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How Game Companies Are Changing Pride Month Values ​​For Profit

Video game companies deploy the mandatory rainbow flags, but only to the extent it doesn’t hurt their bottom line

Every year when June rolls around, there’s a change in the air – everything is rainbow-colored and scrolling, and every company puts on its best hat of inclusivity. The whole world, and especially the United States, is no stranger to the commercial exploitation of vacations. In this regard, the video game industry is no different.

(Don’t) taste the rainbow

Many popular game titles have Pride Month events, sales, or giveaways. Destiny 2 is selling (proceeds going to charity) a real-world rainbow pin, which will also give you a matching in-game emblem. Forza Horizon 5 plans to give away a rainbow livery for a Zonda Cinque supercar to all gamers. Halo Infinite and League of Legends have some sort of rainbow-colored cosmetic items. Fall Guys, a Kid-Centric Obstacle Course Game Show, Offers Free Play “painted with pride” costume and a selection of proud profile pictures to everyone. But the ever-popular tactical shooter Valorant tops them all. Their free banner pack features banners for bisexual, lesbian, gay, pansexual, ace, non-binary, and trans pride. God forbid, we make someone feel left out, don’t we?

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There may be other games that have Pride Month events, but most of them have one thing in common – they are either Western market games or are made by Western developers. For example, there’s not even a whiff of Pride Month celebration in a game as colossal as Genshin Impact. The game is developed by miHoYo in Shanghai, China, and they have a request for a pride month event on their official community website. But opinion is divided even within the community, with many pointing to the lack of in-game necessity for the event and the general rejection of LGBT culture in official China.

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating gay pride. But when a 1960s social movement turns into a capitalist grab, it loses all of its authenticity.

Every June, every major consumer goods company adopts a rainbow profile picture on social media and preaches inclusiveness and acceptance for everyone, no matter who you are (without any specifics, of course). of course, the legal advisor will not allow it). But even then, there is a catch. The world is not as uniform and does not accept this relatively new form of pride. Therefore, by spreading the message of gay love, you risk alienating some of your audience and hurting your bottom line. The solution? Easy: only participate in Pride Month activities in markets with strong LGBT tendencies! That’s why, for example, Bethesda Softworks paints its Twitter profile picture in all Pride colors in the US and Europe for 30 days each year, while players in the Middle East and Russia can continue playing. without feeling emasculated. There are also local laws that must be followed, such as Russia’s law against LGBTQ propaganda to minors, but a truly determined company could circumvent this by limiting its Pride events to players over the age of 18. Bethesda, after shutting down digital sales in earlier this year, Russia probably wouldn’t even have to do that – but then again, since they’re already not making a profit, why bother?

Pride month gets a lot of attention in the media and in games. But why? What makes people treat this month so differently? There are annual events with giveaways, but there are hardly any events during Black History Month (if we’re talking about the United States, where there’s a lot of talk about racism) or the World War II Victory Day. There is very little mention of International Women’s Day, Ramadan, Hindu or Buddhist holidays or anything else. Pride month is treated by game developers the same as New Year, Christmas, Easter, and Chinese New Year. The latter could probably no longer be ignored given the size of the Chinese market, which only proves it.

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How Game Companies Are Changing Pride Month Values ​​For Profit
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Pride celebrations are hugely popular among young, left-leaning Westerners, who are one of the key demographics for video game companies. For an industry that grows for a long time “game as a service” model, taking advantage of this trend to make money and prepare their audience enough to do it again next year is a win-win scenario. What some of said audiences think is less relevant. If you make fun of something as big and accepted as Pride Month, you could be labeled an uneducated relic of the past and dismissed, regardless of what you have to say.

If the selection of in-game holiday events will remain dependent on the positive press and revenue the game’s creators can rack up, that’s probably what we should expect. This is the nature of the capitalist society in which we live. But then let’s call them “themed sales events » or something, so companies can stop pretending they care about a specific thing for a specific amount of time.


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