There Is Something WRONG with the Video Game Industry

As you can tell by the title, I’m not happy. In point of fact, I’m livid. I’ve never been angrier.

Why?

Because I’ve never been this hurt.

Let’s rewind a bit.

My early gaming days were ones of quiet receptivity. I never explored game stores or picked out intriguing titles for myself. I relied on recommendations from friends or direct sequels to games I already knew I enjoyed.

Perhaps one of the first games I ever chose to try out for myself was Ori and the Blind Forest, and I couldn’t have chosen a better game to start building my personal taste in games.

It was beautiful, it was challenging, and it was fun. In short, it was everything a good video game should be. I fell in love with the game, and the developers of Ori and the Blind Forest earned my trust with that single endeavor. I had such confidence in them and their dedication to a polished and engaging gaming experience.

So when Moon Studios and Xbox Game Studios announced a sequel, my gaming heart never soared higher. In less poetic terms, I jumped all over that shit.

I was your typical gaming fangirl, buying Ori and the Will of the Wisps shirts at conventions, hyping the game and its predecessor to all of my friends, and proclaiming loudly and proudly that I was preordering the Collector’s Edition, thereby cementing my fandom to the world.

Anybody who knows games and the industry behind them can see where this is heading. Gamers reading this can probably already foresee the reckoning that came my way.

After collecting my copy of Ori and the Will of the Wisps, I rushed home to play it. I had taken a day off from work solely to play this game. The first melodic notes from the menu uplifted my soul, but after a few minutes, the seeds of dismay were planted in my gut. The bugs were small at first, negligible. The game would hiccup every time it automatically saved. But the problems only got worse.

Too many enemies onscreen froze my game for several seconds, at one point crashing it, and shoving my nonplussed self back to the main menu. Ori glitched into a wall at one point, and with no way to get the little critter out, I had to quit and restart the game. At another time, after a spectacular death by combat trial, the game picked up again with a black screen, and only the sounds of Ori dying once more let me know the game was still going on.

But this was Ori, I kept telling myself. This was Moon Studios. So what if there are a few glitches. It’s annoying, sure, but just power through it.

And for the most part, I did.

A review on the game is (hopefully) upcoming, and it’s without a doubt a beautiful game…when it’s not breaking.

The bug that destroyed me, that finally broke me, came shortly after. It was 11pm, and after a decent three hours of playing Ori, I decided to call it a night. But the game refused to let me select the Return to Main Menu option. Flat-out refused. I could select any other thing in the pause menu, except that.

So after quitting the game using the Xbox side menu instead, I tried restarting it just to check if it was doing okay.

It wouldn’t turn on.

I would slip the disc in and wait for the game to start, the menu to appear, but there was just a black screen.

I ended up uninstalling the game, resetting my Xbox to factory settings, and reinstalling the game, only to discover that I had lost all the progress I had made in those three hours.

And so, this beautiful, broken game broke me. I was sitting on the couch at 1 in the morning, after dealing with this whole process, silently sobbing.

Before you call me a wuss or a baby or decry this as a first-world problem (which I’ll admit, it is), you have to put yourself in my shoes for a minute.

Playing video games, for me, is more than just a hobby, more than just entertainment (though it is that, too). It’s a safe space where I can forget about the world and its woes for a bit. It’s an invigorating experience that challenges me to overcome impatience in order to achieve a goal. It’s a story I dive into and experience first-hand. It’s a room where I can let out a scream of frustration every once in a while.

And a game that shatters this for me, robs me of all that it could be.

Again, I call out to fellow gamers who know this pain. The bitterness of losing hours of focus and work (yes, work, goddammit) for nothing is crippling at times.

Bare minimum, a video game is supposed to be entertaining, and when a game fails to reach that expectation it can be infuriating and depressing.

Now, glitchy games are considered a norm these days, and I knew that. But I had trusted Moon Studios and Xbox Game Studios. I had trusted them with my time, my money, my enjoyment, and with that all important space that video games create for me.

And that trust was betrayed.

I am aware I’m sounding melodramatic. If you share a love of video games, you’ll know where I’m coming from. But if this is still sounding a bit too overdone, let’s talk brass tacks then.

I paid a fairly hefty sum in advance for a product. What I received was not what I paid for. I received a bug-riddled game that halted my progress more than once, erased time spent playing due to unexpected crashes, and actually negatively affected the hardware it was playing on.

That’s more than just receiving a broken product. That’s receiving a harmful product.

In this post, I’m clearly laying the blame on both the developer, Moon Studios, and the publisher, Xbox Game Studios. The buck has to stop somewhere, and where else would it stop in this case if not the people who both made and sold the game.

However, they’re the symptom of a larger disease plaguing the video game industry.

Game companies are pushing to release poor products, expecting gamers to pay full price for something that can be fixed at a later time through updates and patches.

Bullshit, I say.

This practice is screwing us over at every turn. We shouldn’t pay for something that is broken. This is unacceptable.

And the worst part about this trend is that it hurts a game’s most dedicated fans. It hurts the people who go out of their way to buy a game on its release date, before any of those oh so helpful patches are applied. Why pay the full price for a game on the day it releases when, if you wait a year, it will have a reduced price slapped on it and will probably be updated enough so that it actually runs like it’s supposed to, am I right?

Updates and patches should be reserved for post-game content, a bonus for dedicated players who return to a game continually. They should not be used as a bandage over a gaping wound of a game that could have done with a few more days (i.e., months, even years) in development.

You know what I wish?

I wish I could invite any and every game developer and publisher who insists on fixing a broken game through patches instead of releasing a finished product to my house. Yup, I’d invite them in for sandwiches. Then I would take a shit on the sandwiches and hand those shit sandwiches back to them. And if they complained that this isn’t what they wanted, this isn’t what I promised, I would apologize. I would tell them I’d fix it, take it out of sight, scrape the shit off, and then hand the dish back to them.

Maybe then they would get the point.

27 thoughts on “There Is Something WRONG with the Video Game Industry”

  1. Ugh! Gutted to hear this was your experience. I’m sick to death of buggy, unfinished messes being shipped too (Final Fantasy XV broke me). It’s not good enough. The customers who buy it early pay the “new release” premium and end up as unofficial bug testers. Meanwhile, customers who opt in late get to pick games up for sale prices with those frustrating release bugs ironed out (usually). It’s bullshit. So, yeah, you make those sandwiches! (Might I also suggest turd burgers?)

    Haven’t gotten to the new Ori yet, but I’m still really looking forward to it. I guess I’ll get to it when I hear word that these issues have been patched. Currently replaying The Blind Forest and loving it, though.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. On the topic of broken releases, Borderlands 3 came out in September last year. I’ve been wanting to pick it up to play couch co-op with my gf but I refuse to do it until the dev addresses the widespread issue with it crashing Xbox One X consoles. Imagine that: a multiplayer looter shooter where the actual multiplayer mode has the potential to brick your entire console. The devs haven’t even acknowledged the issue. They’re too busy shoveling out paid DLC. I think that’s disgusting. Like class action lawsuit material.
      The game should be pulled from stores or come with a warning or something. So, on the bright side, at least Ori didn’t literally brick your console… (Geez. What a sad indictment of the current state of gaming.)

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’ve been seeing you playing on Xbox! I’m so excited for you! It truly is a phenomenal game.

      And Ori and the Will of the Wisps is too. Beneath the bugs, you can tell there is magic. But those damn bugs.

      I’ve taken to playing it an hour at a time, because anything more and I’m afraid it’ll glitch out to the point of no return. But the gameplay is so good, I WANT to keep playing despite it all.

      I’ve never played Final Fantasy XV, but I’ve heard good things. Would you recommend it, or was your experience with it too trying?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blind Forest was one of the first Xbox One games I played. I picked it up close to launch and really loved it. I thought I would revisit it in the lead-up to Will of the Wisps to see if it was as good as I remembered (it is!), and to scoop up the new set of achievements in the “Deluxe” version. So, yeah, I love Ori! I even picked up the Ori DLC in Rivals of Ether, haha.

        Sounds like a smart approach re: smaller play sessions.

        Final Fantasy XV… *breathes deeply* Okay, strap in! It’s an okay game, but could have been so much better. To me, it exemplifies this trend of publishers shoveling out half-finished products. The game itself gives you no context for its central conflict. You have to watch a 90-minute CGI prequel movie to find out why your character’s kingdom is even under siege. It literally starts in media res with you pushing a broken down car while embarking on a roadtrip for which you have no context.

        Then there’s the relationship between the four main characters (probably the best part about the game, tbh). Unlike most games in this series (where you meet new party members as you go), these four already know each other. Their relationships are all pretty nuanced, but the context behind them is locked behind a six-part anime series.

        Then there are three parts in the game where one of your companions is separated from you. When you later ask them what happened and where they’ve been, they refuse to elaborate because this content was cut from the game and re-sold to the player as paid DLC side stories. But they aren’t really side stories. One of the companions undergoes a HUGE physical change during his DLC story, so it is extremely jarring when he’s just slotted back into the plot with no explanation about what happened to him.

        It’s a complete narrative patchwork, too, with supporting characters literally just disappearing at points (never to return) and others returning with completely contradictory motivations. SO much important development happens “off screen”.
        It’s painfully obvious they couldn’t complete it in time because the first half of the game is super loose and open, but as soon as the ‘plot’ starts ramping up it removes all of your freedom, sticks you on a train (haha, it’s “on rails”), and then propels you towards its half-baked conclusion whether you want it or not.

        It has some good elements, and if you’re not a big Final Fantasy fan you might have different expectations, but I think it’s inexcusable a big budget AAA experience like this to be woefully unfinished, and to relegate crucial story points to extraneous media or DLC. (Halo and Star Wars do this too. I hate it!)

        So, yeah, this game will forever be a proverbial thorn in my side, and the mere mention of it will cause my blood pressure to rise, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Holy moly that sounds like a hell of a half-baked game. I’d heard it compared to Red Dead Redemption II in terms of the open world, and since I love RDR2, I was considering trying FFXV out. But that would be my first introduction to a Final Fantasy game. So…yikes.

        You’re right about comparing it to Halo, and I think specifically that’s a criticism against Halo 5. I felt like Halo 5 was one giant mess of a campaign, what with couch co-op being taken out and the story feeling like a low-stakes adventure because there was no explanation for anyone feeling or doing anything.

        I can assure you, at the very least, that Will of the Wisps’ story delivers. Even though the bugs broke my heart, the story did as well (but in a good way). That ending hit me right in the feels.

        Like

  2. I’m sorry. Having something you desperately wanted and already partly loved suck is really hard. The disappointment is crushing. I think the rush to market without trying to perfect what has been done is a hideous sign of our times. What ever happened to the quality of workmanship?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Right? It’s all about money with big companies. And an unfortunate reality about game companies specifically is that there are so few checks against them though they are a corporate titan that could rival the film industry.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The patch for this is due next week, Moon Studios tweeted about that today. But yes, the game shouldn’t be released in that sort of state.

    I really didn’t have much problem with it other than a bit of freezing, but I’ve seen plenty of people complaining about it.

    But it’s very common for developers to release an unfinished game like that and it needs to stop.

    I remember Breath of the Wild launching and it was perfect from the off. But Nintendo has the luxury of being able to take its time with its mass of financial resources. I guess smaller devs are in more of a rush. “Crunch time” as it’s called.

    Well, I hope you can enjoy it once the patch is here. It be a wonderful game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why I’ve never EVER said a word against Nintendo. They might have weird console peripherals, few large titles, and a dead online gaming experience, but at least they release solid games from the get-go.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand, games can be a moving experience and it really does suck when glitches get in the way! My Sims Medieval game wouldn’t save for a year, it took that long for me to fix it even with asking EA’s customer service for help a few times as well. Taking breaks like you mention in the comments sounds good. At least that way, gamers might be able to salvage something from the buggy games we otherwise like.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gaming companies release these buggy games out of necessity. People wonder why it happens, but they don’t ask why the price of games has changed very little over the past thirty years. The tech has gotten better, the budget of AAA games has soared exponentially, and the amount of people it takes to make a top-tier game is much larger now than ever before. All of this has made these gaming companies release schedules very tight.

    Point is I’m sorry this happened and that’s a shame about the state of Ori. I really wanted to play those games.

    Like

    1. Things should be reworked so that game developers have the time and resources to deliver a polished final project, and if that means I fork over more, I’m willing to do that. I enjoy replaying games, so there would be a sense of balance for the higher price.

      That said, Moon Studios released some patches that purportedly fixed the game, and if that’s true, I would actually recommend it to you. Part of the reason the sorry state of the game hurt so much was because I could see the awesomeness behind it.

      These patches were too late to positively affect my first playthrough of the game, but they might be able to make yours a good experience.

      Liked by 1 person

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