Yesterday at 7 AM Eastern time Grand Theft Auto Online was “released”. As most people could have guessed there were millions of people waiting for the doors to open, and unfortunately as most people could have guessed the majority of gamers trying to venture into GTA Online were met with errors and an unplayable mess.
This is nothing new when it comes to online games; Diablo III had the now infamous “Error 37” and SimCity was rendered unplayable for almost a week before gamers were able to play. Is this something that we should just learn to accept? Is this just part of online gaming that every game has to go through? The answer to both those questions is no. Gamers deserve better and they should make their unhappiness heard.
In any other industry if a product is sold and day one it isn’t useable that is considered unacceptable. Can you imagine being sold the ticket to this summer’s blockbuster film on its release date and being told you have to wait a week while they finish up editing? Or what if you sign with a phone provider but are told they have capacity issues so you can’t make any calls until they fix it? The backlash for these would be enormous and most likely there would be lawsuits.
Of course video games are completely different from movies and phone providers, but the fact still remains Rockstar, EA and Blizzard all had meetings and time to prepare for launch and failed. When a company doesn’t provide a service they are promising it is ok to be upset and it is more than ok to let that company know.
To let something like this pass is doing a disservice to yourself and to gamers everywhere. This shouldn’t be the norm for online launches and the only way companies are going to improve is by having some sort of backlash for their failures. I am not saying you need to rage or make threats but by making your displeasure known that is enough.
The industry is seeing more and more online games being launched and we should not have to wait days and weeks to play a game we paid for. A successful launch is doable, look at Call of Duty who does it almost every year. Companies just need to learn that when providing an online game more time and money is needed to be invested in that component of the game.
It is understandable that games will have hiccups and glitches, betas and testing aren’t going to find everything but there should be no excuse for not having a functioning game on day one. It needs to be known that this is unacceptable and that companies need to adapt and the only way we can get that message out is by voicing our displeasure.
Of course it also goes without saying that making threats and overreacting is never the right way to go. A simple post on the company’s community forum or e-mail to support will do the job. Good companies keep track of these and when seeing a large amount of upset consumers good companies will react. But a yelling angry and cussing upset customer is viewed the same as a polite upset customer. Just like by not saying anything you are doing everyone a disservice you are doing a disservice by being rude and mean.
The most successful way to get a company’s attention is to “vote with your wallet” as so many wonderful IGN editors like to say. It’s the truth when companies see that dollar amount smaller than what they expected it gets their attention real quick, unfortunately in this situation it is difficult to “vote with your wallet”.
For one you have already bought the game and two you are more than likely willing to support this company for making a good game. GTA V is an outstanding game, Diablo III is a blast to play and SimCity is one of the most addicting fun games I have played in a long time. These companies and game designers should be celebrated for their outstanding work, but they failed on their service and they need to know and the only way is by being vocal.
Not only do we need to voice our displeasure but games that are successful at launch need to be praised. Just like how companies will only change if there is negative backlash there needs to be positive outcome for doing it right. Why would a company invest more money and time into having a successful launch when there are no positives?
When a company launches an online game successfully make it be known you are happy, encourage your friends that haven’t bought the game to buy it and praise the company for doing something others have failed time and time again.
Right now companies releasing online games aren’t doing enough and they aren’t doing it right. We as the consumer deserve better and we should voice out displeasure. If we do that somewhere down the road online launches will be smooth and when there is a debacle like GTA Online it won’t be seen as the norm and that’s the world I want to live in.