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Arkham Knight: Frustrated, Not Surprised

By now the sage of the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight is a well known story. One of the most anticipated games of 2014, which became one of the most anticipated games of 2015, was finally released and the while the console versions are mostly solid, fun experiences. The PC version was so bad that it had to be pulled from Steam’s digital storefront. And now it turns out, that Warner Brothers new the game was a mess the whole time. Well of course they did.

When Kotaku reported last week that the publisher knew the PC version was a dead game walking for “almost a year” I wanted to be angry. I wanted to be shocked. I wanted to be frustrated. All I was, was tired.

As mentioned above, this game was originally supposed to be released in the fall of 2014 before being pushed back to June. Then in the spring it was delayed an additional few days, just for good measure. According to Kotaku’s sources these delays were entirely due to the difficulty that Rocksteady had in making the game work on the new generation of consoles. Now if that was the case, that’s fair. New consoles are always difficult for developers to figure out the first time around. However, apparently nearly all resources were then dedicated to the console versions, and since making the game run on PC should not have been the issue it was for the Xbox One and PS4, we are forced to ask, if Arkham Knight had been released for PC in October, would we have ended up with the same game we got in June?

What’s more, if Rocksteady was really having that much difficulty with the console version last fall, then then they hit an absolute grand slam in the extrra time they took. The console versions are just short of perfect. The extra work paid off. Imagine what they could have done with the PC version if they had given it the same attention.

Of course, Warner Brothers knew there were issues with the PC version when they released it, they would have been negligent if they hadn’t known, but they apparently thought the game was good enough.

They increased the minimum hardware requirements 24 hours before the game was released, but they thought it was good enough. Even that wasn’t enough but they thought it was good enough.

Good enough is apparently a code phrase that means “thought they could get away with it.”

We’re used to dealing with buggy games now. The “sell now, patch later” mentality is standard operating procedure for consoles as well as computers. Warner Brothers was likely already working on a patch for the PC version of the game, they just hoped people would be “happy enough” with the game until the patch was released. If Steam’s refund policy hadn’t been in place I’m not sure WB would even have taken the steps that they did.

Rockstar games routinely releases the PC version of their Grand Theft Auto games, long after the console version. Half the time they don’t even confirm the PC version until months later. Then the game gets delayed and delayed and delayed again. Eventually however, the game comes out. Have you ever noticed what happens then? People buy it. A lot of people buy it. Some people who already bought it on console buy it. Oh, and it works. Those people who buy it aren’t happy with the delay but they are eventually rewarded with a great game.

Hopefully all developers and publishers, not just WB will learn something from this experience. Games are technological marvels. They take a lot of work to make. We understand that. Bugs will happen, we also understand that. But you make games. You know the difference between a game that works and one that doesn’t. When you know it doesn’t work, don’t sell it. We’ll appreciate your honesty, and when the game does come out, and it’s really good, we’ll appreciate that too, with our dollars, and that’s what you want anyway, right?

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