What do Batman: Arkham Knight, SimCity, NBA Live, Battlefield 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and Assassin's Creed: Unity all have in common? Apologies. But unlike the others, Arkham Knight holds the singular 'honor' of being pulled off of virtual shelves.
In the wake of what could euphemistically be called a fucking terrible launch week, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has decided to temporarily suspend sales of the PC port of Batman: Arkham Knight. Over on the game's official forums, Community Admin Yorrick offered this message from the company:
We want to apologize to those of you who are experiencing performance issues with Batman: Arkham Knight on PC. We take these issues very seriously and have therefore decided to suspend future game sales of the PC version while we work to address these issues to satisfy our quality standards. We greatly value our customers and know that while there are a significant amount of players who are enjoying the game on PC, we want to do whatever we can to make the experience better for PC players overall.
Warner also encouraged unhappy customers to seek refunds through their retailer's channels, and even went so far as to link directly to Steam's refund page.
While Warner's decision to suspend sales of the game took me by surprise, the game's launch on PC has been like a slow-motion car crash, so an apology of some sort seemed inevitable. First, there were the early reports that the PC version was capped at 30 frames per second, and offered minimal visual settings. Then players noticed that the game's performance wasn't simply lower than they wanted, it was also inconsistent: Frame rates jumped, stuttered, and skipped. For some, this only crept up during cutscenes and action-heavy sequences in the game, but for others, even slow pans across the Gotham skyline made the game sputter and halt. On top of that, players realized that some of the visual features promised in official promotional material were missing--even though those same features appeared in the PS4 version of the game.
As these problems snowballed, so did consumer frustration. As of the time of this writing, there are over 5,500 negative reviews for the game on Steam, giving it a "Mostly Negative" rating. Over on Amazon, the game's PC copy has only two stars. And forum users on sites like NeoGAF and the /r/Games subreddit have begun digging deeper, offering theories, rumors, and speculation on the port's development and the game's misleading promotional material. A lot of this stuff is interesting, but it is as of yet unconfirmed, so let's be careful before jumping to conclusions, yeah?
What doesn't need any confirmation is the fact that Warner really dropped the ball on this. It's good to see them own up to the problem, but it's disappointing to see the continuation of this trend of broken games. On the plus side, Rocksteady seems determined to fix the mess, and hey, we officially have our first test case for Steam's new refund policy. At this point, it's hard to know what exactly went wrong, but all I can hope for is that things improve for those PC customers who are choosing not to pursue a refund. Vinny, I'm looking at you.