For those of you who were looking forward to this summer's release of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light for XBLA, and were interested in the co-operative aspects of the game, you are going to have to wait. In an announcement where it appears that a marketing promotion takes precedence over the quality of the game, Cystal Dynamics has announced that when the Guardian of Light is released on August 18th, it will not have the online functionality that was previously promised.
When announced, the game was promised to include a two-player online cooperative mode, leaderboards, and voice chat. Crystal Dynamics' global brand director Karl Stewart said that since these features are not ready for launch, they will be removed from the game and will be added in later. The missing features will be available in a free update to the game on September 28th along side the PS3 and Steam releases of the game. Stewart attempted to explain why they are handling the situation in this way:
"Everybody's disappointed, but we're also excited. We're making a stand to say we're not going to have somebody download the game on August 18, play it, and feel like we came in a little under par on the online portion. It was a tough decision, but I think we made the right decision."
Listed as the fifth and final game of Microsoft's Summer of Arcade promotion, I can see why this game is getting shoved out the door unfinished. Microsoft has been pushing these five games all summer on the Live service. Having to say that one isn't finished and is getting delayed might not be something they want to do. This would also have been a problem for the promotion where if you buy all five games you get 1200 MS points back, as this would be hard to do without a fifth game.
So Ranters, what are your thoughts on this? Personally, I think this is a very shady move by both Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics. They are basically saying that the game isn't done, but they are going to put it out anyways because they have been promoting it for August 18th. With the earlier announcement of five DLC packs that are also coming for this game, I can't help but wonder if this is an example of a developer being so concerned about DLC they lost focus on the core game. Instead of planning ahead for five DLC packs, maybe focus on the getting the main game completed first.
Added insult to this situation is the game is still going to be released for the original price of 1200 points. If I buy a game that is missing half of the promised features, I don't want to pay full price. Yes, the features will be added later, but will anyone still be playing this game by then? With the short lifespan of XBLA multiplayer modes, I am not sure if the audience will still be there.