Yes, yes, yes; I know that the current console cycle has gone on “too long.” Developers are starting to get nervous, retailers have been nervous, and players are getting just plain annoyed; so yes, it is that time again. It would be easy to get down on the industry right now; and nay-say its current condition; but I come here not to bury the industry’s current state; but to praise it…sort of.
If there is an upside to the down end of a cycle; it’s the fact that there are a lot of games that get green-lit that wouldn’t necessarily have seen the light of day earlier. With development costs down, hardware better understood; and the industry sequel-ed out, developers are freed a bit more to do more and push the envelopes of the system…or do something that sounds completely insane.
I personally prefer the former to the latter…
Take for example Capcoms new game, Remember Me. I could go into details, but the gist is that you have the ability to “remix” people’s memories, in order to get what you want. On the other end, you have High Moon Studios working on a Deadpool game; where even in the trailer is already arguing with himself and the player. Of course, I’d be remiss to mention some of the big dogs in this race; Halo 4 looks better than any 360 game should, and some of the things that EA is doing with Frostbite 2 are pretty damn good looking. No matter how you spin it; good things are ahead.
Historically, the same has been true. God of War II, Resident Evil 4, and Super Mario Bros. 3 were all released near the ends of their respective consoles, relatively speaking in some cases. Nonetheless, it’s pretty obvious that this time in the cycle is not something to be feared. Think of it as the system’s last hurrah; a going away party, if you will.
This next year is going to be an interesting one no matter what happens. As we look forward to what is to come; we shouldn’t feel afraid to still dive in to what is currently before us. This is a year long going away party, and for all the fun they gave us; we owe it to them to stay to the end of the night. It’s going to be a hell of a bender, and killer hangover in the morning…
Update: As this was being written; Sony announced that it was going to support the PS3 through 2015. This gives new insight into their plans for the future, and what is to come. It would seem that they are going to do to the PS3 what they did to the PS2 this last cycle; and offer dual support. This could be seen both as a good and bad thing. For one; it would give Sony a guaranteed revenue stream, but it would also promise stripped down ports of games released on the other system. Time will tell how this will play out…
“If the Wii U proves to be as groundbreaking as the Wii, we’ll likely see another surge of coverage, but so far, the general reaction from investors and the general public to the system has been a collective shoulder shrug.”
-Chris Morris; Freelance game Journalist
To be blunt, Bethesda has had an interesting relationship with gamers. Simply put, no matter how buggy, broken, or incomplete their games are at launch; we, the people, seem to have no problem with them. Some how they, as a company, have built up enough “goodwill” as a publisher, that forgiveness comes easy to us all. Yet, the question remains, is this a good thing?
With the newly released Hearthfire, Bethesda has once again become embroiled in drama. As PS3 players still wait for the gothic Dawnguard, news has cropped up that they may never get to see any of the DLC for Skyrim, with even the idea of a GOTY release being possibly out of the question. This is not that surprising.
Bethesda has already gone on record apologizing for shipping an incomplete game on Sony’s platform, so the idea that it is broken beyond the ability for additional content is not that far of a stretch. It is, nonetheless, unfortunate. The idea has been tossed around that maybe Skyrim should have been a 360 exclusive; simply because Bethesda should have known better than to release a game in that condition. Between the dragons flying backwards, people exploding, “bricking” systems, and now this inability to add DLC, the PS3 version of this title is, objectively speaking, broken.
Of course, what is more intriguing is that the 360 version suffered many of these same problems at launch, but have since been patched out. In fact, that is usually the story on many of the RPGs that Bethesda has published in recent memory.
At the launch of Fallout 3 there were reports of game breaking bugs; once again, that were patched out at, or soon thereafter, release. In fact, as each additional piece of DLC got added into the product; the game became more and more unstable as more variables were added into mix. Even at its most “complete” Fallout 3 still had its share of bugs, glitches and issues.
The million dollar question is, “Why?” Why do they let these products ship as is? Why does it seem that they they cannot release a working title? Why isn’t their Q&A team more thorough and why do we, as gamers, let them do this?
It is a completely unique phenomena. If this were any other company; if it were any other set of games; the gaming community would eat the company alive. Yet, here we are with Bethesda flourishing, and no real ill will towards them. It seems almost as fantastic as the worlds they create.
Ironically, it seems like the main reason that they are able to get away with it all is the quality of the end product. When their games are finally in their complete state; they truly are quite amazing experiences. The desolation of D.C. in Fallout 3 and the massive scope of Skyrim are incredible to behold in their final states. It is not an understatement to say that they are achievements of the genre. Yet, this is only true once the game is “complete.”
Which brings us back to the question of, “why?” It seems like only a matter of time before the issues get patched out; so why not take that time and work it out internally, as opposed to using the consumer market as a giant QA department? Maybe because they can? Maybe the money? At this point it really doesn’t matter.
In the end, the blame lay with the consumer. If this were such a problem; people wouldn’t buy the game. Yet, year after year, they do and do so in droves. Consumers vote with their wallet; and by their purchasing decisions, continue to allow this to happen. Whether this is good, bad, or indifferent will remain to be seen. It is unfortunate that this happens; especially when it hurts the player more than anyone. Nonetheless; it does happen; and if anything is to change, it has to start with those same players….