Too Little, Too Late?

In games, and everything else really, making a good first impression is paramount. Succeed, and good things will follow. Fail and you’re suddenly faced with an uphill battle. It used to be that if a game bombed at launch, that was it. Its reputation would be mud, and nothing could change that. That doesn’t necessarily need to be the case anymore though. Modern games are continually patched and updated in response to consumer feedback. Often the changes are small, but sometimes the developers choose to make sweeping changes that alter the game entirely. We’ve seen this with The Division, No Man’s Sky, and even For Honor. They’ve all been changed for the better, and have even received praise in place of the near-universal scorn they earned at launch. They’re definitely better games now than they were before, but it’s still up in the air as to whether or not gamers at large are willing to overturn their first impressions. What’s more, would they really benefit if they did so?

The video game industry moves at a lightning pace these days. there are always more games to watch, more games to read up on, and of course more games to play. One has to keep moving if they want to stay up to date, so many gamers simply aren’t interested in giving up their time to games that already blew it at launch. No matter how positive the recent press around the game is, it’s still not seen as a worthwhile risk because it already burned its players once before. Why should they bother with it if there’s something potentially better on they in a few days or weeks? Well, because they just might be missing out on something that’s actually really fun.

Thanks to developers having the ability and willingness to support and change their game after launch, bad games no longer have to stay bad forever. No Man’s Sky launched in a state that could only be described as a shadow of what had been promised, and it was rightly (albeit rather extremely) criticized for it. To their credit though, Hello Games didn’t give up on the game and kept improving it throughout the veritable maelstrom of anger surrounding it on the internet. It’s “Atlas Rising” update, along with the changes preceding it, have practically  transformed the game. It’s still not exactly what was promised, but it’s getting there. In fact, it’s even reached a point where it’s Steam reception has flipped from negative to positive and many players are now calling it a genuinely good game. Those who decided to move on from the game and never look back have every right to do so. However, if For Honor, The Division, and especially No Man’s Sky are any indication, then it may actually be worth it to stay open to returning after all.

When it comes to games, making a good first impression is still extremely important. Even though patches and updates have been around for years now, launching with an attitude of “get it out now and fix it later” still amounts to more or less setting up otherwise promising games for failure. Many gamers can only give a game one chance, and that’s it. They won’t give it so much as a second thought no matter how much better it gets later. For those who are willing to give such games that all-important second chance though, there just might be an incredibly fun payoff waiting for them. It’s still a shame that these eventually-good games aren’t good to begin with though. We’d all get to enjoy them that much more if that was the case.


What’s your take on game’s only getting good long after release? Do we as gamers owe it them a second chance? Do we owe it to ourselves?

Lede image captured by Hatmonster

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Kariyanine says:

    I think if No Man’s Sky had launched last year as an early access game and got to the point they are at now and then said it was done, the discussion around it would be very different. I do think that sometimes games require revision and reworking as they are evolve, stuff like The Division and Destiny come to mind, but while aspects of those games were certainly disappointing, I think they at least hit with gamers in a way that it they built a strong playerbase. No Man’s Sky started out under the gun by being so far off the mark and I’m not sure I have the desire to return to it even though it seems much more like what I was looking for a year ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      You have a good point there. An introduction through early access would have been perfect for No Man’s Sky. It probably would have been received as promising rather than disappointing, and its player base would have been more willing to stick around for updates.

      You’ve touched on something else I missed in the post too. Some people just move on. We had no guarantee that it would actually get any better, so its only natural that people would lose their desire to play the game.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. GamingPicks says:

    Interesting post. I enjoyed when it was released but is true it was a bit limited and all the promises weren’t fulfilled. Releasing it as a full price game didn’t help too. But I’ve to reckon that the three big updates during the twelve months after the release have been great, adding thing that weren’t even announced before release. But yes, first impression counts and it’s better to release the game as finished as possible, because many gamers don’t return after that first bad impression.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hatm0nster says:

      If making major updates to a game is going to be a routine thing in the future, they’re going to have to start marketing them differently. No Man’s Sky is supposed to be a decent game now, but it’s unlikely that it’ll be able to regain the attention of those who were either disappointed or saw all the bad press it was getting. It’s kind of a shame, really.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Imtiaz Ahmed says:

    I agree with a couple key comments here. If this will become the norm, than situations like NMS have to be handled differently at launch. It’s great it’s being worked on tirelessly, but promising one thing and delivering something else comes off dishonest in the end. Early Access and adjusting marketing would be key, but I’m not going to hold my breath on those things happening for situations like this.

    Like

    1. duckofindeed says:

      That’s exactly right; if a developer promises a certain experience, that is what we expect to get the moment we buy a game, not months down the road. Nintendo couldn’t promise us a huge open world in Breath of the Wild, then when the game releases, the game is tiny, and we’re told, oh, but if you’re willing to wait six more months, we’ll release enough updates to make the world massive like what we showed in the trailer. I think the problem is developers think they can make extra money by releasing a game before it’s ready, then claim they aren’t being dishonest because, hey, we were planning on updating it. No, I want a complete product the day I buy it. Updates are only fine if they improve a game beyond what was promised.

      Liked by 2 people

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