Batman: Arkham Origins has been a controversial title ever since it was first announced - with many gamers initially branding the property a shameless cash grab. Despite changing developers, the game managed to secure solid (albeit not stellar) review scores and sales. Sadly, the game has struggled to break through a crowded holiday season which included annual Assassin's Creed, Battlefield, and Call of Duty installments - in addition to Sony and Microsoft's next-generation console launches - and isn't expected to reach anywhere close to sales of its Arkham City predecessor.
Warner Bros. is determined to support Arkham Origins (on most platforms) with downloadable content. The publisher has already released the "Initiation" as well as Deathstroke challenge maps, along with several pre-order bonus skins, and is on-track to deliver a highly-anticipated story add-on in the coming months. Unfortunately, the developer is so committed to the story DLC, it sounds as though they've shifted resources away from patch fixes to ensure the add-on arrives in a timely manner.
Fans who have been enjoying the game will, no doubt, be looking forward to the upcoming DLC, which is expected to feature iconic Bat-villain Mr. Freeze; however, there are still plenty of players who were hoping to see Warner Bros. Montreal sure-up a number of frustrating glitches. To that end, one especially discouraged gamer took to the Arkham Origins forum in an effort to get an update from the development team on when to expect a new patch.
In response, community admin Mercury, dropped the following official (and contentious) update:
The team is currently working hard on the upcoming story DLC and there currently are no plans for releasing another patch to address the issues that have been reported on the forums.
If we do move forward with creating a new patch, it will try to address the progression blocking bugs for players, not the minor glitches that do not prevent one from continuing to play. The issues that are not progression blockers will unfortunately no longer be addressed.
We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused for some of you, and want to thank you for having been patient.
Needless to say, reaction to the comment was overwhelmingly negative - with many gamers pointing out that Warner Bros. Montreal is chasing further money from players without delivering a stable version of the core game. The news is especially disappointing considering that developer isn't even guaranteeing that they'll fix an especially nasty (and relatively common) set of bugs that block player progression and force full restarts of the story campaign.
For years, game makers have come under criticism for taking advantage of the ability to patch games by shipping out broken builds before the package is ready (to meet marketing schedules or release in favorable calendar windows) - with the promise they'll stabilize the experience after launch. Gamers had understandable concerns but most developers have continued to refine their titles through post-release patching - which have, for the most part, caused players to accept the process as the new status quo. However, the situation at Warner Bros. Interactive, who are willfully sidelining a serious problem with their game, simply to pump out further billable content, is an unfortunate realization of the initial concern.
Bugs are an irritating, albeit normal, part of the development process and most gamers would likely have no problem accepting a random game freeze once in a while but the studio's unwillingness to address actual game-breaking problems in favor of new content is significantly harder to swallow. Had the publisher said they were hard at work on a patch for any progression bugs but would be abandoning minor glitches to polish up the story DLC, most customers would have likely been more understanding.
Of course, this isn't the first time (this week) that Warner Bros. Interactive has failed to make good on a promise to consumers - having cancelled their Arkham Origins season pass offering on the Wii U (including the aforementioned story-based DLC). No doubt, some of those gamers might have purchased the title on a different console, had they known that the developer would simply abandon development if demand was lower than expected. With so many players locked out of further story progress, not to mention Wii U owners that have been shut out of the title's multiplayer and post-release DLC, Warner Bros. may have soured a significant chunk of consumers on future Arkham series titles.
That said, it's hard to imagine that the publisher will change its mind and invest a lot of manpower in fixing all Arkham Origins glitches - but we'll keep our fingers crossed that they "do move forward with creating a new patch" and, at the very least, deliver a stable version of the title free of game-breaking progression bugs.
Batman: Arkham Origins is available on PC, PS3, Wii U and Xbox 360.
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