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Unfinished Business

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By Nelson Schneider - 09/17/11 at 03:38 PM CT

Skyrim” comes out in 24 days.

Do you know what that means?

“Skyrim” won’t be ready to play for at least 389 days.

The reason should be obvious: PC games have always followed the paradigm of ‘release it now, fix it later.’ Since “Skyrim” is a PC game (that just happens to appear on consoles as well), this is old news. Even worse, it’s a game built by Bethesda and a sequel to one of the buggiest games ever made. But I continually find myself asking, ‘Why does it have to be this way?’

As I have mentioned before, I think PC gaming should be moving in the direction of console gaming instead of the other way around. In this specific instance, I think Bethesda needs to keep the lid on “Skyrim” until it’s done cooking. Of course, they won’t. They want to get “Skyrim” out the door in time for Black Friday and the Christmas rush. Bethesda wants to ensure that every little child (who is at least 17 years old due to the ‘M for Mature’ rating) will get a big lump of coal in their stocking in the form of a game that won’t work correctly and will require numerous DLC purchases to gain access to all of its content.

Of course, Bethesda isn’t alone in trying to pull this kind of BS. Every Western developer wants in on this sweet action. Most recently, I experienced this with “Dragon Age: Origins,” a game by one of my former favorite developers, BioWare. But I guess I should be grateful to Bethesda and BioWare for teaching me a valuable lesson with regard to my purchases of “Oblivion” and “Dragon Age: Origins.”

Always wait for the fully-patched, all-inclusive version.

I bought the Game of the Year Edition of “Oblivion” and the Ultimate Edition of “Dragon Age.” Each purchase was made approximately a year after the game’s alleged release date. In both cases, I ended up playing the most-patched version of the game available (though both were still riddled with bugs) and got most/all of the DLC for free. On top of that, I certainly didn’t pay $60, the current going price for new games, for either title.

Did I miss out on anything by waiting a year longer than the early adopters to play these games? Was I wracked with longing and an uncontrollable fervor to play these games?

No and no.

Instead I learned that we should look at the ‘release’ dates given by developers such as these as ‘beta release’ dates. If you want to be an unpaid beta tester, go ahead and buy on Day 1. You’ll be ‘compensated’ with the ‘opportunity’ to buy additional content that will eventually be included for free. You will also reinforce the perception these companies have that they can release unfinished, untested garbage code and people will lap it up.

It actually doesn’t have to be this way. If you simply wait a year, there will be a patched version available, it will include a huge slug of DLC, and it will be significantly cheaper. It’s amazing: The old adage of ‘time heals all wounds’ applies to Western game releases. So while numerous gamers with no self-control beta test “Skyrim” for me, I will continue to chip-away at my crushing backlog, and look forward to playing the true release of “Skyrim” during the summer of 2013.

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Nelson Schneider

Wrote on09/21/11 at 06:29 PM CT

But by the time you 'get around to it' an entire year may have passed anyway!

Or do you plan to shuffle your backlog around and stick Skyrim in early (much like I did with Xenoblade)?

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Chris

Wrote on09/20/11 at 10:23 PM CT

If they were to release said edition say three months down the road, I would be okay. But I'm not patient enough to wait an entire year, even if the additional content is included. By the time I get around to it, I figure they'll have all the bugs worked out, and that's good enough for me.

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Jason

Wrote on 09/19/11 at 02:54 PM CT

Why buy the game early and put it into your backlog Chris? Especially when you eventually "get around to playing it", you could buy a potentially better version for less. I think Nelson is right, so why spend your money so early? It is not a good investment!

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Chris

Wrote on09/18/11 at 11:38 AM CT

It's true I have this on pre-order, but I don't plan on playing it the day it arrives. I think I've found a great balance - play games on my backlog, wait a few months for all the fixes to come out (such as I've been doing with Dead Island, which is also a bugfest) then play once all the patches have arrived. True, I have to pay for DLC should I want it, but I'm not willing to wait a year when my backlog will most likely be even worse than it is now. However, this doesn't fix the problem that these companies are doing games and themselves a disservice by releasing games that need patches in the first place. Bethesda is the whipping boy, but then they deserve it. Oblivion, Fallout, and I'm sure Skyrim do and will require multiple patches. You know me, patience is NOT my virtue. It comes back to bite me sometimes, but that's just the way I am.

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