Once upon a time... people played video games in the solitary comfort of their home with the only commentary available coming from your buddy(who you invited to take turns on levels and deaths) or from the very few publications that existed in those early days of gaming. More than likely you heard about the next exciting title being released from a friend rather than a pop-up add or commercial. Sure these were simpler times and some might argue even less informed times. However there was a certain blissful ignorance that we all enjoyed due to this lack of communication that seems to be diminishing. I'm talking about quality control. I can remember glitches and bugs from most games back to the early days of the 8 bit systems and even earlier. But they usually weren't detrimental to the gameplay or gaming experience. In that they were usually more associated with clipping glitches or screen freezes. The type of bugs that were caused from a bit too much map exploration (trying to reach the unreachable) or maybe even hardware issues. A far cry from the hiccups found in some of the biggest-budget games being released today. This may not seem significant, but it's a bigger problem than most realize.
Now money has ALWAYS been the driving factor in most industries. I mean why wouldn't it? An industry denotes a compilation of like-minded business out to sell a similar product or offer a similar service while making a profit for doing so. Pretty simple huh? Well what do you think happens when a small and often alienated industry grows exponentially in a short period of time? For example when the video game industry went from being perceived as the cause of all evil in the world to being one of the most profitable entertainment mediums in the world? You get oversight. Now before I forget, let's try to ignore Fox News's consistent game-bashing due to their very transparent fear of game consoles taking television's 60 year roll as the REAL national past-time. Any who, back to the industry oversight. In the case of the diminishing quality of video games, oversight in this case refers to a game maker's decision to release a glitch-ridden game with the prospect of online updates and error reports that are likely sent straight from the console. Not to mention the countless blogs, posts, or reviews (by consumers) submitted. In turn our reviews are giving the game makers the info needed to patch their digital garbage after you purchased it. We'll discuss this in detail shortly.
Now there are many different sides to this trend, however they all seem to support it. First of all, there's a nasty inequality among games advertised by game makers. Why do some games by game makers get more publicity than others by the same studio or publisher? Is it because the majority of the gaming community somehow played these games before release with countless praise? Or is it more of a corporate strategy among the marketing gurus for these companies that decide which ones to promote and which ones to sleep? Sure you're always going to promote your "A Squad" the most. But what if you spent a bundle on what turns out to be substandard? Are you going to scrap it or milk it? Again, we're talking about business' trying to make money rather than set new standards. This in itself isn't wrong, heck it's the basis or free enterprise. The problem arises however, when that company's influence and "kick-backs" create an inflated interest in a game that maybe should still be on the editing table. Remember kiddos, what's popular isn't always what's good as far as quality is concerned. For example, the Ford F-series pickup is the highest selling vehicle of all time and currently there are more F-series trucks than ANY other automobile in the world. Do you own one? Do you think it's a vehicle good enough that can support those figures? Most foreign car reviews paint the F-series truck as a plastic hunk of junk wherein the components appear to be assembled by monkeys... blind ones. But that doesn't stop Ford from advertising it nor does it stop the majority of the populace from buying them. What I'm saying is that just because a game is popular or had an endless marketing budget, doesn't mean it is "good." Why does this matter you ask? Simply put, it's all about public perception. If EA advertises Crysis 2 or Mass Effect 2 with a budget that reaches 70 percent of the populace, would it be very smart for your favorite (and only) television game reviewers to say the game was garbage? Heck, two million gamers already preordered it. That same television show is advertising a Crysis 2 or ME2 game day where you can play with the show's host or editors. Your favorite game retailer is offering preorders with exclusive content. Doubtful that they'll be expressing their disgust in an unfinished game they're helping to promote. I heard a story once about a celebrity cracking some jokes on a late-night talk show about the benefits of KY jelly only to be sent a lifetime supply shortly after for the good publicity. Could this same thing happen for good game reviews? I'd say it's more than likely. All this time you thought the games that got the most attention were those of the highest caliber and quality control standards. Little did you know that almost all of that particular game's hype was based solely on revenue and a perfect idea that never reached it's full potential.
Many gamers prefer to purchase their favorite game on release day. Some even preorder for midnight releases in order to spend the entire night playing before most can even purchase it. Again, this is not a bad practice by any means. We are however, inadvertently enabling the makers and publishers of our games to continue in this decline of quality. Let me explain. When you bought Super Metroid for your SNES you were likely in absolute awe at the silky-smooth game controls and almost heavenly graphics that could only be explained by a time paradox in which graphics were sent from the future through a rip in space and time. The game was perfect, ok. There were of course one or two glitches. These glitches however, could almost always be blamed on the gamer for trying to jump out of the map or even find hidden areas that just didn't exist. Simply put, they were due to the hard-core gamers need to explore. Not because the game was release prematurely. Think of it this way: if there were catastrophic glitches, what could they possibly do to correct it. Well, nothing short of a total recall. Now fast-forward 20 years to a little game called Mass Effect 2. A game so graphically impressive that it can only be matched by it's superb Hollywood-style cinematography. But what of gameplay? You know, character control and button response. Clipping, load-times, and yes even TYPOS. Oh yeah. I found a typo in ME2... utterly unforgivable. In the first two to three months alone, I must've experienced at least half a dozen updates from the game makers. Possibly to improve on some of the shortcomings initially experienced or maybe just to touch up some superficial issues. Who knows? The point is, nobody realizes that they are "on the clock" during the initial release performing beta-testing so the game they spent $70 might eventually be worth it after months of updates. On our very own Gamespot review you will find page after page of good impressions of the game in the "what's good" section. However, in the "what's bad" section, you'll find a single sentence referencing the problems as "some glitches and bugs." Some glitches and bugs? I won't get into it on this rant because I've already written a review on ME2 and to this day still listing the glitches one by one because that's what consumers want… impartial facts.
Most respectable industries hold much higher standards before releasing products. By comparison, the video game industry is almost a joke when it comes to quality-control. Just try to compare the number of problems you find in your favorite game with even the most common products. Be it TV's, cell phones, automobiles, or even movies. Forty second load times are the equivalent of a DVD movie having 27 previews that cannot be skipped or fast forwarded. Typos in a game are NO LESS serious than those occurring in any printed publication. Games that rely on tripling an enemy's health and attack damage to justify a harder difficulty setting rather than programming better AI is the equivalent of a car company selling a newer faster model that simply has racing stripes and a louder exhaust. It doesn't happen in other industries as much because it's simply not tolerated. So why do we?Sure, garbage movies are released all the time. But it's garbage to you because it's not entertainment. Not because you could see stage hands walking through the background or a microphone boom dangling ineveryshot. It's because you personally didn't enjoy it. There are plenty of games out there that people love that aren't popular at all. It doesn't meant they're riddled with bugs and glitches. Why is this concept of quality standards ignored by gamers?
Who know? Maybe the game makers are right, and unlike most industires, they are actually the ones controlling the flow of progrss rather than the consumers. Maybe all gamers are ignorant, lazy, virgins without a voice of their own. Or maybe we're all just immature little brats who didn't pay for our games ourselves and therefor don't care. We could alwaysjust blame it on the game reviewers for promoting junk in order to make money. But then again gamers write countless reviews regurgitating the same sub-standard promoting garble that they read online or in a magazines. In any case, if we want our industry to finally be respected and tolerated by all demographics, we need to finally act our age and stop paying for rubbish and taking every biased opinion as gospel. It's not like you can takeyour gameback once you've opened it. In the words of Stan Marsh: "This is America, and in America if something sucks you're supposed to be able to get your money back". Fat chance.