By all accounts, Batman: Arkham Knight is both the best game in the series and one of the crowning achievements of the new generation. Every mission feels fresh, every twist feels earned and the Batmobile feels kinda like the Batmobile — but the game is all but unplayable on PC.
Shortly after the game launched on Tuesday, reports from all corners of the Internet began cropping up: the PC version of Arkham Knight was packed with audio glitches, frame-rate drops, freezes and more. Of the nearly 10,000 reviews on Steam, 6,500 are negative.
Rocksteady was quick to issue a statement regarding the state of the game: “We’re aware that some users are reporting performance issues with the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight. This is something that Rocksteady takes very seriously. We are working closely with our external PC development partner to make sure these issues get resolved as quickly as possible.”
In the meantime, as GameSpot detailed in one of its many updates, the studio provided a temporary “fix” for those running up against the issues: turn down your graphics settings. This is the equivalent to telling a child in 1989 to blow on the NES cartridge, but even that was more effective.
It’s a huge catastrophe for Warner Bros., but what’s even more disappointing is the fact that we probably should have seen this coming. As Destructoid pointed out in a blog post today, Rocksteady didn’t build the PC port itself. Development was instead handed off to Iron Galaxy Studios — cited as “our external PC development partner” in the statement above.
This isn’t to say that Iron Galaxy is a bad studio or didn’t take the project seriously. The reason we shouldn’t be surprised is that we just went through the exact same thing with Mortal Kombat X, another Warner Bros. game that was ported to the PC by an external studio.
Rather than delay the PC version for a month or two, the publisher hands it off to a smaller team and gives them a tight deadline. I’m connecting the dots here, but it appears that the studios either aren’t up to the challenge or aren’t being given enough time (or resources) to finish what they started.
Thus the buggy messes.
I don’t not believe that this a case of a malicious studio praying on overeager gamers — it’s just an avoidable mistake. As for our end of the bargain; all we had to do was not buy the game the second it launched on all the digital distribution platforms. Reports were spilling out within minutes. Steam doesn’t run out of product! It’s all digital! The copies won’t have dried up by day 2!
Thankfully, Steam now offers refunds (which Rocksteady is encouraging everyone to take advantage of if they are unsatisfied with the game), but plenty of gamers will just wait for Rocksteady to fix the game instead.
I know, I know — this is the third time I’ve written about preorders since the year started, but if I can save a single person from a bad purchase or a moment of frustration, then I’ve done my job.
Stop preordering video games.