Saturday, July 6, 2019

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 6 - Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Day 6, game 6, of Eric Vs. 365 features Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. This 2D fighter launched in a pretty underwhelming state, but now nearly two years later it is actually pretty solid these days. We had a good time playing it again, at least. It is a good example of how a bad first impression can sour a game for the long term, though, which is what we'll talk about in this blog post.

I didn't love Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite when it first came out, but I did at least acknowledge that the gameplay was solid even if other areas were kind of rough. In the nearly two years since it launched, however, the game has seen multiple updates and tweaks that have mostly fixed the issues folks had at launch. Most notably the roster got filled out with DLC and the presentation significantly improved and the characters aren't butt ugly anymore. I can say with absolute sincerity that the Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite that you can play in 2019 is greatly improved over the version that launched in 2017. It is a solid fighter worth playing now.

Unfortunately, most gamers don't really care if a game gets improved, which is a shame because it is happening more and more. Unlike any other time in video game history bad games can, and do, actually get fixed after release. Bad visuals are improved. Load times are shortened. Performance improves. Features and modes are added. Gameplay is tweaked and polished. Bad games don't have to be bad forever.

The problem with all of that, however, is that a bad first impression sours the discussion on a game pretty much no matter what happens afterward. Any discussion of Halo: Master Chief Collection will still be dominated by people disappointed by its launch even though it has been almost entirely fixed. Fallout 76 is never going to be accepted by the hardcore community no matter how much effort Bethesda puts into it. Anthem is absolutely 100% doomed because people want it to fail just to spite EA. I can go on and on.

There are exceptions to that, of course. Through sheer tenacity and stubbornness Final Fantasy XIV is very highly regarded now after being pretty poor at launch. No Man's Sky is generally well accepted these days (even though I think it still sucks), though that seems to have more to do with a unified positive push from the media rather than the game actually getting better (yeah, conspiracy theory time).

For the most part, though, games that start out bad are quickly forgotten even if they get fixed. The reason for this is that there are, quite honestly, just too darn many games available at all times and most players aren't interested in going back to play an old game when they have dozens of new ones coming out every week. Why play the old busted (in your mind) when you can play the new hotness instead? Games used to just be bad forever, so it is hard for many players to wrap their head around bad games getting fixed. It is a perception problem more than an actual quality problem. 

Hopefully, players will figure out that things are changing for the better and embrace it before publishers just give up on trying to fix anything. We're at kind of a vital point right now.