Weekend Open Forum: Why are PC games so buggy these days?

By on January 13, 2012, 6:30 PM

Although 2011 had its share of solid PC games, an unfortunate number were riddled with bugs. Rage, Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, Dead Island, Battlefield 3 and many others caught negative press over buggy launches, prompting swift apologies and patches from their developers. My memory may be foggy, but I don't recall major titles being so rampantly "broken" a decade ago, at least not to the same extent.

Are studios shipping their projects too hastily? If so, what has changed and why? Internal pressure from shareholders and/or publishers? Plain old greed? Do they perform a cost-benefit analysis to find a "happy" balance between angering gamers with delays and selling them incomplete software? Are they less concerned about quality because it's easier to distribute updates through digital platforms?

An example of Rage's graphical issues

Are modern AAA games just too big to test thoroughly before release? (Rage is ~22GB installed versus, say, Doom 3 at ~1.5GB.) Do you even care? I mean, would you rather wait longer for a polished game or have it sooner with obligatory launch-week patches? While I trust most studios to set things right after a buggy release, the trend has definitely hurt my confidence and I preorder fewer games these days.

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