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