When Publishers Release Unfinished GamesFiled inside: Editorial
There’s a plague among gamers, spreading like wildfire and taking down all of our wallets in its path and ruining our views of some popular licenses along the way. What is this plague, you ask? It’s called unfinishedgamesea, where publishers will release absolutely dreadful games to the public without properly testing the game first to ensure that it is a complete product that is ready for the retail shelves.
I’ll start with possibly the best example of a game that, in my view, is the epitome of poor use of a popular license: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct from Activision. There has yet to be a game as disappointing in 2013 as Survival Instinct, and it is mostly due to the hype created from the false marketing. The trailers actually made the game look at least playable. Unfortunately, the game was little more than a vehicle for the vocals of Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker, and it was hard to find any other aspect of the game that had any merit. The graphics felt like they were out of the PlayStation 2 era, gameplay was incredibly stale, and the writing was awful. The game was clearly flawed, and anyone that played it could not deny that. Yet, Activision still released it, which tells us that Activision either didn’t have it tested at all, or had it tested and didn’t care that it was going to be a cheap rip-off of the gamers.
But Survival Instinct wasn’t going to be the only unfinished game to be released in 2013, if EA had anything to say about it anyway. EA’s SimCity was released with major server woes. In fact, it was unplayable for almost a full week after its release date. And, once players got into the game to play it, they were greatly disappointed by the game’s quality. For one, city size was limited at launch, which greatly effected the enjoyment a player could get out of the game in the long run. Secondly, there were major problems with the game’s tutorials, creating a barrier for new players to the franchise. Unfortunately, SimCity was a major disappointment, and it’s clear that EA didn’t properly test it enough during the beta period to prepare it for retail. So, gamers that were waiting anxiously for the game since its announcement bought an unfinished product.
EA released another major franchise game in 2013 that was clearly broken: the highly anticipated Battlefield 4. Instead of focusing on perfecting the multiplayer for Battlefield 4, EA created a shoddy-at-best single player campaign that was not only filled with bugs, but wasn’t a great game to begin with. EA should have released that the Battlefield franchise is meant to be multiplayer game. Instead, upon Battlefield 4‘s release, gamers found the multiplayer to be severely damaged and, again, unfinished. There was a one-hit kill bug, crashes at every corner, and audio-less video captures on the PS4; this is not what gamers wanted to pay $60 for. Why can’t EA successfully release an online game on launch day without having to apologize? Pff—and EA wonders why they’re voted the worst company every year.
EA and Activision aren’t the only video game studios to have a bad year in 2013. SEGA, publisher of such beloved franchises as Sonic the Hedgehog and Altered Beast, absolutely ruined the Alien franchise with their early 2013 release of Aliens: Colonial Marines. The game was basically a spit in the face to Ridley Scott and his original movie franchise, and was broken in every way. It contained lackluster gameplay, bugs (both literally and in the software), terrible graphics and cheap scares. While we wish the game could simply remain lost in space for the rest of eternity, SEGA saw it fit to publish the game anyway. But, SEGA certainly received its fair share of punishment after the game’s release. Not only was their a lawsuit claiming false advertisement (I mean, after all, the game’s trailers did make the game actually look fantastic), but it holds a metascore in the 40s for all three platforms that it appeared on (PC, PS3 and Xbox 360). Even 10 months later, I’m still quite sour on SEGA for releasing such a low quality game.
It’s clear that publishers aren’t paying attention to the games that they are publishing. Anyone that played 2013’s Star Trek: The Game, including J.J. Abrams himself, can tell you that the game is a flawed experience on every level. So, the question remains: how could Namco Bandai knowingly release such a low quality game? Are Namco and these other major video game publishers not interested in creating a long-term fan-base that respects them? We’re already starting to see these low quality games have an adverse effect on these companies via their stock prices dropping. Hopefully, with these companies losing faith from their investors, they’ll start to put more emphasis on fully testing their games to ensure they’re only releasing high quality games that the gaming community will respect more for not having an automatic day-one patch.