• 17, August, 2017

Is This The End Of Pre-Ordering Video Games?

Overloaded servers, nightmarish glitches, missing features and unplayable game modes If 2014 has taught us anything, it’s that when it comes to the launch day for the most anticipated games of the year, triple A game developers will let you down, consecutively.

It was the year for next generation gaming, new consoles were finding their feet and we saw the start of fresh new franchises like Watch_Dogs and Destiny. We were promised fully immersive game play, endless opportunities and ‘game changing’ graphics. Expectations were high and games were looking to be bigger than ever. Unfortunately, most of that never happened, instead many games were pushed back a year, and the rest that did make their deadline suffered some terrible problems on launch day, leading to most of the games being unplayable for weeks thereafter.

Having been created by Bungie, who have a history of releasing well polished games, as well as holding an open beta to test its servers; it was surprising to see Destiny being faced with so many issues on release day. Broken servers and dropping frame rates aren’t the best way to kick off a brand new franchise.  PS4 and Xbox One also had troubles getting their console exclusives off the ground; DriveClub and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.  Both suffered from server and networking issues from day one, rendering DriveClub’s “complete online experience”and Halo’s multiplayer game modes unplayable.

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Out of all the games that suffered during their launch last year I think it’s safe to say Assassins Creed Unity had the worst, with almost every area of the game suffering in one way or another. Like others, Unity encountered connectivity and server issues, but it didn’t stop there. From day one players experienced some rather frightening graphical errors, as well as frame rate issues, crashing and freezing, collision problems, progress loss, broken or missing features… the list goes on.

Even though all these games suffered horrendously at launch, due to overzealous marketing the pre-order figures were huge. This lead many game developers to be blinded by the numbers and unaffected by how their game was received by fans. Even after their wobbly year previous year, Assassin’s Creed is already lined up for its sixth instalment and Destiny went on to release some rather pricey DLC. If pre-order numbers were lower, and figures only started to rise until a week after launch, would that push game developers to wait until games were finished before releasing them?

Disastrous launch days weren’t the only thing that plagued the gaming industry last year. Even if a game did manage to make it through their first few weeks unaffected, games like Titanfall, Watch_Dogs, Destiny, Thief, The Crew and many more, although somewhat good games, soon fell short of the expectations we were promised by game developers. This doesn’t necessarily mean to say 2014 was “the worst year in gaming history”. I mean for every bad game there was a good one, and although they weren’t prefect most of the launch day issues were addressed. If you had waited and bought a game a week or two post launch then you were lucky enough to miss all the hassle day one players had to deal with.

Personally, I feel no matter how terrible a game launch may be, it doesn’t affect the game experience as a whole. For all its problems I thoroughly enjoyed Assassin Creed Unity, Halo: The Master Chief Collection. They were everything I had hoped it would be, and I even found Titanfall incredibly addictive (even if it did only last three weeks).

When looking back on how far gaming has come (even within the past few years) it really makes me wonder why so many games are experiencing problems like these on release, and why developers are letting it happen. Fellow gamers are now uniting together for “no pre-orders in 2015” and I can see their point. If a lack of pre-orders leads to developers releasing fully finished and playable games on the day of their launch, then I’m more than ready to throw my hat into the ring. I’m happy to wait a little longer to receive a game, even if it means missing out on pre-order exclusives and day one opportunities, as all that is obsolete if the game is unplayable.

  • Yeah I’m starting to think ‘ready for release’ should become part of the review metrics.

  • Jason Mounce

    I’m definitely pre-ordering MGS5.