Now that title may seem a tad inflammatory (because it is), but it’s okay because I included myself in it.
The Internet, that cesspool of anonymity and human indecency, has funneled its loudest, whiniest and most obnoxious users into the gaming section of the information superhighway (remember when they called it that?).
The fact is, as gamers, we like to complain. Well actually, we love it. If it was announced tomorrow that the power button for the PS4 was going to be square instead of round, we’d have a petition up by evening. By the following morning we’d have a million signatures, and the imbecile at Sony HQ who dared mention That Quadrangle Which Shall Not Be Named would be busking on the street before lunch.
The caveat here is that while we’re exceptionally good at throwing toddler tantrums, we fold like a cheap suit the second someone threatens to take away our candy.
A good friend of mine got me Call of Duty: Ghosts as a birthday present, and I’ve been playing the hell out of it the last few days.
In that time, I’ve developed somewhat of a love-hate relationship with it. On the one hand, I’m having a ton of fun. I love multiplayer FPS titles, and charging around a map shooting noobs in their respective noob faces gives me endless joy.
On the other hand, I feel like I’m playing a closed beta, and that pisses me off.
The game doesn’t just feel unfinished, it is. We were promised dedicated servers, now Infinity Ward is telling us those will be “phased in over time”. They’ve also said they’re going to add missing game modes, such as Search and Destroy.
The game runs like a three-legged sloth with a recent head trauma, and the multiplayer experience is marred by lag issues and FPS drops. It looks worse and performs worse on my PC than Modern Warfare 3; a game released two years ago.
The reason for all this is horrible optimisation and shoddy coding. And the reason for all that is because it was rushed out the door in order to meet the holiday deadline. Activision wants a Call of Duty: Ghosts under every Christmas tree this December; that early November release date is non-negotiable.
Of course, this will all be fixed. Over the next few weeks, Infinity Ward will undoubtedly release various patches, addressing all these issues. What they’re essentially doing is finishing the game after the fact. Hell, I had to download a 3GB Day Zero update right after I installed the game, something which has become common practice.
While everyone is kicking up a storm right now, threatening refunds, “I’m never buying a Call of Duty game again,” “Infinity Ward should die in a fire,” etc. etc. – as soon as the issues are resolved that’ll all be forgotten. Almost immediately.
Gamers threatening publishers and developers is no different from the drunk resting his head on the toilet seat, promising himself he’ll never touch the stuff again. That is, until next Friday, when nothing will quite quench the thirst like a cold beer (or seven).
We’ll shake our heads in disgust and furiously mash our keyboards on Twitter and official forums; we’ll light our torches and wave our pitchforks menacingly, bang our chests and try to look like this time, this time we’re serious.
And then, when November rolls around next year, we’ll cup our hands once more, kneeled in front of Bobby Kotick, begging, “Please, sir, may I have some more?”. He’ll give us that crocodile grin, slipping the money from our wallets while he lays another turd in our outstretched palms.
How do I know this? A quick Google search shows how many issues Black Ops 2 had at launch. A scan of the results shows that the poor sods who bought the PS3 version are still having issues as of a couple of months ago.
I’m sure we were all up in arms about it then, but that hasn’t stopped Ghosts from raking in a cool billion for Activision in a single day. Who cares how much of that is retail and how much is consumer sales – I know Activision doesn’t. As long as someone’s buying, they’re selling.
And I’m one of them; I’m part of the problem. Despite all its flaws, its unpolished, glaring incompleteness, I love playing Ghosts. All I really want is for those patches to come out, to get it running more smoothly.
At this point you might be scoffing, indignantly telling yourself that none of this applies to you. You don’t buy crap like Ghosts, you make sure that you get what you pay for.
You’re fooling yourself. This kind of apathy is rampant in the industry; from League of Legends’ crappy, consistently unstable European servers, to restrictive DRM, to Xbox One’s quick takesies-backsies on policies which they insisted could not be reversed, to meaningless release dates and unforgiveable bugs, horrible launches and even worse consumer communication.
And we forgive all of it. Worse, we forget. We scream and cry and wave our arms until we get our way, but once we’ve gotten what we wanted we cease to criticise the fact that it wasn’t there in the first place.
I’m pissed now about IW’s shoddy Ghosts release, but I know that in a couple of weeks (provided the kinks are worked out), I won’t even care anymore. I’ll have forgotten what our little tiff was all about; rapt in that irrational justification that only love and video games can do to us.
Still, there’s a voice in the back of my head begging me not to forget, begging me to keep strong in my convictions, to have some self-respect and not accept this kind of blatant, money-grabbing exploitation.
And that voice is losing.