You watch a trailer, read reviews, watch the gameplay, and wait for your chance to play the next big game. You have been counting down the days and wondering if the game is going to hold up to all of your expectations. You go to pick it up at midnight and awkwardly wait in line with a bunch of people that just want to get their game, install it, and maybe play it for a couple of hours before they have to go to work. The anticipation is mounting during the drive home as you start using math to figure out just how many hours you have to play this game before your lack of sleep with hinder your performance at work. After a download time that feels as though you have downloaded every file known to mankind, it is finally time for you to play this long awaited game. You boot it up, the screen goes black, and you are kicked to the main screen. Turns out…. there’s a problem.
In recent video game history, this seems to be a very common occurrence. The maddening effect that broken games can have on our community has led to gamers blowing up social media with new memes and GIFs that will help to express the distaste they have for the industry, without actually holding up signs and protesting on the front lawn of Ubisoft or EA. Currently, we hear about a game being pushed back and we collectively have a sigh of relief because we know that they are finding some of the frustrating bugs and fixing them before we have a chance to turn it into another Facebook status or Twitter rant. Other times, however, we see a game series that has a new game every year and is riddled with game breaking glitches and story effecting bugs that create massive holes in your wall.
So what has led to this decline of the gaming industry? Why do these companies think that they can continue to get away with barley passable games being produced to the public and then fixing them to the original intention some six months later? It all comes down to an industry term known as MVP or “Minimum Viable Product.”
MVP has become a common practice in the gaming community since the ability to patch a game via the internet. The Minimum Viable Product model means just as it sounds. The company will produce a product that meets the bare minimum standards in order to classify it as a “video game” and then ship it as a complete product. Because of the invention of the “Day One” patch, games can simply start the mass production cycle while game developers and coders try to franticly create a fix for all known issues.
However, some problems are too big for designers to fix, and this can cause a game to be shipped completely broken. Prime example is the fiasco that occurred when 343 re-released the Halo: Master Chief Collection and the multiplayer was impossible to play. I was one of the many people who bought the collection on day one and had waited in a lobby for thirty minutes in order to attempt one online match. I ended up talking with my friends and doing household chores while I waited. Though this was a great chance to catch up on laundry and dishes, this was a terrible experience with a beloved series. 343 issues an apology and assured us that they were just as shocked as we were.
Since the launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, we’ve received several, well deserved, complaints related to slow matchmaking and other issues. From everyone at 343 Industries, we are truly sorry and feel your frustration. You deserve better and we are working day and night to find solutions as quickly as possible, with our first priority focused on matchmaking improvements.
Tomorrow morning (Wednesday morning Pacific Time) we plan to roll out a number of server updates to help improve matchmaking. Again, these are server-side fixes, so you won’t need to take a content update or reboot your console; you should see the effects right away.
In addition, we are targeting another release for this weekend, which will address a number of other community priorities. An unrelated issue with services is also causing achievements to not unlock correctly, and we realize this just makes it all feel a bit worse.
A game as large as Halo: The Master Chief Collection has a massive surface area, and while we made every effort to have the best launch possible for our fans, issues surfaced with launch and we’re committed to improving this as fast as possible and get you all into matches. We’re committed to improving things as fast as possible so you can have the Halo experience you’ve been waiting for.
Your feedback has been helpful for us in isolating issues, so please keep the input coming. We thank you for your continued patience and understanding while we work through these challenges. The development team at 343 Industries worked insanely hard to create Halo: The Master Chief Collection for you, and we won’t stop until it’s worthy of your passion for our franchise.
They promised to have a patch for the problem right away and that we will soon be playing online in no time. However, because of the MVP, the apology was just an attempt to save face. You can’t tell me that 343 had no idea that Halo was this messed up. The amount of time and testing that goes into a game would have shown to the rest of the staff that there was an issue. The problem rests with shareholders and companies that want to show strong quarterly figures.
Another example is the issue with Ubisoft and their cash cow Assassin’s Creed. Since the launch of Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft has been wanting to suck as much money out of the consumer as possible. They created a promise for the shareholders and consumers that they would make at least one Assassin’s Creed game every year for as long as they can. Though this made a lot of gamers happy, this also put a strain on an already broken system. They pushed their developers to make something new and exciting for each installment, but lacked a genie that offered wishes or a devil to sell their soul to. Their promises for a new and improved Assassin’s Creed game every year, plus new entries into their already stacked game portfolio, just wasn’t based in reality. Luckily for us, it seems that Ubisoft has finally gotten the message and has started taking some time with their games. It only took five apology letters and years of them being social media targets for them to realize that maybe they need to focus on the gamer and not on how much more money they can make this year as opposed to last year.
Few companies seem to get the idea behind making the gamer happy before the company, one example is Rockstar. I tried to bring up Rockstar as much as I can because they just get it. Each time that one of their games comes out, you can bet that they have taken the time to track down 99.99999% of all bugs and it allows you to be completely immersed in the story. It took them almost ten years to make Grand Theft Auto 5 and their sales, along with glowing reviews, show that it was time well spent. They understand the idea of a slow, but controlled burn rather than dumping everything you got on a fire and hoping for the best. They will spend the time working and perfecting a game before giving it to the public. They want their name to be associated with great games rather than a few hits and misses.
What does that mean for us? Hopefully social media and other platforms can help shed some light on this growing problem. Gaming company’s poor tons of money into people that just surf the internet and find out what everyone is saying about them or their games. With this, they can see that we are not buying their apology and maybe start to change their ways. I am not dumb enough to think that this will happen any time soon. At the end of the day, money talks louder than consumers. If money continues too poor in, then they are going to continue to do what they are doing. I often think of companies as toddlers that are starting to learn right from wrong. If we don’t scold them, they will not know that they are doing anything wrong and will continue to do the same bad behavior. It may seem fruitless, and we may see the same apology letters over and over, but if we continue to hold gaming companies accountable for their actions and demand that they do better, maybe they will get the hint and we can start playing some good quality games.