For a while, I’ve been trying to come up with an answer as to why games release in the state they do these days. It seems that lately, more often than not a game hits the market with a ton of bugs to be fixed “later.” If a developer or publisher follows through on fixing the bugs within a reasonable time, I suppose it’s acceptable, but there are many games across the industry, whether from “AAA” publishers or indie teams, which go unfixed or unfinished. Of course, the same seems to go for content as well. You buy a rather empty game for $50-60, then have to spend another $30 for “DLC” which should have been in the game in the first place.
"Bland" and "uninspired" are good adjectives, too.
I understand that much of it has to do with the nature of technology these days. With our always connected devices, software can be updated at any time to add more content or mend problems. The issue is that this has become a strategy rather than a convenience, resulting in poor on-site QA and relying on the community to discover the bugs after having paid for the game. It just seems unfathomable to me, coming from having grown up with a generation of games which couldn’t possibly have the number of bugs they ship with now. If Ocarina of Time wasn’t working out of the box, it would have ended up a relic on the Pre-Owned shelf, destined to collect dust as a failed title.
But when EA or Activision have a launch riddled with problems which go on for months, people still line up for the next game. C’mon people! If we want higher standards, we have to stop buying into the hype.
DID SOMEONE SAY, "FREE?"
I know, it’s hard. There are big publishers who have control over franchises many of us have been playing for a decade or more.
One of my favourite games to come out last year was TMNT: Out of the Shadows. Well, I’d say more like would-be-favourite. It had some great fight mechanics and truly felt like a Turtles game worthy of the franchise, but it shipped with an uncanny amount of bugs which were never fixed even with frequent requests to Activision’s customer support. Of course, there were absolutely NO official lines of communication for that specific game, so it became clear rather quickly that Activision didn’t give a single fuck that online multiplayer would go unfixed to this day. Not to mention the fact that the Playstation 3 version which was promised within a few weeks after the 360 and PC launch, wasn’t launched until 7 months later… and of course, the 360 and PC would still receive no patches or attention.
But this isn’t entirely the status-quo, either.
A little game known as PAYDAY 2 is a great example of a game whose developer is concerned with keeping their audience. The game has frequent content updates (some paid, but even the paid ones tend to throw in a few pieces of free loot) and bug fixes with constant communication with the community. Every patch is lead with notes and hints of what’s coming next. Every patch is treated like an event in which to participate, rather than a wave of hope and/or dread that perhaps they fixed that thing you were hoping they’d fix, and didn’t break something else in the process. It may not be the greatest game ever made and it’s not without bugs, but it’s obvious that the developers care. They’re directly active in the community, rather than putting up complicated and convoluted “customer support” lines of communication which only put up more barriers between the developer and the user.
Nintendo seems to still understand how to make games without bugs as well. Most of the recent games I have, even with online features tend to receive one, maybe two updates in their lifespan. Game breaking bugs are rarely, if ever an issue, and there’s never any complicated DRM procedures to muck up the process of actually playing.
It's almost like they've been doing this for 30+ years...
I know I asked the question, but I feel like my answer is coming quickly. I know there are plenty of indie developers with a massive disconnect to their audience, but they are often run off the road like the infamous Fez developer, Phil Fish or given hell for vanishing like the developer of The Stomping Land. Meanwhile, it’s just business as usual for the big corporate publishers like EA, Activision and more recently, Ubisoft with their intentionally crippled PC port fiasco. Why do they get to stay in business while indie devs get slammed?
I’m actually sure the developers working on some of the big publishers’ titles would probably like some direct contact with the gaming community, but they aren’t allowed to — so we end up with idiot PR dept amateurs who know nothing about game development, because they never even end up talking to the developers, either.
"I recall replying saying that the game was not downgraded, i still stick to that yes." - Ubisoft PR
So I guess the real question is, do the big publishers still deserve our money after consistently releasing disappointing products? Should we not expect more? Is it really worth it to spend $60 on a game you know in your very soul will be terrible, but happens to have a fully rendered Kevin Spacey? I’m not necessarily calling for a boycott, but perhaps people shouldn’t line up for the midnight release when it’s becoming more likely that the game will end up in the bargain bin for $10 after 6 months. If you don’t want a repeat of Ghosts, or the BF4 launch, don’t rush out the door to line the big publishers’ wallets. That’s exactly what they’re expecting you to do.
Hardware is not exempt, either.