Gamers are bad at saying no.
We like to pretend we aren’t. We like to pretend we’re tough customers who don’t accept bullshit from anybody.
It’s a hard argument to make with the bullshit ‘stache staining our upper lips, a relic of the last few steaming spoonfuls we gobbled up gladly.
And I can’t help but feel like we’re all gearing ourselves up for another helping.
Arkham Knight on PC is one of the biggest disappointments of the last decade. Not just in general, but for me personally – and I’m not even sure I would have bought it anyway.
I haven’t been this disillusioned with the games industry in a long time – maybe ever.
The real tragedy, however, is that in spite of all the refunds, the internet outrage, the petitions, the forum rants and the Twitter death threats, the game is probably going to end up with some pretty decent sales numbers (when it’s actually released).
As I said before – gamers are bad at saying no.
It’s easy to turn your nose up at a crappy restaurant when there’s twenty more nearby. It’s easy to switch cellphone providers if you’re unhappy with the service.
But if you’ve been dying to play Arkham Knight? Well, there’s only one of those, isn’t there? So you’ll kick and scream and rant like everybody else, but somewhere in between all of that you’ll reach for your wallet.
Before you call me a hypocrite, I’ll do it for you. If this was a game I cared more about, maybe I’d cave too. If it was Half-Life 3, I’d buy it if everything was purple and it could only be operated with a steering wheel. I’m bad at saying no too.
But that doesn’t change this essential truth: Rocksteady, Warner Brothers, whoever you feel comfortable pointing the finger at here – they don’t deserve your money. Not for this title. Hell, Rocksteady didn’t even make the game.
In fact, right now, they’re busy making it. After they’ve sold it to you. They have their “best people working on it”, with no end in sight.
Shouldn’t they have had their “best people working on it” since the beginning? As it turns out, it wasn’t “their people” at all – the game was handed off to some unknown developer who claimed precisely none of the credit. Not that they’d want to at this point.
Here’s the thing – you weren’t paying for a game by “Iron Galaxy Studios”. You were paying for a game by Rocksteady. Imagine you and a couple of friends go out and buy iPhones. Your friends get the real deal, and you get handed a Chinese knockoff.
It doesn’t matter that they look the same when yours runs like ass and nothing works.
What pisses me off the most is that none of that is made clear. The news that the game was ported by IGS in the first place came from the game’s closing credits, which innocuously listed the studio as providing “PC support”.
What you’re being sold is a Rocksteady title. What you’re being given is a game coded by a bunch of jokers who couldn’t throw together a Candy Crush level.
I lied – that’s not what pisses me off the most. What pisses me off the most is that this isn’t the first time this has happened. Doing a little reading, I discovered that the infamous Iron Galaxy Studios was also responsible for the PC version of Arkham: Origins.
I skimmed through about five or six reviews of that title, and found one common theme – “game-breaking” bugs and glitches. Apparently not enough to get it removed from Steam though.
We all paid R600 for a turd sandwich last time, so why wouldn’t we gladly accept another one? Publisher WB is perfectly aware of Iron Galaxy’s ineptitude, they just don’t care – as long as you spooning it in, they’ll keep serving it up.
This time, of course, the final product was so bad they couldn’t skate by with a couple of mediocre reviews. This time they’re full of apologies and platitudes. But what they’re short on is explanations.
Because, frankly, there isn’t one. If the game was actually playtested for as little as one day, the multitude of issues would be obvious. The only real explanation is that as the time for distribution approached, WB simply shrugged and said, “Meh. F**k it. Give us what you have.”
They aren’t morons, they just thought they could pass it off as an actual game and collect the profits. Why not? It worked for Origins.
It worked for other games too. DICE describes Battlefield 4‘s state at launch as “unacceptable” – gamers preferred the term “unplayable”. A quick Google search tells me that particular gem still sold more than 12 million copies. Five million less than Battlefield 3, but the hilarious part of that is that EA blames the shift to next-gen consoles for the sales drop. So after openly admitting that the game was a trainwreck for the first couple of months of its life, they don’t believe that had the most significant impact on sales.
The problem isn’t that gamers can’t say no, the problem is that the publishers know it – well enough to exploit it.
Hell, on the list of things WB say they’re working on right now for Arkham Knight PC is “support for frame rates above 30fps”, as if that’s something they somehow weren’t aware of before, along with the title’s general unplayability.
This game’s release on PC was deceitful, disrespectful, unethical and unacceptable. Fixing it after the fact doesn’t change anything – it just means the people who want your money shot for the bare minimum and didn’t even manage that.
The message here is clear – the people who made this don’t give a f**k about you.
And you should return the favour.