A hot potato: Do you ever feel that paying $70 for a new game from a big studio just isn’t enough, and that you’d really like to hand over more of your money? Mike Ybarra, the former president of Blizzard, has an idea: an option to leave developers a tip after beating a game.

Ybarra, who left Blizzard in January, spelled out his likely well-intentioned but poorly implemented idea on X/Twitter.

“I’ve thought about this idea for a while, as a player, since I’ve been diving into single player games lately,” he wrote. “When I beat a game, there are some that just leave me in awe of how amazing the experience was. At the end of the game, I’ve often thought ‘I wish I could give these folks another $10 or $20 because it was worth more than my initial $70 and they didn’t try to nickel and dime me every second.’

Ybarra mentioned some examples of single-player games so good that the developers were worthy of receiving tips: Zero Dawn, God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, Elden Ring, and Baldur’s Gate 3.

There’s no arguing with Ybarra about the quality of the titles he cites. Moreover, many people have played games that left a huge impact, creating treasured memories; this writer will always remember the feeling after finishing the final Blood and Wine expansion of The Witcher 3. As another example, check out all the YouTube videos of players getting emotional upon finishing Cyberpunk 2077/Phantom Liberty.

However, tipping a developer for creating a game you love isn’t a good idea. Beyond the fact that games, season passes, DLC, etc. are already expensive, it would bring up the same questions often asked when it comes to tipping: will all the money go to the right people, and might companies use tips to lower wages?

It would certainly be unethical for a huge corporation to share tip money meant for devs among everyone, including well-paid executives, but then these companies aren’t known for their ethical behavior. Swapping out wages for tips, a practice many businesses in other industries already do, is also a concern.

Small indie developers often have Patreons and other ways for people to support them beyond just buying their games. As for the big studios, in addition to bonuses for sales, reviews, and awards, the answer might be just to share more of a game’s profits with the people who made it.

Tipping culture is spiraling out of control right now. The ability to edit tips after food delivery orders has led to tip shaming. We’ve even seen a warning from DoorDash that non-tipping customers can expect longer waits for orders. Even self-checkouts, machines that remove human interaction from purchases, are asking for tips. Do we really want this in the game industry?

Is the option to tip game developers a good idea?

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