Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Opinion: Are Games Not Being Properly Developed?

Opinion: Are Games Not Being Properly Developed?
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 1/14/2014
Written by Dustin Murphy

 As gamer's we are all used to one thing; patches. Patches are becoming a bigger thing than ever with the release of newer games and consoles. It seems that many of these games are getting them more consistently now than ever within the past few years. Some of these updates also include day one updates just for games to work the way they should have right out of the box. Does this seem to be an epidemic that is now a mindset that the industry has taken on as a whole?

 In late November we got a peek at what became one of the biggest ill-received launches in gaming history (or at least for me) with Battlefield 4. The game itself is plagued with bugs, patches, and now some stability tweaks to make sure the game functions as it should have when it launched on all major platforms with the exception of the Wii U. It makes it seem as if the gaming industry has forgotten how to be proud of a product, to show that they care, and have thoroughly tested it. This only seems to be an occurrence with the more recent titles as they launch or have launched. What is the cause of this? Well my take is simple - launch windows. It seems that developers are concerned about making launch windows, that they are running out of time, and that they hurt their profits as well as reputations by taking their time. The biggest and most noticeable push back is Watch_Dogs by Ubisoft. Supposed to have launched in November of 2013, Watch_Dogs was set to storm the new consoles with a host of features no game has had to date, and that was its pull. Now with games such Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Infamous: Second Son (set to launch in February of this year), and now Battlefield 4 being out interest is being lost.

 What was the reason for the delay? Well according to Ubisoft's statements that are floating around the news industry, it's because of quality of the game, and that is something they've stood firm on since the announcement at E3 in 2012. We can only hope that this shows that having delayed a game does not necessarily mean the product will hurt because of it. With it having been a launch title for the PlayStation 4 and XBox One the stock's that Ubisoft has did see a bit of a punch. Though does this set a practice that many game companies can afford to do? Some of them can't. With smaller companies such as XSeed, Atlus, the once hurting Capcom, these sales are something they need in order to keep bringing games across the shores, which leads to their amazing attention to detail and polished games when they launch.

 With many games launching across the next generation of consoles, we can only hope that highly polished games become a practice, and if it doesn't? Expect a lot of updates in the future of a game. 

 A good showing of this is the state that Battlefield 4 is currently in. The game has been struggling since it's launch back in November of 2013. The game has been suffering from graphics bugs, game stability problems, and of course game save bugs for next generation consoles and reportedly PC. This is starting to make many gamer's lose trust in Electronic Arts as a whole. Unfortunately as a publisher, it also could effect their upcoming games by developer BioWare who has been hard at work on their next installments for Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Hopefully we don't see this coming up in the future of Electronic Arts published games. Another good example of this problem is Silent Hill HD on the XBox 360. Unfortunately this game saw many bugs with the XBox 360 version including the following: FPS drops, save data corruptions, console hard-locks related to Silent Hill 3, and of course bugs that allowed for puzzles to be incomplete. While the PS3 version saw a host of bug fixes, we are stuck on the XBox 360 having an unplayable game that was replaced by Konami for different games, but only to people who had bought the game at launch. Unfortunately this demonstrates that the practice has surfaced once before from a famed and classic franchise.

 One of the biggest demonstrations though of a troubled game is Aliens: Colonial Marines published by SEGA. The title has set itself up to be one of the most amazingly realistic Aliens games to hit the market. The title originally intended to put players in a ultra-realistic setting that mimicked the realistic and terrifying atmosphere that Ridley Scott had created back in 1986 with Aliens. As the game got delayed multiple times over the span of countless years, players, SEGA, and even the industry seemed to suspect something was wrong with the development process over at Gearbox. Unfortunately to many who didn't know, the game was passed off to multiple studios, and the failure to communicate began. With little help from Gearbox according to sources that remained anonymous to multiple gaming news sites, the game was suffering major problems as Gearbox focused on Borderlands 2, which was already working on new downloadable content. As the work was sent to TimeGate as well as Nerve Software, things seemed to unravel, and that's when it fell apart. Unfortunately what was released to the gaming community demonstrated how bad the game had suffered in its development process. Though this easily reflects the lack of interest that's taken into games by other parties than those whom had passion for them. While the game itself suffered from the lack of graphics displayed at more than one convention and of course even seemed half-developed, the story while odd remained interesting, and in some way became the only redeeming factor of the title itself. 

 However, the above mentioned also demonstrates an idea that sometimes the passion just isn't there, that the drive to make the most astounding and well rounded game isn't being tried for. This is becoming a problem that many gamer's have yet to truly say anything about and when they do, they get lashed out by developers, and of course made to feel as if they don't matter. Hopefully, we see this change in the future. If not, the future of gaming could be grim, and that's not something many gamer's can hope for or want.

 When you buy a game are you used to day one updates? Do you think games aren't being thoroughly enough worked on? Let me know in the comments your stance on this and what you expect from a game when it launches.

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