Published on September 28th, 2022 | by Byliner
Why we need to give some games a second chance @AlienwareOZ
With the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 expansion hitting the news, it’s worth contemplating how a game which launched to such megahype, then was widely slammed, could be back in anyone’s good books some 18 months after its initial release. How did this happen, and which other games promised much, underdelivered, but then earned a second chance?
The game that inspired this article launched with astronomical sales figures. But things turned sour quickly with realisations that it was barely half-baked for performance, bugs and gameplay, to the point where the PlayStation version was pulled from sale with buyers refunded. For any company to wear such a loss and fall on its sword like that is extraordinary but it didn’t stop publisher CD Projekt Red’s share price insta-diving almost 50 per cent and embarking on a downward trajectory that saw it recently reach its lowest point in five years – there’s a lesson to game company executives there.
And yet, in that time, the remaining, sizeable community has stuck with the game while the developers have delivered thousands of bug fixes, updates and gameplay tweaks in patches that are helping it experience a renaissance in terms of audience appreciation… if not financially. Hopefully, the grass-roots support, that this now-popular game enjoys, can propel both it and CD Projekt Red to greatness.
Even if you hadn’t followed the 2014 pre-launch, gameplay promises of No Man’s Sky, you’d likely have noticed the fallout that followed its launch. This was epitomised by a single, massively popular, Jurassic Park-related meme that started by showing a promised, polished world of roaming creatures overdubbed with the movie’s majestic, orchestral theme music. However, upon reaching the musical crescendo, the video instantly switched to ridiculous launch-footage that featured a hideously glitchy abomination of a dinosaur, staggering around, clipping its way through blocky scenery while accompanied by Patrick Lo’s hilariously amateurish Melodica-based cover.
Nonetheless, developers Hello Games later spent a significant amount of time addressing (seemingly) every issue to the point where the game even got updated for next-gen consoles and the latest PC hardware. It represents one of the greatest comebacks in gaming history.
The entire Battlefield series became synonymous with launch problems. It seemed that no matter how hard every version was publicly beta-tested, at launch, the colossal influx of players revealed countless bugs and performance issues that would only manifest once everyone came to the party. It seemed like feeding itself to the wolves, to appear stronger for it, became a requirement. However, this perceived shield may have its limits. A sizeable community still plays a now-healthy Battlefield V but it could be at the expense of its successor, Battlefield 2042. The latest outing has dragged its feet in terms of fixes and updates and may have missed the boat for making a comeback.
Amazon Games delayed the launch of this MMORPG four times, citing a commitment to quality, which was a signal how seriously the company was taking its forays into the games industry. Unfortunately, when it launched a year ago, it was clear those delays were not enough win everyone over, earning it some very mixed reviews.
Thankfully, there have been many improvements since then and the game has developed a strong player base and a healthy ranking on Steam. The forthcoming Brimstone Sands update promises new weapons, new zone and other offerings, as well as improved levelling for new and returning players, which is further good news.
Other games that turned (or are turning) things around
Space epics, Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen have charted interesting journeys that saw low-key launches follow explosively popular pre-launch campaigns. However, both titles were crowd-funded meaning they came with inherent audience expectations that things would take time to mature, which they have.
Other games have dedicated communities but new players are still on the fence and Fallout 76 is a good example. A very disappointing launch in 2018 led to significant investment from Bethesda who’ve publicly committed to the project until (at-least) 2027. Audience reactions to its current state are generally positive but it’s not yet hit the levels expected for the popular franchise.
So while developers and gamers would probably prefer that games got it right the first time, it goes to show that, even if you’re disappointed at launch, it doesn’t mean it won’t become your new favourite game down the track (aka “you can’t judge a game by its beta”).