Okay, rant time.
You know what I’m getting sick of? Triple-A publishers thinking they can do whatever the hell they want. They shove shoddily-assembled sequels out the door with the assumption gamers will never learn, and will continue to snatch up these broken games as soon as they hit the shelves. And the vast majority of the time, they’re right.
Case in point, Arkham Knight. WB Games, Rocksteady, and Iron Galaxy Studios joined forces to release what has to be the laziest port to PC ever seen in the gaming industry. And that’s saying something, considering the existence of Assassin’s Creed Unity.
This game (which you can hear me rant about in detail in our first podcast here) was released in such a sorry state it was literally pulled off the shelves. Boom. Done. You can’t buy Arkham Knight for PC right now. And with good reason. The bugs present in the game at launch ran the gamut: frame-rate locks, graphical hitching, and, if you happened to have an ATI GPU, you were just plain shit out of luck.
Even pre-release, there were plenty of warning signs. Access to review code was restricted, so many sites found themselves unable to review the game prior to launch. And in another shady move, the system requirements listed on Arkham Knight’s Steam page were changed less than 12 hours before launch. This is why you should never preorder.
If all that weren’t bad enough, now we’re hearing (via Kotaku) WB knew about these problems for months:
“I will say that it’s pretty rich for WB to act like they had no idea the game was in such a horrible state. It’s been like this for months and all the problems we see now were the exact same, unchanged, almost a year ago.”
“We reported literally thousands of bugs that were specific to the PC version relating to the frame rate… All sorts of fucked up texture issues. The Batmobile in particular has always fucked things up on PC.”
Are you kidding me? Are you bloody well kidding me? A frigging year and the testers are showing you thousands of bugs for which you do nothing? And then on top of this, WB felt the game was “good enough” to release?
This is the problem with this industry. It’s the video game equivalent of the classic Bill O’Reilly meltdown at the top of this post. (Although my favourite version of that meme is this one, which imagines the other side of the conversation.)
Publishers are content to release games that quite simply aren’t finished because they have the ability to patch things after launch. This is a problem brought on by the internet age, and I don’t really see it going away anytime soon, especially since we’re usually content to swallow whatever lame excuse the company decides to force-feed us.
They are telling us it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission to release the game late. Well, I have a few words for you, WB. They’re from the guy whom you should thank for even having a job in the first place: Shigeru Miyamoto – the father of modern gaming, and the guy who almost single-handedly dragged gaming back from the abyss in the early ’80s.
He said this: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
Some people may say, “But, Matthew, the game wasn’t rushed. It was pushed back twice.”
To those people I say, “Shut up.” It clearly wasn’t pushed back enough if this is the sorry state it was released in. And before you go any further, imaginary antagonist, I’ll also tell you it doesn’t matter if the game is eventually patched. It will still be remembered as the game that managed the impressive feat of out-Assassin’s-Creed-Unity-ing Assassin’s Creed Unity.
The entire state of the games industry is nothing short of appalling. From the crappy releases and myriad patches, to the nickel-and-diming of players with DLC, to the half-assed ports, to the pre-order culture we have created.
And I say “we.” If we, as consumers, had never started to accept this, it would have never become a problem. We share the blame in this. Though, not as much as whatever half-wit(s) signed off on the release of Arkham Knight.
To those people who chose to release Arkham Knight before it was done, I say you guys should be ashamed. Deeply ashamed. You didn’t stand up for your consumers. Remember them? The people who make sure you have a paycheque at the end of the day?
This PR is going to dog WB for years, even if I have to stir the pot myself. You won’t be able to get away with this again. Hell, we didn’t let you away with it this time.