Should Video Games Be Bought Error Free?

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I think so.

As a consumer, I am a very demanding person. When a retailer wants my money for anything, the product better work or I expect to get my money back and, for the most part, I will never buy from that particular brand again. Video games, however, are not as simple as buying a TV and expecting it to work with no problems. In the complex world of game production, there are going to be bugs, glitches, and inevitable problems. However, once the game gets in the consumer’s hands, most of these problems should be fixed, or should they? Is it unreasonable to ask a company, such as Treyarch, Infinity Ward, or Epic to make an error-free game? Error-free, no, but the consumers should not be “testers” to find major problems that should have already been fixed by these “elite” video game makers, especially after paying $60. That’s what actual testers and quality control personnel are for.

For example, if you are a gamer, you knew what November 9, 2010 meant. That’s right- Black Ops was coming out and the wait was finally over. Unbeknownst to most of us, though, we would eventually find out that we should have waited just a little bit longer.

With game in hand, I put it in the Xbox 360 console and started playing multiplayer right away. After trying – I say trying because it was literally like pulling teeth getting into a match – to get into a Team Deathmatch game, I was finally able to play a round. Not only was matchmaking a problem, but also God forbid you die on Nuketown, which happens to be one of the worst maps on Black Ops (I would argue worst map ever for a Call of Duty game, yes, way worse than Wet Works). The spawning point on that map was so ridiculous; once your character died, you would literally respawn right in front of the enemy, really? I paid sixty bucks for a game that is now, not only a disappointment, but also more frustrating to play as opposed to fun.

Of course, a little over a month after initial release, Treyarch rolled out update 1.04 for both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, which was supposed to fix the matchmaking, spawning, and other issues that were plaguing the game. Matchmaking and spawning are two of the most important, if not THE most important, part of a first person shooter and to have these types of problems on a game release, especially with the popularity of the Call of Duty series, is just unprofessional and lazy.

As expressed by Paul Gibson, the Chairman for Gamers’ Voice, “Gamers’ Voice does not expect games to be bug free and we recognize it’s not possible, particularly in light of the size and technical complexity of modern games. What we do expect are games with all the functions of the game working as advertised and that gamers are not treated as beta testers for a game they have paid for.”

Exactly. After paying $60 for the game and another $15 for more maps, I expect to be able to get into a match and play without jumping in front of an enemy on reentry. I understand ALL glitches and errors in games, prior to being released to the public, will never be fixed – that is impossible and unreasonable. However, I am NOT a beta game tester. Speaking of betas, this is why beta testing before a game’s release is so important. Had a beta of Black Ops, or even the glitch and cheater-fest Modern Warfare 2, come out, perhaps a lot of these problems could have been prevented.

Even Josh Olin, the Community Manager for Treyarch, has advised us gamers that there have been, “six or seven patches” since the November 9, 2010 release. Six or seven? For a game that is still fairly new, six or seven updates seems high, especially since the patches are supposed to fix major problems like matchmaking, spawning, and split screen issues. To be fair, however, at least Treyarch is doing something about it. As Josh Olin points out, “That’s a lot of post-release support, and that’s something that we’re going to continue – that’s not going to stop.”

Black Ops is a fun game, do not get me wrong, but the frustrations I have experienced, like emptying an extended magazine into a guy only to have him turn around and shoot me twice and die, is not worth the sixty dollars out of my wallet. Glitches, graphical errors, or even an insane amount of hit markers are tolerable, but if I can’t play the game, that is inexcusable.

Game developers are not God and I understand that. Even with beta and game testers, there is no way to make a perfect game. As a frequent purchaser of video games, especially first person shooters, however, I expect to have that game with most of the bugs worked out and not have playable issues, particularly in matchmaking, on day one of the release. A new game should be an enjoyable experience, not a regrettable one.

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