Monday, September 06, 2010
Does Mea Culpa work?
Imagine I wrote phrases like the following about a newly released game: "But the game wasn’t released early. The game was released poorly. Head in the sand syndrome imo." and "The point is, the issue here is far far worse than many of you think it is. I wish it was an issue of the game being released too early. That’s an easy thing for a company to “fix”. Elemental’s launch is the result of catastrophic poor judgment". You'd conclude that I was writing a hate review, ripping the game to shreds. But these harsh remarks in fact aren't from me, but from Stardock CEO Brad Wardell. And the last quote continues as "Elemental’s launch is the result of catastrophic poor judgment on my part."
After having been blasted by Stardock fans for saying much less harsh things about that game, the admission by Stardock's CEO that Elemental *really* was bad at launch has a certain gratification for me. Even self-described Elemental fanboi Darren, who gives an excellent description of the game says at the end: "Don’t get the game yet unless you are of the patient type who wants to help Stardock make the game better. I can’t recommend it for gamers who are not use to the Stardock beta process, cause we’re still in beta, IMHO. Wait until after Christmas to get the game if you want to “play it when it’s done”…cause it ain’t done yet. Get Civ 5 when it comes out…play some other games…but wait on Elemental for now. Stardock screwed up on the release of Elemental, and nothing can be done to reverse the damage that was done."
And there is the big question: "nothing can be done to reverse the damage that was done"? Do games ever get a second chance? Me, personally, I'd be willing to buy Elemental in lets say early 2011 if I hear reports that some patches fixed the game. I am willing to give kudos to Brad Wardell for his "Mea Culpa" admission and apology, we don't get many of those. And that forgiveness isn't limited to Elemental: If I read next year that Final Fantasy XIV plays very well on the PS3, I might buy that game for that platform (instead of the lousy PC port trickily released first).
But maybe I am more forgiving than other players. "Game X releases full of flaws!" is headline news, "Game X fixes flaws 6 months after release" might not even get reported anywhere but on specific fan sites for that game. The internet has a long memory, and everybody looking for reviews of Elemental will find the bad reviews written right after release, not the little known fan site reporting that patch 1.17 finally made all of the original complaints obsolete.
So how forgiving are you? Would you buy a game which had a catastrophic launch later, after major patches fixing most problems? Or does a game only get one chance to make a good first impression and is then disregarded forever?