This is just ridiculous enough to deserve a post.
The 15th September EA releases “Need For Speed: Shift”. It’s a surprise because the game is very, very good and far from the poor arcade titles that were released in the last few years and that got worse with every new title in the franchise. It was a quite brilliant and unexpected move to hire an external team specialized on a simulator and apply to it enough production value to make it also graphically advanced.
The game sells well in spite of a good competition in the genre and a number of important releases in the same weeks. From there everything turns to shit. It’s like EA realized they unknowingly did something good for once and kicked into gear to right the wrong. Shit on what is good, apparently their greatest talent.
The game has lots of problems, obvious bugs and lack of support for simple things (like the impossibility to configure some controls). Most of these problems are fixed by players on the PC because it is discovered that the game uses a compression for the game files that comes from a previous title. So they can unpack the game logic and edit it. Fix most of the problems.
Yet it takes exactly THREE MONTHS to EA to make an official patch that is hoped to fix all the problems the game has (some game-breaking). In October on the forums a community representative explained that controls couldn’t be reconfigured because the art team didn’t have enough time to redo the screens. I shit you not. EA isn’t able to add some lines of text to the controls page. They say IT’S TOO HARD.
End of September and the project manager of the game explains that all the problems reported have been fixed internally and the team is working on optimizations (since the game has been patronized by Nvidia and required to run like shit on ATI systems). A new patch is expected for the following week, and another later with those optimizations.
Two days later the project manager vanishes from the internet. Silence about the patch. Nothing comes for two weeks, then a message on the forums from a community manager saying that it will take at the very least two more weeks because the patch was in QA hands.
In November they say the patch comes in December.
Now three months are needed to make a patch to a game that was rough on the edges and that had some very serious bugs. Most of these fixed by resourceful players in a matter of days. But it takes the full force of EA three months to hack together a patch. And controls can’t be reconfigured, even three months later, because the art team just isn’t capable of producing “art” for a configuration screen.
It’s worth pointing out that the UI on the PC has been handled externally from the studio that is responsible of the actual game.
Today people wait for the patch. The web team “are currently in a meeting but once they’re out I will get them to update the downloads page and release the patch”.
This surely a mention, if not a prize, for worst post-release support on a game that could have actually been very good.