There are always going to be games that fail to deliver on promised features or those that disguise issues in order to avoid negatively affecting sales. There are likely even elements of that going on with every game that releases these days. Companies have generally been able to get away with them because reviewers don’t identify the issues and media in general avoid holding them accountable for providing the features and support that consumers rely on.
In 2012 there were a few significant examples of this being the case – features that were not fully delivered or intentionally misleading advertising campaigns. It is then important to review them in the hopes that those situations won’t be repeated in the future.
There was very little effort put into MLB 2K12 which foretold the eventual cancellation of the series. There was so little done with the game that the features list included only five items and one of them was the soundtrack. Ultimately, there was only one true new feature that the game would be marketed on, and that was MLB Today Season mode.
MLB Today Season was intended to follow along with the season by capturing real life results and feeding them into a season mode in which any games played by the user would then take the place of those real life stats. It would never actually work properly though. Data often wasn’t being received and when it did make it through was wildly inaccurate. The problems were never fully addressed.
2K Sports essentially abandoned support for the series, it only got a single patch that had to wait until June, because they knew they wouldn’t have to answer to consumers the following year.
SCEA has a history of ignoring consumer inquiries when they regard issues that make them look bad. They’ve done so by cutting off communication regarding various problems with the games, patches, and demo releases. With MLB 12: The Show there was a demonstration of those things along with the advertising of a feature that wasn’t included in the product at release.
A patch this year caused freezing issues for certain teams in Franchise and Road to the Show modes while breaking the compatibility of saves between the PS3 and Vita. A later patch would cause more freezing problems for some. It was late May before yet another patch would come and appear to fix most of those concerns. Prior to release it was notable that no demo would be made available for the second time in three years.
Most infuriating of all though was the handling of the Online Home Run Derby. The feature was promoted through the PlayStation Blog and a pre-release trailer. It was not active at release and the company refused all requests for comments on the matter. Four months later they were spinning it into a promotion and then later activating it for everyone. Needless to say at that point very few cared…it was difficult to even find users on playing the mode then.
No company in recent memory has flat out lied about post-release support in the way that THQ did with UFC Undisputed 3. It began right around release time amid issues with online play in particular and continued through the summer.
The statements from company representatives about a patch being in the works or even having been submitted to Microsoft and Sony continued over the months – even after the license was sold to EA Sports. Many remained skeptical of their dedication to the product and history had shown that THQ would oftentimes drag things out as long as possible to avoid heavy backlash and then bury an issue as though it never existed. Given that they had been losing a great deal of money on the license, and no longer had responsibility to the series, it was no surprise when they took the same route with UFC 3.
The UFC is the entity left taking the image hit in this situation as THQ won’t have to answer for their misleading statements and failing to follow up on their promise of a patch.
In the most inexcusable example of blatant false advertising EA Sports released what acted as an “expansion pack” to FIFA 12 with UEFA EURO 2012. It was a $20 digital download and initially the idea to take it that route prompted positive response from consumers.
What those people didn’t count on was that EA would not have the license for nearly half the nations involved in the tournament. Had the company been upfront about that it would have been something to criticize but it was the deception of not making that information available prior to release that deserves scorn. The lack of content (no qualifying rounds) and any gameplay enhancements were also areas of widespread disappointment.
The decision to make UEFA EURO a discount add-on was well received at first because consumers responded solely to the price change. What EA ended up delivering though failed miserably as it did not meet the standards of those whose expectations were not properly lowered. They counted on the backlash over not providing accurate information about the product not being greater than the extra sales that would come by leaving those details out.
Year in Review
Much more to come throughout the month!
•#10 of 2012: NFL Blitz
•Vote for the 2012 Community Choice Awards
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: Disingenuous Marketing and Unfulfilled Features
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: The Disastrous Road Towards NBA Live 13