The Decline in Quality Game Development

Ulric | 4 November 2009 | Comments off

I need to start off by reminding you that I am now 28 years old. This means I was born in 1981, and started getting into games (mostly computer games) around the early 90’s; all before the internet became widely into use. I’ve been hard at it ever since!

Over that time I’ve noticed a horrible trend emerge. While it may be too late to talk about it now; this is old news to some, frustrating to others, and has always been normal every-day stuff for the rest; what I’m talking about is lazy game development.

The latest AAA title release from the developers Gearbox and their publishers 2k Games is what finally pushed me over the edge, and prompted me to write this article. Their game Borderlands has been out for the Xbox 360 and PS3 for a fortnight now, ahead of the PC launch last week. All three have been plagued with bugs which many consider game breakers; just take a look over at the official forums to see what I’m talking about.

Now what has me ‘up in arms’ here, is actually two related topics.

First off modern game developers are slacking. Before the internet was a crutch for games, we would see officially released, completed and packaged games; for both the oldest of consoles and the earliest of computers. You may not think about it now, but back then developers didn’t have the luxury of patching their games. There was no quick internet download patch, the game consoles were not connected 24/7 to the internet. What you bought was all you had, a finished product with nothing else to download, and no rescue via patch in the works.

But today we have the internet connected to everything from our computers and consoles, cell-phones, and even televisions. What this has done to the quality of games development has resulted in the ‘way of the lazy’. Taking a look at our example Borderlands; we can see a plague of bugs crippling the game for many post-launch, and consumers are just expecting them to fix up the bugs in a soon to be released patch (or patches).

Why do we expect this? Regrettably we do so because this is the current trend in games development. Develop a game and spend less on testing, more on marketing. Expect the release day customers to pay to test their games without them even knowing it. When they post up on the forums with their bug reports, fix the bugs in a couple of patches a week or three later, problem solved. Meanwhile the retail customers are stuck with a game that in many cases is full of game breaking bugs and playability issues that should have easily been fixed with proper in-house testing.

Shame on you lazy game developers!

This brings me on the second related topic; why do we put up with this? Taking a look at the forums of these bug ridden games we can see that many of the customers expect to have a few bugs in their newly purchased game. What’s worse, if you complain about the bugs these same customers (who bought and own the same game you have) spout off nonsense about how you should be patient and wait for the game developers to release the patch, since the game is ‘just brand new’.

Wait a minute… Now I’m expected to wait for a patch to fix the bugs that show up in a game after its release, before I can play the game which I purchased as intended? What happened to testing these games before release? And why do these customers find this to be normal and actually expect the games to be released full of bugs? What happened to expecting quality from a product you buy? At what point did consumers start believing new and broken is worth full retail price, or simply worth buying at all? Why do I get castrated on a game forum by my fellow game enthusiast when I post up about how I think it’s absurd that I have to wait for a patch on my brand new game? Why are people selling themselves short, expecting less out of their retail purchases than I do?

And I refer you back to the first topic, lazy developers and taking the quick and easy route rather than the responsible route… because we let them.

Bring back the quality!

Article Courtesy of Landshark

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