One of the most common concerns that I see as of late in relation to Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 is simple: “if we boycott, wouldn’t that be putting the hundreds of hours of labor done for this game to waste?”. To that I simply say: no. Let me explain why. For those wondering why talks of boycott over Red Dead Redemption 2 are even happening, to summarize the controversy: the production showed signs of sloppy management from the time it was announced and showed itself with “crunch hours” that kept some senior staffers at the office to crunch in 100 hour work weeks to finish. What made this more upsetting for many was how this was used as a marketing ploy to highlight dedication. The issue with this is that it is exploitation — full stop. Just yesterday it was revealed that Rockstar is withholding the game from small businesses until November. You can listen in on more about the situation and how to solve the pervasive issues of the gaming industry for the long term here.
Why do I say that boycotting a game would not be putting precious work hours to waste? I do not need to go over the history of boycotting to make the point that effective boycotts are organized and have clear demands and involve multiple parties to bolster a boycott movement forward. Consumer choice is a peculiar term that we are all familiar with when we choose to “vote with our wallets”. The issue with how the average consumer choice action is done these days is that it is done on an individual basis. A single, average Joe consumer cannot make an effective boycott because it does not even remotely inconvenience a business by losing just one customer. Effective boycotts need to be done with large groups of people and proper coverage of the boycott to raise more awareness (and create a snowball effect).
It may be too late to boycott Red Dead Redemption or maybe it is not too late to at least meet demands that concerns consumers. The main issues that consumers have is the lack of unpaid overtime that workers have at Rockstar and in other companies in the gaming industry as well as resolving work conditions (I.e. 100 hour work weeks, workplace discrimination, etc) that make matters worse for the workers. That is the motivation for boycotting even if it releases.
We have to take necessary steps to organize like including workers from Rockstar, keeping in touch with one another to plan out how we organize and iron out details, and right now understanding the limitations of consumer choice. I will be brief with why consumers cannot do this alone. We cannot collectively bargain for long-term changes to help these workers for an obvious reason: no accountability. If we did this alone as a semi-organized boycott as just consumers, we could perhaps demand that the senior staff or any other contractor be guaranteed their fair pay and guarantee their overtime pay as well. If we want to hold Rockstar, or any company for that matter, accountable for these issues, then we must involve a union to fight for these workers. Voting with your wallet does not stop this from happening again, collective bargaining does. When consumers and workers have their demands met in these situations, that is a first step in making meaningful change. Let us know if you believe that our consumption is not as important as the well-being as the creators who make the games that we love.