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The relief of big games failing at launch

No one wants a game to turn out poorly.

The best-case scenario for every game is a great experience that works out of the virtual box. The reality is that smooth launches are becoming the exception instead of the rule, and embargoes can sometimes be used to hide glaring issues with an entire game.

What was interesting about the reactions to the quality of Assassin's Creed Unity yesterday wasn't that so many people were angry, it was how many people reached out to me to express a sense of relief. It was an odd feeling to have rush through your body when you read the somewhat dire review, but it was there: It felt like someone had returned a large chunk of free time, and made the decision of which games to buy much easier.

We're heading into a time of year that's choked with new games in huge franchises, or even lesser-known but interesting games. You can also look at how many properties are getting upgraded graphics and entirely new ways to play that will likely bring players back to the fold. I can't be the only one who looks forward to playing Grand Theft Auto 5 in first-person mode.

If you're gaming on a budget, or that budget is time instead of cash, it can be hard to make the final decision about which games to buy and play, and which games should be left on the shelf. It has to be terribly frustrating for the development team when a game crashes and burns at launch, but for the players it can almost feel like a weight off our shoulders. Now we have fewer games from which to choose.

This is a great time to be a player

Even with deals where you get a free game after buying two, there are simply too many games on the market right now. It used to be that a dedicated player stood a moderate chance of keeping up with everything that was released if they planned and saved ahead, but that's become impossible for all but the most hardcore players. There are only so many hours in the day, and so many dollars in the bank account.

So when a game you have been looking forward to gets middling reviews and suffers from overwhelming technical issues? It can feel almost good. A piece was removed from the board, and the whole thing becomes a bit more manageable. The decisions all become a little easier.

This is how publishers should begin looking at their launches: Players with set time and budget concerns are looking for reasons not to buy a game, and the better your game works at launch, the more reasons we have to pick it up.

There is always a choice to be had, even if that choice consists of playing the things we haven't yet finished. A bad launch takes you out of the running, and stressed-out players may almost be happy to see you go.

This is another reason why pre-ordering games is a terrible idea, and waiting to buy is so smart. If you're not locked into a purchase you can simply buy another game, or wait for things to become more stable. There are people who ran out to pick up Unity yesterday only to get to work and read the reviews. Or worse yet  they opened it, played it and are now stuck with a product they can't return.

Don't tie your money up in games before they're released, especially with these nasty surprises becoming more common. Make sure you can be nimble with your decisions if a game has a rocky launch.

So now that I have $60 back into my gaming budget and a huge chunk of free time? It's easier to justify Grand Theft Auto 5 on PS4, or some amiibo toys. I might get into the new Dragon Age game, especially after reading how welcoming it can be to new players.

Games that are terrible at launch don't take anything from us as long as we haven't already paid, but they can provide us with easier decisions about how to plan our time. They ease our budgets. And for that I say thanks.

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