We Can't Stop Supporting Broken Games

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You've probably already read this blog article entitled "Stop Supporting Broken Games". It's in regards to Bethesda's pattern of releasing games that are incomplete or crippled with bugs.

As a gamer you should expect a completed game when you purchase it. A final, working product is not something to be created with patching. There is no excuse for this pattern of disrespect to gamers.

I realize that Bethesda is not the sole perpetrator of these kinds of acts. But Bethesda also shows a repeated history of abuse with no plans as far as I can tell to change the course of their development process. They stand as a testament to the broken game release -> patch -> repatch cycle.
I agree with it and it's something that I personally do myself. I never buy a game on the first day and I will usually wait until the first or second major patch before I consider purchasing it. The trick is to ignore the hype (of new releases) and build up a game queue that you still need to play first before moving onto something new. There are many players doing this already, but like the blog said - there should be a lot more. Enough to the point where it forces game developers to strengthen their Quality Assurance process and ensure that "complete games" are released. It will never happen (consumers are impulsive and businesses are cheap), but it's a nice idea.

I've seen this "repeated history of abuse" before though and it's even worse with another big-name corporation. =]

When I was in the World of Warcraft closed beta, the bugs and issues were terrible. Constant crashes, application hangs (requiring frequent reboots), server instability and resets, server lag and latency problems, screen tearing and video bugs like what you've seen in FNV, and incompatibilities with many system builds, operating systems, video/audio cards. The game was unplayable by many.. that is unless they were technically skilled and had a few different computer systems available. The game was awesome but the bugs were absolutely crippling. I believed that Blizzard would fix the worst of the bugs before the RETAIL release, but they didn't.. they released WoW incomplete and still with the bugs that were present in the beta for MONTHS.

So, right now there are players complaining about Bethesda bugs that take a week (or a couple weeks) to fix. But imagine if critical issues and crippling bugs took MONTHS and even YEARS to fix? What if each "patch" would fix some small issues, but cause even MORE problems? Blizzard did it and they still do it.

To make matters even worse, Blizzard's online games are PERMANENT. With single-player games, there are issues that you can fix yourself, methods to continue progress that might have been lost, unofficial patches, or temporary workarounds available. But with Blizzard's online games, you can't fix the issues yourself and any changes made to your account are permanent.

Since time is considered a commodity, bugs in online games are significantly more damaging.

In 2009, Blizzard announced that they were tracking approx. 180,000 bugs in WoW. Keep in mind that these were the "official" bugs on record that they were troubleshooting. Their bug tracker would have a different definition and scope then that of other companies.. unofficially, there are probably 10 times that number but it would all depend on what you classify as a "bug".

So right now FNV has one serious graphics related bug, game saving issues, and quest related bugs. Blizzard games have also had those same issues (not specifically "game saving", but they've had WoW/Diablo character resets that could not be recovered) but they have ALSO:

- melted video cards and destroyed gaming PCs (that severe bug was actually discovered during February beta testing and remained in the retail) which took 7 months for a non-Blizzard workaround to be released
- allowed an insane DPS exploit (Global Cooldown Hack) for 6 years
- WoW & SC2 corrupted video (1-2 years for WoW, 1 month for SC2)
- random PC resets & application hangs for 2 years
- random server crashes, severe client drops (to the point where a user couldn't play for weeks at a time and there was no time reimbursement), latency issues for 2 years
- unfair PVP due to mass cheating and exploitation
- WoW duping bugs that destroyed economies for 7 months (and then there are bots = 6 years of damage)
- the infamous "Corrupted Blood" incident which resulted in several server restarts, populations being wiped out, Blizzard quarantines, players unable to play (1 month to fix)-
- the similar WOTLK zombie plague (1 week to fix - was it really intended?)

.. the list just goes on and on. Most recently, there was the "cogwheel issue", BG/Dungeon crashes, stuck on loading screens, broken Glyphs, valuable recipes randomly deleted, the Hallows Eve event issue, and players who join an in-progress BG do not receive honor or the daily reward (this has been going on for a month now). And there are also INTENDED changes that have completely ruined a player's gameplay experience and/or increased the amount of time they play the game.

It just never ends.. with each new patch comes brand new issues and sometimes very severe bugs.

A Blizzard fanboy will be quick to point out the EULA to me however. The excuse is that we're not really entitled to anything, we're not a special snowflake, Blizzard can do whatever they want to our PC or our time and they're not responsible for what happens to our PCs. Does that make it alright though? What does it say about a company that makes it clear in their contract that they don't stand by their products or their services?

I do what I can though. When there are major game-breaking bugs, I simply cancel my subscription and wait until things improve before I continue playing. Blizzard never knows this though. I don't think they would really care either.. history has shown that Blizzard takes their time in fixing game-breaking issues or severe bugs. That's the beauty of a monthly subscription based model.. they still have my money even though I only played for the first week before giving up and they know I'll be back.