Published on November 16th, 2016 | by gareth0
Does Stritcly Sticking To Announced Release Dates Lead To Watchdog 2 Launch Issues And Other Problems?
Ubisoft’s recent announcement that their highly anticipated game Watch Dogs 2 would ship with the multiplay component disabled at launch was sure to disappoint and outrages many gamers who pre-ordered the title. The company’s explanation that issues that were causing disconnections and other online issues needed to be hammered out before being implemented is certainly plausible as many online games often struggle with this issue upon release only to be patched later.
However, many of them at least launch with multiplay and endure the early frustrations and negativity of the gaming community while the issues are fixed.
To me this is the pro and con of announcing a launch date and sticking to it no matter what. When I worked in the industry years ago; the running joke used to be to add six months to any announced launch date to get a more realistic window when a product would hit the market. Nowadays locking in your lunch date has become an industry standard so that consumers can pre-order a title or budget for it especially when multiple titles are being released within a short window.
I have zero problems with Ubisoft being so forthcoming to address the issue and be committed to resolving it to giving gamers the best possible experience. That being said, perhaps delaying the game for a week or two and shipping the product as promised might have been a better option especially for many consumers who purchased the game prior to release. I had more than one person contact me yesterday saying that their copy of the game would be at home and wanting to play online with me later that evening. They were shocked when I told them the news that the online portion would not be available at launch; some of whom cited that was the main reason that they pre-ordered the game as they had some disappointments with the original title in the series. When a release date is locked in, major retailers who are often at the mercy of publishers to deliver the product; do not want to endure frustrated consumers and possibility refunds due to a delay days before the anticipated release and exert pressure for items to be delivered to make announced release dates.
However when a function is touted to be included in the game, is it unrealistic for gamers to expect that function to be included at launch and in a semi-functional state? If it is not, then should consumers be given the opportunity to some form of compensation or refund? I know consumers have the opportunity to not purchase or delay their purchase, but considering how many did not know of the delay in multiplayer until after they had already purchased the game, you can understand why some people might have buyers remorse.
When major titles have launch issues it often gives rise to people citing the need for more consumer rights in relation to videogames. This quickly fades out as the vast majority of time the issues are addressed quickly and within a week or two pretty much forgotten. Publishers who identified issue and fix it properly are to be praised rather than many who simply put the product out and deal with it after a time. I just have to wonder if the pressure of adhering to an announced release date is harming game development as the ship now fix later approach is becoming all too common in the industry. Minor bugs are to be expected however when a major component of a game is announced and not functional at launch, this is definitely something that consumers have a right to be upset over. In my thinking, delaying the title may have been the lesser of the two evils.