Rock, Paper, Shot Takes: The Arkham Knight Debacle

Knightfall or pratfall?

The first in a new (hopefully) weekly series, in which the RPS hivemind gathers to discuss/bicker about/mock the most pressing (or at least noisiest) issues in PCgamingland right now. Hot Takes are go.

Alec: It will surprise literally no-one to hear that we are discussing Bat-Like Man: Arkham Kerrnigut and its somewhat disastrous PC port, which while technically last week’s news remains this week’s news because every fecker’s still talking about it. Including us.

I guess the first thing to ask is if y’all think its publisher pulling it off sale was GOOD THING or WHAT THE HELL THING?


Graham: *climbs on fence* I find it a HARD TO JUDGE THING. I know people for whom the game barely ran, in which case it’s a great thing that it was pulled off sale. I know people for whom it ran basically fine with a few options turned off – better than many other ports – in which case it seems sort of silly that it’s not on sale. I can’t tell which is more common. I guess I lean towards it being a good thing. Slightly.

Alice: There’s a big enough chance that it sucks that it shouldn’t be on sale. Congratulations to everyone getting lucky, but they shouldn’t sell a game like tombola tickets. Especially without plastering the box and store pages with “Warning: this game may be super-garbage for you” notices. Spend your tombola money on a bottle of Blue Nun; that’s the best prize I ever won.

Graham: Do we think that they pulled it from sale because of Steam refunds? Removing it from sale is an almost unprecedented move, and refunds through Steam are a recent change that probably led to a lot of people claiming their money back on Arkham Knight.

Alec: I incline to thinking it’s primarily a face-saving measure: like, the longer this malfunctioning thing remained on sale, the more possible damage there might be to the publisher’s reputation. That’s why I don’t feel good about the withdrawal: it’s not really for the consumer’s benefit if that is the case. But clearly I’m presuming a very particular kind of guilt there. Instinctively I’d rather it was still available so everyone could see its shame, I guess. I must be Catholic without realising it.

Pip: Regardless of the publisher’s motivation, leaving it on sale implies it’s in a fit state to be bought and played. If that’s in doubt then that’s a problem because I can think of a whole bunch of people who might buy that game without looking at reviews to check for basic playability. In that way it doesn’t matter what the motivation behind the decision is, I think it’s better that people get a working product instead of a bad experience so removing it in the meantime is better. Warner chanced their arm releasing it in that state which is obviously a bad thing, but once that had been done I think removing it from sale was the better option. I’m also hoping it sets a better precedent when other companies have a tricky PC port on their hands.

Alice: I suspect they’re more afraid of class action suits than reputation damage.

Anyway, I tell everyone loud and clear that it’s trash. Just the other day, I shouted it at a child on the bus in a Batman t-shirt. His father had the most furious look of thanks across his face and fists.

Graham: I think the reputation might be unrecoverable now and not only because Alice keeps yelling at children. There are people who want the game to be punished, and no matter how long Warner Bros. spend wandering the world and training with Ra’s al Ghul, certain players are never going to feel they’re worthy of any future success. Arkham Knight could return to Steam with everything fixed and free DLC for all, and a lot of people will still give it negative Steam reviews and want us to kill Batman’s parents a second time as punishment.

Alec: Some recent Batman comics suggested that might even be possible, I believe. I don’t know, the internet’s memory can be short, and if the game’s as good as everyone says it is even the loudest forum-bellower probably won’t be able to resist. Especially because graphics, if they manage to fix that. PC gamers love a graphic. But yeah, this’ll come up every time Warner open pre-orders for their next thinger.

Alice: Mate, the Internet’s memory is LONG. It’s so long. This shouldn’t be forgotten either – it’s gross. I know we say not to pre-order as a rule, but especially don’t pre-order WB games now.

Alec: It’s only selectively long. Bad things said or done in the past by the hero of the current hour can be forgotten conveniently, I find. What about this business, reported upon by Erstwhile Colleague Nathan over on Kotaku, that everyone involved allegedly knew far in advance that Batty was a hot mess? It doesn’t surprise me and clearly they should have changed tack if that were the case, but… I mean, aren’t most big projects a hot mess until pretty close to the end, this whole bunch of people praying their cauldron of crazy junk will miraculously turn into something viable in the final stretch?

Alice: And this is why so many AAA sequels are trash. Support yr local walking simulator.

Graham: The news that the game was a mess a year or two before release is certainly no big surprise. It’s slightly more of a problem that they would have known it had problems when it was released, but… That’s not a surprise either. They weren’t the kind of problems that only showed up on very particular hardware configurations. Probably they should have used that information to delay the PC version of the game and taken the heat from that instead of releasing it anyway – though I bet the decision to move ahead was less malice and more that it’s hard for large publishers to change course quickly.

Alec: Visions of one poor shmoe in a basement at some outsourcing company, handling QA by himself with one mid-range GeForce and a monitor from 2006.

Alice: This is why I don’t mind when a game’s PC version is delayed. I can wait. Wasn’t GTA V nice after its delays?

Alec: Nah, there was some howler which took a couple of days to sort – lotsa people couldn’t get it to load. Internet memory: only selectively long.

Alice: I resent the accusation that I’m part of the Internet.

Alec: I’ve only ever seen you outside it twice, I think, and I can’t be sure that it wasn’t VR. I just mean though that Warner are being held up as Almighty Baddies, but we’ve seen this happen (off the top of my head) with GTA, Assassin’s Creed, iD’s Rage and it never went quite this far. Not uncommon for PC versions to be messy, but this is the highest profile case yet and I wonder if it might actually make other pubs think twice about sticking any old guff on Steam. Which would be lovely.

Graham: This seems relevant to whether it should have been pulled from sale and how it should return: have any of us here played it enough regardless of Batbugs to know whether the Batgame that lies beyond is any good?

Pip: I bought it on PS4 and it’s great. The Batcape looks amazing when I glide around, I’m enjoying the combat (although the Batmobile can do one), I love exploring the world and finding stories on my own or by following clues if I want. It’s just a really great experience, even for me who is less familiar with the comics and has an uneasy feeling about the Batman character in general. There’s some fantastic set pieces as well. I won’t spoil them but I’ve been Skyping friends who are playing it too so we can geek out when we’ve both finished a section.

Alec: It actually runs pretty well on my PC so long as I’m prepared to turn off Fancy Rain, Fancy Fog and Fancy Fluttering Newspapers, so I’ve given it a few hours. Not much further on than where I was when I wrote that piece with Adam, but it’s opened up more now, has had a couple of fun twists and is rife with Bat-lore in a fairly accessible way. Feels a lot more like the bat-sim I wanted it to be now I’m a bit less chained to core plot and can dick about in the city. I’d rather be back in The Witcher 3 because I like strolling through corn fields, but I totally get why people are going bat-crazy for it.

Graham: Any predictions for how Batman Returns? I’m presuming they’ll push it out bundled with apology DLC and a fresh new Steam App ID so that all those negative reviews are quietly jettisoned, instead of being listed as being from an earlier version of the game.

Alec: That would make sense, though I guess it gets messy in terms of bumping people with the original version onto the new one. Yeah, I guess they’ll copy what Ubisoft did and make some of the season pass stuff free to all existent purchasers, and maybe a free game for season pass owners. They’ve probably got a job lot of Mordor codes stuffed into a coffee jar somewhere they could stand to get rid of.

Alice: As I’m evidently playing The Controversial One in these four fingers of Hot Takes, I’ll say they shall instead fire it into the sun. p.s. Give F.E.A.R. 4 to Monolith.

Alec: It’ll all just turn out to be a marketing stunt for Batman versus Superman anyway.

And finally, who’s everyone’s favourite superhero?

No let’s not do that, bye.

Batman: Arkham Knight is, er, not out now.

76 Comments

  1. padger says:

    Pulling it was absurd capitulation to the internet howlers. Loads of games don’t work great on launch, then they get patched and all is well.

    I wonder how much this is fear of people refunding now you can do that at will? Sorry, probably shouldn’t poke that fire any more…

    • Dizrupt says:

      Be a bit realistic. This game was released in a state where one patch within 1-2 weeks would do jack shit. Performance problems are one thing but missing visual features, progress halting bugs, and in general being inferior to console version is a different matter entirely.

      This was the best they could do in terms of damage control.

      • padger says:

        Hmm, I thought if they new about this (as rumoured on this site) they’d have more than 1-2 weeks to have a patch ready. But maybe not, and I guess if there really are that many issues…

        Still not sure pulling it is the best plan.

        • Artist says:

          Your perspective is flawed. If the rumors are right they knew about their trainwreck for many months (X:Rebirth anybody?). And theres a very, very high chance that they released it in full knowledge of that disaster. Technically gambling against the stupidity of their customers.
          In that case no 1-2 weeks SAVED the game before release NOR is there ANY serious chance that it will save the game in 1-2 (or 5) weeks AFTER RELEASE.

    • SparksV says:

      In what world do we live in today where the PC version of a game lacks features and graphical fidelity to console ones and yet the console games have more updates and patches ?!

    • Dr_Barnowl says:

      I wonder how much this is fear of people refunding

      All of it, I’m fairly sure. They didn’t yank any of the past Batman games with horrible bugs in them from sale, they just fixed them later. And I doubt it was unfounded fear of refunding. I’m fairly certain large numbers of actual refunds occurred.

      Now we have a Batman game that QA must have known was horribly broken (and indeed, there’s plenty of reportage that indicates that they did). They didn’t care before releasing it, so what changed their minds? Probably their Steam sales dashboard turning red.

      • Hobbes says:

        Good, the market works at last.

        Release broken crap onto steam? Expect to get hit with refunds.

        Release asset flipped crap onto steam? Expect to get hit with refunds.

        Steam has finally worked out a process whereby the market does the hard work of filtering out all the junk for them, by effectively rendering all the crap entirely unprofitable.

        Now if it can find a way to do that for Early Access games it’ll have all the problems solved.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Yup, pretty much this – consumers can now truly vote with their wallets.

        • JoeFX69 says:

          Nail. Head. Hit

        • jonahcutter says:

          Agreed.

          This is more than a little bit of an uprising by gamers, rejecting the notion they have to just accept whatever shafting they’ve been given. “Uprising” because the building desire to push back has been there for a while, but Steam refunds was the tool lacking to make it effective.

          I disagree though that early access needs it, or really has any problem at all. Early access is inherently as is and buyer beware. There is no guarantee, actual or implicit. If you buy in, you take your risks. And I think we’re in the process of that model self-correcting now as well. Mini debacles like DF Spacebase-9 are to early access whatArkham Knight now is to traditional releases.

          • Helmic says:

            I’d rather that not be the case, though. Early Access being a “buyer beware” minefield makes it difficult for deserving developers with good intentions to get sales while shit like Godus can take the money and make a break for it. Unfortunately refunds don’t really correct EA’s problems as EA titles tend to fuck over the consumer over the course of months of empty promises followed by a year of utter silence before “releasing” the game by releasing something that can hardly be considered a patch. For now the only way to deal with EA nonsense like Spacebase-DF9 is for consumers to be hypervigilant and ready to stir up a shitstorm should a developer shortchange their customers, but ideally Steam would actually enforce its guidelines and start issuing refunds for games that fail to meet promises or fall off the face of the earth. Yeah, it’d make it a lot more risky for developers to use EA, but honestly that’s how it should be if they’re going to ask for money before providing a finished game.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      “Pulling it was absurd capitulation to the internet howlers.”

      You’re out of your fucking mind. What kind of gamer is so anti-consumer? Are you a publisher exec or something?

      • P.Funk says:

        I’m not sure he’s ansti-consumer or just one of those band wagon haters of cliche generalized internet “entitlement” we hear about all the time.

        However applying the rote entitlement comment to this is whether he realizes it or not anti-consumer.

        I’m going with he didn’t think very hard before posting, didn’t take a single moment to reflect, and just knee jerked his poor comment into existence.

        I’d call this comment the manslaughter of anti-consumerism intent.

    • Jools says:

      The problem is that all isn’t well in that case. Not really, anyway. Games shouldn’t be released in a near unplayable state, and the fact that this is business as usual is a sign of just how badly the gaming industry tends to treat consumers.

      It’s hard to say whether this was a good move or not without solid numbers on how many people are affected by performance (it actually runs very well for me with everything on on my pretty old hardware), but if we’re talking about what effectively amounts to a 30%+ failure rate then pulling the game was absolutely the right move. WB has no right to profit off of a PC port that’s basically non-functional for a large number of people and the only reason companies are able to get away with this at all is because game buyers have become way too accustomed to behavior that wouldn’t fly in any other industry.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Well yes, is this really a pro-consumer move? Steam refunds are now a thing, and that changes the equation. Say the game only runs well for 20% of people. That’s not okay, obviously, but with the game on sale, I can buy in Steam, try it, if I’m in that 20%, brilliant, if not I just get my money back and maybe buy again when it’s fixed. That’s the perfect solution.

      Removing it from sale, at least on Steam where that refund policy exists, is anti-consumer. It’s taking away the choice and it’s stopping those who could run it fine from being able to play. They’re doing it because they know that the 80% of people who theoretically refund are far less likely to buy the game again when fixed, after the initial bad experience. This is entirely for their benefit, not ours.

      • suibhne says:

        Don’t miss the issue of the breakage inherent in refund requests – that’s an additional reason why it’s arguably more pro-consumer to remove the game from sale, despite the lack of consumer choice entailed by that move. Regardless, it doesn’t much matter – because Steam has every right to demand a product be pulled if the refund percentage rises above a certain level, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what happened here. Steam incurs overhead for every single refund processed, and Steam has no obligation to keep offering products that don’t work.

  2. Megazell says:

    If a game does not work at launch – it should be CLEARLY noted for all those willing to buy it. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a game at launch. It’s also been years since I bought a game outright that was not on a Humble Bundle or other super sale that was clearly in my favor. With that said, I felt bad for friends that purchased this and who had a bad time. The days of releasing botched games should come to an end.

  3. Hobbes says:

    No, no you shouldn’t. You are bad, your post is bad and you should feel bad. Now go and sit in the corner and don’t come back until you’ve thought about what you’ve done.

    • Hobbes says:

      That was meant as a reply to Padger, this RPS commenting software is hopeless, when is it getting fixed?

  4. SparksV says:

    They took it off Steam so that new people who maybe play games less couldn’t buy the game, see how bad it is, have a bad impression, refund it and be done with it. They’re trying not to lose future sales.
    WB has been atrocious this year with ports, Mortal Kombat X PC port was BROKEN on launch. It was outsourced to another company. The Arkham Knight PC port was outsourced to an “unnamed external PC development partner”. They’re acting shady about all this and that is what I find really bad. WB thought it was “good enough” to release the game in this state, I think if it wasn’t for the Steam Refund system, WB games wouldn’t do shit about the pc port and just let the “external PC development partner” deal with it.
    To their credit, they’ve been rumoured to bring Q-Loc the devs that brought PC ports of Capcom fighting games to fix Mortal Kombat X, but that’s only rumoured and nothing concrete has been said or done about that.
    At this point if the Mad Max game is done by an “external PC development partner”, I’m not going to buy it.

  5. draglikepull says:

    Imagine a new smartphone was released: the front camera doesn’t work (but the rear camera does), text messages work, but phone calls don’t (except for a few lucky folks, and only if they’re making local calls). Would anyone argue that phone should be kept on the market because it sort of works for some people? I doubt it. There would be a huge consumer outcry, and rightfully so.

    It should be the same way with games. Yes, software is complicated and unexpected things often happen (I’m a programmer, I’m very familiar with how hard a job it can be), but trying to sell a product that you know fundamentally does not work the way it’s supposed to should not be tolerated in any industry.

    • Hobbes says:

      If the phone was that borked there would be an immediate and full recall, the manufacturer would apologise profusely and there would be much virtual twittering and many megabytes of editorial liner generated in birdcages.

      It’s the same for pretty much any other consumer good except videogames, which apparently are somehow immune to the concept of “If it’s clearly faulty then we should fess up and fix our shit”, instead, everyone blames the consumer and uses stun grenade words like “Entitlement” because apparently that’s the way to act responsibly.

      • KillahMate says:

        AAA games being broken on release is just another symptom of the Shit Development Practices that are endemic to the industry, same as the constant, soul-crushing crunch.

      • jrodman says:

        Well….

        I agree that games should function that way. But they also can’t function that way when gamers complain that “15 dollars is too expensive”.

        However at the other end of the scale, I work in enterprise software and most of our shit doesn’t work properly and people spend millions on it. So I don’t have a lot of hope.

        • jrodman says:

          Though, self counterpoint, my whole salary is “make it less shitty”. I doubt such a position exists at most game studios.

        • P.Funk says:

          Do you have any evidence that the budget is the cause of this? The game doesn’t cost $15 and the development for the console versions proved plenty capable of producing a functional product. Its clearly not developed to sell at $15 so how does that even enter into this?

          I think this is specious reasoning.

          • jrodman says:

            I think at the smaller end of the game scale, it’s a factor. You have to ship before you go bankrupt, and that’s related to the profitability of your prior title.

            It’s really common to see people says “I want this game, but 10 dollars is just too expensive”, which I could understand if 10$ is just really a lot of money to you, due to geolocation or economic means, but when I ask if that’s a factor no one ever says yes.

            I don’t have strong evidence that incomplete shipment is primarily influenced by cost. I do have evidence of games that shipped in an unpolished fashion because the studio was about to run out of money, and I make the possibly incorrect jump to extreme price sensitivity being one of the factor that puts a ceiling on that.

            This is not specious reasoning, but it is not an ironclad proof for sure.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        It only bothers me when gamers and games journalists use those words, and it’s nausiating when it happens. I fully expect publishers throwing their toys out of the pram to use words like ‘entitled’ (if they want to commit career suicide), but I don’t expect it from enthusiasts or the enthusiast press.

        • jrodman says:

          What sort of forecasting do you mean gives you a lack of expectation of this behavior from the enthusiast press?

          Are you that because you are thinking about the situation reasonably, you would expect that course of action to not be followed, because it’s ridiculous and self-defeating?

          Or are you saying that you are familiar with the trends, and projecting this outcome seemed unlikely to you?

          Or .. something else?

  6. cylentstorm says:

    GOOD: The devs/pubs are aware of the problem and are taking steps to fix it.

    BAD: PC players who haven’t already snagged a copy will have to wait a little longer. (Non-issue for non-whiners)

    FUGLY: Listening to the aforementiond whiners throw their tantrums over a fucking video game. Buck up, Buttercup.

    • Asurmen says:

      So wanting an actual working product, as expect, and complaining about it = whining now? Funnily enough ANY product I buy I expect to work.

      • cylentstorm says:

        Pretend to be unaware that most software–especially PC games–is often released with more than a few bugs, and regardless of your expectations. It won’t change anything.

        • P.Funk says:

          I will never understand why so many gamers are so wantonly anti consumer.

          Is this 30+ years of neo liberal indoctrination? Is it just that internet users wear their ignorant misdirected anger on their internet sleeves? Is it low blood sugars? Are all the “entitlement” commenters just at the tail end of a Red Bull jag?

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          On an average case, your reasoning might hold some ground, but this particular game is a rather spectacular example on the extreme end of the “trainwreck scale”.

        • Asurmen says:

          That would be true, if it was only ‘a few’ bugs. AK has significantly more than a few, as evidenced by the level of backlash and it being pulled.

    • Hobbes says:

      …instead, everyone blames the consumer and uses stun grenade words like “Entitlement” because apparently that’s the way to act responsibly.

      Me, five minutes ago.

      *drops the mic*

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        It muddies the water a bit that gamers can be — and often are — grossly entitled fuckwits. But in this case, yeah, there is no excuse for the state this game was released in.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Indeed, entitlement still exists when we consider that games are one of the most inflation-proof things on the market, coupled with the fact that somehow people don’t consider them worth more than a decent dinner, or even a cheap one.

          Still, yeah, in this particular scenario there’s nothing to argue, a disaster is a disaster no matter the direction we look at it.

      • cylentstorm says:

        The fuck? What mic? Oh–I see. It’s cool, man–you were fist–so you can impress all of your friends. But–you’re right. Entitlement and expectations.

        • jrodman says:

          You know, if you made an effort to construct valid English sentences instead of posture a lot, I might have some idea what you were trying to say.

          • pepperfez says:

            I dunno, “you were fist–so you can impress all of your friends” is a pretty compelling statement. I know I would be impressed if my friend were fist.

        • Hobbes says:

          Go and sit in the corner, all you’ve done is proved my point -perfectly-, and you continue to do so. Thank you for being symptomatic of why we needed the Steam refund system, thank you for proving why the market needed tools to redress the balance between consumer and seller as far as videogames go, and thank you, eternally, thank you, for proving once and for all that there are still idiots out there who are quite happy to take it up the arse and would rather decry the people who are rightfully upset about the quality of a poor product as opposed to y’know, being upset about the state of the product itself.

          You shine on you crazy diamond.

          • jrodman says:

            Hey, don’t knock taking it up the ass until you’ve tried it. It’s a surprisingly amazing thing.

  7. gbrading says:

    It was definitely the right thing to pull it; I’m glad that Warner Bros. did. Unlike Ubisoft or EA with their disastrous launches, it showed that Warner were taking the problem so seriously, that they were willing to cut off their source of revenue to resolve it. I think Steam refunds probably played into the equation as well, but the upshot of the whole thing is that publishers need to stop releasing broken games. We all waited ages for GTA V but when it arrived, it worked, and so we were happy. Better to wait longer for something that works than to buy something clearly broken which might, at some point in the future, get fixed.

  8. freedomispopular says:

    Maybe they should have put it on Early Access? Haha

  9. freedomispopular says:

    On a serious note, I was inexplicably one of the lucky ones. It runs pretty darn perfect for me. Hopefully they’ll get this fixed soon so everyone else can enjoy it too.

    • Techne says:

      Yeah, works fine for me too, really enjoying the game – all the bells and whistles turned on, etc. It runs a lot better than Watch_Dogs did for example.

      I’m putting it down less to luck and more to having spent really quite a lot of money on building my PC.

      It looks very much like a problem with memory usage to me, the game uses nearly 10GB of system memory at times and the full 4GB of video memory while not really taxing the processor or GPU.

      The relevant bits:

      GeForce 980 GTX
      16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 PC3-14900 1866MHz
      2 Samsung SSD’s (one for OS, one for games)
      i7-4770K @ 4.2GHz

      On topic: I think they did the right thing from a business and consumer perspective and the key reason was probably Steam refunds.

      They lose money from every refund because Valve keep their cut and the publicity was eviscerating future sales.

      • nearly says:

        I run fine on an i5-2500k, R9 280X, 16GB RAM. Have an SSD but it’s actually installed on my HDD. No overclocks. Can’t say I really understand what’s so special about my system. The framerate dips when I’m smashing things up in the batmobile or divebombing in heavy rain, but otherwise I average about 40-50.

        I think Steam refunds are less the culprit than Steam reviews. They set some records for negative reviews, right? And from what I’ve heard, they’ve also halted sales of physical copies.

        I’d also point out that, regarding memories, people don’t seem to remember that CDPR sent bills to people they were accusing of pirating The Witcher 2. Total heroes now, even with launch DRM on Witcher 3 physical copies.

        • Asurmen says:

          It’s your system memory. There’s a thread of Steam forums by a guy who has done a root and stem review of the ini files, and provided a list of changes to improve quality, up your fps and lower stuttering. Seems to be working as well for people.

          Basically the game is apparently set up to do very stupid things with textures. Having lots of system and video ram and the game on an SSD helps

      • Premium User Badge

        neffo says:

        Does Valve really keep the cut? I think this is very unlikely.

        Think about it: game costs $100 (for simplicity sake), on sale Valve puts $70 into “pending” account for Publisher or Developer. Valve holds onto the $30.

        Now the game is rubbish, and the buyer wants a refund. The transaction is reversed (probably still possible in the 14 days), or the CC account (or Steam Wallet) is credited with the purchase cost. That’s the full $100 obviously. The pending amount in the publishers Steam account obviously goes away, but if Valve keeps the $30, where does it come from to reverse the transaction? For Valve to keep it’s cut it would have to debit another $30 from the Publisher. There is no way that would fly, imagine the indies getting financially destroyed with an initially popular EA release that’s broken, and there is no way a AAA publisher would accept those terms.

        It’s a stupid rumour.

        • Techne says:

          Yeah, you’re probably right – actually it’s dafter of me to say that valve keeping a cut would be why the publisher loses money (they wouldn’t have gotten that in the first place). It’s not impossible that valve would have different deals for indies and big publishers though, I don’t think it would actually be unreasonable for them to levy a charge to the publisher in the event of refund given the load on their servers, man hours spent etc… It could well be that larger releases/publishers incur a cost.

        • Hobbes says:

          So, funny thing. When it refunds to your wallet with Steam funny money, for the full sum, and Steam refund the publisher, they refund the publisher for the sum minus the steam cut, of course, they keep the 30% -regardless- on those sales. When they refund the sales to peoples CCs / Paypal or whatever, that comes from Steam for the 30%, and the publisher is hit for their cut in the usual manner.

          What this -does- mean however is that if the refund is in steam funny money, Steam -does- make “cash profit” regardless on a sale, because the funny money is something Valve can more or less generate “at will”. They are in effect the central bank and underwriter for the steam funds that slosh about on your digital wallet except those funds have no actual cash value, they are not mutable funds in the sense that they can be turned back into hard currency in the usual manner.

          Steam can make that funny money appear and disappear at will and can “print” currency as required to cover whatever refunds go into peoples steam wallets. Now arguably they do end up paying the publisher when the owner of those funds spends them on games but it’s important to note that the price YOU pay isn’t necessarily the price valve pays for those licenses.

          So interestingly, on steam wallet refunds, they do in the end make profit either way, in a roundabout way. It’s all a bit fuzzy and ill defined.

  10. mr_barnacles says:

    This is a neat new feature, and I look forward to reading more of them, but tell Alice that’s it’s not open-mic night and they don’t have to try so hard. Write casual! You’ve got interesting things to say, let that be enough.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      What this text doesn’t show is that I wore a spinning bowtie and whirred it every time I said anything.

      • Vandelay says:

        I hope Alec gave you some drum rimshots after each one too.

        And keep doing what you do, for those of us that come to RPS to be entertained and informed.

    • Durkonkell says:

      Whatever Alice did in order to generate the sentence “His father had the most furious look of thanks across his face and fists”, I’d like her to continue doing it please.

  11. DanMan says:

    I think Alice won. Can’t argue with female rage.

  12. mrwonko says:

    I always wondered: are these group chats recorded and then transcribed or text chat? I imagine it’s the former, and either way there’s probably some editing involved.

    Anyway, I sure enjoy these kinds of articles, so yay for a new series in this style!

    • Vandelay says:

      I’ve wondered that too! I assume it actually is a text chat, as there appears to be delay in response sometimes (not so much here, but occasionally you see someone commenting on something that was mentioned a couple comments back.)

      Also really enjoy these pieces, particularly the group thinks after a review. More of this sort of thing!

      Revolutionary idea! Why not do something like this in an audio format, like some kind of electronic wireless show?

  13. Demiath says:

    The most extraordinary part of all this is that WB genuinely believed they had a decent chance of getting away with releasing the game in this state. That’s some Gothic 3 levels of self-delusion, right there…

  14. SuicideKing says:

    Well, it deserved to be pulled off the digital shelves, I think. Steam refunds were the most likely reason.

    They also went perfect reverse psychology by saying “oh we’re sorry please ask for refunds while we toil away to fix something we knew were broken and asked $60 for!” And I read comments saying stuff like “oh we love batman! we want to play the game! Not asking for a refund yet, because we believe!

    And I don’t get it – we spend so much time complaining about PC ports being crap, about pre-orders, about “premium editions” and season passes, and when we can actually do something about it, half of us want to champion the cause of a greedy megacorp that really doesn’t need any more help. Stockholm Syndrome, much?

    Here’s the deal – we don’t take their BS, they can either lose a 50+ million strong market or fix their shit. They fix their business practices and project management strategies, their own employees get treated better in the process (get enough time, enough money, or better employers).

    I leave you with a TotalBiscuit “port report”/rant, because it’s spot on.

  15. vorador says:

    Pulling it off was acknowledging that the game had very deep problems, and it wasn’t a an easily fixable thing. Back to the oven.

    I guess they weighted the benefits of continuing selling it against the risk of a class action lawsuit (WB games knew the game was broken, but sold it anyway. That’s lawsuit worthy)

  16. Carlos Danger says:

    Yeah games run fine for me but it does need some fixes for sure, like every other Batman game that has been released. I think much of the clamor came from people running potatoes and elites that consider anything less then 60 FPS on 4k a failure. But I will concede the legitimate issues the game has regarding AMD and SLI which seemed borked.

    Also to sure why the PS4 is called great but it is capped to 30FPS.

  17. bilstar says:

    Nice article! I too like this sort of thing.

    Alice and Alec should get a room.

  18. Det. Bullock says:

    The sad thing is that I’m a Batman fan since the TAS first came out (even though here they put a cheesy song in place of Danny Elfman’s orchestrated intro for some reason) but I held off buying Origins at the time because of the game breaking bugs at launch (while I don’t usually buy at launch I was sorely tempted) and later because of all the DLCs and this Arkham Knight blunder has effectively made me indifferent to the series.
    It’s not a reasonable thing, I know, but it seems that while I will replay the first two every once in a while some water may pass under a lot of bridges before I’ll feel like giving the post-City titles a chance.

  19. afarrell says:

    “if the game’s as good as everyone says it is even the loudest forum-bellower probably won’t be able to resist.”

    I may be more than usually cynical, but loud forum-bellowers who buy and enjoy the game will surely not let that fact stop them from forum-bellowing loudly because they were unhappy once.

  20. Hobbes says:

    The difference is, that the barrier to resistance is now the price point whereupon I consider that resistance overcome. Considering it’s clear Warner Brothers generally don’t give two shits about their customers and only got off their asses when the Steam Refund system applied market correction in Capitalism Red In Tooth and Claw as far as I’m concerned, that barrier is now set at a 66-75% discount for the game of the year edition in a year or so’s time. There’s enough -good- games coming out on PC that are far more deserving of my time, and my money, that this one can wait until it’s at a price point I’m happy with paying, with all the content packed in so it’s “feature complete”.

    A lot of people will no doubt have similar thoughts when it comes to Warner Brothers now where the PC goes, because a shit release tends to have damaging effects, either on the IP or the developer or a little of both.

    • DanMan says:

      I guess a lot of people are thinking likewise. It wouldn’t surprise me though, if WB drew the conclusion that PC games are not worth it from this. Because it’s clearly our fault, not theirs. Nononononono.

  21. Elliot Lannigan says:

    ‘an uneasy feeling about the Batman character in general.’

    wow, i thought i was the only one who knew anything about batman who also felt this way. thanks pip. it’s nice to know i’m only MOSTLY crazy :D

    • edwardh says:

      While I don’t have a problem with Batman in general, this did remind me of a scene I saw in the recording that TotalBiscuit did, where Batman breaks a guy’s arm during “interrogation”, IIRC.

      Now I know torture is a popular thing today (I wonder when beheading and burning at the stake will finally see a renaissance) but I remember Batman as working and getting his way with intimidation and without severely hurting people, unless he is being attacked.

      This also reminds me about the police chase in I think “Batman Begins” where he rammed cop cars off the street… but… that would be yet another discussion…

      • Thirith says:

        The stake thing notwithstanding, I think you may have been sitting under a rock for the last year.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I think a lot of “modern” Batman stories (from the Dark Knight Returns onwards) accept and explore the general moral iffyness of the character. Also, Arkham Knight is explicitly interested in this. Feeling uneasy about Batman is perfectly normal.

  22. TRS-80 says:

    Nothing to say about the content, except that I enjoyed it. What I would like to say is thank you for making this a text post, and not some sort of podcast or video, both formats which are much more annoying to consume than text.

  23. Dorga says:

    It’s not F.E.A.R.4, it’s F.E.4.R.