You get your sweaty little mitts on the hottest new game on the day it comes out, pop it into your beloved system, load it up with great anticipation, and… it crashes. A few hours later, the developer promises to fix everything. Welcome to the Launch Day Blues.
A game crash is not the end of world
Relax! No, it’s not! PC gamers have been dealing with this longer than console gamers -- literally decades. But ever since consoles went online, this has been the new norm for the controller crowd. A game comes out not quite finished and it gets an update after the release. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Not for nothing, Kanye West has been doing the same thing with his streaming music for the last three years now so we should be getting used to the “finished” product being anything but.
There’s a number of reasons why you’ll suffer a game crash or other, almost-as-annoying glitches. Sometimes, it’s rushed development. Sometimes, it’s the difficulty of porting a title from one platform to another. Red Dead Redemption 2 for PC’s issues would be a prime example. Sometimes, the servers are overwhelmed by demand. The recent Fortnite/Star Wars whoopsie comes to mind for that.
But a lot of the times, a game crash and the ensuing headaches simply have to do with the astonishingly large size of the games we play. And, honestly, we should be OK with that.
Take a game like Grand Theft Auto V for example. The world is enormous! And the number of things you can do is outrageous. I mean, seriously, the original GTA was a 2-D top-down game that your cellphone would be too snobby to run.
Meanwhile, GTA V has a fully interactive three-dimensional city that’s bigger than Manhattan and you can walk just about every square foot of it. For a little help picturing how big that is, over 1.6 million people live in Manhattan. Now imagine you can mug or carjack every single one of them.
Big games mean big problems
Now imagine what it takes to make that happen in a game. Open world games are pure insanity in terms of the number of things that can go wrong from a programming perspective. Sure, everything is fine until you step on a certain spot facing a certain direction, and you fall through the floor.
It sounds stupid but computers are well, kinda dumb. The people writing up all those millions of lines of code have to anticipate all the different potential problems and avoid them. Meanwhile, there are different groups working on different parts of the game and they have to make sure all of their code works together smoothly.
There are so many complex layers to our favorite games that it’s a freaking miracle they work at all on launch day as often as they do! But, overwhelmingly, they do work. And well. Aside from the occasional Anthem or WWE 2K20, most games run pretty damn smooth and most developers (at least the good ones) listen to the community and tweak their games accordingly. Is this gun too powerful? Nerfed. Is there not enough loot? We got your back.
This isn’t to say that we should be happy that games launch with bugs or a bit lacking in polish. But we should be understanding of what it is that the studios are going through to get the product to us in a timely fashion.
It’s a choice between that and waiting an extra year or two (or more) between sequels and I don’t know about you but I’d rather not wait a decade for the next chapter in my favorite series.