In November of 2014, I picked up an indie title for 15 bucks that I got several hundred hours out of and am still playing to this day. I gleefully bought the DLC, knowing that because the developer had to pretty much rely on word of mouth and thus had to care about the end product, it would be worth my time and money. And it absolutely was!
In December of 2015, I picked up an indie title for 10 bucks that I got almost a hundred hours out, despite it being a story-driven single-player game. It touched my heart in a way few piece of media, interactive or otherwise, ever managed to. It was clearly made with care, by an indie dev who was making something they loved, and is rightfully held up as one of the best games of the year.
This month, I bought Street Fighter 5 on launch for 60€ and if I wasn’t so into the FGC and we didn’t have a vibrant local scene, I would have asked for a refund. It’s a glorified early access title with a ton of important features ripped out so that it could be ready to ship for tournament play early (not that this was noted on the storefront, mind you), it’s already offering a season pass for 30 bucks, and it’s generally fairly threadbare for a 60€ game. Even the features that are supposed to work are kind of a mess. The story mode is so threadbare as to virtually not exist, training mode is fine I guess, but online mode is plagued by disconnects and some of the worst lag handling I have ever seen (even mild lag spikes cause characters to teleport all over the screen), and I recently got a server disconnect… From LOCAL MULTIPLAYER. That’s right - I got booted from my offline match against an opponent sitting next to me on the couch because their servers crashed. This game was not so much “made with love” as “shat out on the steam storefront”.
And from what I hear, this isn’t even the most egregious case of what Jim Sterling is calling “Early AAAccess”.
I’m sorry, but in what universe is this okay? If this is how the AAA games industry does business, how the fuck do they still exist? How do they still sell games? I feel ashamed and duped - if I had known that this was the state SF5 would come out in, I would have waited for Super Street Fighter 5 (the fact I can already guarantee that that’s coming out as something other than DLC is depressing enough as it is), for when the game is actually finished, to buy it. And when I compare it to the purchases I’ve made recently in the indie realm - Isaac, Undertale, Risk of Rain, Pony Island… I’m done. No more AAA titles on launch. Ever. No more AAA titles before the “Game of the year” edition comes out, before the game has been out for long enough to have the bugs fixed (or the inferior port pulled from the steam storefront, or just abandoned there), before there’s some guarantee that I’m not wasting my money. If I want to play a AAA game, I’ll load up steam, find one of the countless somewhat older titles for 20 bucks, and buy that, before playing two hours of it, getting bored senseless and immediately going back to Risk of Rain. Looking at you, Assassin’s Creed.
Fucking christ. And I like SF5. There’s the spark of a really excellent fighter there, buried under all the insane AAA bullshit. It’s just a shame that the version we got was unfinished, buggy, has crappy netcode (Rising Thunder is free to play and had better netcode in alpha!), and more.