Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Japan, Blizzard, and charitable giving

Spend two minutes on a blue tracker or the WoW forums and you'll find a dozen posts where players cry out for Blizzard to donate to a disaster relief fund, Red Cross, or some other organization to assist with the recovery in Japan. The sense of outrage expressed by some of these posters is mind-boggling.

Blizzard/Activision is a profit making company. Their job, through the making and sellign of video games, is to generate revenue. Period. Asking them to use some of their profits to help out Japan is like asking GE to donate a portion of each lightbulb sale. Yeah, it's great, and I think it would generate a lot of relief, but that isn't what they do.

Companies like this operate with huge budgets, and amazing expences. Blizzard announced in a blue post that they were matching company donations - an amazing feat. They are certainly under no obligation (and as a stockholder I want them to make the right choices) to do so, and this comes right off their bottom line. I'm guessing there may be some kind of tax incentive to do so, but they don't OWE anyone.

I think what they did with the Panderan is great, and I"m sure that the profits for every pet and mount in the Blizzard store far outpace the development costs. I'm also certain that this is true for pretty much every other profitable company out there. If you aren't making more than you're spending, you'll be outta business pretty fast.

So do I think it'd be great to see a pet or mount split the proceeds with the Red Cross? You bet. Unfortunately there are millions of people in need, not just the ones we see on television. Would the world be a better place if all of these organizations had the money they needed? Possibly. But that's starting to drift a little to close to the wrong kind of government for me (where everyone has the same things). There's a reason why Animal Farm didn't work.

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