Ask anyone in any industry, and they’ll tell you that the launch is everything. Whether it is the initial release of a new computer, film, or game, any kind of product is reliant on a strong beginning. The launch is the foundation on which all other sales can be made, and it is an indicator of success. If a film bombs on its opening weekend, then it’s clear that it won’t make much on the next weekend or the weekend after. Of course, there are exceptions—sleeper hits, cult films, and so on—but this idea of launch success is generally the rule to follow.
‘A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.’
Those words, written right above this sentence, is the wisdom of legendary video game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto. And it is indeed true, that once a game is released, it is forever to be judged in that initial state, hence the words, ‘forever bad.’ In essence, this quote is not about delays or anything intrinsically tied to the gaming industry, but instead, it is about how well art is able to stand the test of time. Once a painting is painted, that’s it. So you better be sure that you made it the best you could, taking as much time as needed. But nowadays, that isn’t always entirely true. In this digital age, products, especially video games, can be refined and bettered well after their launch.
The game that comes to mind when thinking about this, is definitely Rainbow Six: Siege. When it was released, Siege was plagued by server issues, and in many reviews, the game was stated to be lacking in the content department. But over time, those flaws began to fade, as its publisher started fixing the game’s technical issues, and its developer added more layers of content and things to do. Now, the game is more popular than ever and is considered better now than it was at launch.
But even with all of that, launches still remain one of the most important parts of a product’s lifecycle. Digitally, a game can be tweaked, enhanced, and upgraded, but if that initial public offering is not solid, then there is bound to be problems later down the line. And that appears to be coming true for Ubisoft’s latest multiplayer foray, For Honor. Anyone who types the game’s title into Google will find plenty of websites displaying complaints from players that are finding their enjoyment of the game hindered by online and connectivity issues. And when the game’s main core and hook is multiplayer, not being able to stably play online is a huge problem.
The consequences of the game’s current state can, and most likely will, influence the sales and performance of the title later in the future. From a producer’s standpoint, public distrust is quite hard to deal with. If For Honor’s issues aren’t ironed out soon, it won’t be long before people start associating the brand with a broken product. So, if that happens, say goodbye to any chance of a sequel.
While not exactly a broken a game, Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2 suffered from the same issue. All the negative press surrounding the first game eventually dulled people’s excitement once the sequel was announced, and thus, it underperformed when compared to its predecessor.
When it comes to For Honor, whether or not the damage has already been done, is yet to be known. Ubisoft could fix everything and turn the ship around, but there’s also a chance that even that won’t mend all the wounds inflicted from the unstable launch. There are plenty of games that have recovered from terrible beginnings, but with that, there is an equal number of games that crashed and burned from the very start.