[Editor's Note: This editorial is going to consist of complete ranting and how some companies need to seriously step back a couple of feet and do things right.]
Every year I anticipate four video game releases more so than any others. These four games are your typical yearly sports releases, but that’s just what kind of core gamer that I am. I always have my calendar marked down for MLB: The Show, Madden, NHL (EA), and FIFA Soccer. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play great iterations of each title that has continually gotten better with each passing year.
It’s hard to argue against the facts — EA Canada has done a marvelous job churning out NHL title after NHL title that could easily rival what many consider to be the best hockey game of all time – NHL ’94. Furthermore, the same can be said about the EA team behind the FIFA franchise as well. Not only has the soccer series overtaken its prime rival in authenticity and gameplay — something pretty much nobody saw coming — but it has also been able to deliver year in and year out with key upgrades and improvements that furthers the playing time of the game. A great example of this is the highly successful FIFA Ultimate Team. EA’s Tiburon team has achieved this same type of success recently with Madden. While there will always be your haters clinging on to the 2K Franchise, the proof couldn’t be any deeper in the pudding than to display how much Madden has improved since its inaugural release in this generation of consoles.
This, of course, brings me to Sony’s exclusive title MLB: The Show. Over the last two years, MLB: The Show has completely dominated the competition in delivering the most raw, authentic baseball experience around. 2K Sports has done everything in its power to try and compete, but let’s face it, they’ve failed miserably. The team behind The Show has implemented amazingly addictive features such as Road to the Show, Roster Customization unlike any other, Online Leagues, Home Run Derby, and a lot of authentic stances/throws/pitching motions.
All of these additions have helped elevate the franchise to a level no other could achieve. It should go without saying that MLB: The Show is an easy selection as a nominee for Sports Game of the Year every single year despite several snubs. Oddly enough though, MLB 10: The Show had something go drastically wrong and it’s thrown the franchises reputation into the gutter entirely.
Before I get into this, I’d like to mention that I firmly believe this lack of care, testing, and deliverance of a working product may be attributed to the fact that now developers can rely on patching a problem later rather than pushing the release date back to get it right the firs time around. Let’s be honest — There has been many game releases over the last year or so that have easily shown problematic situations on release day that developers seemed to have a patch for within 24-hours. This isn’t a legitimate development tactic and it should be frowned upon entirely. Thus, this brings me to SCE San Diego and the damage they have done to the franchise as a brand and the disservice they have committed to the loyal fanbase of consumers year in and year out.
First off, anyone who purchased the game on day one was treated to a lovely 200+ MB patch that fixed issues taking place within the game. What were these issue that needed to be patched? I’m not entirely sure and I haven’t bothered to ask because quite frankly, it’s absurd it needed to be done. What is frustrating is that despite this massive patch, MLB 10: The Show was still plagued with a myriad of game breaking problems that left many buyers stuck looking for another game to play until the problem could be patched a week later.
Fast forward to Monday, March 8th and the roster update that was supposed to solve the issue at hand. In case you haven’t been paying attention, gamers who have attempted to enjoy Road to the Show or Franchise mode (the two biggest draws of the game itself), have been faced with many player trade errors, potential player rating glitches, star players being released for free, computer initiated trades without user consent, and having their franchise freeze at certain points among other things. This laundry list of issues was supposed to be corrected with the Roster Update that took place on March 8th and key members of the development team had noted on Operation Sports that they had found fixes to the problems listed.
At seven AM, Monday morning, the roster patch was released and many owners of The Show were happy. That was, until they finally looked at these supposedly “fixed rosters” and realized that 70%+ of A potential players in the minors were pitchers and that the minors had over 140 A potential superstars in its entirety. Anyone who follows baseball knows that that type of statistic is incredibly ridiculous and would never be authentic to the real life sport. This also meant that in 2-3 years down the line in your franchise, the entire MLB would be replaced by no-name kids that didn’t even really exist. It should go without saying that this would ruin the experience entirely. So — After having to wait five to six days, owners of The Show were still left in the same position as they were before the game released — unable to play the game as intended.
Once the shit storm hit the fan about these changes correcting nothing in regards to providing a functional title, sports gaming boards lit up in frustration and anger (who can blame them?). While I will agree that the sports gaming genre is filled with a lot of overreacting babies when it comes to sports titles, this time most of the complaints were completely justified. The key question is — How did SCE San Diego step up to the plate in order to correct the problem? Well, this was the quote they gave below.
We will start working on the next patch when the team comes back from break at the end of the month
That’s right. The development team completely brushed off the entire fanbase and support system that the game currently has. The game breaking issues that have rendered the game pretty much unplayable at its most anticipated level is not a big enough issue for the development team to fix the issue. Instead, gamers are expected to have paid their $60 for a game that is useless to them for over 30+ days after purchase. How this is legally able to have taken place, I have no idea.
Where was the certification process for MLB 10: The Show? Where was the QA Team for MLB 10: The Show? We all know Sony is spending thousands upon thousands of dollars running a reality TV Show for “The Tester.” Ironically enough this show is designed to find the next PlayStation Game Tester, but seriously, what good will they do when the current team of testers can’t catch SEVERAL game breaking bugs? I’m aware to some that this isn’t a big issue, but what happens when a game you’re looking forward to is given the same treatment? What happens if Killzone 3 is released, everything looks great, but in the second map there is a glitch that causes the campaign portion of the game to be unplayable yet the development team can’t patch it up until they come back from vacation 30 days later? Would that sit well with you? I’m going to guess not.
In my opinion, this development act and act of carelessness is entirely unacceptable in this industry. I know for certain that quite a few fans of The Show have decided to quit supporting the franchise because of this year’s problems and I know for certain that several users have already sold their copies of The Show until SCE San Diego gets their act together and releases a patch that makes the game playable.
The people I feel most for in this entire situation is the offline gamer who doesn’t have his PS3 hooked up to the net. This casual gamer who just enjoys playing authentic baseball may never realize that there is even a fix to the problem coming or available. Instead, they’ll be stuck with a game that is <50% completed and just trying to enjoy what came in the box. Sony needs to do something to rectify this situation, because sitting on their hands and enjoying some R&R isn’t exactly my idea of getting things done.
(Expect our MLB 10: The Show review up once the game is fixed — I’m not going to do the franchise a disservice by giving it a terrible review based on its current state)