When a new sports title drops, anticipation surrounds the release. People scourer message boards and try to get first-hand impressions from their peers. They read reviews, watch game footage and inspect every little screen capture they can on the Web. Still, nothing beats getting it into our grubby little hands for the ultimate experience.
When a game has major flaws, especially a much-anticipated title, it is a letdown to say the least. You can hear about these problems through the grapevine, or you can discover first-hand the reason why you may have wasted your $60.
When this scenario occurs, do you wait for a rumored patch to solve the problems or is it too late for that game until next year? That is the question I often ask myself.
I guess part of the decision lies in how much you love the sport. For instance, if you are a die-hard football fan and you need your NFL fix -- and Madden is your game -- you may play it regardless of quality. If you only dabble in the occasional hoops session, like in March when all the "Madness" is going on, then perhaps you can just try to recoup a bit on eBay and try again next year.
Still for me, I like getting new games. I do not buy many a year, and I mostly only play sports games, so one that does not live up to my hype is truly disappointing. Take NCAA Football for example. I am known as someone who loves that game and college football in general.
With so many other choices developers have to get it right the first time or risk losing gamers.
This year was shaping up to be a stellar one for NCAA. Some new gameplay styles and animations promised to potentially put the franchise over the top, finally bringing the game into its own on next-gen systems. The demo was one of the most fun demos I have ever played for any game. All the stars were aligning in terms of delivering the best college football game ever.
Then NCAA Football 09 dropped, and of course I was there for the midnight release. I rushed home with it, popped it in, and played all night with a buddy that loves the game nearly as much as I do. Sure we had some fun that night, but it did not take long until we noticed flaws in the gameplay that could be labeled as game killers by some. Completion percentages were through the roof, and canned animations that could not be broken out of, like big brother Madden’s, were among the biggest complaints. Still we marched on, hoping we could look past its flaws and love the game.
Long story short, it only took about three weeks before the game was shelved and me and my friend were looking to move on to something else. Word of a patch was the talk of the town online -- apparently we were not alone when it came to finding shortcomings in the game.
So there the game sat, in the DVD rack with all the other versions of yesteryear, hoping it would be dusted off for another chance down the road. My friend said he was done with it, which hurt the chances of me playing the game again; I need someone to be my rival.
Still, I waited for EA to announce that the patch had been released. That day did come and I was able to dust off the game and give it one more shot. Ironically, I had a great game and had fun playing it, but it was too late for NCAA. I just could not get into it enough to even start my dynasty. Madden was out and soon NHL would be in my system. I just did not want to go back.
And so here I wait, looking forward to next July in hopes that the developers have fixed all the problems and not created any new ones in the process. Now, am I missing out on what may be a fun and great game? Yes. However, this situation made me think about how patches are great -- only if they are incredibly timely.
Many gamers do not want to look back, and so there may only be that brief moment in time to impress them. If you have too many problems from the get-go, then it may just be too little too late for some games and, therefore, it may be time to move on to something else.