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The guys at DICE are fixing Battlefield 4 - give them a break

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Throughout the weekend my personal Twitter feed was filled with people complaining about bugs in Battlefield 4. ‘My game crashed, FML’, ‘My gun won’t reload on X level - this is bullshit’, ‘My server browser isn’t working - fuck DICE’. I checked out the news sites to see how bad the problem really is. Yeah, there are a few problems. Teething issues. One comment on a certain site (which I won’t name) saw someone complaining bitterly that: “Battlefield 4 has been out for almost a week now, and it still isn’t working. I suppose DICE doesn’t give a shit now they have my $50”. Uuuuummm…

Look, bugs happen in games. They’re hardly a new thing, and they're unlikely to go away. Back in 1980, there was outrage because Pac Man broke after players hit level 255 (because level data was stored in a single byte, which could only handle 255 pieces of information: fact, courtesy of GR UK's resident fact factory Justin Towell), messing up the screen and forcing a restart. As long as there have been games, there have been bugs. And, as games get more complex, there will always be more things to go wrong. It’s science.

At least now developers have the opportunity to fix their games post-release, via patches and updates. Make no mistake--this is a brilliant thing. However, the more cynical elements online have started using it as a stick to beat developers, making wild assumptions that studios piss out games quickly under the assumption that they can ‘fix it post-release’. To tar every studio with this same brush is ludicrous, even if there is an occasional grain of truth to the matter.

Anyway, let’s set our sights back onto Battlefield 4--which I handed a 4.5 in my GamesRadar review. Yes, it’s not running perfectly at the moment. There are bugs, and DICE has revealed a long list of fixes that it’s working on day and night. This is certainly nothing new for a Battlefield game. As with anything that relies so heavily on its online component, it’s impossible to stress test the game to 100% technical perfection before release. Even if you’ve got 100 QA testers working on it for 3 months before release, you simply can’t replicate launch conditions. Battlefield 4 has gone from maybe 100-150 players testing the game pre-release, to several million hammering every map, mode and menu all day and night.

With something as complex as Battlefield 4, which runs on three--soon to be five--different platforms (and accommodating all kinds of PC system set-ups) it’s a miracle the game runs at all. Yes, it’s frustrating when you lose progress or crash out of a game, but it’s far from unplayable, and given the speed with which EA and DICE are creating fixes, it’ll likely be running smoothly (not perfectly, though) within a couple of weeks. This is always the case with Battlefield games, and is--with rare exceptions--the same for every online-focused title. You can't predict the impact that millions of people will have on your game, not matter how polished the code. Look at GTA Online.

So, to call DICE out for failing to fix every bug in their game after less than a week in player hands is ridiculous. To accuse the developers of not giving a shit is downright offensive. We’ve never had it so good when it comes to bugs in games. Before the majority of consoles were online enabled (and before we had Twitter and well-managed forums) we just had to suck it up. Our strongest power of complaint was that we could take games back to the shop for a full refund--hardly a big win, as we still actually wanted to play the game itself.

Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t communicate our frustrations. Far from it. If you do experience a bug, make your voice heard on Twitter or the official forums. Just do it nicely. Developers have never been as openly accessible as they are now--they want you to communicate with them. But they’re also human beings, and you should treat them as such. They feel as bad about the bugs as you. In fact, as most developers spend several years on each game--working long, long hours every day on that one project--you can bet that they feel even worse about those bugs than you do…

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59 comments

  • blockhaj - March 16, 2014 1:25 p.m.

    the should wait with releasing the DLCs and fix the game i rather wait a year with for a DLC if just the game works.
  • SilentReborn - March 16, 2014 11:11 a.m.

    Same glitches near enough as when this 'article' was posted. :D They're doing a horrific job at it.
  • callum-heaney - November 25, 2013 3:45 a.m.

    The game is completely fucked for a lot people....I personally have a hard time with people like the author of this article who either doesn't get the core concept of a bug or just don't care if they are getting taken for a ride. Yes all games have bugs...but if you lunch a game knowing it has bugs (which they did) then that's kind of stupid... The majority of faults with this game are not bugs....the game just hasn't been finished....getting into a tank causing the game to crash for instance is not a bug....unless the developers didn't anticipate people using the drivable tanks? and of course.... weeks later the game is still just as fucked and EA/DICE have powered on with the cash grab by putting out a DLC.
  • mackelaus-crews - November 17, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    Give them a break? I don't have to give them shit! I already gave them $60.00 for a buggy piece of crap that doesn't function right. Who the hell is Gamesradar to tell me what to do or how to treat a clearly incompetent developer?
  • njoyurcomplaint1 - November 13, 2013 6:50 p.m.

    I can tolerate a game having a few bugs on first release framerate issues, some excessive lag, maybe even an occasional crash but none of my progress being saved on single player, not being able to go three games without a complete console freeze, and no party system even put in? Those aren't a "few bugs" that's an incomplete/broken game. If I'm paying $60 for a product and another $50 to use it's online features I shouldn't be waiting weeks for half of the product to be patched, thats a rip off plain and simple. Patches can be a great tool for overlooked problems but they seem to have become a crutch in situations like these. I mean no party system? A feature that has been present in online shooters since COD 4 is nowhere to be found in a game that relies so heavily on teamwork and was in it's last installment, how do you explain that? I love this game when it works but it's a pain in the ass to just join my friends game or have to restart my console because it froze on the loading screen again, it all feels like it was rushed. It's disappointing to be so excited for the next game in this franchise and be given something almost unplayable, it makes it seem that dice was trying to get a scheduled payday and put problems aside for a patch later.
  • Biscuitface - November 13, 2013 12:19 p.m.

    I'd hardly call loss of all campaign save data a small bug. Finish game... play online... go back to campaign... no data. have to start all over again. Hitman absolution was the same. An excellent game but with a terrible save corrupting problem. That type of 'bug' should never happen. Little things here and there but not a game destroying problem.
  • mackelaus-crews - November 17, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    I concur. I wasted 4 hours of campaign for what? My game to crash and my save game to be annihilated. This is horse shit. Oh, expect some bugs...... No thanks.
  • mothbanquet - November 7, 2013 6:13 a.m.

    I haven't played BF4 yet but Rome 2 was rife with issues and the co-op campaign had a de-sync issue that made the mode altogether unplayable. I'm not one to nit-pick or moan at little things but I generally agree that there is too much emphasis on hitting release windows these days instead of properly playtesting games before hand. If studios want the gaming populace to be their testers then fire the in-house ones and lower the price of the game itself!
  • yonderTheGreat - November 6, 2013 1:31 p.m.

    Anyone stupid enough to buy an EA product deserves to be ripped off.
  • tysons87 - November 4, 2013 4:18 p.m.

    I just can't play Hainan Resort without crashing in the loading screen. -_-
  • rodger-walker - November 4, 2013 3:55 p.m.

    The only major problem I had is the fact that I can't leave a server... at all... without loosing most if not all of the progress I made on that server. I have figured out that I can't use the quit button after a match is over and it shows the afterbattle report, I have to wait throught the next load time and quit at the beginning of that match. It took me 2-3 days to get past level 1 because of this and the constant crashing. now I have leveled up to 6.. twice... yet my profile says im level 2.... and the website is not tracking the singleplayer like it should, even though I make sure it reads and loads from local saves instead of the cloud (which hasn't started yet apperantly)
  • yonderTheGreat - November 6, 2013 1:31 p.m.

    Maybe you should try tightening your progress!
  • MadMan - November 4, 2013 3:51 p.m.

    To be fair, consumers have the right to complain when a company releases a product that is broken or incomplete. EA has a responsibility to ensure that their consumers are getting what they are promoting. If they fail to deliver the promised game/product and still sell it at full price, they have deceived the consumer. We have the right to be angry with the company, and honestly this should be a big issue. It should be unacceptable for a company to release something that does not function as it should.
  • rodger-walker - November 4, 2013 3:57 p.m.

    I agree with you, but seriously, this is EA. What was the last thing they actually did well, without scrambling for as much of our money as possible?
  • MadMan - November 4, 2013 8:28 p.m.

    Don't get me wrong. Battlefield 4 is a very good game when it isn't crashing. I can't play two game in a row without the game or server crashing.
  • talleyXIV - November 4, 2013 3:39 p.m.

    This article is ludicrous. We are supposed to accept broken games because they are trying to fix them? No, that's not how it works, we can't just let them release broken games and tell them it's okay to fix it later on. We are paying money to these people and we should get a complete product like we used to. What is even more infuriating is that Dice is already making DLC, finish your damn game before you release something else.
  • Paperthintelevision - November 4, 2013 4:33 p.m.

    I agree with you Talley. It's more like they are taking advantage of the patching and updates to say "oh we'll worry about it later". I play Battlefield 3, mostly in co-op mode with my brother. I have experienced one of the worst and disappointing glitches ever. I would pick up a gun, then switch to it, and it wouldn't fire. I couldn't zoom in, and then I couldn't switch back to my other guns. It ruined the whole level and we had just got past a hard part in which there is no checkpoint afterwards. Should I just brush that off my shoulder? A game that has been out for years and still delivers bugs and glitches that aren't just cosmetic or ignorable. It is unfair to the consumer -- blatantly! I did buy the premium membership for BF4 and BF4 because I like this series. Unfortunately, bugs are something that cannot be avoided in any program and are inevitable. Perhaps they need to ease off on getting the next-gen wave here and work more diligently on pressing out the fabric of it's foundation.
  • Eightboll812 - November 4, 2013 3:07 p.m.

    Did someone get their posts deleted below? Anyway, I just wanted to point out, that while we complain about the devs, it's usually not the actual guys/gals doing the programming that are saying, "yeah, let's rush this out and fix it later." It's the program managers that look at things like being out before the holiday season that make the decisions to push something out that's not ready, often times with the actual devs not liking the decision. I do think that Andy is right about being civil to the hard working people there who are charged with fixing things. But at the same time Andy comes off a little like "that's just the way it is, we should be more tolerant about it," and I don't agree that rushed games is some anomaly. It's becoming more and more frequent. Yes games are more complex, and I usually cut games like Skyrim a little more slack than others because there's almost no way to predict that certain people are going to do certain odd sequences of actions in a dynamic open world game. A fair response to this industry problem is what people have said below...don't buy games on release day. Wait a couple weeks. If enough people do that, it sends a message, far better than ranting on Twitter.

Showing 1-20 of 59 comments

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