Now this sounds like a great idea on the surface, but in the same blog post they claim that having a limited number of people running in the beta program was “invaluable”: “The Crew has hosted four closed betas, allowing numerous players to test out the game while the dev team gathered invaluable feedback to help make the experience even better.” It would not seem to make much sense if one is ok, but the other is not.
Now it is true that the beta programs have been much larger than what you would see in a review sampling, but the same basic game mechanics will be there. A review is about how the game functions and operates. It does not matter if there are 10 or 10,000 people playing if the menu system and basic game mechanics are broken. Look at Assassin’s Creed Unity, the items that have been uncovered are not a product of the number of people playing the game, but flaws in the game itself. The normal review process would have uncovered these items and a large number of people might not have bought what was, in reality, a flawed game. The more Ubisoft pushes for this the more people will start to think they are trying to hide issues in their games. After all if the game mechanics work and that is good game flow they will have positive reviews.
Given Ubisoft’s recent history with flawed or gimped games we would not be surprised to see The Crew come out with serious issues at launch. Ubisoft won’t care because they will have their first round sales in the bag and know that no one can really return the game and get their money back. This is what they seem to have done with AC Unity as they forced a significant delay on reviews there too.
We truly hope that this trend (of delaying reviews until after launch) will come to an end. It is one thing to have reviews of a piece of returnable hardware wait until launch and quite another for a game that cannot be returned to force a wait. The came distribution companies have their money and know that the now captive customers must wait for them to figure out the flaws in their designs. The only way this will change is for consumers to not buy the games from companies that do this. Only when there is a very real financial impact will the trend stop.
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