Opinion: Battlefield 4out – Why Releasing A Broken Game Isn’t Right

Boy, EA were just starting to get back into my good books. Well, not my ‘good’ books per se, but more my ‘I’ll let this shit slide’ books. Sure, SimCity was a broken buggy mess, SURE, they were voted worst company of 2013, sure, their mobile apps are chock-full of terrible real money purchases and broken mechanics and sure, they pile the pressure on studios to make shitty sequels and seem utterly devoid of originality and creativity and…

You know what; I have NO idea why EA managed to slip out of my radar. They have done so much wrong. They keep doing wrong. And Battlefield 4 is the delicious cherry on the cake.

Patch patch patch, that’s the apparent solution to all the problems. But no, EA and DICE shouldn’t be given a free pass for releasing a completely, COMPLETELY broken game just because they have the chance to patch it later, just because the ease of access of online networking allows them to release now, fix later. What would you prefer? A mostly functional game on the DAY you purchase, on the very day it releases, or a completely buggy mess that is mostly dysfunctional?

BF4 Screen1I think my breaking point with Battlefield 4 came when I first played the game just about a week after release. I don’t remember a patch, I don’t remember patching it. I got about halfway through the campaign and called it quits. The next day I patched it. And my campaign save got completely wiped. So I left it for another couple of weeks and slowly played through the campaign, focusing on multiplayer. Sure enough, come next patch, my campaign save gets wiped again. I was done with it. I wasn’t sitting through another opening level of shitty gameplay, scripted yawnfests and a godawful use of the song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ (not that there ever could be a decent use of that song). And then the multiplayer. Actually, the multiplayer was fucking smooth compared to what I experienced in the single player. Only a few dozen crashes, server dropouts and unbearable bouts of lag. But that’s ok! Because somehow, this is what the industry has become. Yes, we are faced with a player base of people who mostly connect online, who have the ability and means to download a magical fix for a game. Does that excuse a buggy game to skirt away from criticism? Did Fallout New Vegas escape that very criticism? Or Total War Rome II? Or, fucked if I know, Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines? Oh no, I thought of a better one, Assassin’s Creed 3? Or Dead Island?

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Yet EA avoid change, they don’t WANT to change, and we’re not GIVING them a reason to change. They want to milk their studios until they’re nothing but empty husks. Criterion is already gone, and I’ve given up hope of ever seeing another Burnout instalment in my lifetime. Sure, they’ve been hit with an abundance of petitions, of consumer backlash, even frivolous lawsuits, but they’ll still sell their games in this state, players will still play them and the hideous cycle will repeat. Don’t even get me started on the real money implementation, incredibly evident in mobile games.

BF4 Screen 2I personally don’t think its right. Criterion are dead, Westwood’s passing still hurts me, Pandemic’s folding was just plain wrong. Hell, I didn’t even buy Battlefield 4 and I was pissed at how badly the experience was for me. I can’t imagine spending $80 Australian and 100 more for Premium and know how frustrating the experience would be. Not good, I would assume.

I guess this is the future of gaming. Release first, fix later. Congratulations EA, you’ve just hit my shit books again.

Patch update: in recent news, a patch for Battlefield 4 is about to roll out imminently. This patch may fix the problems I’ve outlined, or it may wipe my campaign save once again. I don’t know, I won’t bother with it. It’s been months and EA and DICE shouldn’t be allowed to release a game in such a broken state. Once again, a patch should not be a license to get away with a broken, buggy mess.