What do you think of the “quality/love vs. money/hate” mindset to describe liking or disliking a game, its content, and its approach?

Henry Louis Mencken famously said "There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong." The mindset you mention sets up a false dichotomy - that quality/love is the antithesis of money/hate, and that's incredibly short-sighted. the truth of the matter is that games of a certain quality bar must be profitable enough not only to recoup the investment spent to develop and market them, but more on top of that in order to cover the losses from games that we build that are not hits. This is the bare minimum needed for a game company to survive and that number is a lot bigger than most laymen think.

Quality is not free. We pay for it by hiring and paying more devs to do the work and/or by increasing the workload of the dev team through crunch and physical + mental burnout. Quality is also not a set formula - no one sets out to make a bad game on purpose. Building games is incredibly complicated and difficult. Building a good game is absolutely not the same thing as building a financially successful game, and both of these are extremely difficult endeavors. Given the hypothetical mutually-exclusive choice between making a good game and making a financially successful game, I would always choose the financially successful game because it means I then get to continue making games that have the chance to be both good and financially successful, rather than just one or the other.

We on the development side are not entitled to players buying or playing our games. We can only offer a value proposition - we hope enough players will find more value in playing our games as they are than the money spent on them. If enough players are willing to give us their money, we can continue to make games. We want to build things players will like, but we need to build things players are willing to spend for. These two things are not (fully) incongruous. What matters is whether we can find enough players who are willing to stay in that overlap between liking and willing to spend.

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