This last Tuesday internet raged as the fiercest dragon when Arkham Knight made its release on Steam. The reason? It’s broken… very broken, to a level where Warner decided yesterday, after merely one day of the game’s launch, to take it out from the Steam store. And what is it that I’m reading? “This Rocksteady guys doesn’t know shit how to develop a game, burn them in a cauldron”. This last statement can’t be further from truth and let me tell you why in the next couple if lines.
Let’s begin with the game’s development story, which dates from the days Arkham City released, roughly 4 years ago. Yes, the guys at the studio have been working on this game the last 4 years. While all this development work was going on, Arkham Origins was released, developed by the Montreal based Warner Brothers Studio, with two simple tasks in mind: Give Rocksteady the time they needed to release the game for the next gen while satisfying the Arkham need to a certain degree (game ranks on the mids 70s on Metacritic, which is not bad, but also not excellent, like the two previous games). Even more, Arkham Knight’s original release date was October 2014, as it was custom for all the Arkham games, but the studio needed more time in order to deliver in a way they would feel proud of. Guy Perkins, Rocksteady’s marketing manager said at that time “If we didn’t give the team more time to do it, then we would be releasing something that we weren’t happy with. We want to make sure we’re absolutely nailing it 100%” and game got delayed to June 2015.
So, summing up, it was clear the game would release when it was polished to the last detail, giving us the proper ending to this marvelous trilogy. Console owners got that version of the game (I’m currently writing the review while playing it on PS4 and the game runs like a charm), whereas PC owners had the sad part of this even saddest story. And you are there asking “why, oh why, does the PC version is so broken if the console one works as tight as the brakes of the Batmobile?”. The answer seems to be a recurring term these last few years; the root of all evil, the bringer of doom, also the responsible of the poles melting (ok, I made up that last one): ports ladies and gentlemen, that’s the enemy… or so it seems. Yesterday Rocksteady released an official statement that read like this:
We’re aware that some users are reporting performance issues with the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight. This is something that Rocksteady takes very seriously. We are working closely with our external PC development partner to make sure these issues get resolved as quickly as possible.
We’ll update this thread when we’ve got more info to share.
Add this to the fact that Iron Galaxy studios show up in the game’s credits and you may find your answer for the ill-fated PC version of the game. A 12-man studio ported the huge endeavor the guys at Rocksteady built with so much love and passion. But, is Iron Galaxy to blame for being the studio chosen to perform this herculean task? I don’t think so. We should instead be looking at the publisher, WB, who in an effort to release the game to all platforms on the same date, outsourced the PC version to another studio. Let me be clear, I have zero idea of how a port is performed and how many people should be involved in the task, but 12 people for such a huge game doesn’t seem fit to me.
My point here is that Warner made a wrong decision, either at releasing the PC version the same date as its console siblings or at choosing the external developer. And this is not the first time WB does this. Hell, it’s not even the first time during this year. You have to go back a couple of months and recall the Mortal Kombat X porting issue; though the game was not that broken, it was nowhere near the quality level of its console counterparts. Imagine how bad it was, that the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game got delayed for an undefined amount of time, until they have the PC version working at a 100%.
And one can only wonder “why these things happen?”; “wasn’t the game even tested on PC?”; “why rush things when other games have such a huge success on PC, even releasing after 1 year of the original game’s release date (GTA V for example)?”. If you ask me (and also if you don’t), it has to do with the sole fact that we live in an era where everything has to happen now or yesterday. That and making money, of course. However, this time it backlashed as it hasn’t before; refunds are being claimed left and right, the game has been pulled from Steam and people are angry because they can’t enjoy such an awaited game.
To sum up:
- Don’t hate Rocksteady, they have done an excellent job with the game.
- Publishers should not rush things, as everybody loses: developers, gamers, themselves.
- If completely decided to rush it, make sure it’s done with a certain criteria and entrust it to a studio that can handle the kind of task you need to get done.
Those are my two cents about this matter; please feel free to leave your opinion about the subject on the comments below!