To begin, I’m more harsh on Triple A developers more then the indies I cover, because it’s all about expectation. New people getting into the game development scene may not have the resources nor the experience that the bigger companies may have, and frankly, the money that is associated with the bigger fish. And that’s why I’m especially hard on Capcom. The company behind such great titles as Street Fighter, Mega Man, and Monster Hunter. And besides the Monster Hunter series and an occasional competent release with things like Resident Evil Remastered for the PC, Capcom has been a running joke for me for a while now. But you know what I’m getting tired of? The apologies.
Don’t get me wrong, they have PLENTY to apologize for. The latest problem that they’ve created came in the form of the Street Fighter V beta, which they’ve now had to delay until a later date. In the press release, Capcom gave their apologies for the problems that players faced:
Capcom offers its sincerest apologies to everyone who participated in this first beta test. While the purpose of a beta is to work out these type of issues, it was very clear that the issues we faced were more severe than we were prepared for. After three days of testing, while we were making progress and collecting valuable data, we felt the majority of players were not having a good experience, and the best course of action would be to take the servers offline for extended maintenance. We will be postponing our first beta phase until we believe the experience is going to be a positive one for players.
Now, betas are going to have problems, and that’s why you have them in the first place, but the fact of the matter is, most players found themselves unable to capitalize on the pre-order bonus that they were promised in beta access. It was a deliverable, which in the software world is a feature that you have to deliver to the end user because you agreed to it. Sometimes you can change out deliverables for other things, but in the end, you have to give the customer something that you promised. While I can forgive betas that are offered for those interested to try out in certain forms, like the Evolve beta from a while ago, this is a product that needs to be delivered, and most of the consumer base couldn’t even get access to it. This is by Capcom’s own doing in this case: they turned what could have been a useful software tool into a deliverable now, and now they are going to pay the price in attempting to get the Beta up and running before anything else. Now Capcom has said this doesn’t count towards the number of periods before the release … but honestly, I will believe it when I see it, if the commotion around it dies down. Yeah, there’d be a negative PR response if they did do that, but frankly, given Capcom’s other games and problems, I wouldn’t be surprised if people just stop commenting on it. I’m of course eluding to the rest of this article.
But why am I being so hard on Capcom? Everyone makes mistakes right? But that’s the funny part: yeah, they do, but Capcom seemingly makes more than everyone else. And what they seem to repeatedly do is not learn from their mistakes. They don’t seem to ever take corrective action, and let the same thing happen over and over again. When I was a software engineer for a specific transportation company, it was always the idea of putting band aids on things, even though the problem needs to be stitched up or completely reworked. Just get the fix out the door … without addressing the real problem. There’s a reason why I decided to quit from them (among other things). And it’s the same thing I feel that Capcom is doing: band aiding the problem once again, rather then deal with the core issue of Quality Assurance that they seem to have.
Take for example the release of Ultra Street Fighter IV for the Playstation 4. Remember how it launched in a state where network play was a disaster? That people could barely find a workable game? Well, it’s not like they had a history of network problems with another of their games on PC … oh. Right. It took a long while for the issues on the PC to get sorted out, and I’m not entirely sure that they are solved as of yet. Now granted, the situations were different: Ultra Street Fighter IV was working on the time of it’s PC release, and the shutdown of Games for Windows Live caused it a bit of problem. But knowing the backlash that the game having network problems over and over again had on the community, why would you release a game to the Playstation 4 that is having similar problems? They apologized for that too, but what’s another mistake right?
Everything’s fine, nothing to see here.
Or how about the fact that when they released the Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition on PC, that the code was taken out that allowed for local co-op play? Now after a huge backlash, and the modders who allowed the original creation of local co-op pointed out that it should still have worked with the new version (after it was denied at Capcom first), the code was put back in. But maybe they thought that local co-op wasn’t that big of a feature for the PC version. It’s not like they had an incident regarding another Resident Evil game that people got up in arms about regarding local co-op not being available … oh. Right. Another case of a mistake made by Capcom—they simply forgot to take it off the store page. Now they patched it in after a bit—after someone in the community pointed that out—but shouldn’t you learn from the history of your mistakes? Shouldn’t you have understood that players seemed to like the local co-op from the Resident Evil Revelations 2 backlash? That maybe you should have tested the mod that allowed it for the gold version, even if it was a mod?
Oh just for another note: Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition still has major problems … but they’ve abandoned it from what is being claimed by this thread here. While I can’t confirm that at this point, the fact of the matter is the last time a representative from Capcom made a comment/edit on the official bug thread was May 5th, and even that was through a third party. Oh, it wasn’t finished? Apparently not in the communities eyes, where there’s still a laundry list of problems that were promised but never delivered. The save data tool from Games for Windows Live not working and causing problems. The game crashing on going to the game settings menu. The inability to give your AI partner weapons. I mean that one, in a game that forces co-op on you … that’s ridiculous. Soft locks, crashes, the list seemingly goes on and on. But it’s sad that the mod community is having to take the mantle of fixing these problems to help out those users. They could be making something completely new, something interesting, something different, but they are taking their time to help make the users of those who purchased their game playable.
How about the fact that they continued to sell a game when consumers were complaining over and over again that they couldn’t get a legitimate copy to work? The fact that the Dark Void saga went on for so long as it did without them taking action—it took members of the press and community to force the issue—was insane, and the fact that they kept on selling it despite those people indicating they couldn’t get their copies to work showed how much Capcom was listening to their customers. Here’s a hint: they weren’t. Of course, they gave out apologies for those affected. Of course they did. Did they learn anything from it? Doubt it.
You see, that’s my major problem with Capcom: they don’t learn from their mistakes, or frankly, care about what their mistakes do to their consumer base. They expect an apology and maybe a giveaway of cosmetic DLC or something of an equivalent sort to fix the issues that they took from a PR hit. They expect to be handled like a kid almost: they didn’t know any better. Yet they are a giant of the industry that makes millions on a yearly basis. They are allowed to make the same mistake over and over again without any punishment for making that same mistake again. For all the talk about “entitled” gamers that seems to be thrown around at times, gamers have had to put up with a lot of shit, especially from some of the bigger companies—Capcom in particular.
But the environment is changing in some platforms, and Capcom better watch out for it, in particular with the PC crowd. The introduction of Steam refunds pushes the power back to the consumer thankfully, and when an issue like this for the PC crowd happens … they don’t have to hope and pray that Capcom does something about it. They can simply sit back and say “nope, this is not what I paid for” and return the item back to Steam. The stranglehold, at least on the PC side of things, has been broken in my eyes, and companies like Capcom need to watch themselves now, because the consumer will bite back in this case. An apology isn’t going to cut it, because frankly, there wasn’t anyway of dealing with it before from the consumer side. The consumer really could only take the apology, and an apology is better then none. Consumers won’t accept sub-par frame rates and bad performance on Dead Rising 3 and wait months and months for Capcom to do something about it. Consumers won’t hope that they put the code back in to allow for local co-op. They’ll take action.
And sooner or later, your sins of the past catch up to you. Ubisoft is realizing that the mistakes they made with Watchdogs and Assassin’s Creed Unity had them implement new systems and customer feedback to try to rectify it. EA is starting to become more focused on the customer with improvements on their Origin customer support (they still have problems). And Capcom … well what has Capcom done? Ok, they’ve made changes regarding the whole Ultra/Super Street Fighter model seemingly … but then again, I’ll believe it when I see it at that point. For all the additions they’ve seemingly made, they still can’t get something core to the market: respecting your customers and putting them first. And until they learn that, Capcom is going to end up in a Dark Void of their own.