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Bug Games

Are Complex Games Doomed To Have Buggy Releases? 362

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-did-my-face-go dept.
An anonymous reader points out a recent article at Gamesradar discussing the frequency of major bugs and technical issues in freshly-released video games. While such issues are often fixed with updates, questions remain about the legality and ethics of rushing a game to launch. Quoting: "As angry as you may be about getting a buggy title, would you want the law to get involved? Meglena Kuneva, EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner, is putting forward legislation that would legally oblige digital game distributors to give refunds for games, putting games in the same category in consumer law as household appliances. ... This call to arms has been praised by tech expert Andy Tanenbaum, author of books like Operating Systems: Design and Implementation. 'I think the idea that commercial software be judged by the same standards as other commercial products is not so crazy,' he says. 'Cars, TVs, and telephones are all expected to work, and they are full of software. Why not standalone software? I think such legislation would put software makers under pressure to first make sure their software works, then worry about more bells and whistles.'"
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Are Complex Games Doomed To Have Buggy Releases?

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  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:44AM (#30455192)
    What exactly is the downside to forcing a company to give refunds for the broken merchandise that it sells?
  • by Ed Peepers (1051144) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:46AM (#30455206)
    A. Yes.
  • by DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @04:52AM (#30455236)

    "Cars, TVs, and telephones are all expected to work, and they are full of software. Why not standalone software?"

    What's the definition of work anyways? Most products sold nowadays suck. I just got rid of a laundry machine that was 40 years old. I'll be lucky if the new one lasts 1/4th as long. I bought a LCD monitor that worked until the 1 year warranty was up. My cellphone functions, but its software is crummy and buggy. It even freezes up sometimes. (No, it isn't a smartphone.)

    Software is more like writing a book. Some books are written with superior quality "code." The "computer" reads that code, and depending on how well that code was written, the "computer" can read it more quickly and determine the proper function faster. (In this case, correctly interpreting the knowledge inside the book.) Some books are total shit. For example, just about every book that's used in education. Especially ones written by professors. They don't "work."

    I do have one sentiment. I absolutely think that games should be returnable. But that's from an idealistic standpoint. I fully understand many, many people are going to play the game all the way through then return it to Wally World.

  • Re:Mass (D)Effect (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:07AM (#30455300)
    Your video card hardware or driver could be broken.
  • Yes and No (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bjourne (1034822) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:07AM (#30455302) Homepage Journal

    Laws that would force software producers to run proper QA testing is a stupid idea. If you deal with software, you learn after a while that "working software" is a sliding scale. It is unrealistic to expect any modern software to be completely bug free, similar to how you had to accept a small number of dead pixels on cheap LCD screens. On the other hand, many modern phones are released with OS:es that crash during calls (*cough* iphone *cough*) which I think is totally unacceptable.

  • by IBBoard (1128019) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:07AM (#30455306) Homepage

    Isn't there a bit of a difference there between the examples (TVs, DVD players, etc) and PC software? Everything else is a self-contained unit with no dependencies on anything else or (in the case of DVD players) accepts things that are within tight tollerances (and if your disk isn't, then it'll skip, but that's the disk's fault).

    Software, on the other hand, has no control over the environment that it is put in (unless it is an OS X app, which is somewhat consistent), with huge permutations of other software, hardware components, and dodgy background processes, plus user fiddling. It isn't quite as easy to get things flawless in that situation (although some companies can improve on what they do now).

    Also, how will this relate to OSS? Will I never release a final version of my app because I can't afford the liability and so it'll always be in beta because there could be bugs left?

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:09AM (#30455314)

    It's not just games: most consumer electronics nowadays are a mix of software and hardware and often enough it's the software part that is released unfinished (read: buggy).

    Software on non-life-critical applications has been given a free ride for two long - if it's not acceptable that a DVD player refuses to start at odd moments or randomly stops working, why would the same be acceptable in a computer game (which is just another for of entertainment) or an OS?

    As somebody working in IT, who has worked in the industry in both IT Services and IT Products, I've seen again and again the main behaviours that lead to buggy software releases:
    a) No real software development process resulting in unpredictability with regards to the real finish date.
    b) Bad requirements definitions, stuffed with incomplete, inconsistent and unclear "desires", with way too much time wasted in "would be nice" requirements leading to last minute requirements changes as people discover the missing/bad bits.
    c) Little or no real testing, mostly done by amateurs (or worse, developers).
    d) Hard deadlines set by sales and marketing which, coupled with the points above, results in releases of unfinished products.

    The reason why this happen is very simple: companies can get away with this, so management (from top to bottom) can get away with being disorganized, unstructured, "shoot-from-the-hip" cowboy-like, non-proactive and outright incompetent.

    (yes, I AM sour about this)

    Funny enough, buyers of software products and services are so used to be royally done by the industry that some of the worst offenders in this space are actually the larger IT companies, not the smaller ones: in a playing field were buyers expected and valued quality in software, the higher-quality companies would outcompete and outgrow the low-quality ones, and yet what we see is the opposite.

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:17AM (#30455346)
    The prices are what the market will bare. They would not "ramp up prices" because that would be sub-optimal.

    The reality here is that they are not paying for the ordinary quality control process because they can legally get away with it. It has nothing to do with retail pricing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:18AM (#30455358)

    nothings wrong with it...
    But do you really expect the to? Get ready for the requirements on the box going from :

    512MB RAM
    P4 or better
    1GB disk space free

    to :

    512 MB DDR2 533MHz Rambus RT32Q-12W/P series RAM
    Asus MB983-001GIGM/S-4 Motherboard with AnusTech 56chipset and SuperHD-VGA 512Graphic2.0
    With Seagate 120GB 7234.42rpm disk and Windows XP SP3 with no other software and all updates except Office excel ones and Adobe Reader4.3, and a shortcut to Notepad at position (34,102) on the desktop with that spiffy desert wallpaper. Also required Network interface card NT-IKK100M with a blue and red striped 1.56m cable that's coiled around the couch leg at 125deg.
    Apparatus must be used in a constant 26.3 degrees with relative humidity of 20% and 1024mbar pressure.

    This is just fucking idiocy. Any half decent company is going to give refunds (or fix the bugs) if they care about their customers.
    Those who don't will vanish and the suckers who bought their stuff will lose their money (much like the morons who buy rolex watches from email or the spastics who send their life saving to nigerian princes).

    This is just going to fuck the smaller operators over who don't have the resources for testing every combination of software/hardware. As a example, a "normal" piece of software will be available on :

    Win XP
    Vista
    Win 7
    Win2k

    x2 for 32 and 64 bit. And various combinations of Admin user, UAC on, regular user limited etc.

    Then add Various flavours of server type deployments (Windows server 2000,2003,2008, citrix, TS etc).
    Now add various doc management systems (eg sharepoint) integration.
    Then sprinkle some scanner, printer and networked hardware deployments.
    And this isn't even considering what other applications are going to be interacting with the system and issues with PS,PCL and GDI printing/drawing commands.

    Fuck me... this is from experience... I need a beer now. And this is for a simple desktop general office productivity app.

    The app code is tested and the app is tested, but there's no telling what the hell kind of environment it's going to be deployed in.

    While we're at it, why not require that all software sold needs to be mathematically proven to be correct. That'll be easy right?

    Hmmm.. I feel kind of better now...

  • by lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:18AM (#30455360)
    I sincerely hate patches. I'm not being paid to be a beta tester. Some time ago the situation was that sometimes an obscure bug may have slept after release and a small patch was a welcome news.

    Now the broadband revolution have changed all of that. Companies have started to enjoy the increase in profit coming from a reduced q/a investment moving the costs on our time and our money (my adsl is flat, but not free and the time I can spend on game is very limited)

    The most alarming tendency of late is to leave bug open till the next dlc comes out - with a price tag attached (Bethesda, I'm looking at you now).

    Sadly games are targeted to an audience not exactly known to make informed purchasing decisions (teenagers) so there is no way to reverse this tendency.
    But don't come to me to tell that bug free complex games are *impossible*. That's bullshit.

    More and more on the news you hear that one or another game as be released bugged to meet the release date and a patch is in the working. They know they're selling turd and they know that somebody will buy it anyway. And most often than not that patch is never released. (Troika games, I'm looking at you now, but GTA IV for pc was no different, as it is Red Faction Guerrilla)

    What power do you -we- have? Boycotting is not an options, they live on hype and money from impulsive buyers. They are not bond by anything, if EULA stands they don't have to meet even the slightest of expectations, not even to make a game playable to the end. If EULA don't stands then on which basis are you going to fight them back? There is no contract breached. A class suite will only speed up the patching process and wither off without any actual damage to the offending company (see? we patched it as promised!).

    They've no accountability for their products, really. Even consoles now are victim of the patch frenzy, and there is nothing that we the informed customer can do to fend them off.
    But don't come to me to tell that bug free complex games are *impossible*. That's bullshit.
     
  • Re:Mass (D)Effect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by windwalkr (883202) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:26AM (#30455416)

    I bought Mass Effect only to find out that the game simply does not run. My computer is as close to flawless as it could possibly get, it's been running for years and has successfully played many games with many different engines, I have done workarounds for crashes and bugs and all sorts of things, it's a tried and true PC.

    Just an anecdote from the other side of the fence, and not saying this is necessarily your case. Certainly not defending Mass Effect, I've never tried the game personally.

    We've had numerous users report serious defects in our products over many years, and faced all sorts of threats and insults, only for the fault to be eventually traced to the user's "tried and tested hardware." Each program that you may use exercises different components of your PC in different ways. Sometimes subtle differences can make a massive difference in results; the difference between working fine and not even starting up. Should the developer pay because you have some mildly faulty ram?

    We've also seen vastly different behavior from hardware/drivers built to the same spec but sourced from different manufacturers, or from the same manufacturer but over different periods. Sometimes these deviations are within the spec but not covered by reasonable testing; often these deviations are outside the spec completely. Should the developer pay because one or more of your components do not follow the specs, or deviate significantly from what was standard practice at the time the software was developed?

    As a user, I have to agree that it sucks when products don't work as advertised. I agree that there should be a mechanism for complaint against any vendor, whether their product be physical or virtual. But I'm not sure that I agree that there should be an absolute right of refund at the user's discretion. That's just open for abuse - whether deliberate or incidental.

    I'm also not particularly fond of DRM and yet that would seem to be the only way that a vendor could offer true "returns" of a software-only product.

    It's probably worth noting that I'm not claiming that all bugs are the user's fault; but it's certainly not the case that all bugs are the application developer's fault, either.

  • by amRadioHed (463061) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:01AM (#30455618)

    Why do you think this would be unfair to small software companies? Do you think they have a right to make money by selling software that doesn't work to people with hardware configurations they never got around to testing?

    I don't think preventing customers from getting screwed is the same as screwing the company.

  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:19AM (#30455736) Journal

    Better analogy is wanting a refund for a car because it won't start if there's a motorcycle parked on the same street.

  • Re:Mass (D)Effect (Score:2, Insightful)

    by windwalkr (883202) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:24AM (#30455764)

    Call it a programmer's intuition, or just calculating chances. If 100 games work on a system and 1 doesn't, there's a good chance it's something to do with the game.

    This is the first assumption that you'd jump to, but there's no real evidence that it's true. Perhaps the "one game" simply uses more ram than the others, and thus hits a "faulty bit" in one of the ram chips. Perhaps the graphics drivers have an off-by-one condition that causes them to over-read a vertex buffer and into unallocated memory. Even on "identical" machines, this may not crash unless the application's allocations match an exact pattern that causes the bad read to touch an unmapped page. We've seen both of these in practice.

    Sure, there are plenty of bugs - pretty much any software has some, and some software more than others, but it's fair to say that the "my machine is fine, it must be the software" mentality leads to some very poor conclusions from time to time, even though it's an understandable position for a user to take.

    Now try and prove that the game is broken to a person for who it worked flawlessly for 3 whole run throughs. Good luck.

    Yup, we certainly see some of this as well. Loyal users can sometimes be fast to jump on people reporting valid bugs.

  • Piracy. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:24AM (#30455770) Homepage Journal

    What exactly is the downside to forcing a company to give refunds for the broken merchandise that it sells?

    Well, the industry would say piracy. I might buy Call of Duty, then, said it was "broken", and returned it. Granted, this should be the norm, but the industry would see things differently. This is why the shareware model is nice. You can see if the game actually works before you pay for it.

  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:25AM (#30455778) Journal

    No company is perfect, but there is always one company that ends up the flag bearer for PC game releases. Last decade, it was Origin. These days, I'd say the company that has the best processes for getting games to the PC would be Blizzard.

    I don't intend this to sound fanboish, but they have had some very smooth release cycles in recent memory. Last year's release of WoTLK for example.

    You failed. Blizzard hasn't shipped a game in 5 years. Expansions for WoW, yes. Games, no.

     

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:27AM (#30455786) Homepage Journal

    What we're looking at here is offshoring a lot of highly specialized work to essentially shops in the third world that have not the same level of expertise, and we get crap at a cheaper price. We compete in the west not by improving the quality, but, by making things cheaper themselves. So, we have less testing, less documentation, just code and ship and little for iterative development. Plus, we have more corporate style methodologies that reward the schedule more than the product. Pretty much, if you build stuff stupid, you get stupid stuff.

    Maybe there will be a shakeout where we realize that consumer IT is much more demanding than corporate IT is, and that methodologies that work fine for corporate clients, like Agile / SCRUM, or Waterfall, don't really apply so much to consumer products. A consumer product is done when it is done.

  • Re:Mass (D)Effect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amRadioHed (463061) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:31AM (#30455810)

    Should the developer pay because you have some mildly faulty ram?

    Other product vendors have to pay if the customer decides they don't like the color of their purchase. So yeah, it's the cost of doing business.

    It's understood that computers are complex and not every program will work in every situation, but why do you think the vendor is entitled to the money of someone who for whatever reason can't use your product? It would be a lot to ask to required the vendor to figure out what screwy component is causing problems and to make their product run on everyone's computer, but it's not a lot to expect them to only make money from people who are actually getting the bare minimum that they paid for.

    Pretty much everyone knows where to get pirated versions of whatever software they want to run, so I'm pretty sure the only people hurt by not allowing refunds are honest customers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:46AM (#30455916)

    Because smaller companies have smaller budgets to test on than larger ones.

    Simply the licensing costs of a lot of software is prohibitive. If you're selling something on the scale of hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue, fine, you can afford it, but small companies simply can't afford to do this - on various levels :

    1. Licensing costs - some licenses work out to 1000s of dollars per year. Multiply by different versions/products maybe 100k/year
    2. hardware costs - said small company now needs extra hardware to simply run said s/w
    3. HR costs 1- company needs to add extra staff to QA the new configurations.
    4. HR costs 2 - company now needs deployment/VM/server/network specialists to set up these various environments to do QA on.

    My point is NOT that small companies have the right to sell crap software. My point is that since there will ALWAYS be bugs in software, this will increase the barrier to entry for software companies - so that only google, MS or Oracle have the money and resources to do all this QA work to comply with stringent standards and STILL release software with bugs in it.

    In any case, a serious small software startup will give refunds, or work with client or fix the product if it wants to keep selling (from a purely business aspect..). Just like any industry, there are always going to be fly by night operators and shoddy products. These will die a quick death (like any crap business)

    The problem with this is that they're trying to foist QA processes inherent to physical products, onto inherently more complicated, abstract product (s/w) which cannot be measured with the same yardstick as physical products (eg the electronics they are talking about).

    Also there's the legal issues that small companies will face. For example if an app I wrote causes a BSOD because it triggers a bug in another companies code (eg MS) then good luck getting them to fix it. I have to change my code (which worked) in order to put in a hack to bypass someone elses bug - possibly making me liable for bugs that I had to introduce because someone else didn't fix theirs.

  • by furball (2853) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:51AM (#30455942) Journal

    No one runs a game with no software other than the OS installed.

    A lot of people do this all the time. It's called a console.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @06:57AM (#30455994)

    Higher price? Or what else do you think would change?

    What will happen? Well, as any programmer will tell you, it is virtually impossible to create error free software given the time frames that you're given to develop in. Sure, gimme twice the people and 5 times the time and we're talking. That results in about ten times the cost. Want to pay 500 bucks for a game? Didn't think so.

    So what will happen? Software will go the same way every other merchandize went. Its price will go up by about 10% and the quality remains shoddy. Those 10% extra will cover for people cashing in their refund.

  • by @madeus (24818) <slashdot_24818@mac.com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:17AM (#30456126)

    For example if an app I wrote causes a BSOD because it triggers a bug in another companies code (eg MS) then good luck getting them to fix it. I have to change my code (which worked) in order to put in a hack to bypass someone elses bug - possibly making me liable for bugs that I had to introduce because someone else didn't fix theirs.

    This is the biggest problem I can see for small companies.

    I've just spent two weeks resolving out a bug caused by a number of specific Anti-Virus software products doing network intercepts on Windows systems (which were covertly (my to my annoyance) silently buffering networking traffic from my app).

    Fortunately I have the tools needed to identity and resolve the issue here, because I work for a large company (though our product is not a commercial one, and has a small target user base). However, small companies don't have the resources to spend all the time (and money) required to compatibility testing with crummy or esoteric third party software which behaves poorly.

    I agree that refunds are the right course of action. Though I believe most regions in the world have already robust enough legislation if it were enforced, additional laws to make liability of software vendors clearer would be fine with me.

    Forcing QA processes is surely not the way to go - you can't legislate for it as it's too complex. Perhaps you could have minimum requirements for certain types of specific software however (like 'best practice' guidelines). I'm thinking software where public safety is an issue, perhaps where a large number of financial transactions are involved.

    Like other standards / accreditations (like ISO) people don't necessarily follow it (and almost never all of the time), but even so that sort of thing can still have a positive impact on how an organisation behaves. Forcing companies to publicly and openly disclose their QA / testing and bug fixing policies/processes in a fixed format could be a good consumer benchmark, for example (were the right criteria specified).

  • by rolando2424 (1096299) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:36AM (#30456274) Homepage

    For example, just about every book that's used in education. Especially ones written by professors. They don't "work."

    I know this is probably off-topic, but I must ask, as a young student, why do say that?

    Is it because they are usually expensive and required to a course (that's taught by the professor who wrote it)? Because they may be hard to follow? Or is there another reason?

    Although I'm forced to say that I only had one teacher ask us to buy books/notes wrote by him. I do have one that give us the book (for both courses he taught) for free (it was my physics teacher, he really likes open-source I guess :)). Although the books are written in Portuguese, you can get them here. You can even download the .tex files.

    For example Donald Knuth is/was a professor and even though the Art of Computer Programming may be hard to follow (for me anyways, but I'm a moron :) ) they are considered good books. Same thing with SICP, and other books that I'm forgetting right now.

    I'm not from a English speaking country, so maybe it's different over here?

  • Re:Mass (D)Effect (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:41AM (#30456316)

    Nobody's saying the developer should pay or be unduly punished, the issue is one of simple refund for customers who cannot use an item they have legitimately purchased in the manner intended. Remember it's also generally not the customer's fault that the game fails to run either. Yes, it could be a faulty or incompatible driver or an inconsistent hardware fault, but are you honestly arguing that in such a situation the best course of action is to punish the average user by giving him no recourse, that the fairest path is for a company to keep the money of a customer who is completely unsatisfied? How does such blatant profiteering benefit anyone, either the games industry (which surely isn't going to see another penny out of that customer when piracy is such an easy alternative) or the customer who doesn't care why the game doesn't work, just that he's massively out of pocket through no fault of his own?

  • by IBBoard (1128019) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:47AM (#30456342) Homepage

    The legal liability of producing an "inferior or incomplete product". The summary says about "legal and ethical issues", which are irrespective of price. If they bring in legislation to say that "all software must be held to identical standards to stand-alone equipment, despite the fact that software operates in a completely uncontrolled and not entirely forseeable environment" then OSS could well be caught within the same net and be royally screwed in all nations that implement the law.

  • Re:Mass (D)Effect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho (705796) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:59AM (#30456414)

    Mass effect worked flawlessly for me on multiple computers of varying specs (No ATI cards though) From a bottom end, to a mid range to a ultra high end computer.

    It's something with your setup, not the game.

  • by Grygus (1143095) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:01AM (#30456428)
    That was the point actually, you did get the very good analogy. People will ask for refunds on games when there is nothing actually wrong with the game itself; the problem lies in their environment at home or in the way that they installed it. You can go to just about any game's forum and find at least one post ranting about how the developer is incompetent and released a crap game that doesn't run, even though the rest of the forum is full of posts by people who are playing it with no problem.
  • by imbaczek (690596) <imbaczek@poczta . f m> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:09AM (#30456474) Journal
    nowadays, most of the cost of developing a game is the art. of course, you need programmers and when they screw up, it's usually a bigger problem than a broken texture, but there are tons more artists than coders on the credits in major titles - and that's what you mostly pay for.

    your point still stands, though.
  • Re:Mass (D)Effect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grygus (1143095) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:16AM (#30456532)

    They were tested and verified; thousands and thousands of other people played Mass Effect with no problem. Nobody is using you as a Beta. It is not possible to test all combinations, and moreover the fix, when you find one, will be on your end, because if it were the code everyone would be experiencing the same difficulty. The inability of even technically competent gamers to grasp this basic point is the best argument against enforced refunds in my opinion. People are able to tell when a phone doesn't work; with a game all they know is that it isn't working. You can't tell where the problem lies, so you just blame the game reflexively. Natural, but very often wrong. If the company wants to give you a refund that's fine but you'd both be better served if you weren't so adamant that the game was the problem and actually worked to find the real culprit; you might get to play a great game and the company would retain your money and your custom.

    You do realize that every single game that runs fine for you is running terribly for someone else. If a bug isn't very widespread it probably isn't the game's fault. Some games really are buggy messes but Mass Effect isn't one of them.

  • Re:Piracy. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ephemeriis (315124) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:35AM (#30456704)

    Isn't that one of the purposes of demos? Of course, when games like Modern Warfare 2 start being released without demos, something is wrong.

    It's been a long time since I relied on a demo to give me a good feeling for the game.

    Many developers/publishers never release a demo of any kind.

    And the demos that do get released are frequently not representative of the finished product. They'll focus on a single map or level that's been polished to perfection... But the final release will be full of bugs and issues. Or there'll be artificial limitations in the demo that keeps you from trying out key elements of the finished product.

    The last game that I actually trusted a demo was Lords of Magic: Special Edition [wikipedia.org].

    The game looked decent, so I grabbed the demo. At the time, the demo was pretty huge and took a while to download.

    I played through the demo several times and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Eventually decided to buy the game.

    Problem was that the retail version of the game didn't play much like the demo.

    The demo had some extra code in it to move things along in a timely manner. You were only given a dozen turns to play, or 30 minutes, or some short period of time. So the game made sure you had pressure on you - the big evil army was on its way. There was almost a rush to see if you could amass your army and defend yourself. There was more of a feeling of direction and urgency.

    In the retail game you were basically just dropped on the world map and allowed to do your thing. The enemies would wander around their own territory, twiddling their thumbs, until you felt you were ready to attack. Which mean that there really wasn't anyone coming to get you. And you could take your time to build up your army as much as you wanted.

    Without that pressure, most of the fun was gone. I was bored silly after an hour or so.

    Ever since then I haven't trusted a demo.

  • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:38AM (#30456738)

    No one runs a game with no software other than the OS installed.

    A lot of people do this all the time. It's called a console.

    Yup. And one of the major reasons I hear all the time for people preferring a console, over a PC for gaming, is that things generally work. Sure, some glitches and bugs here and there... But normally you can expect to buy a game at the store, throw it in your console, and play the thing without too many issues.

  • by Shotgun (30919) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:26AM (#30457246)

    And I can return a shirt if my wife decides that it is the wrong color, so I don't see where this thread is going. If the product is not useful to me, I'm allowed to return it in any other context. I don't have to provide a reason. "I don't want it" will be reason enough for all the returns on Dec 26.

    Why should a game that won't even run on the recipient's computer be any different?

  • What power do you -we- have? Boycotting is not an options...

    Oh, to have mod points to mod you "-1 stupid".
     
    Boycotting IS "an options". Don't buy crap. Period. It does not affect me in the least that everyone else around me is wasting their money on crap. They could be stuffing their closets full of dogshit, and it wouldn't affect me. (Assuming they kept the containers sealed so as to keep it in mint condition and preserve the value.)
     
    I don't buy garbage games from garbage publishers. Boycotting does work for me. It's the power that I have. I'm not required to buy the latest whiz-bang game. I'm not required to buy every game I see a commercial for. I'm not even required to buy a game RIGHT AWAY! I know. madness, huh?
     
    My money goes to good games. I'll happily wait 6 months to find out if it's a good game or not. Now, this doesn't penalize game makers for buggy games, but at the same time, I don't have to deal with buggy games.

    there is nothing that we the informed customer can do to fend them off

    The informed customer can not buy their games. That's what I do. Until they legislate that I'm required to purchase their crappy games, they really don't affect me in the least.
     
    By any chance, you aren't a slave to hype and buying the newest game all the time, are you? Because that's where I normally see such bitter complaints about buggy games...

  • by Turken (139591) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:56AM (#30457572)

    Which brings us back to the problem of developers pushing out shoddy code now since they know they can fix it later. In the "good old days" of console gaming, before every system had internal storage and internet connections, if a game went out the door full of bugs that was it. Once the word got around that the game was buggy and/or unplayable, people wouldn't buy it and the developer/publisher would pay dearly for that mistake. This healthy fear of a product failing in the market due to bugs and poor code was usually enough to push developers to do the best possible q/a job that they could, even if it meant delaying a game release.

    But now that every game console has the ability to support patches, the developers/publishers have begun to rely on this as a crutch so that they can save time and release on some pre-determined schedule and/or save money by not bothering with full q/a attention.

  • Re:Mass (D)Effect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jgtg32a (1173373) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:29AM (#30458086)
    To be fair GGP said hardware or driver. ATI has bad drivers and Nvidia has bad hardware.
  • by liquiddark (719647) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:34AM (#30458180)
    The downside of doing this to game companies is that when you raise the financial risk involved you stifle providers' ability to innovate. You personally might prefer software that works to software that does something interesting, but I don't think everyone holds that opinion. It is far more important to me that a game do something really interesting than that it work perfectly in every configuration, even my own.
  • by rainmaestro (996549) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:23AM (#30458948)

    Sellers *choose* to allow returns for buyer's remorse because it is good PR. They are not legally obligated to do so. Similarly, I can *choose* to give you a refund if you don't like your game, but I don't *have* to. If the product/game is defective, then yes, there are legal issues to force me to refund your money. But I'm not aware of any laws in the US forcing me to accept returns for any random reason.

  • Well, apparently stupid me... and like 8 million other people.

    To be blunt, yes. I didn't have any issues with the game, because I didn't run out and buy it. Why? Because I don't buy shitty games. How do I know if a game is shitty? I wait for folks like yourself to figure it out and tell me.
     
    You make my point for me. You're one of the millions who don't have a problem with risking your money on garbage. The fact that you're part of this group doesn't bother me at all. I'm not. I'm not going on a crusade to try and get you to change your ways. Some people have been being ripped off ever since bartering was invented. Some of us are more cautious.
     
    In no way can I have any affect on the former group of people.

  • You don't make any sense at all. There's a big difference between "the bulk of the market" and "what you have to choose from". While the bulk of the market was selling big SUVs, I bought a little toyota. While the bulk of the market was focused on mass-marketed, talentless pop stars, I bought other music. While the bulk of the market focuses on mass-marketed, alpha and beta versions of games, I spend my money on solid, well constructed games.
     
    You're dead wrong. What's made in a free market is NOT what most people choose. What's made in a free market is what will make that person some money. And sometimes, it's something that does NOT make that person money.
     
    Unlike you, I haven't been sold on the "the only good things in life are made by a corporation, and marketed on TV". I'm happy to seek value in all things, and pick that which has the most value for the money (or time) I'm willing to spend on it.
     
    If a few million people want to give their money to corporations in exchange for things that don't work, that's fine with me. It's not my money. I'll either find something that works to spend my money on, or I won't spend it.
     
    We're not talking about shit you need to live here. These are purely optional expenditures.

  • I don't think you get it.

    By and large commerce would grind to a halt if companies were allow to produce total trash, sell it off to people and completely ignore any responsibility for what they delivered.

    That is utterly untrue. All it takes is for one company to produce a quality good, and that's it. The problem isn't with the companies - it's with the consumers.
     
    If all the wine was poisoned, wine makers would go out of business. We'd revert to drinking other beverages, or making the wine ourselves.
     
    We're not talking about life or death here. These aren't things necessary for survival. These are luxury items which are payed for out of an expendable budget. If nobody "buys it first" because we're all sick of getting burned, guess what? That company goes out of business. If some other company comes along and consistently delivers a quality product, they win.
     
    I'll continue to not support crappy companies which produce crappy products. It doesn't really impact my life to do so. If the rest of you get pissed off enough to do the same, good for you! If not, whatever. It doesn't matter to me.

  • by Turken (139591) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @03:43PM (#30463524)

    Broken games still get shipped all the time.

    In the old days when magazine reviews were still relevant, it really wasn't that uncommon to read reviews that basically came down to "great game, but we can't recommend it due to this bug or that glitch." And with systems that didn't allow patches, getting those kind of reviews could be devastating to a game.

    Nowadays, even with the certification processes, some of the biggest AAA single-player games are shipping with game stopping bugs [kotaku.com] that would have been bad enough to kill a whole franchise 10 years ago. The only difference is that now the developers go back and patch problems in the code that they should have found and fixed if they had only done their due diligence to begin with.

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