An Open Letter To Warner Bros Montreal About Batman: Arkham Origins
Dear Warner Bros. Montreal,
My name is Caveshen Rajman and I am the editor of columns and features for egmr.net. I have been playing videogames for nearly two decades now and in all those years, completionist that I am, I have never once been so dismayed and disappointed by the actions of a game that I have rage-quit it with a hope to never return. (Perhaps I’ve just been lucky.) That is, not until I finally decided to play Batman: Arkham Origins.
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The Batman: Arkham series of games is one that I have thoroughly enjoyed playing my way through, starting with Asylum and moving on to City and finally getting to Origins. Even playing Origins, I found some truly redeemable additions to the game, the likes of enemies that will counter you and a much better looking, modernised version of Batman himself. I was enjoying myself, in spite of the various little niggles that included enemies freezing during predator sections, becoming invincible during battles and requiring me to either reload my game or run away (and we all know, Batman never runs away), or those frustrating times when a collectible would simply not register as collected no matter how many times I reloaded and picked it up.
I was willing to forgive all of that because I was at least having a decently good time playing another Batman: Arkham game.
That was until, after taking the time to collect every single collectible on the map as well as complete every available side mission — something that took me just under twenty hours in total to do — I decided to resume the story missions and complete the game, since that was all I had left to do, and upon reaching the Gotham Pioneers Bridge to stop a Firefly ambush, the game faded to black and that was the last I saw of my save progress. (Let’s ignore the coincidental similarity to a certain cancelled Joss Whedon show, shall we?) After about ten minutes of staring at a black screen which showed no indication that the game was saving, I promptly opened up my Xbox Guide and returned to the Dashboard thinking that it was just a simple game freeze; no big deal, many games freeze and require a restart so I have nothing to fear.
Upon restarting the game I was greeted with a message that said that my save was corrupted and could not be recovered, and I would need to start a new save because my progress was lost.
I was utterly devastated.
And then questions started to arise. How could this have happened? This is not some silly second-rate glitch-infested game, this is the goddamn Batman: Arkham series, for crying out loud. What the Bat-atonic fuck? I mean first off, I am playing this game in May, solidly seven months after the game’s release. Surely the developers have had time to fix the game’s most damning flaws, right? Nope, guess again — you guys would rather release new DLC packs for a broken game. But wait, couldn’t it just be as simple as creating a secondary backup save just in case, and then having that as backup if and when a save gets corrupted? Could the game not pick a better time to save instead of during cutscenes? How is it that after spending hours and hours perusing the Batman: Arkham Origins forum, the only thing I could determine about my corrupt save was that it was ‘broken on an operating system level’ and I would need to start a new game but ‘WB Montreal is working on fixing these issues’ so I must just sit tight.
It’s been seven months.
On your official website you state as one of your goals, the following: “Be rigorous, be solution-driven”
I’d like to take a moment to explain that being solution-driven means fixing problems, ie. Creating fixes for solutions. This line right here, is frankly, an outright lie. And I am taking this opportunity to call you out on this and other shady practices. To which other practices do I refer? Well how about your DLC practices, wherein you have segregated the most popular DLC package and then grouped the rest under the season pass — without telling anyone that you’re doing so. You might scream, “But hey, look, we’re allowing you to separately purchase the DLC you most want!” Only, it’s the most exorbitantly priced package and anyone with half a brain who opts to go for the season pass (you know, the thing that’s supposed to be inclusive of all post-release DLC) will soon discover that it’s just not included in there.
And now I feel doubly cheated because not only can I not enjoy the original Arkham Origins experience that I paid actual money for, but I am getting DLC shoved into my face instead of actual fixes to the game. Tell me, what point is playing new content if I cannot even complete the old content? Are you just after my money and then your interaction with me is done until you have new DLC to show me? Is that it? Were you guys not paying attention at all when Rocksteady was doing this?
I am frankly appalled at this sort of business practice, and the fact that seven months later, the game is still fundamentally broken. It is an incomplete product that should not have shipped and the tragedy is that it probably made Warner Bros Interactive a lot of money because it’s a Batman game. For shame, WB Montreal.
You know if this was Electronic Arts and the likes of Battlefield 4 — a game also infamously broken — then I could at least understand it (although not condone it) and move on with my life, but this is a series that has earned each and every one of its fans including me. This is a series that, before this, I held up as a quintessential example of the word ‘videogame’. This is a series that I didn’t even experience excitement about and yet I could find appreciation in, it was just that good. And this is the series that you have now ruined for me. And that’s a shame because it means that in future if I see WB Montreal attached to a game, I am going to think twice about buying it.
I write this letter as someone who truly cares about the Batman: Arkham series, and wants to see it succeed in every possible way to the point that it pains me to see its reputation dragged through the mud like this. But if this is what must be done, then so be it.
For probably the first time in my life, I have no inclination to play more Arkham Origins. If I ever do, it’ll be because the completionist in me cannot rest on an unfinished game. But it just seems to fruitless if I’m playing this game with the risk of it glitching out again. Meanwhile, there’s still that DLC I got with the season pass, waiting for me to play. And the only DLC I actually wanted, which just so happened to be release-day DLC which is probably already on the disc anyway, is still too expensive for me to even consider purchasing it.
Congratulations on killing a part of my gaming soul,
Joel Schumacher WB Montreal. And please, I implore you from the bottom of my heart: Fix your shit. Batman deserves better than this.
Hugs and kisses,
Cavie. (The writer eGamer deserves.)