Ever wondered why your games feel like they’re incomplete? Or do you sometimes get the feeling it’s not you who’s lacking skills, but your system is? Well, maybe you’re right and there is something wrong with your $60 piece of software. Read on for some explanations.
How many of you Xbox360 owners out there have bought Call of Duty 2? I know the approximate answer: over 50%.That means the game sold about a million times on the Xbox360 alone. Itâ€™s the best selling launchgame so far, and the second most played on Xbox Live. The game is still rising in the charts and Infinity Ward should be proud of themselves, or shouldnâ€™t they? Everybody who tried to play Call of Duty 2 online encountered a problem or two, if itâ€™s not the connecting issue, you have terrible lag. You ask yourself how did this happen, donâ€™t they know what testing a game is? Or how to create a proper online system without glitches? If this game was released on a previous generation console, you would be screwed. But not with a Xbox360 that allows you to download updates and patches. This way developers can add extra content or fix bugs in their games. But why would any developer want to fix some minor errors like disconnecting from a lobby or auto-connecting to someone with a smoke-signal-dialup-connection. If I was really pessimistic, Iâ€™d say they donâ€™t have any reason at all, because we paid for the game and why should they bother. Or is it because Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter is hitting the shelves in a couple of weeks? That might make sense, itâ€™s definitely a highly anticipated game, and if they release a patch a couple of days prior to GRAWâ€™s release that would magically solve all the problems people have encountered online, they would surely be praised by many. Or are these just negative thoughts and is Infinity Ward really working hard on a patch to bring us our beloved custom game matches and more? Maybe the patch from February 1st was the best they could do after Infinity Wardâ€™s holiday, or maybe not.
Aboveâ€™s story is an example of whatâ€™s happening with an online service like Xbox Live. In the case of Call of Duty 2, itâ€™s a popular game. But what if we take Full Auto for example, that game doesnâ€™t do very well in the charts and suffers from bad frame rates and choppy performance. It would probably take a huge amount of time to even improve this a little. Thatâ€™s an example of a premature released game, it works, but it doesnâ€™t satisfy. Itâ€™s obvious that weâ€™re going to see this more and more in the future as itâ€™s already happening with PC games. Gamers without a Xbox 360 HDD might even have a bigger problem as theyâ€™re unable to download patches. In the case of Dead or Alive 4, a bug causes you to lose savegames sometimes. How annoying is that, to lose all your unlocked characters. A much heard phrase â€˜plug it in, and it worksâ€™ is used among console owners to illustrate the ease of console gaming. But itâ€™s not sure if that line can be used in the future if problems like this keep popping up.
As I said before, PC gamers have experience with buggy games, so Iâ€™ll take a couple of examples to properly underline the problem weâ€™re facing. March 22nd 2002, Heroes of Might and Magic 4 was released by former company 3DO. Beside the fact they completely removed all the good gameplay from the previous installments, the game was buggy. Not only buggy, but it was missing features. In the box there was a small note saying something like â€˜multiplayer disabled, will be added later with a patchâ€™. That patch came a few months later, it even fixed the memory leak in the game which forced you to restart the game every 5 minutes. A few weeks ago Ubisoft â€“ the company who took over the HOMM franchise â€“ released a beta of Heroes of Might and Magic 5, buggy as hell. An online petition was set up to delay the release of the game which was due to release in March, lots of gamers signed it. No official response was made regarding the petition, but the release got delayed. So thatâ€™s a different company with a different set of rules. Another very popular game developed by Electronic Arts, Command & Conquer: Generals. The single player part of the game was quite well done, but the multiplayer part however, was far from perfect. In the first week after the game was out, they released 3 patches. All of them were hotfixes, which means that they fixed very critical issues. All those people who were playing the single player campaign had to start over thrice, because the savegames werenâ€™t compatible. The game also got an official add-on, which had some bugs in it as well, nothing special about that. But it had the same bugs in it, they fixed in a previous version of the game, the official statement was they just â€˜forgotâ€™ to fix them.
My conclusion is all of the games on the Xbox360 are very playable, but every big release need fixing. Maybe itâ€™s just a big conspiracy thing, that Microsoft forces everybody to have a harddisk in their system. But what about all the people that donâ€™t even have their console hooked up to the internet? They are stuck with their buggy games. This is obviously a bad thing, and it shouldnâ€™t be taken lightly by gamers. A statement has to be made, and we all need to keep harassing those developers with our emails, spam the forums, publish articles and so on. Because if this is the future of console gaming, it’s not a bright one. The power is in your hands.