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- Category: Giskard's Blog
- Last Updated on Saturday, 09 June 2012 12:26
- Written by Giskard
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Like a rotten fruit Bethesda, also known by the well earned nickname "Bugseda" around here has passed its sell by date.
I believe hype more than actual praise worthy games will sell their games in the future, is the transition we have seen happen before when good developers are taken over by the likes of EA and other companies like them. But this being a different company owning Bethesda, its happening a little differently from the EA method that kills off so many of our favourite game developers and the chances are its Bethesda it cutting its own wrists.
As people learn the hype is just a way to get money from us for a bad product on day 1 before people realize what a mess the game is in, the old fans will disappear and be replaced by 13 year old school kids that think the current game is the bestest ever game ever made and give it a 10.
Interestingly I see a lot of younger gamers buying older games now to see why older players moan about new games being worse than the old games. So we seem to be driving a retro market with our complaints about this.
Some independent developers even make a living creating clones of old favourite games with mixed success.
For example, how many of you younger gamers brought Morrowind because of the praise older players gave it ? I only brought Oblivion because of Morrowinds reputation and only brought Morrowind because I liked Oblivion. So it happens to us older gamers too.
EA and companies like it provide us with an excellent example of the "hype it like hell for max day 1 sales" method of making games which avoids the possibility that a bad game will lose money. They can sell you shit on a plate that way if they put a few million dollars in to advertizing it first and most of you will buy it regardless.
But after day 1, when we know its shit on a plate, the sales decline fast.
Fanboys give brand new games a 10 on metacritics on day 1 having owned a game for less than a day, trolls give a game 1 on day 1 on metacritics having owned the game for less than day. But between them they balance out the scores giving the user score a degree of accuracy that the professional scores lack.
The big Developers and publishers do not give games to professional reviewers if they expect an honest review, unlike the small developers and publishers which take the "any publicity is good publicity" approach to a title nobody has ever heard of.
When hype sells games, quality starts to drop and so does support for the original fan base. This is a pattern I have seen repeated 100s of times over the past 30 years.
First day says become vastly more important to developers like Bethesda when they know the hype bubble will burst after day 1 and sales will start dropping off sharply as bugs and other issues start appearing online.
They do not trust the users average scores to tell it as it is over time, they want a fast return on their money and this has lead to them realizing they do not need to fix that many bugs to get that first day profit. All they have to do is through millions in to advertising and then just enough to keep the hype positive for about a week after launch to maximize their profits. After that they can slow down and do as a little as possible on the bug front, but just enough to keep trading standards off their back for selling broken products.
Which could be challenged in the European courts easily I expect, after all the only reason software is in the state it is in is because developers failed to fix older bugs so games built on old code, have the old codes bugs as well as the new codes bugs. If they fixed it all as they went, things would be very different about now.
We have already seen this in Skyrims day 1 sales figures after 9 months of hype.
Within a month we all knew how bad it was. 64 bit users where suffering from crashes that really should have been picked up by Bethesda long before release, surely they had 1 64bit test machine and not just an Xbox 360.....
Well apparently not.
Instead Bethesda did not know about the 32 bit exe limit issue that struck 64 bit machines and they should have done, they are professional programmers after all.... at least they claim to be. How can you trust a MAJOR DEVELOPER that misses something as basic as that ?
Fact is years of bugs handed down from Morrowind to Oblivion to Fallout 3 to Fallout NV and now Skyrim have gone unfixed, Bethesdas approach to bug fixing is usually to remove, disable or work around a problem, rather than fix it for good.
Meanwhile each new game adds new bugs of it's own.
I predicted Bethesdas games where rapidly heading for a time when they would be too buggy to play for a majority of users on release day many years ago and Skyrims was almost there 11.11.11.
Rage certainly was.
The question of refunds will become topic for governments and new laws covering the sale of dodgy digital releases like that will eventually be made to protect the consumer the sort of marketing we see from Bethesdas, EA and others.
The games industry has a lot to answer for.
Currently they use piracy as an excuse for denying us our right to refund on digital products which does not sound very legal to me at all. After all selling a defective to a customer in most western countries entitles us to a full refund.
Oblivions modding tool kit issues have also gotten worse, today, 5 months after the Skyrim creation kit was released and 8 months after Skyrim was released. We still do not have a tool kit that can do what the very buggy oblivion modding tool kit did back in 2006. Each new editor did a little less of the common stuff than last due to bugs or disabled features whilst making whats left more complicated and more buggy.
Bethesda are in no hurry to do anything about it either based on the past TES and Fallout games releases they where involved in. It is a good bet most issues will never be fixed, not now, and not in the future, they will just mount up in each new game Bethesda make until their games do not work at all.
That day is nearly here, Skyrim has been the worst and most buggy Bethesda game so far, not only for players but for modders too.
The future for beth is in hyping the hell out of products to get as many first day sales as possible before the gloves come off the professional reviewers so they can finally tell the truth after day 1 of release and before us players see what piece of crap they have sold us using the hype method.
When you think of games in terms of over hyping to maximize day 1 sales the rules surrounding their production and sale changes.
If you know you can get your money back on any game with a clever marketing campaign on the first day and a loop whole covering digital sales means you never have to refund anybodies money. Then any bugs or problems suddenly become obsolete, you just have to make a basic show of fixing things so people cannot report you to trading standards for selling defective products and your Eula and licenses will do the job of denying your customers the right to expect a working product from the start or their money back.
Bethesda are now in that frame of mind.
It is easy to see, for Oblivion the game mostly worked right away, for Fallout 3 it too over 9 months before it worked, Fallout NV too slightly longer. Skyrim is already at the 8 month mark and its still not right, and still has new bugs being added all the time and very few old bugs seem to be getting fixed.
It too Bethesda 4 whole months to fix critical PC version issues for example, and those issues needed fixing for the game to work right. That was the 1.4 patch that fixed those btw.
Remember Obsidian who made Fallout NV with Bethesdas help, used Bethesdas buggy source code for that game. The same source code used to make Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Skyrim. Obsidian do not usually make games that buggy but even they where surprised by the Tsunami of bug reports coming from games made from Bethesdas game engine code when they released Fallout NV.
The building blocks of all Bethesdas in house products has reached the point where it is now so bad, any game made with it is going to be more buggy than the last.
We have seen this happening already over several games. But at some point Bethesdas current business practices and sloppy testing system that involves racing through the main quest of a game on the Xbox as fast as possible and ignoring everything else, is going to end with Bethesda charging full speed over a cliff.
And that will be the end of Bethesda as we know it.
In all likely hood Bethesdas name will be used by other developers to sell other bad games (hay thats already happening) and then they will become a publisher (hay thats happening too) and once Bethesdas Bugs become so bad that name no longer sells games for Zenimax, it will disappear and somebody elses favourite developer will get the treatment and and be killed off too.
Just like hundreds of our favourite development houses got ruined in the past by their current owners once the original fans wishes where ignored.
It is a fact Skyrim has one of the biggest and best Worldspaces of any Elder Scrolls game so far, it is also fact it has less bad guys, less creatures, less guilds, less guild quests, less ingredients and generally less of everything in that large worldspace than any other Bethesda game before it.
Except Lore, Skyrim does a good job on Lore.
A lot of effort was put in to making the world look right, but it was all downhill from there because a guild quest script is not exactly screenshot material when you need a beautiful vista in a video to hype up your game for those first day sales.
I know this from experience, I could not show off my mods best features because scripts do not translate well in to hype, but good looking visuals do.
So even here when we get down to features, what sells a game on the first day gets all the attention and anything that pisses off players after that can be ignored because its all about that first day sale now.
At that point selling a game with problems to the whole world on the same day or within days of each other becomes advisable, unless a company only cares about the US market in which case the rest of the world does not count and that becomes a mute point.
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