Rumour – WB Knew Batman Arkham: Knight PC Was Pants

Rumours are shifty things, and we should recognise that we’re more inclined to trust ones which support our existing opinions. That said, I TOLD YOU SO. A mate of Ian Video Games has told Kotaku that publishers Warner Bros. knew for ages that the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight [official site] was wonky – it’s bad enough that WB have pulled it from sale while it’s being fixed – but released it anyway.

“I will say that it’s pretty rich for WB to act like they had no idea the game was in such a horrible state,” a quality assurance tester told Kotaku, anonymously because y’know they probably want to work in this industry again. “It’s been like this for months and all the problems we see now were the exact same, unchanged, almost a year ago.”

They add that the QA team “reported literally thousands of bugs that were specific to the PC version relating to the frame rate”. They also say that the PC QA team was a lot smaller than those for the console versions, as Rocksteady were finding the new consoles tricky to work with. Supposedly, WB’s QA team focused on testing the game in 720p resolution too, where performance problems would be less apparent.

So they say, anyway. Ian Video Games once told me he was mates with Ed Sheeran. But I’m more inclined to believe this anonymous source than I am Ian, and a second one who backed up the generalities of the tester’s accusations.

Anyway, I won’t repeat everything and swipe Kotaku’s scoop – go read.

So it tends to go with buggy AAA games. Testers ferret out bugs, then devs decide which are most important, going by the amount of time they’re given by producers and leads, who in turn fit to schedules decided with publishers. It’s a failure which spreads and cascades. This is a fairly typical story, only more severe than usual.

51 Comments

  1. MadMinstrel says:

    Well of course they knew. Was that ever in doubt? After you’ve sunk millions of dollars into something you’d usually want to play it before publishing…

  2. TillEulenspiegel says:

    Seriously, this is a question? It’s not like the bugs are present only in some obscure combination of unusual hardware.

    There’s a long long long history of major publishers shipping known buggy games. The only really interesting part this time has been the reaction, pulling it from sale very quickly.

  3. Not_Id says:

    Unplayable bug-ridden games aren’t really a problem now that Steam allows refunds. For the developers though, it’s a big problem. Do we want to buy their game again after they’ve fixed it? Will we still be interested enough to even try?

    • Xzi says:

      That comes down to individual preference. I’m sure there are a number of people like me who have played all the previous Arkham games on PC with little to no issue, and thus would like to play this one regardless of how long it takes to fix. People who aren’t die-hard Batman fans will likely just keep their refund money, though. More power to ’em.

      In any case, I’ll certainly wait on release and reviews/news streams for future Rocksteady/WB games before I even begin to consider buying. $20 for an Arkham Knight Nvidia coupon code was hard to pass up, but as of current, I basically spent $20 to sit on my hands.

    • Assirra says:

      That depends on the game.
      I have zero issues with playing a game years behind release as long it doesn’t rely on an online component to be enjoyable.

    • Ethaor says:

      Can I play the game for 1h59 minutes, get a refund, buy it again, play it for 1h59 minutes, get a refund, buy it again… ? Just wondering.

      Anyway yeah, thank god to the new refund system and Steam reviews, now editors have a damocles sword ready to cut their wallet and reputation should they do a poor job. If not for that it would still be in store right now and they’d dedicate a few devs to patch things up over the months. Now if they want money they have to fix it up as soon as possible and must enter PR damage control mode on top of it.

      That’s on them. I don’t see how anyone could have any doubts about them not knowing beforehand. Much like the Simcity debacle.

      • Xzi says:

        You sure can’t. I’m almost certain you’d be denied a refund the second time around.

  4. Carlos Danger says:

    A report about a rumor, very compelling.

  5. jasta85 says:

    mindset of WB is, if the game is a buggy mess then release it and if the response is:
    a. no one makes a big deal of it, then do nothing
    b. some people complain about bugs, apologize but still do nothing
    c. everyone starts complaining about bugs, apologize and eventually get around to fixing it
    d. everyone start complaining and starts getting refunds, apologize and actually start fixing it

    • Guvornator says:

      The sad thing about that is that the presence of d) actually represent a vast improvement. I wish could have got a refund on Far Cry 2, if only to make a point…

    • Apocalypse says:

      Now you are being unfair, the first two arkham’s were a mess too at release. Which means that not a single one out of the four games would have been a good buy at release.

      But the first two games got fixed and released in their goty edition as quite good games. And that is the point when most people picked them up. We even have a steady trend within the franchise as it got worse with every new release … as far as I know they are not done with fixing origins even by now, so buying arkham knight at release was kind of insane anyway.

      • Asurmen says:

        Can’t speak for AA on release because I played it on the 360, but AC was fine…on release. The DX11 patch was completely screwed and never really fixed however.

  6. Synesthesia says:

    pants

  7. aircool says:

    Of course they did. They knew there’d be a backlash, but hey, there’s pre-orders to fulfil and money to be made before word gets out.

    That’s not cynicism, it’s sadly how the world works.

  8. Smoky_the_Bear says:

    Of course they knew. The idea that they had zero communication with Iron Galaxy or were being told “yeah it’s great!”, without doing any sort of hands-on themselves is ridiculous.
    The game already got delayed by 6 months minimum, they knew there were problems, Warner Brothers said enough is enough and told them to release the game. This product was mismanaged on a lot of levels and of COURSE they knew this. I don’t even know why this classes as news tbh. It’s akin to a serial killer telling police he knew nothing about the dead bodies in his cellar.

    • Xzi says:

      It’s far more newsworthy than another LoL champion release, at least.

      • Boothie says:

        Eh i dont even play LOL and id take that over something as freaking obvious as this, ofc they knew that the game was pants before releasing it.

        • P.Funk says:

          But reporting it with a valid source is important to publicly embarrassing the corporation and forcing them into either a mea culpa or enough bad press that they’ll deliberately never try to pull this again.

          There is some value in publicizing facts we already knew were true in our hearts but with enough credibility to actually stick it to them.

    • ThomasHL says:

      If anything Iron Galaxy were probably the ones saying “We need more time/people” and Warner Bros were the ones who told them that they couldn’t have that. It’s Warner Bros who have to pay to make a game work and Warner Bros who decide if they’d rather just sell a broken game and hope people buy it anyway

  9. Lacero says:

    All this talk of Ian Video Games has reminded me of another character from RPS history, the crazy one who ran a games business and was explaining why DLC tooth paste was a good deal for gamers and why firing everyone who didn’t do 666 hours work a week was moral and correct.

    Anyone remember the name of this mystery character as I’ve misremembered it all so searching isn’t working?

  10. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    This just in! Earth not Flat! And in other news; Goats have ears!

    • Premium User Badge

      The Almighty Moo says:

      Actually, due to a bug they don’t at the moment but they will do by the time they release the Arkham Knight: GoatEar Edition.

    • XhomeB says:

      LIES. Earth is FLAT, and I have Modern flat Earth societies which can prove it!

  11. Cochise779 says:

    After all the initial concerns and angst about Steam refunds, I think the Arkham Knight release has proven Valve was just barely ahead of the curve (surprising for me to say). Ultimately, the ease with which gamers can recoup their money will ultimately pressure publishers to release complete PC versions, whenever they’re ready, rather than lose the moneys from lost customers. It might take time, but I see a future where publishers prefer a delayed, full-fledged PC release to a buggy, console-timed release.

    • MadMinstrel says:

      Have you no pride? Don’t settle for a late release. Demand that all versions be delayed if one if them is sub-par.

    • SuicideKing says:

      #CONSPIRACY : Maybe Valve knew this was going to happen and introduced the new refund system just in time for this launch!

      • LionsPhil says:

        Gabe is secretly Batman.

        • Xzi says:

          I definitely haven’t seen them in a room together at the same time.

          Come to think of it, I haven’t seen either one of them in a room individually. There’s only one explanation: both GabeN and Batman are Power Rangers.

    • Distec says:

      It’s a little amusing in retrospect that so much of the initial concern over Steam refunds was how it would affect short games and small indies, or whether they would be used as a tool of vengeance against certain people.

      Then boom: the first title to really feel the pinch is a AAA Batman game. Go figure.

      • montorsi says:

        Don’t kid yourself. The only reason they pulled sales is to stifle the PR disaster that may have negatively impacted console sales. They don’t care about the trolls who buy and refund the game just to lodge a negative review. They don’t care about the relative handful of legit customers who could be bothered to file for a refund. PC gaming is chump change compared to what they want to get from console sales and the ONLY thing they’ll take from this is that they should delay PC release by a month next time.

        • Asurmen says:

          That doesnt quite compute though. There’s been bad releases before, arguably worse than AK but this is the first game in a long time to be pulled from sale and possibly the only one due to buggy nature. The only thing different is Steam refund. I don’t think it’s relative handful as you make out but a significant proportion of total sales.

          • MichaelGC says:

            Aye – about 2-3 million sales per Arkham title, according to Steam Spy. To an investor, that’s a decent amount of chump change!

    • Baines says:

      Or Valve was years behind the curve.

      Aliens: Colonial Marines was released in 2013, for example.

      The War Z was released on Steam in 2012.

  12. XhomeB says:

    Honestly, I’m kind of glad there’s been such a huge uproar about this. Maybe, just maybe, other publishers will take notice and start treating PC ports seriously. Or maybe not, but here’s hoping.
    Anyway, when exactly do they plan to re-release this thing? I’d like to finally buy it at some point.

  13. Philomelle says:

    They hired the exact same team who did the PC port of Arkham Origins despite having extensively documented evidence that Iron Galaxy botched that port in every way they possibly could. It’s like hiring someone to repair your house after they wrecked your kitchen, clogged your plumbing and pooped on your porch the last time, hoping that they’ll do a better job this time.

    Rather than pondering whether they knew that this port would go wrong, one has to wonder how they could possibly expect for this port to go anything but wrong.

    • Baines says:

      Warner Bros and/or Netherealm keep hiring High Voltage to handle their fighting game PC ports, even though complaints against HVS seem to grow with each release.

      It is hardly a rare story, either.

  14. DrollRemark says:

    Ah, the Rebbekah Brooks defence. Either you knew what everyone was up to and are just as guilty, or you’re pretty terrible at your job.

  15. Monggerel says:

    No shit. You hire the 12-person team who had trouble finishing up your last port job you know what you’re going to get. The fuckers, eh, I guess? WB, I mean?
    There’s probably several reasons for Akrhamgate (yes I’m a cockeyed cunt) and at least one of them might be cheap cocaine. The song. Not actual drugs.

  16. emphyrio says:

    Either they knew of the state the game was in or the structure of that company is so broken that, profit or no profit, they may want to warn investors.

    Actually those two options are not mutually exclusive…

  17. Lionmaruu says:

    wasnt warner the owner of ATARI at the time they released ET? :)

    maybe they are trying to crash the video game market again…

  18. noodlecake says:

    It’s not really pants, judging on the consistently phenomenal feedback on pretty much all games review sites for the console versions. If they do a good job of fixing up this port it should be pretty amazing.