These academics are eager to obtain the status that publication in a journal is seen to convey. It is good for their career, and they make valuable social connections with influential gatekeepers. We are told that publication in a journal means that a competent authority has verified or at least pondered the research.
Turns out that this is all bullshit, and that the only people who benefit are the publishing houses and the gatekeepers. Academics are spineless or they would have eschewed this worthless system years ago. They simply don't want to risk their careers by rebelling against the journals, because often times the people on the tenure review boards are also working for the journals.
Ironically, the very purpose of these journals (vetting and verifying) seems broken as people get fake, non-reproducible research published and therefor accepted as fact all the time.
Something smells in the ivory tower. It started smelling decades ago, when supra-geniuses suggested that schools be run more like businesses. Deliberate subversion or just lots of stupid brilliant academics in a circle jerk, blinded by each others' jizz?