Mass Effect Andromeda – A Cautionary Tale of Modern Game Development

I’ll be the first one to agree with the sentiment that I want new games and I want them now. What I also want are good quality games. I don’t want low quality video games. It’s as simple as that. If God of War: Kratos has a son edition released and it turns out that every other step you take you are falling through the ground or you even clip through the environment as a result of shoddy development, I’m going to be pissed. Why? Because I expect better out of my games? I come from a much simpler time…the 90’s. Maybe simpler isn’t the right word, but when a game released it was done. There wasn’t much else to say. There wasn’t going to be some patch in a few weeks that magically made Kratos walk correctly or his facial animation suddenly work.

That’s the problem with “modern” game development though. Instead of fixing something before release there is a mentality that they can fix it and just apologize to the fans. Here’s the kicker though, what if we said no? What if instead of just saying, well it will be patched in later, we instead said that’s fine. I’m not playing your game then. Of course one person isn’t really going to hurt the pockets of AAA financial behemoth EA, but enough people say no and then EA has to rethink some tactics. In this console generation we have seen more botched game releases than in the past decade alone. That’s sad considering that at one time we had three different architectures for developers to work on, now it’s all on a PC based architecture with differing amounts of power.

Now obviously EA isn’t the only company guilty of such a crime though. Ubisoft has botched their own releases multiple times, in fact to the point where if a game launches with no major issues it is really a shock, even Square Enix with Final Fantasy XV had some problems and are patching them in now, although that really is an entirely different story altogether with a lot more questions and answers that Square really needs to come forward about. This begs the question though, why the hell are game developers allowed to get away with this criminally understated problem?

(Double the wanna-be Wrex, double the problems)

If I owned a restaurant and only gave you half of a sandwich, but told you that in a few minutes the other part would be done, would you be happy and just say okay thanks? Then just start eating the sandwich? No, you would say “I’ll wait thanks” and then go on having your scroll through Facebook again. That’s the problem. Game developers are teasing you with their trailers and gameplay footage constantly telling you, look how cool this is. You now play as Ryder and you have a jetpack and oh look, new alien species!!! Let’s go talk to them! Anyone else buying their pitiful lies now?

(Get half your game now for the full price, you only have to wait a few months :s)

It’s not even that Mass Effect Andromeda is a bad game at its heart. It’s that it’s a buggy mess and just one more game to add to the AAA garbage pile. If a game releases with that many bugs it wasn’t ready to be released. In the first 3 hours of a 100+ hour game you see facial animation issues, characters disappearing into thin air, enemies appearing out of thin air, and a mess load of other bugs that just shouldn’t be there. I shouldn’t have to tell you why this is a problem. We know it’s a problem, they know it’s a problem. Why don’t you wait until the game is finished?

Now I know the argument on the part of the developer and that is money. If they release now they get paid and the game becomes a success, at least financially. If they wait that’s time that they are not making money. I mean just look at what Square Enix recently did with Hitman. Instead of releasing a full game they did a season pass with a new area every month. I think that this was a better idea, but I don’t know if it is what every game should do, however it is still a growing trend in games. So obviously they are going to release, especially if they can patch the issues for the fans that want those issues fixed.

Look at such patches as what they did to FFXV. Now I haven’t played the game since I platinumed the game, but they completely redid an entire section of a game. This isn’t cheap, easy, or even necessary. Was that part of the game a little lame, yes, but it didn’t change the entire game as a result, it was just a blemish on an otherwise really good game. So I have to ask this of game developers….Why don’t you just wait? I don’t care that you are releasing on a better time window. The reality is that you are hurting yourselves more and your brand when you release a game early without having all the proper quality assurance done.

In most cases you only get one shot. If you mess that shot up you’re done. Kaput. So look here game developers. Look at Mass Effect Andromeda, look at Assassin’s Creed: Unity and then ask yourself? Would you rather have a tarnished brand, or a great brand. Like a great man once said “Don’t miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes only once in a lifetime.”

(It wasn’t a perfect chapter, but maybe you should have finished the game if you didn’t like it?)