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