I have a serious question for my regular readers? Why has it suddenly become okay for developers to release unfinished, unpolished broken games? And when has it become acceptable for a portion of the gaming community to defend these bad business practices?Now don’t get me wrong. Buggy releases and poor quality games aren’t exactly new, we have had these for as long as games existed. But the last couple of years seemed dotted with broken, buggy and unpolished games most famously: The Master Chief Collection, No Mans Sky, Drive Club and now Mass Effect Andromeda. Is it now par for the course that we should expect games to be released with bugs and glitches? And by making excuses for developers and publishers because we are fanboys or girls of a certain franchise or product, have we become complicit in allowing them to release unfinished games?
I would say most definitely yes. Developers will now look at all these fanboys or girls comments and pre-order sales figures and say: “Well, we can release the game broken and unpolished and fix those issue later. Even if it is broken and does not work properly they will buy it anyway.” Furthermore expecting people to download 6GB, let alone 40GB just so they can play the game properly is beyond fucken ridiculous. If a game is that broken at release, then it should not have been released at all, and while we are partly to blame for this happening more often than not. The other part of the blame can be placed on the publishers, and this all boils down to greed and making a profit. Now don’t get me wrong video game publishing is a business just like any other.
But to them it is more important to hit those sales figures, make their money back and make a profit so they can report back to all their investors at the end of the financial year. Not to mention it usually takes two or more years to develop a video game, and publishers force developers into a yearly release schedule. Then there are the developers, who all have a testing department. Also known as quality assurance or QA, which are supposed to rigorously test their video games for any bugs, performance issues and anything else that would impact a video games performance before it’s release. And this is also part of the problem. The QA and Games testers aren’t doing their jobs properly, you often hear excuses from gamers like: “Games are far more complex these days than they used to be, especially with large, open world, online games.”
Which is a bullshit excuse in its own right. AAA companies like Ubisoft employee anywhere from 400 to 600 people for testing open world games like their Assasins Creed franchise split across multiple locations and countries. So you have between 400 and 600 people playing the same scene or level over and over again, so you have to ask yourself how do some of the games breaking bugs get past them? And in the case of Mass Effect Andromeda, how on earth did they look at some of the facial and movement animations and think it is good enough? Let alone passing quality assurance? It boggles my mind, even more so when there are gamers out there that would defend it because they are either loyal to the brand or the franchise. Would you do the same if you paid someone to deliver you a service or product, but they delivered half of it and in a broken state?
I am guessing not, most people would lose their shit if it happened. So why shouldn’t video games be held to that same standard? And giving developers and publishers a free pass because they created a franchise we love makes us just as guilty. We have become so complacent that we now expect games to have problems during launch, and event mind-blowingly we still pre-order our games and tolerate the 6GB, let alone 40GB day one patches. We just shrug our shoulders and say: “that’s just the way it is,” while developers and publishers keep on taking advantage of us and we keep on throwing money at them. Now don’t get me wrong I am not totally unsympathetic, video game developers are some of the hardest working people out there. Were brutal deadlines and exhausting schedules are commonplace. And video game launch hiccups are bound to happen but…
But the fact remains, releasing an unfinished and unpolished product is unexpectable and inexcusable in this day and age. And even more infuriating, some gamers are paying them to do this, by pre-ordering games months before release, and by building up the hype and consuming every bit of information that is released by the publisher they are not only compounding the problem but making it worse. And what drives these people? FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out): ” Put down your money now or you will be the only one who does not have the in-game bonuses or that double XP boost during launch.” No bonuses or extras no matter how thoughtful or creative will fix a broken or otherwise incomplete video game. The developers and publishers know this and they take full advantage of this, leaving us with the short end of the stick.
There are one or two companies who most notably would rather delay their games and deliver us a finished product, namely Nintendo. And if there is one company that can show other developers how to make games it is Nintendo, like them or not. They have set the golden standard when it comes to bug-free first title games. Longer development schedules and fewer releases means more time can be spent on ensuring that a game gets a quality release. The second company that comes to mind is CD Projekt RED who delayed The Witcher 3 by several months, with its CEO noting that the gaming audience is “afraid of badly polished games on next-gen platforms.” But unfortunately these types of companies are far and few in between, as the vast majority of them do not employ the same work ethic as they do.
So how do we fix this? I know the term is now overused and utterly clichéd but vote with your wallet! If developers and publishers are allowed to release broken unpolished games, that force us to download 6GB or 40GB. Then we need to hit them where it hurts, their financial year end. If they release a product not worthy of our money, then they should not see a single cent of it. Also, stop buying into the hype we have seen it countless times before. Hype can kill a game and we need to learn from that, but we keep on making the same mistakes hoping for a different outcome. And most importantly: STOP PRE-ORDERING! You are paying for a product you have not seen yet, once they have your money they have no obligation or incentive to give you a high-quality polished product.