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Best & Worst of 2013: Worst Botched Game Launch

Here we are with Entertainment Fuse’s best & worst of 2013 in the world of video games. To kick things off, we have the worst botched game launch category. This year was notorious for games launching with glitches, bugs, and server issues. Even some of the year’s most anticipated games fall victim to having botched launches, so we look back which ones were the worst we experienced in 2013.

Paul Lawford: Battlefield 4

Now, I love the Battlefield series and played the third game to death. After two years of waiting, DICE brought out the Beta for Battlefield 4 at the start of October and all things looked rosy with a launched penned in for the 29th. Roll on six weeks into the game and there is still issues. Multiple servers have lag, The "one hit" kill bug has only just been fixed and lots of servers have a loss of audio at key point in the game. Although DICE have been very open and constructive about the whole "issues" debacle there was enough time from beta to release to fix these bugs. The graphics card companies have been doing a great job updating their drivers to make performance even better for the game. I just wish DICE had released the finished article on launch day and not be filling in the gaps six weeks post release.

Patrick Cowles: SimCity

Among the rocky starters and troubled launches in 2013, none is more notorious than SimCity. Better than rivaling the other troublesome EA launch, Battlefield 4, SimCity has clearly claimed the crown of Most Botched Launch of 2013. In an effort to add layers of online metagame to the city management simulator, EA opted as did Blizzard for Diablo III to require internet-access to play SimCity. With leaderboards and the ability to buy or sell goods, the necessity for internet-access seemed obvious to EA, of course outright presuming fans of the series even cared to partake in these aspects of the reboot title. Yet in a nightmare scenario that pierced the veil of reality, numerous issues arose for Windows-based PC users back in March when SimCity released.
Due to high demand, EA claims that the server load on their Origin network bottlenecked so vigorously that users may have to wait an additional three hours for the game to unlock… after downloading. On top of which, for those that could get the game to launch, server load kept many users from accessing the game as long queues to find a server quickly developed forcing gamers to wait in a digital line to get in game. And there is more, as the snowball of server instability grew EA omitted advertised features from launch day in order to reduce strain on their server infrastructure including full time acceleration of gameplay.

The worst of it all though struck at the heart of users that actually got into the game on launch day, even those lucky few could not escape the avalanche EA unleashed upon day-one SimCity mayors. For users resuming their game, many were ambushed by an issue which plagued the beta period either abandoning or rolling back to a working state as the city, "is not processing properly," suggesting the same servers that bottlenecked downloads and logins also corrupted save data.

Though we can't solely contribute this next fun fact to the launch of SimCity back in early March, it certainly does make you wonder. Before the end of the month EA CEO John Riccitiello stepped down from his post as chief executive while also vacating his seat on the board of directors.
Since then, SimCity has also released on Mac OS, this time launching in August with yet another round and twist of launch issues. Rather than server stability issues though, the Mac launch failures are attributed to installation issues whereas the Mac OS Origin client miraculously fubared the process. The game is also only compatible with OS X 10.7.5 which EA failed to clarify prior to launch originally stating compatibility with OS X 10.7, forgetting to completely label the compatible OS version.

Patrick’s Honorable Mention: Total War: Rome II

Also among the list though to a much lesser extent, The Creative Assembly's well anticipated Total War: Rome II also suffered a turbulent launch period. As Rome wasn't built in a day, neither was Rome II released in a day technically. Naturally as with many newly released games, hordes of less knowledgeable PC users have cried wolf and bloody murder over their inability to play Rome II blaming the game and it's developers wholesomely while listing a computer (and often laptop) comprised of components six to seven years old. It won't load past the start screen! Nothing works! Bugs Bugs Bugs! They cried, though to an extent they were right this time. It is a large game, lots of data, many factions, and it is turn-based. Every time your turn ends over 100 factions take their own, that's a verbose amount of data to process and at launch the game in that regard was simply not optimized. Transpose that into a multiplayer campaign and what you get is an Aegean sea worth of desynchronization which simply multiplayer campaigns not feasible to make launch, I know, I tried, the game failed.
For those with the system and patience to weather the poorly optimized game at launch, other curious aspects begged users to ask, how intelligent is the artificial intelligence of this game...honestly? To which at launch it hardly was. In battle enemy units broke ranks and fled after losing as little as 10% of their overall force, though watching 144 men route from the battlefield after their initially 160-man strong unit lost sixteen soldiers was hilarious it certainly trivialized that aspect of gameplay.

Out of battle, while dealing with other factions through diplomacy intelligence was lacking as well. While at war opposing factions routinely sued for peace at a demanding margin… while they were losing. Having taken one of two cities from a specific faction, with an army sieging their capital and another in reserve for reinforcement; the enemy faction demanded peace along with the entirety of my coffers, I in turn would receive nothing. Two turns later my siege ended as I claimed their capital leaving their civilization to the annals of history, nothing but a memory.

In response to the lackluster launch, The Creative Assembly issues weekly patches until these grave optimization and AI issuers were resolved to a point where gameplay was palpable to those without top-dollar high-end rigs while the AI began to act intelligently.

Matt Rowles: Grand Theft Auto Online

I'm probably one of the biggest fans of Rockstar Games you will ever find, but even I can admit that GTA Online was the most botched launch of 2013. Having already played the magnificent Grand Theft Auto V for two weeks, the expectations for it's online component were extremely high. And let's just say it didn't quite meet those expectations.
To start with, the game was completely broken. Many players couldn't even get out of the character creator and even if they did then the tutorial was also impossible to finish. When the game did seem like it would work, the servers would stop working and you were instantly kicked back into single player only to then have to start the entire process from the start and see how far you can get before it happens once again.

Once the tutorial was fixed later in the week many players, including myself, then had their characters reset after hours of playing which was a huge issue. Losing my character made me not want to play the game again for fear of it happening again and caused many players to turn their backs on the mode entirely. Now all the problems have been fixed mostly, but the mode still hasn't hit expectations. Hopefully 2014 will bode better with the inclusion of online heists finally, but GTA Online was a rare misstep for a company that pride themselves on pleasing it's consumers on all fronts.


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