Batman: Arkham Knight is a good game, that much is clear. It has been receiving stellar reviews on Metacritic, with the PS4 version receiving a score of 89 out of 100 thus far.
This is in direct contrast with the disappointing reviews for the previous two titles, Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. Overall, it is clear that players were looking for a return to form for the franchise, which they received—if you bought the title on a console.
While the situation is confusing at best, here is what has been determined so far:
- While Rocksteady made the title they did not port it, as Arkham Knight’s Steam page would have you to believe. Instead, it was ported over from the PS4 by Iron Galaxy Studios, a company composed of just 12 individuals, at least in terms of those who worked on the port.
- As a side note, Iron Galaxy Studios also ported Batman: Arkham Origins to PC, which infamously had its bug-fixing patches stopped in order to push out more downloadable content.
- As one might expect of such hypothetical conditions, Rocksteady’s newest title was a complete disaster upon its launch, which has been extensively covered in these two articles by fellow TechRaptor writers.
- As a result of Arkham Knight being unplayable for the vast majority of players, an unprecedented step has been taken for a AAA release on Steam: it is no longer being sold while “performance issues” are being addressed.
So what is there to take away from here? The answer is, of course, devastatingly simple: stop pre-ordering games.
It’s become an online joke for new games from a popular franchise or developer, in which gamers hop aboard the “hype train,” and slam down the $40 – $70 required to pre-order a new AAA title months or even years before the game has been released.
I won’t argue that I myself have not been swept away by my own excitement before. Off the top of my head, Lord of the Rings: Conquest and Medal of Honor: Warfighter are two notable examples of games that I pre-ordered before release. I regret those two purchases.
The difference for me is that I finally saw the writing on the wall, whereby it became increasingly clear that the large majority of those running the gaming industry do not care in the slightest for quality, but rather the quantity. They only care about the quantity of units sold, the quantity of season passes sold, and of course, the quantity of pre-orders sold.
There is a reason why pre-orders have become such a valuable commodity in the gaming industry, and that is because they are selling you an idea. They aren’t selling you a product that you can properly research on your own, because there is nothing to purchase—no reviews or online videos from the non-affiliated to look through. By pre-ordering, you as a consumer are buying into the promises that have been fed to you, regardless of whether or not they will come to pass.
If you want to blame an entity for the state of the AAA gaming industry, don’t blame the developers or the publishers or the PR companies. Blame those of us who keep funding this nonsense—which may very well be some of you—because if there is one thing corporations understand, it is money, and as long as people keep pre-ordering, the negligence will not stop. Steam refunds can only do so much.
For instance, Valve can easily deny your request, stating that they think you are abusing their system. They also cannot refund games bought outside of their Steam Store but are still tied to Steam, something that key reseller Green Man Gaming addressed when they promised that they would give out refunds, although with a caveat. This is a good thing, but it is also something that should not be relied on, because why should you have to rely on others for your own mistakes? Refunds are supposed to be used in emergencies, not for your convenience. If something doesn’t work that is fine, refund away, but you could have saved yourself time and aggravation if you had just waited until release. Let the reviewers, YouTubers, and your other fellow gamers do the dirty work for you—it’s not as if they are going to run out of digital copies.
For Arkham Knight, don’t be surprised if it ends up being the poster child for why pre-orders make no sense in 2015. Incidents such as raising the system requirements at the last minute, as well as removing DLC from those who pre-ordered via bought video cards are only a few things that PC gamers looking to buy Arkham Knight have had to deal with this past week. It’s just a complete and total train wreck, to be frank.
Essentially, there is only one thing left to say for those who are inclined to pre-order in the future: don’t be ill-informed and please be a responsible consumer. You will make the gaming industry that much better for it.
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