s on the the leadership and ultimately on the CEO.

    3. Mousazz says:

      This kind of thing is something the CEO won’t hear about until it starts going wrong

      I’d like to plug Bruce F. Webster’s blog post “The Thermocline of Truth”.

  10. notethecode says:

    If you pay someone $80k in cash, then you probably pay an additional $40k a year for liability coverage, unemployment insurance, health insurance, office space, supplies, and per-seat licensing costs for various tools.

    That depends on the country. For example here in France, that additional 50% would just covers employment taxes and mandatory healthcare and then you have to add the rest (additional healthcare, office space, supplies…).

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      Yeah, I had the same thing in mind. I think the cost of employment in France is closer to 2x-2.5x the net salary.

      I think the US is on the low end of that scale, and France on the high end. Most countries will probably be somewhere in-between.

      (and yes, the “is employment cost too high” question is extremely contentious, and basically the source of every political disagreement related to the economy in France)

      1. notethecode says:

        Regarding the “is employment cost too high” question, I think it’s bearable (well, I got a job), but it’d be less annoying if the state, with this high level of taxation, didn’t manage to increase the national debt each year. I’ve checked the results for 2019 and the state overspent by 28% (239 B€ revenue vs 336 B€ expenditures, figures from here) and the prevision for 2021 isn’t much better. I know that a lot of this money goes to useful/important/vital functions, but still.

        Though searching for figures on the national debt, I find it interesting that it’s expressed most of the time in total as a percentage of the PIB, but I couldn’t find by how much the state was overspending, compared to its budget, until I found the figures above.

        1. Fizban says:

          Percentages are both easier to comprehend, and also have less sticker shock than incomprehensible numbers, for one. I believe I’ve also heard that there’s some sort of chichanery where if the economy is growing fast enough that it can keep up with the interest payments on the debt it’s actually not considered a problem, or something, and that would be based on percentages of the total income vs total debt. You would probably be more qualified to put the pieces together than I.

      2. Erik says:

        As I recall from when I was last involved in setting up a new group, the 40% figure is the overhead cost charged back to the company from the division/group/department for things like space, power, and other infrastructure. It doesn’t include things like payroll taxes and benefits. With all that rolled in, it’s closer to 75-100% of salary, which is what individual consultants normally charge. (Setting up as a consultant, one should charge about twice the hourly rate of the salary for that specialty to make up for those costs.)

        Numbers from Silicon Valley, from a new group in a large corporation about 18 years back plus a consultancy and a couple of startups, the most recent about 5 years ago.

  11. Abnaxis says:

    As a boomer who has zero intention of becoming deeply involved in the collective dumpster fires that are social media, this article felt a bit like it’s setting up a straw man to me. I’ve been around this site long enough to take it on faith that there are some misguided hashtags that are trending or some other nonsense that I’m not attuned to, but a paragraph or two establishing more specifically who is making the points your are arguing against wouldn’t be amiss.

    1. Lino says:

      I think mainly the likes of Jim Sterling and Yong Yea. They’ve been saying this stuff for years. Or at least Jim Sterling was when I was following his stuff up to a year or two ago. Based on some of his latest video titles (and what I’ve gathered from fast-forwarding to the point he’s trying to make), it’s safe to say he’s still a hardly for that line of thinking.

      And although I’ve never followed Yong Yea, he’s also a big fan of this type of solution.

      1. Fizban says:

        Yeah, Jim’s been pretty indiscriminately hacking at CDPR about this crunch hit (and about hacking CEO pay vs profit-padding layoffs, but not as a solution for CDPR). On the one hand, Shamus has covered that on the surface this sounds like a perfectly reasonable crunch effort, which commenters (there and here) have pointed out can’t legally get anywhere near as bad as what we hear in the US. But on the other hand Jim has hinted that reports from insider sources says it’s way worse than they’re painting it.

        Presumably once the game’s out, if it has been that bad, we’ll get yet another expose on how bad it really was. I’m reserving judgement for now.

        1. ivan says:

          Indiscriminately? He did one video recently criticising them on it. Not even all that harshly, I describe his criticism of them as ‘tempered’ overall. In the past he’s also briefly mentioned it on a few occasions as something he either was suspicious about, or more recently that he knew about stuff that he mostly wasn’t prepared to address yet. Though I guess maybe you could stretch it out as far as saying he’s done *two* videos on CDPR’s now well-known crunch habits. That’s mild potatoes for him.

          Though, I suppose it’s possible I missed some stuff, I doubt it, but if you wanna link me to where he was being indiscriminate about it, feel free.

          1. Fizban says:

            Even before the current Cyberpunk thing he’d mentioned problems with Witcher 3 development multiple times- pretty sure “A Video About Playing Video Games From Terrible Companies” should have a mention of it as an example of a game people want to feel okay about playing even though it was made with crunch (which he’s been getting more zero tolerant of over time). And I think the Golden Axed vid might have mentioned it again after the dedicated CDPR vid, as the Golden Axe prototype was made by one person under horrible crunch conditions- so CDPR could have been mentioned again. Can’t say I feel like rewatching all that to check though.

            Indescriminate feels like the right conversational word though not entirely correct- what I was aiming at was how it feels like he’s gone from say tempered criticism, straight to zero-tolerance all of a sudden, pretty much in response to the Cyberpunk crunch. It’s kinda weird. But if the livestreams have taken the place of the non-Jimquisition rants that would have shown the buildup and thus aren’t on the youtube page, that would explain the lack of build up.

    2. Smosh says:

      Yep, that was my impression as well. Crunch and egregious executive pay are two problems that are neither directly linked, nor are they exclusive to the game industry. CEOs being paid utterly insane amounts is the result of our whole political systems failing to do what they are supposed to (making the world a better place), and instead doing what the rich and powerful want (making them even more pointlessly rich and powerful).

      Cutting Kotick’s pay won’t make crunch go away, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t overpaid. The fact that people link the two only tells us how big the ire is: People aren’t just angry at being overworked, but at being so obviously exploited. We humans can take a lot of shit thrown our way, but the last few decades have been so awful when it comes to inequality that part of the critics don’t even understand how or what they complain about, they just complain about everything.

      I know Shamus hates it when this is pointed out, but this is a political problem, not a gaming problem. Our laws for taxes and employee protection and wealth redistribution are in bad shape, and this is just one of many symptoms. I recommend to not write about politics if political comments are unwanted.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        For comparison, there are over a hundred NBA players with eight figure salaries, and that’s cash, none of this paying in stock nonsense. Having evaluated the necessary economic theory to rule out explanations centering on the supply and demand for top-tier basketball talent, I conclude that they are overpaid due to a sinister cabal of pro-basketball elites.

      2. Radkatsu says:

        “I recommend to not write about politics if political comments are unwanted.”

        As much as I love Shamus’s content, this is one thing that does bug me occasionally. When he did that series on Wolfenstein (New Colossus? The one before the awful trash that was Young Blood), he spoke about the issues in the game purely based on writing and development and the like, without getting into the ideological/political motivations behind the game, which were a HUGE component in why it was such a mess.

        If you don’t want to talk politics, fine (better than fine, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy Shamus’s content so much, it’s an oasis in a sea of tiresome political bullshit), but then you should probably think carefully about which games you want to tackle, and whether they have overt political issues driving their problems.

      3. Leviathan902 says:

        Funnily enough, it was actually the political system trying to correct the way CEOs were paid prior to the mid-90s that caused CEO pay to skyrocket the way it has.
        1) The tax code was changed by the Clinton administration in the mid 90s to cap the allowable deduction of cash-paid executive salaries at $1m USD
        2) Any executive salaries paid based on performance (like stock) could continue to be completely deducted.
        3) The national accounting standards at the time made it so that you didn’t have to report stock options paid as an expense. Therefore, paying your executives in stock options was essentially free, from an accounting perspective.

        Ergo, executives get insanely high salaries.

        Some of that has been corrected (stock options are no longer free) and recessions have driven attention to it, so executive salaries are actually down from where they were in the early 2000s, adjusting for inflation, but it’s still very high. How much is too much is entirely a matter of perspective.

        From an employee standpoint, it’s outrageously high. From an investor standpoint, it probably depends on a variety of factors (Executive to employee ratio, company valuation, performance, etc…). I do think the boards of EA or Activision rebelled against executive attempts to grant further bonuses somewhat recently. Can’t remember where I saw that.

    3. Ninety-Three says:

      This particular straw man was being argued in the comments of this very blog two weeks ago.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        …then it’s not a straw man. It’s a real man.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          That is the point I was making, yes.

        2. Retsam says:

          I think it’s worth pointing out, it could still be a “weak man” where it’s arguing against a real opinion, but not anywhere near the best way to make the case that the hypothetical opposing side could make. IMO, these sort of “weak man” arguments are a lot more common than actual bona fide “straw men” and a lot harder to recognize.

          Granted, I don’t think it’s really true in this case. (This sort of argument that “X problem could be solved by slashing billionaire salaries” is super common nowadays)

          1. Olivier FAURE says:

            Please no. Shamus already spends like half his articles steelmanning anyone he criticizes, let’s not make this worse by throwing around words like “weakman” or “steelman” or… wait a sec.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              Well, it could be that Shamus sees the problem as bigger that it is…which would be paper-tigering?

              You know who hates steelmanning? Iron Man…

              Incidentally, the guy who delivers my mail is terrible for bad arguments. Keeps coming up with terrible examples…still, he’s got better recently and put more effort into it.
              Which makes him a post-strawman postman, I guess…

              (Okay, I’ll stop now)

              1. Abnaxis says:

                We need a Stainless Steel man, otherwise Spoonman will get all rusty. Then how will he come together with his hands?

                1. Gautsu says:

                  With Saladfingers help. Rusty spoons are kind of his thing

    4. Steve C says:

      I’ve heard the argument here, in game reporting circles and it always sounded like a reasonable suggestion to me. Shamus convinced me otherwise. However the real proof that it is not a strawman is that Nintendo actually did it.

      Nintendo very publicly reduced exec salaries recently. I’ve also heard it being done in businesses operating in other sectors outside of gaming. Though those stories are far less sensationalized. There is a PR stunt aspect with what Nintendo did. Others did it for more practical reasons. For example Sears’ exec took a 90% pay cut.

      It is a real thing that happens. Not a strawman.

    5. Syal says:

      Whenever you think an argument looks like a straw man, remember that straws have been banned in six states.

    6. etheric42 says:

      I have a friend who runs his own small retail business. Executive salary is basically his salary.

      He pretty much always says companies taking losses / increasing costs should be taken out of executive salary.

      I’m not sure if he says that because since he’s both executive and equity holder he’s conflating the two or if this is purely through arguments received from other sources (he listens podcasts put out by groups who you would imagine make these kinds of arguments)

  12. MerryWeathers says:

    In 2019, joint CEO of CD Projekt RED Marcin Iwiíski made z?5.7 million (Zloty). That works out to 1.5 million USD. This discussion began by asserting that a CEO wouldn’t even miss a pay cut of a few million dollars, but even if we took EVERYTHING from Iwiíski and made him work entirely for free for the entire year, his salary would be gone after just two additional months of development time for Cyberpunk 2077.

    I once saw a pic in Reddit showing Marcin Iwiíski throughout the years in CD Projekt Red and you can clearly see game after game, he looks as if he has aged thirty years after each one with jokes being thrown around in the comments about how he’ll be mummified alive by the time the Witcher 4 launches.

  13. Mephane says:

    Sure, cut Kotick’s pay. You can even fire him. Into the Sun.

    Fun fact: it is extremely hard to fire anything into the sun, because you’d need to cancel out the orbital speed of the Earth, about 30 kilometers per second, which any spaceship launched from Earth inherits. In fact it would require less than half the energy to just shoot him out of the solar system altogether.

    1. Lino says:

      Still worth, in my opinion! If we launch him out of the solar system, he might get picked up by some alien race, and then he’ll infect them with lootboxes! Humanity may be a lost cause, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn doom other species too!

    2. Zak McKracken says:

      Not *that* difficult: You do a Moon swing-by which converts the angular momentum into straight-up, sun-wards velocity.

      You have to aim precisely, of course, but there have been interplanetary missions which did a round or two of counter-rotation, so this is completely doable.

      1. bubba0077 says:

        Shooting something into the sun is hard. Shoot them into deep space instead.

        1. Kyle Johansen says:

          We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

    3. Syal says:

      Well, if you put him on a raised platform with the sun behind him, and then shoot him, I think that counts as shooting him into the sun.

  14. Tektotherriggen says:

    Surely you still are Young?

    1. BlueHorus says:

      You shouldn’t make such jokes…this kind of humour will Shamus all…

      1. SidheKnight says:

        This site needs a thumbs up button, for both of your comments.

  15. Andrew says:

    I’ve only ever heard about executive salary reductions suggested as preferable mass layoffs.

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard that point a lot in threads about the Mozilla layoffs.

      I don’t think it really scales (you basically have to reduce every executive’s salary to zero to save a few dozen jobs, and there’s nothing stopping them from fucking off and looking for a job paying market rates, at which point you’re kind of screwed), but it would be nice to have some guarantees that layoffs have a hard impact on the bottom line of decision makers.

      (though my understanding is that’s the point of paying them in stocks)

      1. Steve C says:

        Well, the other thing stopping it is that it is literally illegal to break employment contracts like that.

      2. RFS-81 says:

        I don’t think Mozilla can pull itself out of its death spiral (I hope they prove me wrong!), but increasing the CEO’s salary while usage is dropping seems like the opposite of helping.

      3. Radkatsu says:

        “though my understanding is that’s the point of paying them in stocks”

        Yeah, meaning that a better performing company = better benefits for the CEO. Sounds good, until you realise the sort of behaviour that this incentivises which then leads into the new problem: ‘better performing company’ just means MAKING MORE MONEY, regardless of methods or longevity. So you get CEOs coming up with utter garbage, anti-consumer bullshit like lootboxes in order for the company to ‘perform better’, thereby increasing the CEOs own compensation.

        At the end of the day, they know they’ll get a golden parachute and a ton of extra money while they’re at the company as long as the short-term profits keep going up. Most CEOs of big corporations/companies basically just run it into the ground with short-term profit making, then jump ship before the company explodes, then find a new company to infect. Rinse and repeat.

        1. tremor3358 says:

          Don’t forget the way incentives get tied to stock price push short term planning, overly optimistic debt loads, lack of reinvestment in tool development…

  16. Ninety-Three says:

    When you’ve got dozens of games in production and you’re spending billions on development and marketing, that five million you’re paying the boss just does not matter from an accounting standpoint, even if it personally offends you.

    I am not convinced that executive salaries are out of control, but if they are, this is almost certainly why. Paying your CEO twice as much he’s worth isn’t even a blip on the company’s balance sheet: they’re probably spending too much on janitorial services too, but no one cares because even if you could magically cut that spending to zero it wouldn’t save you real money.

    Calling for a cut to executive salaries just reinforces the notion that consumers are economically illiterate and unreasonable, and that we should be ignored.

    Aren’t they, though?

  17. Alan says:

    More than $100M of EA’s stock is traded every day. Dumping $16M into the market would likely cause some depression in price, but it’s hardly impossible.

  18. Sardonic says:

    I love it when you tackle business topics like this, Shamus. It’s so important to get the facts straight so that arguments made for/against a certain practice are well grounded. For future business-related videos, you might consider reading up on this tubmlr blog called “askagamedev” (ask a game dev). They cover a lot of business topics and misconceptions, and they’re clearly very experienced with dealing with them first-hand. It might be a good place to go digging for research on businessy game dev topics.

    1. eldomtom2 says:

      I always had a suspicion that askagamedev was an industry shill.

      1. pseudonym says:

        Yeah, I heard game developers are paid by the game industry! That proves they are shills!

  19. Benderson says:

    I know it’s kind of become one of your Things(TM) to try to tenderize your audience when you believe you’re going to be arguing an unpopular perspective… but I think you could avoid some of the risk of accidental moves like “I was young once” by skipping the tenderizing. You’re established and respected (or, as you put it, old and wise!) and you don’t have to pre-defend every unusual opinion you post.

    Maybe it’s part of making the title of the video clickbait-y to refute a popular opinion in it. (Is this really a popular opinion, that executive salary draws could somehow solve crunch? I must not be reading the same corners of the internet.) Anyway, even if you need to dissent in the title to outrage viewers and get clicks (I think this is a real strategy, if it’s not yours I apologize for any offense), I don’t think you actually have to start out by defending your dissent.

  20. Dennis says:

    CDPR just announced Cyberpunk is delayed again, now to December 10th.

    https://twitter.com/CyberpunkGame/status/1321128432370176002

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Haha! Shamus has got to stop talking about CP2077. Seems like it’s delayed every time he mentions it.

    2. DeadlyDark says:

      Shamus videos never were as timely

    3. Ninety-Three says:

      The good news is that the delays seem to be getting shorter each time. Projecting the current trend forward, either the game launches on Jan 1 2021, or Xeno’s paradox is real and the game can never be released due to the difficulty of overcoming an infinite series of ever-diminishing delays.

  21. WildPants says:

    Overall, I found this video insulting – – like, actually insulting, as in seemingly designed to provoke personal offense – – and poorly-argued.

    According to the text in the blog post, you’re aware of some of the problems (casting people who disagree with you as immature, inexperienced, and irrational). But I think the bigger problem that leads to both offense and makes this video pointless is this: the entire video exists to rebut a caricature of an argument rather than a real argument.

    1) The entire framing of the video suggests that you are rebutting a common, flawed belief. You present no examples of this argument. This would perhaps fly if the argument was so familiar that any viewer is likely to recognize it… But I’m not sure I’ve ever heard this argument actually advanced, except maybe in downvoted reddit replies and trollish Twitter hot takes. By omitting any actual examples, you give the appearance that you are arguing against your imagined opponents rather than any actual person.

    2) The argument that you are responding to is laughably weak, but superficially resembles real arguments made by people like Jim Sterling. Whatever your intent, this caused me to read this video as basically a strawman takedown of arguments like Jim’s, which makes it rather personally insulting since I share his basic critiques — so it feels like you’re caricaturing *my* position to make *me* look simple and irrational, even though you’ve never met me.

    3) The ending of the video in particular feels egregious, because it implies that people who criticize executive pay are not also critics of mismanagement. This is… not common in my experience. How many people are out there saying that Andrew Wilson is overpaid but also doing an incredible job, just crushing it, keep this man in his position but pay him a quarter as much? Like any argument I’m sure you can find some weirdo advancing it, but, c’mon.

    4) To be honest, I feel like the video’s core arguments are weak at almost every turn, but the argument itself feels so unnecessary that I’m not sure it’s worth picking it apart. You’re arguing against almost nobody, then using the weakest possible version of that nobody’s argument, and then you’re still not proving your case beyond the depth of a really long-winded Twitter dunk. WTF?

    1. Shamus says:

      I’m not sure how you’re feeling insulted if I’m not rebutting your position. Like, either this video is addressing your argument and you feel attacked, or it’s addressing some other argument and it has nothing to do with your position.

      As for WHO is making these arguments? Man, I see this all the time in YouTube comments, Reddit comments, and comments on my blog. And they’re not downvoted trolls, they’ve usually got a few “I agree” comments attached to them. It’s not an unusual position.

      As for WHY I’d bother rebutting this position you don’t have? I plan on doing a few videos on this topic, and I needed to get this out of the way first. If I just started with video #2, then I’d get a bunch of people rolling their eyes and saying the OBVIOUS solution is to cut executive salaries or let the game slip.

      Also, I took this time to lay some groundwork for future videos. For example: I explained to people why letting a ship date slip is REALLY expensive. Again, this heads off casual dismissals and helps steer people away from simple answers to complex problems. It also saves me from needing to make a single massive video that scares people away with a daunting runtime.

      1. WildPants says:

        ‘I’m not sure how you’re feeling insulted if I’m not rebutting your position.’

        Because it feels like a caricature of my actual position, except dumbed-down to make “me” look like I don’t have to be taken seriously because my opinions are easily disproven.

        (“Me” in quotes because I know that you’re not literally talking about me as an individual, but instead about a group to which I belong.)

        I’m sure you can think of a time where your opinions on something were caricatured to the point of inaccuracy in order to make you seem dumb. Did you feel insulted? That’s how I felt, watching this video.

        ‘As for WHO is making these arguments? Man, I see this all the time in YouTube comments, Reddit comments, and comments on my blog. And they’re not downvoted trolls, they’ve usually got a few “I agree” comments attached to them. It’s not an unusual position. ‘

        Look, if you want to make long-form videos to dunk on incorrect people in your comments, fine, but don’t expect anyone who isn’t in those same comment sections to understand what you’re doing.

        I follow a number of gaming personalities on YouTube and Twitter, read gaming news sites, and occasionally (but not often) dip my toes into gaming subreddits, and I don’t recall ever seeing someone make the argument that this video is rebutting.

        I don’t think the argument is as common as you think it is. Other people in this same comment section have voiced similar sentiments, and they’re literally in the comments section of your website.

        If you make a response video and don’t make clear who you’re responding to, people will fill in the blanks themselves and will sometimes get it wrong. Again, other people in this same comment section have come to their own conclusions, apparently incorrectly.

        ‘I plan on doing a few videos on this topic, and I needed to get this out of the way first.’

        I hope you’ll take some of this feedback into consideration, then. I subscribe to your YouTube channel and I think this is the first time one of your videos actually made me angry.

        1. Shamus says:

          “I’m sure you can think of a time where your opinions on something were caricatured to the point of inaccuracy in order to make you seem dumb. Did you feel insulted? That’s how I felt, watching this video.”

          I technically don’t feel insulted in these cases, but I do experience other unhelpful / unproductive emotions. So it’s basically the same thing. I get where you’re coming from now. Thanks.

          1. Steve C says:

            WordPress ate my comment. :-( Could you fish it out for me please?

            1. Shamus says:

              Is it the one about Nintendo with several citations? I got that one, should be visible now. Let me know if you’re still missing something.

        2. Radkatsu says:

          “(“Me” in quotes because I know that you’re not literally talking about me as an individual, but instead about a group to which I belong.)”

          A little something to consider: if you feel personally insulted by something like this, then perhaps it’s YOUR position that’s flawed, not the person doing the arguing against it. In general, the people I see who get most offended/insulted in this way are the ones who haven’t properly formulated their own beliefs and arguments, and the reason they get offended is because the person doing the arguing made them realise how shaky their own position is.

          Not saying that’s you in particular, though. Just putting a different perspective out there that few people tend to consider when they’re busy getting offended over something.

          1. Syal says:

            I’ll get offended when someone says a wrong thing in a counterargument, and then progressively more offended every time they base another thing on that wrong thing. Like that Starcraft AI rant where the guy kept repeating that no human could have that many actions per minute, even though the previous human player had hit double that. It starts feeling malicious pretty quick, like they’re just out to trick gullible people who won’t fact check. And swaths of them are doing exactly that. (Like the Starcraft ranter, who after a dozen “this is impossible”s, finally admitted the human got a higher APM but then pretended it didn’t count. (Seriously, I can’t believe folks linked that, it was such bad faith.))

          2. stratigo says:

            strawman arguments are one of the most basic basis of debate, and are often constructed in a way to insult or aggravate the people they are about.

            So, uh, no, if you feel insulted, it usually isn’t you in the wrong.

      2. Zak McKracken says:

        Observations from my end:
        1: Maybe some people read the headline and already go into panicked Belief Defense Mode because they sense another one of those “greed is good and we should pay them more” things. I’ve heard some of those, and I suppose there would be a critical amount which could make a person trigger very easily.

        2: While I find nothing to disagree in the post (didn’t watch the video version), I think it would indeed help to cite the source (or a few of them) for the argument which you’re contradicting. It helps establish whose opinion you’re referring to, allows readers to confirm that you’re not setting up something to use as ammunition against similar but more reasonable positions (which I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t, but it’s nice to see the “target” labelled), and lastly it helps make sure you’re not misrepresenting/misunderstanding somebody else’s argument.

        1. Benderson says:

          I agree with these suggestions. Or, just don’t come in trying to set up the video/article as an argument at all. Present your thinking not as a rebuttal but as your own independent remarks.

          Unless the rebuttal format is an effort to please the algorithm, in which case, oof, I get it, but it’s hard to listen to you argue with someone who doesn’t exist but probably stands in for someone you’re way oversimplifying.

          1. SidheKnight says:

            While I agree that showing examples would help to dispel the idea that Shamus is arguing with a strawman (or a weakman), I can think a few reasons why Shamus wouldn’t want to do that:

            1) It could make the person whose argument is used as an example become a target of dogpiling, even if Shamus would never want that, and would ask his (rather reasonable and mature by online standards) audience to not do that, there’s always some crazies out there.

            2) It would make it look too personal, perhaps, even if it isn’t. More about people than ideas. Someone will watch the video and think “Shamus Young DESTROYED [Internet rando] with FACTS and LOGIC!”

      3. Radkatsu says:

        Personally, I prefer longform videos that really get into the nitty-gritty.

        *Glances at the Youtubers he follows, including NeverKnowsBest, AccursedFarms, The Salt Factory, Mauler, and others, all of whom routinely put out long videos*

        Yeah… apparently I have a predilection for Long Man type videos :)

    2. Steve C says:

      @WildPants, Nintendo slashed exec pay in 2011. Then they did it again in 2014. The reasons stated were for the reasons Shamus lays out in his video. (But really a PR stunt. Nintendo execs make a fraction of execs like Wilson.) Nintendo is far from the only company to do this. Sears took a similar action before it went under. It is a really common thing to happen.

      https://www.wired.com/2011/07/nintendo-satoru-iwata-pay-cut/
      https://www.bbc.com/news/business-25941070
      https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52182153

      It is not merely an argument that is advanced. It is an argument that is generally accepted and carried out. @WildPants regardless if you find it believable or not, it is literally a thing that happens.

    3. Redrock says:

      I like how you use the words “Jim Sterling” and “real arguments” in the same sentence. And before you descend upon me in righteous anger, just let me say that I’ve been a fan of Jim’s work for a long time, which doesn’t mean anyone should ignore the fact that the man has grown increasingly absolutist in his reasoning over the years. All in all, this whole debate here seems like the console wars’ ugly stepchild – a “social media personality war”, if you will. Seems mighty unproductive to me, all things considered.

      1. Radkatsu says:

        Let’s be fair here, it’s also kind of amusing that you just used “absolutist” and “reasoning” in the same sentence :)

        1. Redrock says:

          I mean, I assume that drawing logical inferences from an absolutist starting maxim is still “reasoning”, strictly speaking. A zealot’s logic is still a type of logic at its core, it’s the initial assumptions, the axioms that are the problem. But, yeah, I can see your point.

      2. stratigo says:

        Jim sterling has real arguments.

        You just disagree with him and he’s very theatrical in presenting them.

        We pay the richest people too much and tax them too little. That’s just a thing. Amazon often pays no taxes at all. The American president spent years paying no taxes. How the heck is the system supposed to work if the rich and businesses can just not actually pay taxes? They have almost all the money, the rest of us can’t shoulder the burden.

        Unless you think the rich shouldn’t pay taxes, then the current situation needs redress.

        1. Redrock says:

          I’m not really talking about the general political approach to taxation and wealth redistribution here. I’m talking specifically about the way certain people, like Jim, discuss the underlying causes of various issues in the videogame industry. And in the years that he has spent flying solo Jim’s arguments basically devolved to “every problem in videogames is because corporate execs are greedy stupid monsters and also here’s the bodily fluid-based insult of the day”. Those aren’t “real” arguments, they are a more hip variation of “old man yells at cloud” – “young(ish) man yells at corporate HQ skyscraper”. Execs may very well be evil, greedy and stupid, but that’s just a small part of a bigger, systemic problem.

  22. Simplex says:

    “Marcin Iwiíski”
    As a native Pole, I can offer correct spelling – Marcin Iwi?ski.
    EDIT: weird, polish diacritical character is converted to “?”. Is your page using UTF-8/Unicode?

    Also, salaries in Poland are much lower than in the states, and CDPR was infamous for its low salaries at one point (it even got review bombed on glassdoor for that). I recommend this great writeup by ex-CDPR dev, where he discloses how much (or how little) he earned. I think you will find it a fascinating read:
    https://mystartupfails.notecompanion.com/

    Here’s a teaser:
    “I now cumulate the duties of:
    Senior Designer
    A.I and System Team Coordinator
    Strike Team Lead.
    My salary? 2100 euros before taxes. 100 euros more than when I was a Junior.”

    After taxes it would be less than 1500 euros, which is less than 1800 US dollars.
    Of course that was a few years ago, so hopefully the situation improved.

    1. Shamus says:

      As far as I can tell (and as far as I understand how this works) the page is using the proper encoding. However, something WITHIN WordPress mangles special characters. To get the proper characters for Iwiíski, I had to manually look up codes for the non-English characters. In the post text, it looks like:

      Iwiíski

      Which is a pain in the ass. :(

      I have no idea how to fix this. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear it.

      1. Zagzag says:

        I watched the video to see whether you tried to pronounce his name, and what’s weird is that you have the name spelled correctly in the video, but not in the article text. Here (and in your comment, even) you’ve got an accented “i” character, but the name should be “Iwinski” (with the accent on the “n”) as you’ve got it in the video. Is this a side effect of a Shamus written article and an Isaac produced video? I would assume that’s what Simplex was getting at above.

        The pronunciation in the clip you found isn’t that bad. A better approximation for an English speaker would probably be “Mar-chin ee-vine-ski”.

        1. Shamus says:

          It’s an artifact of me copy-pasting the name and WordPress destroying the characters, and then I apparently replaced the wrong one somehow???

          This job is too difficult for me.

          1. Simplex says:

            I wonder if WordPress will mangle this wikipedia url

            https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcin_Iwi%C5%84ski

      2. Sord says:

        I’d look at what the site’s database is using for a character set. It was probably originally created with something pre-UTF-8 and has carried that forward through any upgrades.

  23. tmtvl says:

    I made a mistake. I looked at the Youtube comments. I promise never to do that again. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go look for my safety blanket.

    1. Retsam says:

      Honestly, not as bad as I expected. Especially for a Youtube video taking an against the grain opinion on a heated issue.

      A lot of overlap between the points being made there and here. I’d actually characterize it as basically the same discussion as here, except without the weird digression on Marvel movies, worse grammar and a higher-than-here-but-below-average-for-youtube percentage of jerks.

    2. Radkatsu says:

      Comments are normally a shitshow, the real measure is the like/dislike ratio, which is very positive (currently ~900 up and ~100 down).

  24. Gautsu says:

    And on an unrelated note Cyberpunk 2077 got pushed back 3 more weeks after you publish THIS piece, Shamus. Thanks man :)

  25. Cilba Greenbraid says:

    Hoo boy.

    To the extent controversy = clicks, the title alone cinches that this will be your most successful video ever.

    You are bullseye correct as to why CEO pay is not what’s causing Eternal Crunch (shame most of the clickers won’t get nearly far enough in the video to become educated about it, but then, they don’t want to be). But executive pay very much is The Problem societally–so six days before U.S. Election Day in a political atmosphere that’s near the cliff’s edge of civil war is the absolutely optimal time for this particular title on a video, if your two goals are to maximize the clicks and to minimize the number of people who actually listen to your logical argument.

    You magnificent bastard!

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      History will judge I suppose. But your read doesn’t look particularly probable at this point.

      1. Mousazz says:

        I agree. I doubt the video will reach quintuple digits any time soon. Except for “Bethesda NEVER Understood Fallout”, most of Shamus’s videos don’t seem to get much engagement.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but wasn’t that also the one he specifically asked folks to share on Reddit? I remember someone in the comments saying they had, and I thought all the TDI videos got a boost in views shortly thereafter.

          1. Shamus says:

            I should probably ask people to do that more often.

            Ugh. Social media sucks.

            1. Nimrandir says:

              I agree on social media. I logged into my Facebook account for the first time since my birthday just so I could cheer over the World Series.

              On the bright side — your video this week has more views than everything on my entire channel. 147 videos, and my count is barely breaking 600. Mock me if it helps!

              1. tmtvl says:

                Do you make mathematics videos? I always like some nice educational content.

                1. Nimrandir says:

                  The videos are about my general education math classes. As to whether they’re nice . . . they’re basically me at a whiteboard, recorded with a Windows 7 webcam. I regularly reference stuff I’ve posted in our Moodle courses, so the Internet at large is unlikely to love them. My complaint is more that my view counts are less than half of my class rosters.

                  If you’re curious, look up “MHU mathematics.” The finite math videos are probably the easiest to follow without the Moodle files.

            2. Lino says:

              For what it’s worth, I tried to share this on r/games, but it said it had already been posted. I also shared it on r/jimsterling, where it only got 6 upvotes. I couldn’t think of any other subreddits to share it to.

              Interestingly, all the comments were saying that no one makes the argument you’re refuting. Which I find extremely weird. I guess next time you have to outright spell it out for people.

              1. Radkatsu says:

                “all the comments were saying that no one makes the argument you’re refuting”

                Clearly they’ve never read through the comments on Youtube then. It’s pretty common to see people saying things to this effect on any video about crunch.

              2. LoneLizardT says:

                So no one would mind if I tweet this at the man himself?
                Cause the start of the video definitely invokes a Sterling kind of vibe, if only with less costumes.

        2. Radkatsu says:

          Does Shamus monetise them? Because Youtube’s garbage algorithms tend to suppress videos that aren’t monetised (obviously, as content like that doesn’t make them money). They also prefer regular uploads of a particular length, so Shamus is doubly buggered.

          There are other aspects that also don’t help, and which a lot of people are unaware of. For example, putting lots of links into the description that take people away from Youtube, or using a Patreon link (again, taking people away from YT) in an endcard. Those’ll drop your visibility as well because the Mighty Algorithm wants people to stay on Youtube.

          Of course, this only applies to regular creators. Corporate media automatically gets a maxed P-score and none of the usual issues others have to deal with. Gotta love that corporate nepotism.

  26. Mark says:

    Well, I just learned that Cyberpunk 2077 has now been delayed until December, so I guess there’s that.

  27. Zak McKracken says:

    The problem is not CEO salaries — CEO salaries are the symptom.

    In a large company, the pay is an indicator of the “levarage” a person has, and the importance which “the system” gives to them. “The system” in this case being a very vague umbrella term for the aggregated outcomes of personal views, business and decision-making processes, influence … and all that stuff. A company is not a person, but if it was a person, then it would certainly believe that the CEO is really really important.

    Now, there are multiple studies and such which confirm that actually a CEO has fairly little impact on the performance of a company, so while some people may believe they’re getting so much money because they’re extremely competent in the field which the company operates in, that’s not really the case. I’ve read several sociological (pop-sci) pieces which claim that really nobody is actually competent at making those highest-level business decisions, because they’re made on incredibly incomplete information, and need to be made in very short time. But if you don’t make those decisions, you’re worse off than tossing a coin. So you put some guy on the chair, do whatever they say and pay them handsomely to underscore that you’re really really trusting their decisions — they’re a figurehead. The most important quality in this regard is the ability, when a decision has been made, to get everybody behind it and pulling in the same direction.

    That interpretation actually looks pretty realistic to me, given what crazy directions Bobby Kotick and his ilk are making the gaming industry move in… I do think that CEO who also understand the product *can* impart a big improvement on the company, but it seems that most large companies don’t seem to follow that view, as evidenced by the choice of some of the recent CEO appointments in the sector.

    Now, if CEO pay is a symptom (and developer crunchtime is another), then where could a solution come from? Very good question, and I suggest you go and start a company if you have the answer. I don’t quite know, but I think the relative value assigned to the CEO and to the developers would need to shift. If developers were valued more, then that would reflect partially in their salary, but potentially more in their working conditions. If you value developers, you’ll try to keep them happy and content. Crunch may not always be avoidable, but you could decide to pay them extra for overtime hours when it happens. You could change the planning process to contain a bit more safety (which won’t remove the risk of crunch, just reduce it), or offer compensatory holidays after the game is released, or something on that order. But for that to happen, the power balance within the company would have to be different. Now, we just need to figure out how to do that …

  28. PhoenixUltima says:

    Totally unrelated to the article, but a few months back I got a box of Cap’n Crunch because I was in the mood for some, and… it’s awful now. There’s almost no sweetness to it at all, like it’s some bullshit sugar-free healthy knock-off or something. The same thing happened to Butterfingers a while back. Why do they gotta mess with the classics?

    1. Syal says:

      Crunch is bitter that he’s been doing this 55 years and still hasn’t made Admiral.

      1. RFS-81 says:

        55 years of crunch should not be legal. Sorry for getting all political.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Term limits for children’s breakfast cereal mascots!

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Damn straight! Lieutenant Munch has been waiting to inherit that mascot position for decades now.

          2. RFS-81 says:

            Term limits? The joke I was going for was that his bosses had Cap’n Crunch crunching for 55 years straight.

            1. Syal says:

              Democracy is three wolves and a sheep making jokes about Captain Crunch.

  29. Decius says:

    The CEO does take a pay cut when the product is delayed, because they get so much stock and stock options- their pay is very, very directly tied to corporate performance on the stock market.

    That said, spending 2-3 times as much on development and spending less on marketing could very well be a better choice, but only if spending more on development resulting in better products.

  30. Mr. Wolf says:

    I used to say things like “I was young once too”, but then I grew out of it.

    1. Shamus says:

      “I was middle-aged once too.”

  31. Radkatsu says:

    Shamus: on your aside at the start, it’s generally accepted Youtube practice that if you say something in the video that needs further clarification for whatever reason, you add a comment and then pin it. That way people can see your reasoning and respond directly :)

  32. Mike P. says:

    While this article is quite well thought out, it misses the real point in my book.

    While yes, you can’t magically fund studios or whatever by making CEOs take a pay hit, the real problem is that CEOs never seem to suffer for their failures. Everything went great and we make a hundred zillion dollars? I’m giving myself a double bonus! Everything went wrong and we had to ship late and close studios? My bonus stays at a mere 5 million dollars! Woe is me!

    There is this bizarre cult around executives that seems to hold them singlehandedly responsible for all their company’s successes, yet rarely gives them a scrap of culpability, nevermind consequence, for their company’s failures. Even on the rare occasions where they do get “laid off’ (CEOs are never “laid off”) they walk away with a massive golden parachute. When was the last time one of these companies gave a random dev they fired for no fault of their own 1.5 years of salary as a parting gift?

    This is the sort of thing that I see that makes me mad about CEOs and their pay.

    1. Radkatsu says:

      “There is this bizarre cult around executives that seems to hold them singlehandedly responsible for all their company’s successes, yet rarely gives them a scrap of culpability”

      This isn’t a CEO thing, it’s a human nature thing. You can see examples of the personalise gain, socialise loss mindset all around you. For example, in sports where you’ll hear someone say ‘my team won’, but the next week it’s ‘our team lost’.

      1. LoneLizardT says:

        Maybe it’s just me but I’m a little exasperated when someone says it’s a human nature thing without, at minimum, examining the culture thing before it.

    2. Leviathan902 says:

      I don’t think this is strictly true. CEOs are fired all the time. The problem is how you determine success. As you said, if everything goes great and you make a zillion dollars. Bonus. Everything went wrong, games shipped late, studios were closed? What was the company profit? Did they make a zillion-minus-10-dollars? Yeah, still getting a bonus. Lost a billion dollars? Probably not, or at least not getting any extra bonus that wasn’t contractually obligated.

      The problem is that the market isn’t penalizing for bad behavior. Activision can crank out shitty of call of duty multiplayer rehashes and make a billion dollars. EA can crank out glorified roster updates for the same sport game every year and make a billion dollars. EA and Actvision never seem to lose money, their profits are always going up. So all this bad behvior (closing studios, layoffs, etc..) just don’t end up mattering investors. And since the majority of CEO pay is in stock options, well, they don’t get affected, and they will continued to be unaffected until the market catches up with them.

      From an investor’s standpoint, Bobby Kotprick and Android Wilson are doing a bang-up job.

  33. Esteban says:

    Yes, there isn’t a “one fits all” solution to this kind of problems. The amount of money of marketing is staggering… do the little guys expend as much as dev. cost in their marketing campaigns?

  34. Studoku says:

    Nobody’s accusing you of being a greedy CEO- I’m accusing you of being a bootlicker.

    I don’t even need to read the rest of the article, it’ll be about you licking boots. I’m going to do so anyway to prove it.

    1. Shamus says:

      “I’m going to call you names now and THEN I’ll read the article and prove it.”

      Don’t be childish.

  35. stratigo says:

    As an aside, Shamus, this is politics.

    I dunno if you are willing to accept that, but executive pay and business practices are political questions. You can’t have posts like this and avoid politics. You are wading into the muck right now with, well, kind of cold takes argued over by people with specialties, degrees, and studies about these sort of things to offer your layman opinion with a no politics fig leaf.

    You’re addressing arguments that I’m not sure you fully understand, communicated by people in like… youtube comments and tweets. Which is a terrible place to start wading into a political discussion about issues of business management, executive pay, and the problems of unrestricted profit seeking (eg capitalism) on businesses.

    1. Shamus says:

      Did you read the article?

      Yes, executive pay / taxation is indeed politics. However, I very carefully framed the debate as “Regardless of whether or not people should get paid this much, this pay is not the cause of crunch / studio closures /etc.” I even repeated this a few times,at the start and end of the article.

      You can argue with me on the math when I say that executive pay is at least an order of magnitude smaller than the cost to miss a ship date late in production, but the question of “Is this pay moral?” isn’t part of the discussion. I know you WANT to have that discussion. It’s obviously enormously important to you. But there are lots of people who will gladly argue about this with you until your keyboards wear out. Feel free to find one of those people and have at them.

      In fact, I leaned in your direction a bit when I said that “You can’t use the first problem to fix the second.” My argument specifically allows that executive salaries are a problem. It’s just not the problem we’re trying to solve right now.

  36. ShimadaHaruka says:

    While not a full solution, I think that if people shared ownership over the companies they worked for it would mitigate these problems significantly. It wouldn’t prevent crunch but at least people could decide collectively to use crunch when necessary for the good of the company, their co-workers, and themselves. There are many ways to implement this and I don’t want to go into the details because then people will just want to pick apart specific issues rather than consider the general overall idea.

    The injustice here is not CEOs specifically, it’s that you can make a lot more money by owning a company than you can make by actually doing the work. At least a CEO is doing an actual job that is a crucial part of a business. Any solution that doesn’t involve employee ownership is a temporary solution at best. What’s good for maximizing the wealth of the owners is not always what’s best for the employees.

    There is a lot more that could be said about this but hopefully I got some of the point across. I find people are usually fairly receptive to the idea of worker owned businesses as long as you don’t use the S word.

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