Tobold's Blog
Monday, June 22, 2009
 
Empire: Total Ripoff

I'm highly annoyed about Empire: Total War. Last weekend Steam put the game on promo for half price, making me look foolish for having paid in full, and receiving an unplayable game with lots of crashes to desktop. Today they release patch 1.3, plus 14 new units for the game, but the units don't come for free: Steam wants 2.49 Euro for it (probably $2.49 in the US). Yeah, right, the devs didn't have the time to fix crash to desktop bugs earlier, because they were busy adding content they want us to pay extra for. And that's what I've been waiting over two months for? What a ripoff! And I'm not even sure yet the patch fixes all my crash to desktop problems.
Comments:
For starters, steam puts various games on sale at different times all the time, this is nothing to do with the creators of the game and more to do with steam itself.

Secondly the patch that came out today adds 14 new units for free, in addition there is a separate set of units that you can purchase should you feel so inclined. The cost of said units is $3.49 USD.

Moving on the patch notes themselves say they have "Several crash bug fixes in saves, movement, agents and logic."

And lastly I'm going to assume given the amazing reviews its received, and that it works ok for me and everyone I know that your crashes are probably not a widespread occurrence. I know people who can't run WoW because the game doesn't work on their computer which meets all the system requirements, but I don't believe that's WoW's fault, 9 times out of 10 there is something the end user can do to get it working.
 
Medieval Total War II was worse - in addition to CTD bugs, the AI would frequently refuse to move when engaged in a battle. Obviously, for a strategy game, the AI's inability to move made the game totally un-challenging. It took them 2+ months to patch the game so that the AI worked.

The real issue is that the way games are marketed and sold doesn't incentivize quality. People tend to buy games based on pre-release info/hype about features. Some of those features don't even make it into the retail release of the game. And so long as the game actually installs (at least in the US) and launches on someone's computer somewhere, you're not getting your money back on your purchase because you're dissatisfied with the quality. So you have games that are sold based on featurelists, screenshots, and reviews from the beta, that can't be returned for quality issues, and there's very little incentive to go from "great, when it's not buggy/crashing" to "great and stable".
 
"your crashes are probably not a widespread occurrence...9 times out of 10 there is something the end user can do to get it working."

Nope. Empire: Total War and pretty much all the Total War games have been buggier than they should be. It's not a Tobold-only phenomenon, it's a "25-50% of the people who buy the game" phenomenon.

I absolutely agree that Tobold's "but it's on sale now, that's not cool" attitude is unfounded, however. Steam has sales. Wal-Mart has sales. Everyone has sales. I think he has a point, however, in that the traditional advantage of buying first, before any sales, is that you get to enjoy the game first. If the game's only now working as it should have at release, then you lost a lot of that advantage.
 
The sale is one thing (it happens), but the RMT-addition is another. This is one of the issues with RMT, you blame the dev (correctly or otherwise) for not fixing your issues and trying to make extra money by spending time instead working on the RMT-sold stuff.

Short of releasing a near-perfect game, people are always going to blame the dev when issues exist and more paid content is being worked on, and it only takes a time or two of being burned before people learn to avoid a certain company (see SOE haters).
 
As Xash said, the DLC units are in addition to the 14 units included in the patch, so don't feel too bad about it Tobold. Seems to me they have a fairly minor impact on the gameplay, as well.

And as far as sales go, there's a lot of games that can be bought at a vastly reduced price four months after launch. Be that through sales or just general price reduction. Although I find it annoying how Steam only does the former and little of the latter.

That being said, E:TW was a horrible flop in my opinion. I find myself extremely disappointed with the poor quality of the game. So many bugs, crashes, retarded AI have sworn me off buying another Creative Assembly title at launch. Too much focus on fluff and making graphics look pretty, little to no time devoted to actual testing and QA. The game is barely worth the reduced sales price as it is.
 
Seriously, you can't praise RMT based games and then slate this.
 
I wouldn't say analyzing wether RMT is a viable alternative to subscription being exactly praise...
 
I think his complaint was less about if the new units are worth the money, and more about should the company have been working on DLC and New features and whatnot when for some people the game doesn't work to begin with.

The problem with this argument is the assumption that the people who made these new units have anything at all to do with fixing the bugs in the game, and the overwhelming likely hood is that they don't. If the company employees 80people maybe 10 of them are qualified to be working on the issues the game has right now, the rest of them either sit around jerking off, get laid off, or get tasked with other assignments like this DLC stuff, upcoming expansions and so on.


This isn't really an RMT discussion because your not paying a subscription to play Empire Total War.
 
For starters, steam puts various games on sale at different times all the time, this is nothing to do with the creators of the game and more to do with steam itself.

I'm pretty certain that is wrong. Steam does not put anything on sale without the consent of the creators of the game. Because they probably don't have a 50% profit margin on game, so a half-price sale could only be done with the game company accepting less money too, or Steam would sell games at a loss.
 
I'm not sure that having the art and unit design teams working on crash-to-desktop problems would help quite as much as you think.
 
On steam....

Overlord 2 in preorder...

39$ in US (about 28 euros)
from 50 to 60 euros in europe depending on what country you live

that's paying double....
And we can't say that is a 1 to 1 (usd vs eur)... it's just asking a lot of money
 
It's a shame that all these debacles keep our attention away from the fact that it's actually a nice game.

And as for the "bargain", I've seen the game up for ~€15 with a retail box. So it's not that much of a bargain anyway.
 
And so long as the game actually installs (at least in the US) and launches on someone's computer somewhere, you're not getting your money back on your purchase because you're dissatisfied with the quality.

This is why there are things known as "demos". A company can hype/advertise their game all they want, but in this day and age there is simply no excuse for a company not to be able to release a demo that is indicative of what you will see in the retail release.

I simply refuse to buy any non-mmo game that doesnt have a suitable demo for download. Vote with your wallet, not your remorse.
 
Tobald is right, Steam and publishers do agree on when to have sales

"Sometimes publishers are split into mostly independent North America/European/Asian divisions and one division doesn't have the rights to distribute in all areas. In order to distribute in all areas we have to negotiate deals with all the different divisions and they all have different ideas of how pricing should work and how important digital distribution is for their games. We are always trying to help them understand the importance of markets around the world as well as help them understand the importance of fair and equal pricing for all regions, but it's an ongoing struggle"
John McCaskey, Steam programmer, August 2008

I have not had any trouble with ETW - nor any other TW game, i see this argument being about how they can charge for a game which has had quite a few bugs and other issues for people.

Simple answer - those that have had issues will i assume mostly take the tobold stand and refuse to buy it while gamers who have not had any issues may be tempted.
 
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