Quantcast

Editorials

AAA Game Quality: We’re Getting Sloppy

on

Bugs are going to happen in any videogame, no matter what engine runs it, which company creates it, and which devs are chosen to produce it. While we like to think that bugs make up the biggest flaws of any poorly-received game, they’re everywhere, even in the most popular titles. We don’t really like our enemies gyrating into the dirt, or our couriers showing up without clothes, but we tolerate them. The older the game gets, the more we’re likely to look back on those annoying bugs and laugh.

picdabarrel

Sometimes, you just have to drink the whole barrel.

 

However, when two different companies have to release formal apologies for the quality of their releases in the same month, the situation changes quite a bit.

Blizzard’s release of their long-awaited sixth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was met with a seemingly higher level of post-release hardships than usual. With two-to-eight hour queue times, constant lag, and server kicks, some players weren’t able to experience the content until weeks after its release.

wodqueue

Assassin’s Creed: Unity players experienced a number of graphical and model errors, some of which were game-breaking or greatly hindered progression. Players also found the game had a chance of crashing upon logging in, an issue that, at the time, could only be fixed by wiping their friends lists. Even Dragon Age: Inquisition has its fair share of hiccups, the most obvious one being a scripting bug that shuts off most party banter and prevents music being played in the various zones. 2014 was a rough year for gaming in general, but the last couple of releases were almost discouragingly sloppy.

We’ll throw around justifications and explanations until we’re blue in the face, but the most glaring, common accusation from players to devs is laziness. It’s an easy, believable answer, and it definitely serves its purpose in getting people angry and prompting many a boring circlejerk on Reddit. It’s also the rallying cry of anyone who hasn’t fully taken into account exactly what’s involved in game design and bug detection.

cliff1

In an interview with Wired.com, former Gears of War design director Cliff Blezinski explained, “In 2015 and beyond, the expectations for a traditional AAA game’s feature set in an established franchise are so immensely high that when you couple that with the added graphical fidelity you’re looking at an increased budget, increased risk, and the potential for more bugs and problems. You can put 10,000 of the best [quality assurance] folks on your game for years before the game ships and I can guarantee they’re not going to find every problem or issue; you’re going to ship with some. The key is to get rid of the major game breakers, but even now, we’re seeing some of those problems on ship.”

The hard truth is that no game is ever going to come out completely flawless. Rushed deadlines and overfocus on other aspects of the game might even take the place of the necessary bug zapping spree, especially with AAA titles. Personally, I’m willing to tack ‘next-gen quality requirements’ on the list of reasons for an increased number of bugs. Technology moves fast, and gaming has to move alongside it, if not faster. Finding and eliminating every single bug across every console prior to release, while taking into account the tight schedule, is all but impossible. There’s no single answer for the problem – at this point, ending the issue is far more important than concentrating on the ‘why’.

While there’s ultimately a shit ton of reasons why AAA game quality has decreased over the years, those reasons aren’t going to hold water for very long if quality control doesn’t step it up, and soon. A year full of games that were either not well received at all or given a ‘meh’ response at best isn’t good for future releases, especially if two of those companies had to recompensate their players for the shoddy quality. It doesn’t look good for those developers, and it certainly puts the industry itself in a pretty bad light.

About Deborah Crocker

Deborah is a 22 year old semi-hermit currently plodding through her senior year of college and getting her feet wet in game journalism. She has a somewhat unhealthy obsession with high fantasy, video games, novels, and Elder Scrolls. When she’s not in front of a screen, she enjoys singing and a bit of beading. She’s also currently on the hunt for the restaurant with the best cheeseburger.

Recommended for you

  • Anthony Garcia

    Honestly i think its the deadlines that keep getting them, they’re always rushing to meet the deadline that they overlook things, if you’re going to have a deadline at least put it out far enough that you can safely make, check, fix and recheck the game multiple times because some of those errors shouldn’t happen in the first place(Assassin’ Unity face glitches). And another thing is when you have something you are working on you don’t take multiple projects, hand one over to another company then take it back and re-fix it in 6 months(im looking at Aliens colonial marines). Companies just need to slow down a little, i know its not easy, but they need to try something different if they’re going to stay in the market, people don’t want crappy games and I’m pretty sure companies aren’t big fans of law suits from people not getting what was promised, and yes i know like with all things you don’t always get everything that was promised in these situations. And that’s the end of my rant.

  • Rampant

    It used to be standard for any Blizzard game to be “estimated time of release” + 6mo, with a potential additional 3-6mo. The fans generally accepted this as hey, less bugs, better game. The massive debacle of the games above really has to have those giants take a hard look at their design – are they willing to push out mediocre-at-best, crap-at-worst games and suffer the consumer backlash and loss of diehard customers or are they willing to release a statement that says they’re delaying the release of a highly-anticipated game in order to improve the experience for all players? I have to admit, I’m now twitchy about buying from those companies for those exact reasons and would rather wait well past release date to ensure the game I get is the one I pay to play, updates and all. I certainly don’t pre-order due to this, with very, very rare exception.