Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Big Companies, Sad Faces

If you buy games from big companies, it's a tough time to be a consumer.

Eli 13.4, who has had bronchitis ALL Christmas break, started playing NBA2K15 in Career mode, and he likes it very much.

Then his My Career save got corrupted.

He started a new career, went through all the interminable cut scenes again (because, of course, you can't skip them), played a few games, and the same damn thing happened.

This happened three times.

I did some quick Googling, and quickly found out that it's a known problem. From LAST YEAR. Saves get corrupted. No one knows why.

The answer, of course, is to turn off auto-save, which seems to be saving almost constantly, and just save manually. That way, you can rotate several saves.

Except, of course, you can't do that. There's no manual save option.

So it looks like we have a $60 paperweight. Hey, at least it's on a disc, so it can be traded in for something.

In the old (very old) days, I could go to Gamestop and say that the save system was broken, and for a problem like that, I could get my money back. Now? A big "F-you" from everyone.

Here's the thing: when games get too big to fix, and companies get too big to care, we have a problem.

I just checked the trade-in value, and it's $26, according to Gamestop, and if that game gets bought and traded ten times, and costs Take-Two ten sales, guess what? I guess Take-Two should have made a game that worked without critical, mode-breaking bugs.

Also, Origin. You know, EA's "service" for downloading their games, and for spamming you endlessly with DLC ads whenever you play one of their games.

I've never installed Origin, because it so clearly wasn't in my best interest, but I decided I wanted to play Dragon Age: Inquisition. So I installed the stupid client, and got ready to download a 30GB game (or maybe it was 40, because I can't even remember at this point).

I mean, Origin is competing with Steam, so EA should provide a better experience, right? My download speeds should shred, right?

Well, if <500kbps is="" p="" shredding.="">
I was as low as 350Kbps at times. Incredible. I did rise to the magnificent rate of 3Mbps per seconds, at times.

Was it my connection? Not on my end, because I paused the download, went to Steam, and was downloading something at a steady 10Mbps. You know, 30 times faster.


Again, known problem. Origin is notorious for crap download speeds. Fix it? Not likely. Why? Consumer satisfaction is not the goal here. Maximum profit margin is the only goal.

One more. NHL 15 shipped as basically half a game on next-gen platforms this year. Entire modes were missing, and the modes that were there all had baffling omissions in content. At launch, the bugs were downright incredible, including clear goals not being counted and goals being credited in certain situations when the puck was just dumped into the offensive zone.

A small company could never do that, because they'd be finished.

EA? No problem. They'll just put out some marketing doublespeak for damage control and hey, see you next year!

This is why I don't buy many "big" games anymore. It's just depressing. Nintendo is the exception in terms of quality, and thank goodness there's still one. I'll still buy a few of the big sports games, but even that number is dropping, given our experiences this year

Plus, almost every game from a big company is going to be a cookie cutters of other games in the genre. If you want anything resembling innovation, forget about the big companies.

They just don't care.

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