Gaming, Technology, Video Games

My Opinion on…Buggy Games: It’s Time For A Change

On the blog Gamers Therapy, fellow blogger Vitosal recently wrote his review of Batman: Arkham Origins, which you can read here. He praises portions of the game, but he also points out how buggy the final release is, and I quote:

My question on that particular point  is, how is a game released if it has these kinds of issues?  Surely there’s quality testing, stress testing, etc , etc.

He raises a very valid question, especially going into the next generation. How can a game be so buggy and still be released as a “finished” product?

I have to first start by pointing out that as a community, gamers are becoming more lenient toward bugs. I’m guilty of this myself; I gladly played and enjoyed AC III even though people claim it has many bugs (I never encountered one). The Tomb Raider reboot is one of my favorite games of this generation, and even though I encountered a very annoying bug, I still love the game. Would these bugs have been acceptable 5, 10, or 20 years ago? Back then, there was no such thing as a patch for a bug; what’s done was done. A game-breaking glitch is “OK” by today’s standards because it can be fixed with a simple download. Classic titles can be unplayable if a glitch occurs; there’s no way to update the game or fix it without being a DIY sort of guy.

But should we be so lenient toward bugs, even if the game is otherwise amazing? Think of it this way: unpolished is unpolished, no matter what piece of silverware you’re looking at. If a lazy company made a game 20 years ago, adjusted for “inflation” due to increased average development times, the same level of work or

laziness went into that game as goes into a lazily made game in today’s world. The difference is, developers can remedy their mistakes in modern days if they want.

The sad thing is, these lazy companies can continue pumping out unfinished games that get patched year after year. Did E.T. get that chance? No; E.T. was a wonky game that ended

up sinking the entire game industry. The game never had a chance to redeem itself, and for good reason. Now, years later, nobody wants to play it. On the other hand, Skyrim can glitch horribly, but it won numerous awards, has many accolades, and scored highly with game ranking sites and magazines. 20 years from now, people will probably still be playing Skyrim. Why have we come to the point where we basically condone laziness by saying “well, as long as you fix it with a

patch” and then pre-order the company’s next game when it’s nearing release?

If gamers collectively would take a stand a

nd boycott a game, this could be the civil rights movement of gaming; who will be our MLK? By sending the message to developers that we’re tired of unfinis

hed games, we could force them to take more time when creating a game. But, sadly, many of us are too content with a patch; we don’t want revolution because we’re alright with just “alright” games, and developers are content as long as they’re making money.

Henry David Thoreau, in his time on Earth, warned that conformity would lead to destruction because we would become compliant with the destruction; we would go along with it because we were either too lazy or too afraid to advocate for change. Are we, the gamers who claim to be professors of our hobby, willing to sit quietly and watch the problem progress? Because, newsflash, folks; game developers are getting lazier and bugs are more common! Our standards have shifted so that we can accommodate unpolished titles.

“But Matt, you’re overreacting. Back in the day, an unpolished game was unplayable. Now, a quick download fixes all that; why boycott if the problem can be solved by getting the patch?”

I say that the ends don’t quite justify the means here. The concept of laziness is still the same no matter what era we’re looking at, and it’s the principle of the matter that irritates me to no end! Why is it acceptable for you to sell me a buggy game year after year, whereas if I give my Dairy Queen customers a small cone when they bought a large, I’ll be fired after a few complaints? I can “issue a patch” by putting another bump of ice cream on it at your request, but wouldn’t it have been nice to have just gotten what you paid for the first time? I know life isn’t fair, but if I’m paying you $60 for a game that I presume will be finished and not a game that was rushed out of Beta mode withing a couple weeks, it had better be worth my $60!

As games get larger, more complex, and more complicated, there will be a higher chance for bugs to occur; I get that. If all the highway speeds were raised 10 miles per hour, the number of wrecks would go up; it’s simple cause and effect. But, let’s take Ubisoft or Rockstar or Treyarch, or even DICE, for example. All of these companies have the funds to hire some game testers; hire them so that they can inform you of bugs before release! They have the means and the ability to make a better game, so why don’t they do it?

Oh, that’s right; people still drop millions upon millions on these unfinished games because the people have become complacent with the bugs. That’s what it boils down to, guys. The developers are getting lazier and lazier; they’re pulling a bit farther on the leash every year to see how far they can go for people to still buy their games. It’s a classic situation, really. “How much more can I slack off at work before the boss notices? How much faster can I drive before a cop gives me a warning?”

These developers will continue to test the waters until we revolt and put them in their place. They will only try harder when they realize it’s more profitable to do so. Everyone wants an incentive, whether it be a raise, a prize drawing, a pre-order poster, or a coupon. We need to make it more profitable for game companies to give us a more polished, less buggy game, especially when they have the means to do so.

I’m not saying that games will be perfect; a bug will slip past occasionally. Take Pokemon X and Y. Pokemon is not a franchise known for having easily exploitable bugs, much less game breaking ones (seriously, look up how difficult it is to find MissingNo, for example). Things happen; they fixed it. When the bugs become more common, maybe we’ll have to prod Game Freak, but for now, I’ll condone this one mistake, as accidents do happen.

I’m simply distressed that at some point, popular games will be unplayable to people like me who look for more than an average title with bunches of glitches in of a game. I would hope that the hardcore gaming audience won’t be pushed to niche titles while the masses get the popular, unfinished ones; the hardcore gamers made the hobby popular to begin with. Don’t turn your back on us.

Is it time for a revolution, guys. What do you think? Am I overreacting, or is this a problem that needs addressed? Comment below, leave a like or follow, and continue on with your day.

Distressed and Saddened
Matt

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24 thoughts on “My Opinion on…Buggy Games: It’s Time For A Change”

  1. Excuse my language but fucking brilliant article. I agree with you 110%. This shit has got to stop, at $60 (R600) that’s crap load of money to fork out for an unfinished product, I have a theory about why companies do this besides us gamers allowing them to. I’ll delve into that at a later stage.

  2. I stopped reading this post the moment you wrote “I have to first start by pointing out that as a community, gamers are becoming more lenient toward bugs.” I stopped reading because, again, you are conflating gamers with non-gamers and after going to pains to define what you think a gamer is. This is a serious problem and you need to rectify it.

    Buggy games exist as such because of a combination of corporate greed (not a desire to make a profit, simply naked greed) and because of non-gamers make up the vast bulk of the market.

    Non-gamers simply don’t care about games or the people that play them, they just want to kill time with something that looks cool and is entertaining. Nothing else matters to them and that’s it. (There is a whole other contingent of non-gamers who are all about the game but are terrible people, the pro that has a terrible attitude, but for our purposes here we need not consider them.) This is something that will not be rectified in the near future because this group comes from a younger generation that is accustomed to this being the way it is, who have made trolling acceptable and who, for all intents and purposes, demonstrate a lack of care for their fellow man that is only comparable to the Baby Boom generation.

    Games like Skyrim are able to exist not just because of non-gamers but because of corporate greed. The suits know what works and continue with it, even when it is flawed to the point of being undeniably broken. The PS3 version of Skyrim wasn’t even reviewed, it was the Xbox 360 version, and little came of that when that fact came to light. For all the PS3’s lack of developer friendliness, Bethesda knew and still pushed the development team when they knew it would be difficult at best and when they saw the finished product. This game was able to receive GotY ratings despite being not just a terrible RPG but a terrible game.

    When it comes down to brass tacks there is a combination of apathy, boredom, greed and manipulation that come together to create this environment. The non-gamers bring the first half and the suits bring the last half. It’s not going to be until developers wrest control of the process from the suits and the players that really don’t care that things will be better.

    1. When I used the word “gamer” here, it was in used with the full knowledge of what being a gamer implies. I meant that the people who really care about games are gamers, including myself, you, and most of the people who are probably reading this post, but not all. If we proclaim and profess to care about games, why are we gamers, as the core group of game players, so much more lenient toward bugs now as a whole? I was not conflating gamers and nongamers; it was pointed directly at gamers which is why I used the word “gamer.”

      1. We aren’t lenient. Some have simply stopped playing games, becoming thoroughly jaded. Others persist and try to tough it out because they think that’s what it means to be a gamer. Others move on to different sorts of games. Most, though, really don’t talk because there is neither room at the table amidst the non-gamers nor the invitation to come to the table with their concerns.

        With that said, there is no ‘community of gamers’ and I would like to strongly impress this upon you. Look around at gaming forums of all walks and who you hear talking about video games. You don’t hear a ‘community of gamers’, you hear trolls, white knights, fanboys, et al. and the occasional appropriately critical voice. Gamers exist within a non-community of players, a mere gathering.

        This reality makes things worse and I would have included this and more were I not so frustrated.

      2. I would agree to disagree about the latter half of your comment; there is, in fact a community if gamers. It’s right here on this blog. The commenters on this blog post and on my other posts come from gamers with heartfelt concerns. It may be a small community, it’s true, but I’m providing exactly what I set out to provide as a blogger, and the gamers in this community are hopefully the ones who will advocate change.

        And although there are some who become jaded, stop playing games, etc, the large majority still play popular titles like Skyrim, AC3, and others. I hold the viewpoint that unless you’re advocating change or trying to do something about it, you’re essentially condoning whatever “it” is. Since I don’t see a major revolt, protest, or backlash from gamers, it would be safe to assume that through inactivity, gamers as a whole are condoning and becoming lenient to the issue, if that makes sense.

    2. So i suppose that might never happen. Although with the next gens being easier to create games, perhaps we could have fully fledged, not broken titles..what you think?

      1. I’m not familiar with the tech side of things, but in my mind, it seems like it would be more difficult to develop for the next-gen consoles. Do you have a link or something that I can read showing that it’ll be easier? Now I’m genuinely interested. I guess we’ll have to wait a couple years to really see though. It’ll definitely take a while for developers to get a handle on how the new technology handles, and just like this generation, the best games will come later in the cycle. Hopefully fewer glitches will go hand in hand with that.

      2. http://us.playstation.com/ps4/features/techspecs/

        There’s the specs of the console.

        http://kotaku.com/the-ps4s-developer-friendliness-explained-more-games-1293522585

        The Kotaku sight is why it’s easier to develop for, compared to the PS3.

        The PS3 hardware was completely new stuff created by Sony which is why it was more challenging for developers.

        With the PS4 though, Mark Cerny went to developers and asked them what THEY wanted out of new console. In essence what we get now is a console that’s designed to be easier to develop games for, and because it’s not new technology or anything they don’t need to really research on the hardware, game time development should come down.

        This should apply to Xbox one as well. and ports between systems should be way easier because everything will roughly be on the same playing field…I’m not including Nintendo on this

  3. Watch this video as well. This is Mark Cerny, the lead architect on the PS4. He explains everything in detail here. A really good watch if you’re a tech geek like me 🙂

    1. No need to apologize; it’s been really helpful! I see how the new tech specs will make it easier for developers, but I now wonder if they’ll use this for good or will they abuse the power? On one hand, there are people who might say “look at all this spare time we have left because we finished development quickly thanks to Sony’s hardware. Let’s take the extra time we have and do some serious bug testing.” Then there are others who will undoubtedly say “we finished early; start shipping now!!”

      I hope they don’t abuse this power…

  4. Hey sorry again,

    I thought you might be interested in this segment from an interview with Ubisoft regarding AC4. This interview is with Darby Mcdevitt who is the lead script writer on AC4 and Ashraf Ismael who was the game director. They mentioned how easy it was to make the game on next gen.

    OneTrueKingSlayer:

    Hello Dev team ! Ecstatic to have you guys here ! Some questions:

    *Development on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and how the both next-gen platforms fared? Were any difficulties faced?

    *Devs complained about the ESRAM issue on the Xbox One, did you face any hurdles?

    *Is Dualshock 4’s Touchpad integrated in some way?

    *Any resolution issues faced with both next-gen platforms?

    AshrafIsmailAssassin’s Creed 4:

    Development on both consoles was very smooth since they are both very similar to PCs. Last generation was very difficult and even nightmarish. Both XboxOne and PS4 were easy to deal with and the 1st partys were both there to help us out. The one gray area was understanding both Sony and MS requirements for the consoles. They were trying to figure them out themselves. The touchpad is used for scrolling through the map, adding waypoints, zooming etc. Overall it was super smooth to develop on NG

    OneTrueKingSlayer:

    That’s good to hear that the development has been smooth. I’ll be picking up AC4 on next-gen, skipping current-gen all the more with what you just said. So both MS and Sony don’t understand the requirements for their consoles well? How was the experience of developing a next-gen launch title? Was there pressure from both the console manufacturers citing their requirements?

    AshrafIsmailAssassin’s Creed 4:

    They do understand them NOW. 1 year ago as they were still trying to push features and tech it wasnt so clear. And this is normal.

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