In recent years, many games, such as No Man’s Sky, Fallout 76 and Sea of Thieves, have been released in an unfinished state. It feels too frequent to just be a few random incidents. This feels like either a conscious decision by the developers or a result of the investor overlords rushing a product. Either way, it ruffles the feathers of the gaming community each and every time.
Probably the greatest example of this phenomenon is No Man’s Sky – a game that became synonymous with the term “unfinished”. It was one majorly hyped release that was met with huge backlash from disappointed fans as they believed that they got something completely different to what they were initially shown. The outrage was valid and the developers went radio quiet until a few gradual updates later. It was only after these updates that the game was finally turned into what was shown at E3 all those years ago.
Does it excuse the fact that the game came out as a full release and had hardly anything that the trailers promised it would have? No, not at all. But No Man’s Sky has also become a success story despite its disappointing launch. The game is fun now and with a huge new game-changing update on the way, it’s going to get even better. So one can’t help but give kudos to the developers at Hello Games for putting their heads down and sorting it all out. It doesn’t excuse the fact that it was broken in the first place though.
Another example of such a situation can be seen in Sea of Thieves. Upon launch, it was dubbed “No Man’s Sea,” as it didn’t have all that much going for it. It felt unfinished and empty. There wasn’t overzealous marketing that promised an insane amount of things to do but it didn’t feel like it had enough content to validate its price tag.
But yet again, a year later and Sea of Thieves is a ton of fun with narrative quests and roaming dangers, all things that feel like they should have been there since day one. We will never know if Microsoft rushed the developers at Rare to shovel it out as soon as possible (even though many fans think they did.)
The last of the previously mentioned examples is Fallout 76. Bethesda has admitted that they knowingly released the game riddled with bugs and in need of work. It feels like they had the mentality of, “Well if these other folks are doing it, we can too!”
After taking some huge knocks to their reputation, they managed to turn Fallout 76 around; it is in a much better shape than it was when it first launched. Bethesda has been listening to player feedback extensively, even to the point that they are adding NPCs to the game; something that wasn’t even on their agenda until the feedback.
So, Are These Rushed Games Still Bad?
This is all great and all but I can’t help but think of a quote by a certain Shigeru Miyamoto which goes, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
That quote has a deeper meaning. Sure, these games are getting better with each fix and update that comes their way but, for a lot of players, these games will forever be bad. The trust and excitement they had in the game was brutally killed off when they loaded it up and found it to be nothing like what was promised. And, it’s really hard to fix these feelings of deception.
There are players who bought these games and launched it on day one only to be so disappointed that they haven’t turned it on again, despite all the updates. This is due to the fact that no matter how many things get added to the game, that sour taste just can never be washed from their mouths.
Whatever the reasons behind these tactics, the developers are just harming their own reputation. All the games mentioned are doing a lot better for themselves these days. But was a rocky launch really necessary? Would a few months of more development really have been too much to ask for? Why couldn’t the games be put into an early access development?
The fans left disgruntled by investing money in the above-mentioned games are owed more than updates that are marketed as, “FREE!” because let’s face it, a lot of that content should have been in the game from the beginning. But as someone who is playing these games currently, I am conflicted. The shady and elusive tactics performed by the developers around the games’ launch were questionable. But, they are now a lot of fun to play, and isn’t that all that matters at the end of the day?
Whether or not the rocky and lacklustre launches were entirely the developers’ fault isn’t the point. The point is that making games takes time, something that seems to feel lost in the current climate of game development.
Look at Rockstar Game’s attitude with Red Dead Redemption 2, no doubt they were pushed to publish that game as quickly as possible but they took a firm, “It’s ready when it’s ready,” stance, and it paid off.
Either way, in the light of what has happened with the launch of EA’s Anthem, I can’t help but wonder if gamers are just being exploited and taken for fools. This way of releasing games is just going to become more frequent. Sadly, a lot of gamers are still going to be disappointed on launch days for a lot of upcoming games.