Sounds like I’ve gone crazy to even think that if you look at the internet – we’re always raging about this, whining about that, or flaming some poor innocent developer about something else. But I think most of that is just because we like to complain… deep down inside, is it possible we’re being just a little too forgiving of game developers?
I think we are. I think that game developers are starting to realize it too and take brutal advantage of it, pushing us to see how far they can push that forgiveness. Things that would never even be a concern in any other industry are accepted and often not even worthy of note by many game critics in this one.
You’re probably still thinking I’m crazy right about now… well let’s take a look at a few examples here…
Online ‘opening day’ problems in many games –
As anyone familiar with online gaming can attest to, we casually accept and expect downtime when a service or game is new. Call of Duty Elite, Activision’s pay service is still having troubles about a month later. They say ‘we didn’t expect it to be this big’ but is that really an excuse? Would we accept that reasoning from any other industry would we? Would we stand by if a new tv show wasn’t airing properly in its pilot episode? I really don’t think we would.
I can’t think of a single other industry where we would be willing to allow huge day 1 problems just because it’s new. I was a day 1 player of World of Warcraft – or rather, day 2 since I couldn’t even get in to create my character on day 1. For the first few years, my server Shattered Hand had drastic latency issues, disconnects, downtimes, etc. And that wasn’t unique to the one server. Many had it. And did that cause them to fail? No, people forgave them and now WoW is one of the largest and most well known games in history.
Known issues in games being released with intent ‘well we’ll fix it in a patch later’ –
The most recent example of this is Skyrim. The game is full of lag issues on the consoles, graphical breakup issues, and other assorted bugs. In Skyrim’s case, I had a hard time finding any review outlets that even really mentioned the bugs. I have a hard time believing that game reviewers aren’t thorough or observant enough to experience these bugs since they’re pretty widespread, but they felt that these bugs weren’t worth mentioning.
If we went to a movie – let’s compare scale here – say we went to Lord of the Rings opening night and there were costume seams showing, greenscreens visible in certain parts, frames where special effects didn’t carry properly… would we have stood for it? I know I wouldn’t have, and I doubt anyone else would’ve. The uproar would’ve been epic proportions. But that really doesn’t happen in high budget movies because they know we won’t accept it. In games, however, they’re more than willing to give us buggy products to fix later because we will let them.
The now-infamous Battlefield 3 PS3 lie –
So, for those not aware, EA promised that anyone who purchased Battlefield 3 for the PS3 would have Battlefield 1943 for free on the disk. This was promised at a major press event, and many were aware of it. Sometime during development they decided to change this, and in stead give them ‘early access to upcoming dlc’ – not even free access, just early access by the way. And, even worse, they didn’t bother to tell anyone in any official capacity. When the game came out, they finally replied directly to someone via twitter telling them what had happened. Yes, the only confirmation anyone got initially was via twitter after the game was already out and people were up in arms.
Now, after a class action lawsuit was filed they decided to change their mind on the subject, but the point is that they felt they could get away with that. If, say, Toyota were to come out and say that the new Camry would come with an automatic starter to all people who bought them in the first week after they were released – there would be no question that you would get that starter. And if there was any reason why it wouldn’t be there, you can bet that Toyota would’ve held a press conference with a huge formal apology and explanation as well as probably offered some other ‘gift’ in lieu of it that would be of a similar value. The same can be said of nearly any industry – except the game industry. EA felt confident enough in this that they didn’t see any problem testing to see if they’d get an uproar by going back on their word.
So, we’ve gone through the examples. And with the evidence behind us, my conclusion is that gamers are being really forgiving. We complain a lot, but most of our complaining is just us blowing hot air for the sake of doing so. Most of the time the complaints are half-hearted at best, and once we’re done complaining we go right back to buying, playing, and paying for the games we’re complaining about. And do the developers feel grateful for us being so forgiving? I’m truly curious if they even realize how lucky they are to have us… because it sure doesn’t seem so with how it keeps getting worse.
What do you think?