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The Day One Patch, and Why Not Preordering Isn’t Enough

by on November 18, 2014

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Can we please stop getting buggy games released before they’re ready?

It’s tiring, and almost mind-numbing, how often we’re seeing games released with bugs ranging from framerate issues to multiplayer matchmaking failing. There’s even been game breaking bugs that can lead to corrupted save files that erase hard drive data (a la Battlefield 4) or make it impossible to progress in the game (I’m looking at you Arkham Origin). Let’s not even begin to delve into games that have been delayed to work on issues, only to be released with other major bugs apparently not accounted for, like Drive Club.

Sadly, it’s only going to continue this way, and not only will consumers pay for it, developers will as well.

I mean, I get it; there’s a multitude of reasons, all of which I’m sure you’ve seen, ranging from storyboarding to level design. Add in the fact that publishers more often than not push aggressive deadlines to get the game released, and it’s not hard to be sympathetic to their plight. I’ll give them kudos for pushing through the impossible to get their game out on time.

Let’s not forget the insane portion of a game’s budget geared towards marketing, almost to the point where it seems to eclipse funds spent on development. Look at Destiny; how many live action trailers did you see compared to gameplay or storytelling trailers? All I got from those commercials were “This looks awesome, right?” more than “This is why the game is going to be good.”

It also doesn’t help when the negative press comes in. Especially with a major publisher, it feels like it becomes a game of who can be the scapegoat for this problem. Seriously, think about it; how many great developers have fallen into the abyss because a publisher thrust them under the bus? *cough* Rareware *cough*

Here’s one solution, dear reader: for the love of all things holy, stop pre-ordering games. Even if it’s from a developer you’ve come to trust for years, just don’t do it. Put your wallet back in your pocket and twiddle your thumbs to wait for the reviews to pour in. Then, don’t trust the reviews, and wait to hear readers have to say. After all, it’ll save you the disappointment of spending $60 bucks on a turd. Another bonus: its filth won’t even touch your console!

Though that strategy isn’t a cure-all, there’s some value in it, and here’s why. Publishers will do everything they can to keep you sucked in. Remember when Steelbooks became a thing? Or “over 60 minutes of exclusive gameplay when you preorder from x”? When it seems like we’ve, as one article I’ve read before, “have had enough”, they find some way to pull us in.

Telling you not to preorder feels like I’m telling you the responsibility is more in your court than it is in the publishers. Unfortunately, that statement holds truth; we as consumers have to shoulder the responsibility of demanding good games, because if we don’t try to curb this trend, we’re going to see it take a worse dip for wear.

What’s another way to approach the problems we’re experiencing? Community. Let me explain.

Social media, for better or worse, is a powerful tool that also has a huge influence over marketing. “Facebook promoted” ads that clog up your news feed are annoying, but these sites can be used for and against game marketing. Instead of sharing the cool new trailers that show us nothing about the game, we need to demand better, more comprehensive trailers that tell us what is actually in the game. Let’s use the power of social media to aggressively, and collectively say, “We’ve had enough of your shit!” Push for publishers to do more extensive QA testing and allow for more time to develop the game. Even better, ask for developers to take some time to sit down with the community and do live feedback talking about how the game is going well, or badly. Forget the hype train that’s been built up through extensive marketing.

THE PRODUCT IS WHAT SHOULD MATTER, NOT WHEN IT RELEASES.

Granted, I know some developers do this, and there are some bugs that do end up showing even though they’ve worked extensively on the game. I also get more often than not it feels like you’re just one voice in the darkness that won’t be heard, but I can assure you that if we band together as a community to voice our concern, it makes a bigger impact. We have the voice equally as much as we have the money, using the two together as a community can make a big difference. Just please, no console wars or just saying a “game sucks”; constructively point out the issues you see.

If you feel that even that’s not enough, put money into games that provide the quality and experience you demand out of gaming. There are a lot of great games out there that receive very little-to-no marketing that provide an amazing experience like Papers, Please or To the Moon. These games are amazing experiences that we’ve written extensively about here at Last Token Gaming.

Also, to the major publishers: stop putting the money towards marketing. It solves nothing and really gives us nothing but an alarmingly increasing reason to dislike you. Instead of telling us how pretty the game is going to look, or how much you want to revolutionize gaming with the same old gameplay we’ve experienced before (with a new coat of paint), let your body of work speak for you.

Plus, as a side note: don’t tell me that you’re going to prioritize DLC over fixing a broken game; that’s like saying “here’s a new shiny coat of paint for your shovel that’s still going to break anyway when you try bashing that zombie’s head in”.

Take your time making the game, and focus on quality instead of quantity. It builds trust, character and shows you’re more about the craft than you are about the money. Instead of pushing the model towards 18 months, let it go back to 3 years. More importantly, put the money into building the game and into making sure the game is truly ready.

Because really, this is what gaming should be about; quality, and community.

From → Reviews

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