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Are Games Released Too Soon?

Are Games Released Too Soon?

Ubisoft this week faced an upward battle after their release of not one, but two Assassin’s Creed titles, both of which welcomed gamers into a world of game-breaking bugs. Numerous issues were being reported, whether the character was caught falling through the floor, faces disappearing and turning into terrifying Large Marge impersonations or something as simple and infuriating as the game freezing mid-ascension. Whatever it was that prevented players from experiencing the full Assassin’s Creed immersion, it seemed that they were not isolated incidents. Before you could say ‘what’s that bloke doing on top of a church’ Ubisoft had set up a live blog and were beginning to address the many issues brought forward by a number of players. Now while patches remain a constant part of 21st century gaming culture, the issues seen above really beg the question, are games being released too soon and would they not benefit from a few more months of polish?

playstation update

Time after time, you will have returned from buying the latest AAA title, put it into your shiny new console and just as you sit down, and be greeted by an update, something along the lines of ‘install update 1.01 to play’. Although it’s not enough to make you double back and return your purchase, you have to question whether the game was forced out to please the suits waiting for their bag of cash rather than gently teased out to please the consumer. And this isn’t something that happens on rare occasions, it’s becoming life and soul of gaming.

Lego Batman 3, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue and Watch_Dogs have all required day one patches as well as the likes of Far Cry 4 and Grand Theft Auto V. Meanwhile, Rome 2: Total War required no less than 11 patches before it was finally at a level where it could actually be played, and just in time for a sequel to be announced. Something of a centurion middle finger to everyone who had the patience and decency to keep playing.

Bungie are guilty of this crime too. They have only recently started to roll out Destiny patches, nearly three months after the game’s release, addressing issues such as voice chat, repetitive gameplay and of course in-game glitches. For a game that cost an estimated $500,000,000 to Destiny servers down after PS4 2.0 update pic 1market and develop, you would have thought top of the ‘to-do list’ would be ‘let’s make it work and let’s make it fun’. But rather than offering an indulgent world that’s good to go, gamers are given handfuls of agonising ‘improvements to come’ and ‘we’re addressing the issues’ statements. The same can be said for the developers of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,who have recently issued fixes on prestige issues and connectivity optimization, even the biggest franchise on the planet can’t quite get it right! If you think long and hard, you’re likely to find dozens upon dozens of more examples of day one patches and hotfixes which are just swept under the carpet of normality.

These are games that have been in development for months and even years, yet they’ve fallen at the first hurdle, the fundamental aspect: playability. Without patch after patch and download after download they at worst are unplayable, or at best are dull and repetitive. It’s easy to ponder how huge companies worth millions of dollars can avoid such obnoxious, and practically game breaking flaws during QC? Perhaps the games are too big and there are too many possibilities, or perhaps more in-depth gameplay elements are tested rather than simple procedures. What’s more likely however is that the release date is set with shareholders and suits in mind, let them have their money and then face the issues henceforth. Whatever it is, it’s slowly turning gaming into an endless wait for a “download complete” notification and it’s driving us mad!

simpsons doctor2

Surely having a game function as planned is the most important part of the job? I wouldn’t leave this article half written and then issue paragraph after paragraph on a monthly basis. A surgeon
wouldn’t leave the theatre with a patient’s chest sliced upon claiming ‘stitches are coming in 2015’ or ‘this bypass machine is seriously glitchy’, it’s not fair and it needs to stop. I for one would much rather a world where games are finished and are perfect from launch, and if that means Ubisoft, Rockstar, EA, Bungie, Activision, or whoever it is have to take a few more months of polish and elbow grease to make it a true, immersive experience, then that’s OK with me.



Problems of Modern Gaming
Do you think games are being released too early? Would they benefit from further development?
Dom D'Angelillo

Dom D'Angelillo

Staff Writer

Dom is an English Language graduate. How does he make the most of his degree? He plays obscene amounts of Playstation of course!

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Acelister - 08:38am, 22nd November 2014

Patches have always been a thing with PC games, but they're fairly new for console gamers. So, if the studio CAN patch it, you can guarentee they will. It's turning into a situation where it makes more sense to wait for the GOTY or Essentials edition, maybe the inevitable remake, or at least wait until the game has been out for 6-9 months. I also think the problem with PC QC is that the studio can afford the BEST hardware, so it will run it at the highest quality. It seems that anything lower than Maximum is usually what causes issues.

Guest - 02:41pm, 22nd November 2014

I think I love you dom......

Calmine - 08:02pm, 23rd November 2014

I think one thing that's made newer titles lazy in development is the cost of patches. Previously on PS3 and 360 it would cost developers to patch their games and it had to get certified by MS or Sony. Now as far as I know the cost of patching is a hella a lot less so developers can be lazier and just patch it later. Although it still has to go through certification.

domdange - 09:12am, 29th November 2014 Author

That's a really interesting point, it's almost as if the whole industry is beginning to accept it as standard procedure

domdange - 09:18am, 29th November 2014 Author

You've hit the nail on the head when it comes to games testing, it's glaringly obvious that these haven't been though rigorous enough testing because they are not isolated innocents and seen on all consoles. I think the world we live in now, with social media and the like means that people will be talking about it, whether good or bad and like they say "all publicity is good publicity".

Jetgirl - 06:04pm, 30th November 2014

I support the idea of buying games in alpha/beta IF you know that's what you are getting. I think it should work that you get a reduction in price (even if only slight) and in return you help the team develop it and iron out the bugs. What I disagree with is buying full price games which are not fit to play until weeks or in extreme cases months down the line when numerous patches have been deployed.

domdange - 06:09pm, 30th November 2014 Author

That system already exists, albeit without the price reduction. It's certainly a good incentive and would make more people turn to betas, but from the developers point of view, when the betas role out the game is near enough done, its more of a demo than a chance to help improve the game itself.