Video Game Producer Mark Kern Talks Sweet Baby Inc. and ESG in Gaming

Have you been questioning the sanity of video game developers using consulting companies like Sweet Baby Inc. when it seems abundantly clear that gamers don’t like the changes they “suggest”? Today, an expert explained what their reasoning is. Mark Kern, a former producer at Blizzard Entertainment who produced games like Starcraft, World of Warcraft III, and Diablo II, was a guest on The Quartering, along with Kabrutus (whom I interviewed here), the creator of the Steam curator Sweet Baby Inc. Detected, and he explained how games are funded and why this involves woke consultant companies like Sweet Baby Inc., with host Jeremy Hamby applying that reasoning to Hollywood. You can see the relevant clips below, courtesy of author James Lindsay:

“Follow the money,” as Deep Throat once said (in a movie, anyway). This is actually scarier than the studios themselves being run by wokesters who are pushing back against public sentiment; they’re being pressured from all sides, most devastatingly by the men controlling their money. And once someone else is in charge of your money, they’re in charge of you, as anyone who’s ever owed a bookie knows. So, in addition to Sweet Baby Inc. getting studio employees to “terrify” their marketing teams into hiring a consulting firm for all their identity politics needs, the financial backers put strings on the money gaming studios need, like hiring more diverse developers and changing their characters and story to reflect the preferred sociopolitical message. And, as Kern points out, what are the studios going to do about it? Games are insanely expensive to make, and their only shot at keeping the lights on is making more games. They can either close up shop or roll the dice with a woke game and hope enough people like it, or at least buy it before they know what’s in it. It worked for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, but not so much with Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.

What’s interesting to me is the difference between the gaming world and Hollywood, which the discussion highlights. Video games, Kern says, can cost up to $600 million to produce, so the studios can’t say no to offered money, especially if their options are limited. Hollywood, on the other hand, has more options, like making smaller films rather than non-stop mega-blockbusters. But you can’t really do that with video games; there’s no cheap version of God of War or Call of Duty that can reasonably make customers happy, whereas you can replace a spacefaring superhero movie like Captain Marvel with a street-level Daredevil crime thriller or Spider-Man taking on a bank-robbing Doctor Octopus. And even outside of that, we could see the return of the reasonably-budgeted thrillers that were popular in the 80s and 90s and I miss today. It’s also fascinating how smaller companies are moving in on the big guys in both mediums and finding tremendous success; Kern mentioned Palworld, the “Pokémon with guns” indie game that was a massive hit on its release. For movies, some examples are Sound of Freedom from Angel Studios and Godzilla Minus One, the former of which made more money than Disney’s Indiana Jones and the Ridiculous Title Someone Was Paid to Come Up With. Or, if you want an example in the comic book world, you could look to the success Eric July is having with his Rippaverse while Marvel and DC flounder in a quicksand of yearly relaunches and gay Supermen. As I said when talking about the Rippaverse’s newest book, Yaira #1, someone always steps in to fill a vacuum.

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