Experience Points: Damn Straight, Games Should Work At Launch
Somewhere along the way, the videogames industry has been bitten, gnawed and zombified into a complete balls-up travesty where gamers are left in a state of horror. Recently, Star Trek, the latest movie tie-in game, was released with critical revile and public dismay not too far behind its tumultuous start. The PC version of the game, marketed as a co-op experience, could not fully function out of the box. Co-op was irrevocably broken, with a supposed fix only surfacing much later after the initial release. However, issues plagued the singleplayer component of the game as well, leading to a dismal reception by both fans and critics, and a social media onslaught came not too soon afterwards. This is dishonest business practice on the part of Namco Bandai and Digital Extremes, and is another case of the Gearbox Effect with Aliens: Colonial Marines as a prime example of the running trend. This is an act of deception at its finest.
Releasing a game in an unfinished state, and to be truthful one that is a broken state, is bad for business at the end of the day. I think publishers are only starting to get the memo that gamers will not buy a game based solely on the basis of name. Not all games are Call of Duty with an expansive and dedicated fanbase. When you’re trying to earn profits from a new game release, from an unestablished series, and the game is undeniably broken something is awry. With Star Trek, the developer and publisher are unwilling to acknowledge that something is severely wrong with the game. PR representatives for the game are trying to persuade gamers from the actual truth, that the game is broken, through Twitter, Facebook and the Steam forums. Digital Extremes, the developers of Star Trek, are out of their depth and deserve the bashing they are receiving from the press.
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This has pretty much been the case all along with games like Aliens: Colonial Marines, and Star Trek follows in those footsteps. Star Trek was marketed as a co-op Star Trek experience, and Digital Extremes blamed the co-op problems on Steam servers when its obvious that the game is broken and that quality control was non-existent. This is more ridiculous considering that the game was delayed, and such issues should have been ironed out in the process. It purely is another instance of a rushed and unfinished product where no real care was taken and it’s really sad. The game could have been memorable and feasible, but all it has been met with is criticism and a bashing by fans who pre-ordered the game out of blind faith.
The truth is that at times we forget that games, much like any type of media, are consumer products. Developers and publishers want to turn over a profit, and caring about the consumer in the games industry of late plays second fiddle to predicted profit margins. Success for games has become unrealistically measured and companies like Square Enix have proved that setting unrealistically high goals in regards to sale figures effectively leads to shooting yourself in the foot. The same can be said of Namco Bandai Games who helped publish this mess of a game. They may have made a certain amount of profit from the pre-orders for Star Trek, but the sales figures following its initial release will probably tell a different story altogether.
Yet ultimately gamers have been royally screwed over by such a move and this game, even on PC, should have worked as advertised with many of the problems and bugs ironed out. The reality is that this is becoming commonplace and the high occurrence of this kind of bad business is more frequent than before. We need to be more aware because blind faith in a developer and publisher is expensive, and we can easily be taken for a ride.