The rise of video games has also brought with it the rise of gaming merch, products beyond the video game itself that relate to the game and its setting. Merch can range from a tee-shirt to a badge and spark mixed feelings from gamers. But why do we buy it?
Showing Your Allegiance
Merch is something people buy to show their allegiance, to show to the world what you like. Merch is nothing new to other forms of entertainment from band tee-shirts to Harry Potter wands merch has existed for TV shows, films and music. Gaming merch though is used by gamers as a way to find other gamers. You look across a room at a party and see someone with a Zelda badge you immediately know you have something in common. Merch acts like a beacon guiding gamers towards each other.
Support or Exploitation?
Merch offers us a chance to give extra support to developers. Often we only make one off purchases to developers, we buy the game and that’s it. However, through extra products released by the developers we are able to show our support by buying more from them. Of course this works the other way. Merch is a way for developers to make money, often it can be expensive and not always worth the cost. It’s a way to increase the commercial nature of the gaming industry, along with DLC and micro transactions merch offers companies a way to exploit our love of their games to make them more money from our desire to own more from their world.
Official vs Unofficial?
Gaming merch comes in two main forms you have the official merch released by the company that produced the game and you have unofficial merch. The official merch has its advantages allowing you to give back directly to the developers but these are often mass-produced items and depending on the developer the product can be poor quality.
Unofficial merch is more unique offering a chance for gamers to support other gamers who are just as passionate as yourself. The products are often more expensive as they are not massed produced and take more time from the creator. But there is something great about being able to support your fellow gamers just.
There will always be merch as long as there is a devoted fan base for a game. We are all guilty of buying it, sometimes admittedly we can be blinded by the connection to our favourite game and buy something that isn’t of good quality. There is nothing wrong with buying merch, I have a number of items strewn about my room from my favourite gamers. I love giving something extra back to the developers and wearing something that openly displays my love of games to the world. The key is to expect quality and don’t settle for cheap looking merch at high prices just because it belongs to your favourite game.
What do you think of merch?
Is it a waste of money or a method to support developers and express your interests?