Picture, if you will, the following hypothetical situation: as a game developer, you are sent to a conference (E3, GDC, etc) to represent your company. At some point you find the time to wander the show floor and come across a title that floors you. The inner geek in you goes wild and you find yourself reverting to the fanboy that initially motivated you to enter the industry in the first place. In short, you cannot wait to play this game. Sound familiar? Of course it does -- for most of us, we wouldn't still be developing games if we had totally lost this passion.
Now imagine that you meet someone from the development team of that game. Not too hard, really. Game developers are generally a pretty social lot, happy to talk shop with fellow geeks. Still nothing unfamiliar here. As we gain greater experience in the industry I'm sure we all find our contact list of developers growing.
Final step, a friendship develops (or, perhaps, the contact in question has very loose lips). Suddenly things that aren't supposed to be shared start coming out: development horror stories, issues with management, long hours of crunch, etc. We've all heard these stories a thousand times in our industry, but what happens when we start hearing them from people developing the games that we most passionatly want to play?
As a player and developer, where does your allegiance lie? When the highly anticipated title finally ships, does the fan in you win out, or the developer? Do you purchase the game and rationalize to yourself: "well, I want my friend to get a bonus for all his hard work, so I should buy it to help ensure good sales"? Or, conversely, does the developer in you win out: "I really want to play this game, but I don't want to support the sort of development horror I know went into the creation of this title. If I refuse to purchase it, I'm doing my part in taking a stance against these practises".
My bet is on the former. Game developers make up only a tiny minority of the total market for a title, and the knowledge of what went into its creation is certainly not spreading to the mainstream. Why deny yourself the pleasure of enjoying a game when you can't really make a difference in your defiance...?
Knowledge of what went into making a game can be an Inconvenient Truth, indeed.