Questionable Developer Practices And Why You Should Always Wait For Reviews
Or: I Thought We Were Done With This Shit, Developers?
Let’s paint a mental picture, real quick. You’re looking forward to buying a game this month; it could be a specific title or anything that sparks your interest. Maybe you’ve been awaiting a certain game’s release, or maybe you just went with one at random from three possible options. Either way, the release date approaches and you head online but there is nary a review to be found. Not the big sites nor the small sites nor even Metacritic have critic reviews, and there are just a few user reviews on the latter, all of which seem overwhelmingly positive.
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Now, allow me to break this picture for a second to say the following: This is the point where you ought to start to panic.
However, let’s resume this mental picture and say that you opted to ignore the lack of reviews out for the game, and you went and paid full price for the game on release day. This translates to, maybe R350 on PC or R500 on Xbox 360 or PS3. A mild estimate, but we’ll go with it for the purposes of this mental picture. So there you sit, home at last having just purchased your new game. You pop it in, install if necessary, and begin playing. And surprise, surprise. It’s shit.
So far there have been two games this year which have fumbled with embargoes, either setting them on the actual release date for the game, or not even having review copies at all. One of these is Aliens: Colonial Marines, a game widely regarded as the biggest flop of the year so far, which had the review embargo set for the game’s international release date, a few hours after the game went on sale. A steaming pile of turd if ever there was one, for 2013. The other one, which lacked review copies entirely, is Star Trek: Into Darkness, a license tie-in to the latest Star Trek movie which portrays Sylar as Spock, something I still can’t quite wrap my head around. Also: lens flare.
Now if ever there was a poster game for why you should always wait for reviews, I mean you know, apart from Aliens: Colonial Marines, it’s Star Trek: Into Darkness.
The game has since released officially, and now people are discovering that there are glitches en masse in the final product, and more than that, a significant chunk of the game is quite simply broken. Specifically on the PC version, with regards to the arguably more appealing co-operative mode, it simply does not work. That’s the long and short of it. You cannot find a server, you cannot play with a friend, and the developers are doing amazing things trying to cover this up, claiming that only a minority of PC gamers are experiencing this problem, whereas the actuality is that the vast majority are having issues.
As far as shady business practices go, the in-house game development studio at Paramount Pictures is really taking this to a new level. It began with a lack of review copies, which they stated was brought about by a high demand for the game, however when big sites the likes of Destructoid don’t get a review copy, where is this apparent demand coming from in the first place? Then we had the co-operative issues and the downplaying of the severity by the developers. It goes even further than that, when a developer of the game actually had the audacity to go into a Steam forum thread and claim that the co-operative works fine for him, blaming the Steam servers for what is obviously a developer-side fuck-up. And that’s not all.
Diving a little further into the originally existing Metacritic user reviews, it was discovered that the reviews submitted by each user were questionable at best, with the positive reviews, at times giving the game a full 10 out of 10, sourced to users who had not reviewed a single other game on Metacritic. Some of these users reviewed the game on multiple platforms as well. How much more obvious can you make a fake account?
The video I’ve embedded above comes via Angry Joe, an American game reviewer whose reviews I enjoy watching and whose occasional vlogs I also check out from time to time. This particular vlog highlights in explicit detail, just how much is wrong with this game, and just how questionable the developer practices have been, from the lack of review copies to the fake reviews on Metacritic to more. He also shows some of the game’s many glitches, discovered after spending just two hours with the game. Watch it, and enjoy the rant.
I’ve also taken the liberty of embedding another video below, this one courtesy Jim Sterling, who did his own article on this, which I promise I only discovered a few paragraphs ago, when I decided to go and check if Destructoid has a review out for this game yet. Check out his satirical take on the non-functional co-operative mode on PC:
It upsets me when developers do such things thinking that they can get away with this. And it makes things even worse to consider that this game will sell well, has sold well in fact, based purely off its license. Many consumers won’t bother to read a single review because hey, it’s a Star Trek game, and that’s all they really care about, and they’ll be served this piece of shit instead of something more deserving of their money. Something like BioShock: Infinite, or the proper gamer equivalent of Star Trek, Mass Effect… kinda.
Please don’t be one of the gamers who falls for this shit. Always wait for reviews of a game before purchasing, don’t be a retard and pre-order games unless you are absolutely sure that if it’s bad — and trust me, any game can be bad, just ask the BioShock: Infinite haters — that you won’t mind and will enjoy it regardless. Think a bit more about what you spend your money on, and don’t give developers such as these the time of the day. They obviously don’t give a fuck about you, after all.