Arkham Knight Debacle Continues

There seems to be an increasing amount of broken games coming out for this generation of platforms. That’s not to say games never had issues previously, but games being fundamentally broken is pretty hard to ignore. Putting the Halos, the Assassins, the Dragons aside for a sec, I wanted to focus on the Batman. Because as broken launches go, this really annoyed the holy chilblains out of me. Why are things so broken?

Arkham Knight

I don’t want to look too closely at the continual delay of the game’s launch (it was due out months before it eventually saw the light of day). I’m not one to bemoan developers and publishers for ‘making me wait’. After all, I don’t want to play a game the developers aren’t happy for me to, right? Let them correct their scheduling errors and design changes and get on with it. But then there was that further delay of three weeks so close to launch… it gave me a niggling sense of suspicion. 7 years in the industry taught me how long a game takes to pass submission, and how long is needed to make a batch of disc copies for distributors to sell on. It seemed like things were being cut fine. But hey, the trailers were so pretty and the in game footage out of this world. My excitement was still high!

And then it all went horribly wrong. Evidently it had been going wrong behind the scenes for a long time. But the mess got passed on to the loyal consumers. Me!

I’d pre ordered the ‘“Red Hood”’ edition from Zavvi. This was to include two DLC packs as well as the game itself. Unfortunately it turned out that Warner had made a deal with Game to do an exclusive on that edition, but the information didn’t seem to filter down to people that had pre ordered – it was handled appallingly. When our copy failed to show up two days after being pre ordered I took to emailing Zavvi directly to ask where the holy hamburger our “Red Hood” edition was. Twitter showed that misinformation was everywhere. Some people had received cancelled orders a day before shipping was due. Others had been offered a substitute. Many like me had just had radio silence. The ridiculous part being the darned thing was still being advertised on the Zavvi website! I finally got an email through three days after launch, saying my “Red Hood” edition was being shipped. Hurrah, all is forgiven. The next day we received the “special edition steel box with Harley DLC”. I was still charged for the “Red Hood” edition (which should have had more DLC).

Zavvi ended up winning that round because I gave up quibbling over what exactly had gone wrong and why I’d been overcharged for something I didn’t want. It was like talking to a gormless machine, I’d ask them how we could resolve this and they would agree only to as much as they’d sent me the special edition as a replacement – ignoring the fact I’d been overcharged and given a substitution without permission. I would heartily recommend avoiding purchasing from that site until they sort their communication and action out. I later found a forum post on the Warner Bros website  which suggested Zavvi shouldn’t really have been advertising this exclusive deal in the first place… Naughty.

And then it got worse. Looking at other sites, the numbers of complaints were high. And it wasn’t just the “Red Hood” edition that was affected. It turned out that folk that had loyally forked out over £100 to get the edition with all the toys and fun things had been delayed because the figurine hadn’t passed quality control. Warner Bros. needed to get them made again. Well, that explains why I got my steel box edition, they had plenty of them sitting around without any of its counterparts to ship with!

And that’s when the holy poop really hit the fan. Because despite all the marketing fiasco, there was a game to be played, one that so many people had waited years for. But it just so happens the PC gamers couldn’t really play it.  Errors included  single digit frame rate issues, crashing, and memory leaks causing the game to eat memory like a starving orphan. Players with both AMD and Nvidia based systems were affected, though AMD seemed to struggle even more. High end dedicated game machines couldn’t cope. The Xbox version had a huge patch waiting for me on install, but at least it was playable (eventually – did anyone else have the game sit on a dialogue box waiting to go into game for about five minutes?).

In a drastic move Warner Bros. removed it from stores, taking action for their inept judgement call. They promised to sort the game out for people who had already given them money. I read an article talking to Arkham Knights ‘QA’, and found it to confirm my suspicions. These issues were already known. Warner had decided they were acceptable. And this ladies and gentlemen, is the root of the marketing and development fiasco. This is what you get when people in the games industry make decisions when they don’t play games. And believe me, there are plenty of them out there.

The latest news for PC gamers was announced after a retailer memo in Australia leaked online. There are going to be interim patches, but the game isn’t going to be fully fixed until September at the earliest. This news comes just shy of the cut off point for existing owners to ask for their money back. So, there are no doubt going to be a lot of folk out there who are stuck with a game they can’t play.

Once again, holy rubbish communication strikes. Perhaps Warner were too busy playing the blame game to remember to keep the affected players in the loop. Meanwhile, no doubt, the developers are hard at work trying to rectify issues that were highlighted months ago but that they didn’t get chance to fix until their publisher was told these issues aren’t “OK”.

 

Photo by Zehta

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