PC game publishers should not defecate where they eat

Posted on 01 June 2014

RPS posted a positively glowing review of Distant Worlds: Universe this morning, and since RPS are usually reliable (if slightly over-effusive on average) I decided to give it a go. The price, on Steam at least, is pretty high by today’s standards (£37.34 even with 17% off) and definitely closer to AAA pricing than Indie.

I paid up & left it downloading while I went outside and enjoyed as much of the June sunshine as my desk-dweller complexion will allow.

Unfortunately, the game didn’t launch for me. My gaming PC does very little beside play games, it is not a virus ridden mess and is in fact a fresh & thoroughly updated install of Windows 8.1.

PC gaming is where I spend nearly all of the little time I have to play games. It is absolutely the platform of choice right now for fresh, innovative and exciting gaming. The now established surge in ‘Indie’ titles has been a welcome antidote to the predictable parade of sequels and stereotypes that is console gaming today. The PC platform is awash with genuine games, crafted with love in an easily consumed short-form format.

But all this nonsense around apps not working (and long installers) has to stop. It especially has to stop if you’re charging the big bucks. The first 30 minutes of ‘playing’ Distant Worlds was full of install bars, debuggers and Google. Compare that to the first 30 minutes of every console game ever – which is playing the gosh-darn game (or at the very least watching the usually expensive and frequently poorly directed intro FMVs/IGCs).

The team behind DW was no doubt on a schedule to get the release out the door. From what I understand, this release is the base game + updates all rolled up into a single release. So it probably had approximately zero budget allocated and minimal testing – and that’s OK. Business is business, after all.

But you must respect your platform, because if you don’t it won’t grow and neither will you! Charging proper money is OK, folk deserve to get rewarded for their efforts – but you have to ship a quality product!

I guess the developers got caught out by their launch roughly coinciding with 8.1 rolling out. There’s no excuse though – 8.1 has been available for testing for some time. You only need a virtual machine, and you only needed to boot the product once in a clean install to realise there was a problem.

Shipping a product in an unusable state is not good enough!

No one reads this guff, however:

1. If you’re looking for a solution it’s in the Steam forums (install Dx9 again).

2. If someone from Matrix or Codeforce does come across this and feels I’m being unfair (I’m not) get in touch and maybe I can help you out with some contacts.


Now it’s time to make tea, but perhaps after that I’ll actually get to play…

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