Clinton Keith, former CTO for, has put together what he considers the 'Vicious Cycle' keeping developers and gamers locked in a whirlwind of buggy launches.
Basically, marketing has become too powerful a force inside publishers and ends up being the deciding factor when it comes to releasing games, and that's because of stakeholder pressure.
Keith Fuller, a game developer who's worked on the likes of Jedi Academy, Quake 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops, reveals that just a few months before launching, Black Ops was an unplayable mess, and yet the march to a fixed release date continued. "Developers rarely get to tell Marketing 'We can ship it now, we fixed all the bugs'. Rather, the marketing department will tell you when you're launching regardless of fixing bugs," said Fuller.
"If you want that arrangement to change, figure out how to sell millions of units without telling anyone your game exists."
He continued: "The last game I worked on as a studio dev was Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Activision's legal team would go into cardiac arrest if I shared with you how few months before launch that game was almost entirely unplayable. That's due to the pressure of annual franchise installments and the competitive landscape."
Clinton Keith echoes Fuller's conclusions: "Teams are pressured to hit scope, schedule and cost goals up front that are unreasonable. Beyond a point, not even crunching helps."
"As a result of all this, the team releases an inferior game, which doesn't sell well and damages the brand," he adds. "The stakeholders/shareholders respond by applying more pressure to management, who then apply more pressure to development."
Arguably the cracks in this system have really begun to show themselves what with the launch of Assassin's Creed: Unity to meet a marketing deadline, despite the glaring and obvious truth that it wasn't yet ready to be shipped. Ubisoft's subsequent scramble for 'damage control' was most telling, but have they honestly learnt from the experience? Has the consumer?
Today it's almost expected a day one patch is going to join a title at launch. Check outfor more on the topic from industry insiders.