I only started reviewing games seriously near the end of the year – complete with a reviewing scale that assigned a two to console games that are so buggy that they can become unplayable.
With the PC I allow a little more leeway with what counts as “unplayable” because you are dealing with a wide range of configurations, graphics cards and even other stuff running in the background.
Consoles are pretty standard.
The reason why I bring this up is that of the ten most anticipated games of the Christmas season of 2010 I gave a score of two to two of them because of bugs. I am not forgiving when it comes to bugs because you the average gamer aren’t either.
If you look at the history of gaming whenever a company gains a name for buggy products its days become numbered. Black Isle released awesome games – and ended up going broke because the finishing touches just weren’t done.
Sierra, my favourite gaming company for years, ended up forced out of being a developer because their games, while often good, were also often buggy.
The same thing happened to Troika – awesome games like Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, undermined by bugs. Even Ultima IX, a serious franchise killer, would have actually been okay if the developers hadn’t shipped it with a memory leak.
The most basic demand we have of our games is not that they be awesome revolutionaries, it is that they play. It is that they aren’t a hassle to get playable. This is why Blizzard is so good at making money – and highly creative, innovative gaming houses that are fan favourites so frequently aren’t.
The worst thing about this is that when it is big names that are this flawed – these are the most obvious entry points for people who are relatively new to “non-casual” gaming or the genre the game represents, which means not only does it hurt the company in the longer term but shrinks the potential market.