• November 24, 2014

Buggy on arrival: Post-release patches

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Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 2:02 pm, Fri Jan 17, 2014.

Every gamer has had the occasional run-in with a big bad bug: Some unexpected kink in the system crashes your game, freezes it, or corrupts your saves. It happens to the best of them. We, as the consumers, usually don’t mind as long as it doesn’t happen often.

So why does it seem as though the game companies are trying to force us to tolerate them?

EA and DICE’s Battlefield 4 has been out less than a month, and already huge, server-crashing bugs have had to be hastily patched by DICE. These issues have been reported in many of the releases, from the PC to the PS4. Save files are corrupted, the maps crash, and videos recorded with the PS4’s touted “Share” feature sometimes have no audio.

It’s not just Battlefield, either. In the latest Batman game, the nonsensically-named Arkham Origins, players were bedeviled by several game-breaking bugs. These included a malfunctioning vent that stuck players in a small room, the classic “infinite fall,” and sometimes the complete disappearance of the Continue button from the main menu.

The fact that some of these bugs have been fixed relatively quickly by patches tells me they could just as easily have been fixed before launch and that the game developers were in such a rush to get the product out that they were forced to put out a flawed one.

Why do some games seem be released with all the problems intact? According to unconfirmed remarks by quality assurance testers on Reddit, Battlefield 4 was rushed so it would come out before its nemesis Call of Duty. No word from Warner Bros Games, whic developed Arkham Origins, but it’s possible they had similar motivations.

Game developers and distributors have two options: Either delay the games for quality testing and have their profit margins go down, or release the product with all of the bugs intact and let the customers who paid $60 for a game act as unofficial bug-finders. Don’t be quick to select the first option, either. Remember, they could always raise the price of their games to compensate, and, at $60 minimum for almost every AAA release, games are plenty expensive already.

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