It’s been a long week for gamers. Not only did Assassin’s Creed Unity disappoint, but the game barely works. Halo: The Master Chief Collection fared better with reviewers, but requires a mandatory 20GB patch and still has numerous multiplayer problems.
In fact, the whole fall’s been dominated by stories of botched releases. After more than two months on the market, Bungie’s highly anticipated shooter Destiny is still struggling. NBA 2k15, which requires an online connection for many of its game modes, launched with a myriad of server issues — and the less said about its much-vaunted “face scanning” feature, the better.
These aren’t small, indie titles either. Microsoft, Ubisoft, Activision, and 2k are some of the biggest companies in the business, with access to near limitless resources. The failure of major publishers to provide working, professional products has gamers asking two questions: how did this happen, and how can it be prevented in the future?
Electronic Arts might have the answers. A year ago, the publisher launched Battlefield 4, a game so broken that EA’s actually facing multiple lawsuits from disenfranchised gamers. But Battlefield Hardline developer Visceral Games is confident that history won’t repeat itself. As Visceral general manager Steve Papoutsis told Eurogamer:
“When you ask what did I learn, or what did we learn, all game developers know it’s important to launch a stable game, a bug free game, because that equates to fun…. What’s resonated with us is we need to keep an eye on it.”
Visceral’s taking a two-pronged approach to ensure that Battlefield Hardline doesn’t repeat its predecessor’s mistakes. One part is a lengthy beta test, incorporating lots of player feedback. The other is time. Visceral wasn’t confident that they could make all the necessary changes before Hardline’s fall release. The solution? EA delayed the title until March.
This approach seems to be working. Papoutsis claims that Battlefield Hardline has been “extremely stable” throughout the beta, and it’s performed reasonably well during public demonstrations. At the very least, EA and Visceral are sending a clear message to gamers: the audience is the priority, and no matter what it takes, Battlefield Hardline will work at launch.
Obviously, there’s massive pressure to release a game in time for the lucrative holiday season. Ubisoft all but admitted that the Unity team rushed to get the game out on time. Still, it only takes one bad game to ruin a brand, and publishers need to give developers the time and resources they need. Gamers deserve it.
Battlefield Hardline will be released on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on March 17, 2015.