This week solidsteven talks to us about whether or not developers and publishers are putting money before quality games.
The gaming industry has grown from a small hobby to a multimillion industry. We have seen some games that rival and even surpass blockbuster film franchisesc, such as Metal Gear Solid, the Legend of Zelda etc. Those games brought a load of profits to their developers and publishers. Quality was placed above profits during those days but has that changed now?
During the last few years, we have seen an increase of publishers trying to make as much profit as possible by spending as little as necessary on development; to the extent that it seems they are willing to release a half complete game. For example, Resistance 3 seems to have been released before it was ready, judging by the amount of patches; it seems that Insomniac wanted to get it out as soon as it was playable.[drop]The odd patch is acceptable, as not every game engine is easy to code for. However, when patches appear on release day or even in review copies it does make it look like the game was rushed.
Fallout 3 is infamous for its bugs, but the Gamebryo engine had a reputation for being full of issues before Fallout 3 came to table. Could Bethesda have created a new engine from scratch at the time? Probably, but the Gamebryo engine had proven to be capable of producing a wonderful setting in Oblivion. Why spend money on building a new engine when you already have one that works?
It seems that their attempt at saving some money didn’t work, as Fallout 3 was very prone to crashes and bugs were everywhere. They could have put more resources into improving the engine, and potentially have improved sales. It is a bit annoying when you go to boot up a game that you have been waiting for only to be met with the patch. It’s even more annoying when that happens on release. But I’m not just going to focus on half completed games.
We have seen the rise of DLC (Downloadable Content) in the last few years, which has proven to be quite popular with both gamers and publishers. It extends the replayability of the game and brings in long term revenue, but is it worth splashing out on?
DLC seems like easy money for the publishers, but not all DLC is of good quality and some are items that have been cut from the game to sell as new DLC. The most infamous example of a publisher cutting something out of a game was Capcom locking the Versus mode of Resident Evil 5 and then selling the key to unlock the mode which was already on the disc.
The Gears of War Weapons pack is £30 and offers some cosmetic changes to the game. Hardly a bargain is it? By way of comparisson, Dragon Age Awakening offers a new story that takes place after Origins, new skills, new locations, new quests for just £2 more. Which is worth its pricetag?[drop2]In my opinion, and I believe a lot of fellow TSAers will agree with me, Dragon Age Awakening. Who would honestly pay for the GoW3 DLC? I think I will have trouble trying to find a person who would buy it. There is making a profit and satisfying your fans, and then there is showing them the middle finger by putting out some very overpriced and underwhelming DLC; it makes the Call of Duty Map packs seem a bargain at those prices.
I could talk forever about which companies have sacrificed quality for profits but I’m going to round this up by asking who is to blame for this? Is it the gamers or the publishers and developers? I believe the blame lies with both. We have bought their rushed games and DLC, but it’s also clear that the publishers and developers must share some blame for putting out the rushed games in the first place. A game that isn’t fully developed will struggle to make as much money as a game that was carefully developed and fully tested to make sure that there are little to no problems.