Games being held to different technical standards upon release

Like everyone else, I've been pretty obsessed with Playerunknowns Battlegrounds over the past few months. It's the game that I never knew I even wanted. Every match feels fresh, and I can't remember feeling so hyped about being able to play any game for a long while. Which is weird, when you think about it, because Playerunknowns Battlegrounds is a buggy mess.

The servers are inconsistent, frequently laggy, preventing you from connecting, or even sporadically crashing the game. The animations often freak out, launching characters or vehicles high into the air, or randomly glitching them through doors or out of buildings. Doors open, and then close again, and when you try to open them a second time it turns out they were open after all, so they close. Bullets ping off invisible walls, occasionally houses levitate 20 feet off the ground, and one time a car drove through a wall into a building I was looting. Twice.

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Even more fantastical are the nonsensical bugs for which there is no obvious explanation, such as the cluster of buildings north of Yasnaya in which you're unable to lean left and right when aiming, or the last 5 seconds of each parachute drop in which you yoyo up and down until the game releases you at an unknown height.

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These are bugs which are known, accepted and, beyond that, celebrated. Players will spend several times longer attempting to crouch-jump through unboken panes of glass than it would have taken them to walk down the stairs and through the open door. I remember crashing a buggy into a static tree only for my buggy to catch fire and immediately explode, roasting both myself and my passenger who, instead of raging, jeered at our random demise. Sorry, Ryan :P

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Cars flipping out into the atmosphere are applauded, and the many ways in which the game breaks are subject to youtube compilations which rack up thousands of views. People consider these flaws endearing.

Contrast this with the reception of, for example, Mass Effect Andromeda.

There's obvious differences between the two, but the one common factor is that: both were made available for purchase loaded with bugs. And before people hit me with the "but PUBG is technically still in alpha" - would you have felt better about the MEA bugs if they'd slapped an "alpha" sticker on the box? The term "alpha" may explain bugs but it doesn't excuse them, especially in the year 2017 when the lines have been blurred between Early Access and Commercial Release.

Also, let's be real, the notion that all the current bugs in PUBG will have been fixed by the time the game is made available on consoles is laughable.

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The point is that for almost everyone those bugs aren't a big deal. We're happy to accept them and play anyway. Which seems very inconsistent. I've been trying to wrap my head around it and here's what I've come up with:

  • Our expectations are lower because we paid less, and it's a smaller development team
  • As an indie game there was no advertising hype and, through word of mouth, people arrived at the game already expecting it's flaws
  • The developers have been so vocal and active in acknowledging bugs and attempting to fix them, even if the majority of the bugs are still present
  • The short-burst nature of gameplay means each match is essentially disposable and if something breaks it's no great loss of time
  • Because there is no narrative component to the game there is less danger of immersion being broken
  • People like to hate on Mass Effect?
  • Watching bugs happen to other people is infinitely more entertaining than when they happen to you
  • Some combination of All Of The Above.

Beyond all that, we seem to have collectively decided that we don't care that PUBG is broke as hell. Perhaps there's some "fun" threshold which we've crossed, and which invalidates all complaints? Perhaps because there's no pretense with the game, that it's not trying to be a cinematic masterpiece or high art?

I dunno, man. It's weird.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

Love Sweep