Valid complaint or something else?

So it’s been two days since the new Batman game, “Batman: Arkham Knight”, dropped and I’ve already seen complaints about the way the new Batmobile controls and handles.  Now, I’m not going to go into a lengthy discussion of the game itself, what I wanted to talk about was the complaints.  This game is just the most recent example of a problem I see in society and culture in general, entitlement.

The person making the complaint was upset because he felt like the feature in question did not live up to his expectations and as a result his whole experience with the game was ruined.  It wasn’t some minor irritation, he now hated the whole game and wished the developers hadn’t added the feature at all.  This feature, the ability to drive the Batmobile, was highly publicized and all over the marketing for this game, clearly something that the developer, Rocksteady, and the publisher, Warner Bros., strongly supported.  Yet, just 36 hours after the game was released to the public, many people, not just this individual, had problems with it.  Some complained that it took away from the rest of the game; previous titles in the series focused on detective work, puzzle-solving and hand-to-hand combat, three areas where the titles excelled.  Some complained that there was too much of it; too many “levels” that forced you to use it.  The last complaint would compound the first; if you don’t feel comfortable or have difficulty driving it, then being forced to do so would make the game far less appealing.

What stuck out to me was that the complaint suggested that the game itself was flawed.  It just shouldn’t work the way it did, it needed to work differently, it needed to work better.  Now let me point out something to the uninitiated:  this game got pushed back 9 months just because Rocksteady needed that time to put out a quality product and Warner Bros. supported their decision.  This is important to know because in 2013 Warner Bros. released a prequel game in the same series by a different developer and the finished product shipped in obviously un-finished condition in order to meet an arbitrary deadline.  The take-away here is that for the developers to ask for more time and for WB to give it to them suggests that neither was comfortable releasing an unfinished product with glitches or imperfect aesthetics. [Ed.  I am aware of the issues regarding the PC port of the game.]

While discussing the game and the complaints, someone suggested that complaints of that nature suggested a player who just wasn’t very skilled at games to which I had to agree, somehwhat.  By that I mean, I can kind of relate.  Several years ago a new game that I was very excited about received poor reviews and sold poorly.  When I played it, I loved it.  I could find nothing about the game that was so bad that it warranted such a reputation and asked some people, what about the game was so terrible?  I was informed that despite everything about the game being well-suited to the medium of videogames, the controls “didn’t feel right” and there were glitches that made it “unbearable.”  On the issue of controls, though it took me some time to get used to them, once I was, I never had another problem.  Regarding the glitches, only one time did I encounter anything that affected my experience and forced me to replay about 30 minutes of the game I had already finished.  In neither case would I say that either “problem” was enough to justify the poor reception; “didn’t feel right” and “unbearable” it wasn’t.

Let me also point out that this discussion was online, in a forum for comic book fans to discuss comic book related topics.  If you can type, or in many cases text, it is very easy to just write up a quick complaint and fire it off without another thought.  Recently I heard a comedian lament the existence of Facebook as it allowed anyone to leave him hate mail because of something they “thought [he] said”.  He then asked audience if they remembered when writing hate mail required “commitment.”  He elaborated that first you had to sit down with a pen and paper or at a computer and write or type out your complaint, then put it in an envelope, and finally take the effort to send it.  He suggested that back then, by the time one sat down to even write the thing, most people probably weren’t mad enough anymore to make the effort, but today with smartphones and Facebook someone could fire off a nasty rebuttal in the time it takes to walk to the car and leave.

Now, before everyone jumps on me for saying that people who don’t like the Batmobile controls suck at games, let me clarify that I’m not saying anyone sucks at playing games. I’m saying that sometimes in a moment of frustration before one has really spent ample time with something or someone, you can fire off a quick text message or e-mail about how “shitty” something is.  The same person who made the original complaint would come back just a couple hours later and say he had spent more time with the game and his original opinion had softened some.  In the meantime, I and a few others defended the developer and tried to offer some explanation as to why the game functioned the way it did while others pointed out what I said above which was that the game was delayed for a reason.

The larger issue that I have is that people complain about things like controls or glitches at all.  I can admit that at least in the case of a glitch, especially one that prevents you from playing the game, is frustrating and something that should have been caught and fixed before release but I also know that sometimes no amount of quality-control and diligence will catch everything that can go wrong.  With regard to controls though, not to be the “When I Was Your Age” Guy, but I can remember a time when if the controls sucked, the controls just sucked.  You could complain, but no one was going to listen; your parents didn’t care and your friends were in the same boat as you.  If a game was too hard, you just kept playing until you got good enough to get past the hard parts, or you quit.  If you got stuck, whether through bad design or glitch, you just sucked it up and started over.  If you couldn’t finish the game before bed and your dad was the kind who hit the power button on you if you didn’t do it yourself (raises hand), there was no save game to come back to tomorrow.  Worst of all, there were no patches on the horizon or Day 1 DLC that corrected any of these “mistakes.”  We couldn’t even take the game to Gamestop and recoup some of our money and buy something better.  You just dealt with it.

Deal with it.  Something that not enough people know how to do these days.  Obviously I can’t expect anyone today to just willingly live by the conditions I onced lived by in the past.  This is the world we live in today and people can do whatever they want.  Of course we expect if we’re going to drop $60 on a new game we want it to work.  The prequel game did not, things didn’t work the way they were supposed to and the developers chose not to patch those things that were broken.  I quit playing the game at that point because I wasn’t about to waste my time.  I said, “Oh well, it was fun while it lasted,” and I traded the game in on Amazon shortly after for something else,  Still, I don’t believe just because the Batmobile didn’t “feel” exactly as he wanted he had very steady ground to stand on.  I don’t play games with controls or play styles that I don’t enjoy, and if I did pay for one because I made the mistake in purchasing it, then buyer beware.

Buyer Beware.  That’s another one you don’t hear enough these days.  There’s entire publications, many just for gaming, intended for consumers to do their own research on products before purchasing them so they are fully educated and not about to drop money on something they will regret.  The internet is full of reviews for games so players can be informed before they drop their $60.  Yet, if you chose to buy the new Batman game on release day I would say the phrase “buyer beware” applies quite appropriately in your case, and if you’re not happy with the way the Batmobile works, that’s on you.  Either you deal with it or maybe you should consider that it works exactly as it’s supposed to and that not every, single, mass-market product out there will be to your exacting specifications, every single time.

2 thoughts on “Valid complaint or something else?

  1. You’re not wrong that entitlement is almost endemic in gamers these days. However I also believe that people can and should be critical of games and their features. The problem is as you said people not being able to deal with problems/difficulties and making an issue into a “game-breaking problem.” Now, I feel that true game-breaking problems like freezing or losing saves or something that makes fundamental function overly difficult or impossible is valid. But when someone blows a minor issue into a major one, then they are being entitled. BTW, from what I’ve heard the Batmobile controling is amazing. I felt the same way about the Mako in the first Mass Effect. I loved it, others hated it and it wasn’t included in the next title. I think some people just got so fed up with it that they let it overwhelm them but I enjoyed the challenges and exploration. What’s more, people are making issue more and more with side or optional features that one need not engage in if they don’t choose to.

  2. Yes, it’s like I said about Arkham Origins, its glitches did ruin the experience for me. Interesting that you mentioned the Mako because it was brought up in the Batmobile discussion.

    I’m all for being critical, it’s being unnecessarily nasty or using unnecessary rhetoric, like “It’s ruined my experience and I hate the game now and they should have never included the Batmobile.” That’s not paraphrasing either, he actually said that.

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