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….