Warner Prioritizing DLC Over Fixing Arkham Origins’ Bugs

By Nathan Grayson on February 10th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Oh, well here's the problem. Just delete this horrifying little bugger and it should be running like a dream in a jiffy.

No, that headline isn’t backward. Maybe the reverse is happening in one of DC’s other million-billion (though no longer billion-finity) universes, but not this one. Batman: Arkham Origins swung into action bogged down by a slew of diabolical bugs and glitches – some of them game-breaking – and our own boy man wonder Adam grappled with a decent many. On the upside, there have been some patches, but even a cursory glance at various forums shows that progress-halting issues have yet to be eradicated. So then, why is developer Warner Bros Montreal already moving on? Infuriatingly, because it’s too busy making new things it would like you to spend money on.

Warner Bros Montreal explained its plans for the rather hollow sequel/prequel in a forum post:

“The team is currently working hard on the upcoming story DLC and there currently are no plans for releasing another patch to address the issues that have been reported on the forums.”

“If we do move forward with creating a new patch, it will try to address the progression blocking bugs for players, not the minor glitches that do not prevent one from continuing to play. The issues that are not progression blockers will unfortunately no longer be addressed.”

But that’s only an if. And yes, I know it’s important for dev teams to continue forging ahead on DLC because otherwise publisher money stops flowing (and then, inevitably, lay-offs strike with BIFFZOTT-ing ferocity), but there’s got to be a better way here. If a decent number of your customers are reporting that they flat-out can’t play portions of your game, then it’s a huge slap in the face to disregard them in favor of people who were able to, you know, finish the game. What good is DLC to them? So now you have a crowd of players that might have otherwise purchased said downloadable super shenanigans, but instead they’re stuck out in the cold.

Maybe it’d slow progress on the DLC a bit, but couldn’t Warner at least devote a small band of developers to bug isolation and obliteration? As is, this seems unacceptable to me. It’s insulting to fans who spent money on the game, and it’ll certainly make some people wary of dropping dollars in the future.

I really hope Warner decides to change that “if” to a “when,” and I think they’d be wise to do so sooner rather than later.

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61 Comments »

  1. Ladygrace says:

    And Companies wonder why people hate them and start to refuse to buy there games, then in return blame something else for the lack of profit the make off there titles.

    I really want to see companies that take this approach to either go Bust or learn from there mistake and not try this crap again.

    • MajorManiac says:

      Sad thing is companies like this will keep doing whatever works to turn a profit. In this case selling broken products before they are ready for release seems to work rather well in the game industry.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Exactly, this is the reason I generally refuse to buy games at launch anymore. Well over half of new games released are buggy and broken, therefore I wait for a year or more to buy a finished game for a fraction of the price, and there are lots of people doing this. Then when the companies lose money they blame it on piracy instead of realising its because they released a broken piece of shit of a game.

      This situation however takes the piss more than usual, that they are flat out refusing to fix seemingly gamebreaking bugs so they can pump out slightly more shitty DLC is terrible and I just wish that everyone that bought this game and is finding sections unplayable would go and get this refunded, citing the game not being fit for purpose and using a bunch of these news releases as proof that they are refusing to fix a broken game. Then maybe they’d give the series back to the proper developer and these assholes would learn what to prioritize in future games (hint: It’s not fucking DLC).

      • Surlywombat says:

        Except they have already fixed the game breakers.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          “If we do move forward with creating a new patch, it will try to address the progression blocking bugs for players, not the minor glitches that do not prevent one from continuing to play. The issues that are not progression blockers will unfortunately no longer be addressed.”

          Their own fucking press release says otherwise so I’m not sure where you are getting this from.
          Even if it was the case it’s simply not good enough, flat out admitting you are no longer fixing bugs that aren’t gamebreaking is a terrible standpoint to take on a game that is mere months old.

          • Baines says:

            Most companies just don’t admit that they are no longer working on a game. Same result, just being less honest/open about it, yet people prefer it over an honest response that they don’t want to hear. (Because they want to hope, of course.)

        • Asurmen says:

          No they haven’t. I only finished it two weeks ago, and there was a door that wouldn’t open. I had to reload a check point. Another one caused me to keep falling through the floor in the area I had to go. I’m not aware of any patches since then.

      • Dugular says:

        “Well over half of new games released are buggy and broken, therefore I wait for a year or more to buy a finished game for a fraction of the price, and there are lots of people doing this.”

        The other bonus to this method is that hardware costs are significantly reduced as well :) I’m with you on waiting a year (Except for my ‘sin’ games, such as Assassin’s Creed and Tomb Raider… and anything by Valve although that only happens every 7 years).

        • crazyd says:

          Valve released DOTA 2 last year, CS:GO the year before, Portal 2 the year before that. Unless by “anything by Valve” you mean “more HalfLife”, they’ve been releasing new games yearly.

  2. Runty McTall says:

    This is bizarre – why would I even buy your DLC if I know that it may well come with game breaking bugs that you specifically will not fix?

    Aside from being a dick move, it’s also a terrible long term business move.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Or it would be, if they weren’t launching a new Batman of Christmas, and promptly leave this one to rot. They have an E3 trailer, and start taking pre-orders right after it.
      Unless “long term” means a few months.

    • P.Funk says:

      Game breaking bugs no doubt affect an acceptable % of players, most definitely a minority.

      Have you ever been on a game forum reporting bugs? There are always idiots who’ll say “I’ve never seen that problem before” because most people are incredibly incapable of seeing how a problem that doesn’t affect them is an actual problem.

      If the vast majority of customers experience no game breaking bugs, they’ll likely buy happily because we live in a dutiful consumer culture.

  3. Freud says:

    The only thing that’s uncommon here is that they actually said it. Not that they’re doing it. Many games are left with minor or major issues.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Absolutely. The most likely impact the reaction to this statement will have is ending the employment of whoever thought it would be a good idea to acknowledge that they were stiffing their customers, rather than just doing it quietly, like the rest of them. They need to hire some EA people.

      You’d have thought this would have legal implications, given it is stating they only ‘might’ fix bugs that are game breaking.

  4. SanguineAngel says:

    I think that in this case, given that they have recognised that there are game stopping design flaws stopping people from progressing in their game, a full refund policy might be appropriate as the product is not fit for purpose and they have stated they do not intend to resolve the issues

    • Stellar Duck says:

      No, see! Some of their bugs can be fixed by exploiting other glitches:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkDLaojdCCw

      I will never know how that guy even discovered how to do that but after trying for a good 30 minutes I managed to progress my own game doing that. Until then, Batman would just sort of hang on a ledge in an air-duct I needed to get through.

      That guy’s a hero though!

  5. Perkelnik says:

    I loved Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, but was on the fence about buying this one. Well thank you Warner, you made my decision much easier (they basically made it for me).

    • Mbaya says:

      Seems I’m in the same boat and moving forward, guess I’ll have to make sure their games are as bug free as can be expected if they’re worth a buy – certainly can’t trust them to patch any issues now.

      Terrible business practice, screwing over the people that have already given you money (for something that, lets be honest, shouldn’t have any game breaking bugs if it’s to be fit for release – with the exception that any found post release should be fixed asap) and tarnishing their name for any future projects.

      I wonder what Rocksteady think of this…they will most likely get some blame from being guilty by association.

    • drewski says:

      Yep. Avoided it on release after buying the first two, just to see how it reviewed. Would have considered it later after the DLC but now? Zero chance.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      I played Arkham Origins on day 1, and on to completion, without a single bug. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I really would like to see more information about these bugs.

      I wonder what I did wrong to get such an easy experience with the game. The bug that I saw most reported, the one where you can’t jump up to the vent in a certain side mission, was something I didn’t even know about until after I had passed that point with no problem.

      • Perkelnik says:

        I dont really mind bugs, if I like the game. I have played the infamous 1.00 version of SiN and still had fun. It is the attitude – if they dont care about their game, neither do I.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Careful now, you’re about to fall in with the ‘It didn’t happen to me, so it doesn’t happen.’ crowd. You don’t wanna go there. That crowd is crowded.

    • Zekiel says:

      Yes me too. Arkham Asylum and City are literally (literally!) my favourite games ever. I heard some worrying things about this one and thought I’d put it on the old Steam wishlist to buy in 6 months or so once bugs had been fixed. Thank you Warner for confirming that this won’t happen. Taking it off my wishlist.

  6. Cooper says:

    It’s simple numbers.

    Patching the game to fix bugs for players who have already bought the game nets you nothing in the way of profit. At this stage it has a reputation for being buggy for potential buyers who read-up on purchases and no amount of patching will change that (when was the last time a “dev fixes bugs” a headline?). For potential customers who don’t read up on this stuff and wait for sales, tehy’ll draw in anyway sooner or later.

    Potnetial sale customers who don’t read up on their purchases beforehand and existing custerms without game breaking bugs are the only source of future revenue the game has. So DLC is the only move that makes sense for a publisher driven entirely by the search for moneys.

    • GSGregory says:

      That works until you look forward. Those players you ditched. Are probably not going to buy your next game.

      • epmode says:

        Right. But forward thinking isn’t a big thing with public companies and thier focus on quarterly earnings at the expense of all else.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      This is negative press though, there is lots of future sales to come from Steam sales etc. This will make people actively avoid buying the game (I know it will for me), instead of them just devoting a small amount of their development assets to fix this crap.
      Hopefully they learn that negative press from pulling this shit will outweigh the benefits of at least working towards fixing gamebreaking bugs. Vote with your wallets people, if you own the game don’t buy the fucking DLC on principle, if you don’t own the game don’t ever buy it. Developers need to start learning that this sort of bollocks is not OK and that if you release a game with bugs, fucking fix them.

    • Cooper says:

      Problems:

      1) If you read this you are in a minority. Most consumers of games never properly check news / reviews. If you read this AND you remember it when the 75% off steam summer sales come up you are in an even smaller minority.

      2) If people ‘voted with their walltes’ each time they were stung by a buggy mess of a game released by a major publisher there would be no major publishers left. Customers have a short memory and, moreover, rarely pay attention to who publishes a game anyway.

    • Moraven says:

      You could try and apply that to BF4.

      It would kill future sales of BF4 and future sales of BF5.

      There is a lot of indirect profit to be lost.

  7. Gap Gen says:

    Have the devs tried just shooting the Joker?

  8. phenom_x8 says:

    As long as I remember, there was no game breaking bug that stopped me to finished this game (I played v1.0 only, never bother to update due to my limited bandwidth caps every month).
    Yes, there’s a section in the building downright corner of the map where I have to disable enigma’s (riddler?) jammer device (to get a new quick travel point) and then he trapped me inside where the only way out are through the air duck where my Batman was unable to climb it due to bug, but its completely optional (1st I think it was mandatory section, but then I realized it isn’t) and I’m able to progress and finished the story mode although not in a high percentage completion.

    Beside that, I love the story very much, especially when Batman meet the Joker that shows how Human they are. Knowing how Batman and Joker became a Rival are quite fascinating (#SPOILER# OMG,I just recently knew that he actually saved Joker live!!#SPOILER# I’m Batman fans btw, but not very much dig through His personal story with the villain)

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Well firstly don’t forget that not everybody experiences the same bugs. Secondly the bug you described is actually gamebreaking, its not a mild annoyance, its a critical error bug that stops progress through that section of the game. The fact that it’s an optional portion of the game does not matter, it stops people playing the whole game and that isn’t ok.

      • airtekh says:

        That’s the Burnley Tower bug, and it was fixed two months ago.

    • Leonick says:

      That’s the thing with bugs, they don’t necessarily effect everyone. There are a lot of games I’ve played with no issues whatsoever which are by many said to filled with bugs.

      As for this game, I did not experience any game breaking bug. I did experience three bugs in total.
      1. At one point I couldn’t enter any doors leaving me stuck in an area, a restart fixed that though.
      2. The air duct you mentioned. That one is fixed at this point though I think.
      3. In the police station I tried sneaking past an area but got spotted just as I went through the door to the next so I turned around to clear it but it was now empty since the as far as the game was concerned I had passed it. That’s fine. Issue is that there’s riddler trophy in one of the officers in that area and it’s protected by one of the keypads, the keypad wouldn’t let me crack it because the area wasn’t clear (something like that) even though it was. Not sure if it’s because me sneaking past or if it’s like that anyway.

      As far as bugs are concerned, honestly, Skyrim is worse. (In Skyrim I made it impossible to complete the main quest line. Completing the mage’s guild quest line before a certain main quest bugged the dialog for the librarian. Had to change quest progress via the console.)

      I personally really liked Arkham Origins, good story and I like the slight change to the art style (Batmans suit looks much better), I’d say it’s the second best in the Arkham series beating City.

      Sure is a dick move to focus on DLC before bug fixes. I’ll acknowledged the fact that the team working on the DLC might not be able to fix any of the bugs, the could be code/engine bugs while the DLC team mostly consist of level and art designers. Still, dick move.

      • phenom_x8 says:

        Yeah, I agree that we all have different level of tolerance towards bugs. I mostly spends my childhood and teenhood with console (NES & PLaystation) that have less bug (or maybe i just didnt notice that’s a bug) than PC games at the time, so I grew with more acceptable manner towards this kinds of things.
        BTW, I remember the 1st bugs you mentioned also happened to me.

    • P.Funk says:

      You sir are the kind of idiot that guarantees that this company’s policy works.

  9. Abendlaender says:

    I’m Bugman

  10. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Terrible game anyway it took most of the other Arkham games in game scripts for gameplay mechanics then threw in some horrible bland gfx to produce a very below average generic looking sad effort. When the game producer said something like I would hate to be the one who messed up the series he was obviously being ironic as that’s exactly what they did mess it up! It takes a special kind of moron talent to produce such an underwhelming & below average Batman game.

    • Hman says:

      Be real, the game wasnt so bad as you say. It was sure as hell not as good as the first 2 games..but it wasnt bad either. I got the 360 version here and that version isn’t so badly bugged as reported (not save game corruption yet).

  11. Arithon says:

    Take any industry story about piracy killing them and replace the word “piracy” with “DLC” and the word “pirate” with “DRM” and you’ve corrected the document.

    “The revenue lost from software piracy could have been invested into the product themselves, resulting in lower prices for the software consumer. High piracy rates also impact the success of local software developers as they work to generate their own market presence. Pirated software results in lost sales, and lost sales result in a decrease of sales revenue for legitimate resellers.”

    Becomes..

    “The revenue lost from software DLC could have been invested into the product themselves, resulting in lower prices for the software consumer. High DLC rates also impact the success of local software developers as they work to generate their own market presence. DRM’d software results in lost sales, and lost sales result in a decrease of sales revenue for legitimate resellers.”

    See how the truth shines?

    • Leonick says:

      Well the first sentence doesn’t make any sense at all with your modification.

      Taking the money that might be spent on making DLC and using that making the original game wouldn’t make the game cheaper for the consumer. That could even make the game more expensive as you gave it a higher budget while taking away a second source of income.

  12. Nim says:

    No bugfix, no buy.

  13. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Some men just want to watch the world glitch.

  14. Surlywombat says:

    This seems harsh. They have actually fixed the game breakers.

    On the upside, there have been some patches, but even a cursory glance at various forums shows that progress-halting issues have yet to be eradicated.

    Really? I’ve looked at two forums and didn’t see anyone talking about progress halters anymore.

    • Sacarathe says:

      Why would mods tolerate threads on issues that will not be fixed :p threads which will inevitably end up here anyway.

  15. airtekh says:

    Sad, but probably makes financial sense to their accounting department.

    Personally, I didn’t have any major bug problems with Arkham Origins. I had one or two instances where a bug halted progress but it was nothing a quick Google wasn’t able to sort out.

    Slightly more annoying for me was that they never got around to fixing the disconnection issues in the otherwise excellent multiplayer. I’d probably still be playing it otherwise.

  16. Winged Nazgul says:

    That’s okay. I’ll just prioritize buying anything else over their DLC.

  17. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Of all the publishers i’ve dealt with Warner know and care the least about games. Think they just publish them by accident.

    Batman AA was supposed to be a shite parent gouging movie tie in, it wasn’t supposed to be good. I’m certain it turned out good because warner didn’t care about it enough to make it terrible. Then they bought rocksteady and annualised it and got a second dev team to do yearly iterations and neither rocksteady nor warner montreal will make a decent game again before they’re inevitably mothballed.

  18. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this game with a few community manager statements and a couple of bugs. Hmmm?

    You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is bullshit! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, an identikit grey and brown shooter will sell a billion copies, or a lazy match-three clone becomes a cultural phenomenon, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan”. But when I say that one little old game will never be fixed, well then everyone loses their minds!

  19. Alien.Nated says:

    Nice to see that Warner is setting out with vision and vigor to destroy one of their best and most profitable franchises …… This is nothing short of offensive to buying customers, also I have to wonder, is there no place where consumer laws address something like this, a company acknowledging that the product they sell is broken and therefore can’t fullfill it’s intended function in some intances and then flat-out refusing to do something about it, only stating it might some day eventually take care of the worst problems, just maybe? Can’t be legal everywhere, can it?

  20. El_Emmental says:

    Most people will buy the sequel no matter what, they don’t read the news, they don’t check the forums, barely half of them visit the infotainment platforms to watch the HD trailers.

    Why should the publisher even care ? People don’t care, the publishers just do the same.

  21. chuckles73 says:

    I hope this RPS article goes up on their Steam page to warn everyone.

  22. Emeraude says:

    As many mentioned already: par for the course, the only astonishing thing is that it was said on top of being done (ballsy for the PR person if he actually did it to force debate on the issue).
    I mean it’s not as if we hadn’t witnessed the advent of ubiquitous patching means and the effect t had on game production scheduling.

    Thank god class action lawsuits were created for those kind of situations where no individual would really benefit enough from winning the case to justify going to court alone, but where so many people suffered from the issue that the company at fault needed to be condemned to prevent continuation of the practice.

    Oh wait…

  23. namad says:

    more robust digital video games refund laws would solve this problem. companies in theory should be legally mandated to make their product fit for purpose by not doing so they legally are obligated to honor a full refund… if laws had been updated since 1972. trying to sell a 10$ DLC wouldn’t matter in the face of owing millions in refunds.

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  25. DanMan says:

    They haven’t grasped the SaaS principle yet.

  26. fish99 says:

    Well there goes any chance of me buying any DLC for this.

  27. Iskariot says:

    Another reason I am glad I postponed buying this game.
    I will wait for the Goty in a steam sale now.

  28. PegasusOrgans says:

    And yet the same people that are happy with the state of this game probably complain about a game like the Realms of Arkania remake that is still getting regular patches. Give me a broken game that will eventually get patched over a less broken game that will never get patched ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.