Video game creators, including developers and producers, have been following a disturbing trend for the past few years. These problems became much more apparent with the few releases we have had on the next generation consoles.
There are three very simple things that started with a good initial intention but they have become a way for video game creators to release unfinished games with limited resources and little repercussion.
( ✓ ) The initial intention behind pre-ordering was to reserve a copy of a game because consumers were having difficulty finding popular games in stores due to their popularity.
( X ) Now, pre-ordering allows game creators to create hype about a game that hasn't been finished without actually having to deliver on the promises that the game was initially marketed on.
2. Downloadable Content (DLC)
( ✓ ) Downloadable content began as a way for the developers of the game to offer content that was not included in the original game. It would effectively extend the lifetime of the game with new and interesting content.
( X ) Now, offering DLC is a way for video game creators to artificially extend the lifetime of a game and receive additional revenue by removing content originally intended for the base game and sold separately a few months later.
3. Post Release Patching
( ✓ ) Post release patches allowed video game creators a chance to fix unforeseen bugs and glitches from a game that was release. Patching has also been used to make improvements of the game features like balancing weapon stats in an online first person shooter.
( X ) Now, post release patches allow video game creators to release unfinished games due to shareholder pressure with the opportunity to finish the game through patches post release.
If you think I'm just blowing smoke, I have numerous examples in this past year alone that prove these points.
Let's start with Battlefield 4. It was a launch title for the next gen consoles, so it does deserve a little slack because the creators are just starting to figure what they can do on the new consoles. That could be true. But in the one year it took them to fix all launch day bugs they release 4 DLC packs.
Then there was Watch Dogs. Given it was a brand new series, one can expect to see problems with the game. This game was delayed nearly two year, with pre-orders mind you, and was still broken on release. Ubisoft, the creator, used a system called Uplay that authenticates your copy as real and not stolen. The Uplay system couldn't handle the amount of people that purchased the game, so people who bought the game couldn't actually play it because Uplay wasn't working. Watch Dogs was also shown with better resolution that the copy that sold and the creators have released multiple DLC packs with no bug/glitch patches.
DriveClub was a Playstation exclusive and also a brand new title. DriveClub was intended on being a release day title and marketed as such, but it was delayed for a year. The game released but the companies servers were unable to connect to online servers, a major selling point of the game, for over a month.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection was said to allow gamers to play all past Halo games online. The online matchmaking service is broken on release and no one is able to connect to a game.
Assassin's Creed (another Ubisoft game) might be the worst of them all. The game is so riddled with in game glitches that it’s already spawned countless memes. Ubisoft embargoed all reviews of the game until several hours after release, which didn't allow people with early access to warn others of the incomplete and buggy game play. And the final content of the game is only unlocked by (you guessed it) IN GAME MICROTRANSACTIONS! They aren't even trying to mask it as DLC anymore, now gamers have to pay to complete!
I can understand the pre-ordering standpoint a little bit. Living in a place with no direct access to video games, the online retailers sell out fast so I have to pre-order.
I can also understand DLC as a way to add additional revenue. These are AAA games released by multi-million dollar game producers, their reason for existing at this point is to maximize shareholder value (aka make money). We can fight this as consumers, just don't purchase more content if the game wasn't good enough. The companies will figure out what to do.
What is entirely unacceptable, in my opinion, is knowingly releasing an unfinished game. There is no excuse for this and it needs to stop. No longer can video games hide under a veil of completion and rely on post release patches. It needs to stop.