I put it to you that Day-1 purchasers are game developers’ most loyal supporters. Why then are they the ones punished by the release of unfinished products? This is especially true in the case of PC users.
Let’s take the RAGE release problems as an example. id Software are traditionally one of the premier PC game developers, and yet here we see PC gamers taking the brunt of the crippling defects. At the least, gamers are experiencing significant texture pop-in and screen tearing. At the worst crashes and hard locks. Gamers that chose to take a look at the Battlefield 3 beta were required to install a set of crazy-ass beta video drivers from their manufacturer of choice, which don’t play nicely with RAGE. In fact, they reportedly have a 100% crash rate. These gamers are subsequently required to roll-back to the latest stable release, then install an entirely new set of crazy-ass beta drivers. This all in order to play a game that they purchased on Day 1, such was the height of their excitement.
I’m not laying the blame at id’s feet, by the way. This situation is just a product of the current state of the gaming industry. Given the level of connectedness that publishers and developers have to consumers, pushing patches out is a relatively simple procedure. Massive defect remediation cycles have died in favour of hitting publisher-set release dates on time, whether the products are finished or not. It wasn’t so long ago that defects left undiscovered once a game goes gold, remained present for the life of the product. Therefore, it behoved developers to find and fix as many defects as they could before release, in order to defend their reputations. That said, perhaps the blame should rest with the gamers themselves? As Bice rightly points out, it is a sad fact that many gamers would rather take a buggy game two months earlier, than wait for the stable release.
Whatever the reason for the state of new release quality today, it is up to consumers to enact change. Raise your voices, change your purchasing habits, and make it clear that you won’t stand for sub-par quality in the very titles that should be standing as examples of gaming at its best for curious observers and dismissive decriers, both.